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Seebo Launches SOLIDWORKS Add-In For Implementing IoT

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

It’s 2018, and along with being cloud based, virtually every engineering design software company has embraced the inevitability of the Internet of Things (IoT) – some better than others. SOLIDWORKS is no exception, as it announced an add-in with Seebo that will enhance its IoT presence through connected products.

Today’s manufacturers are increasingly turning to IoT to meet strategic business objectives – from improving product resilience and efficiency, to growing sales, and boosting customer satisfaction.

However, the high-rate of stalled and failed IoT initiatives – which, according to a recent Cisco study, account for a whopping 75% – continues to reflect how IoT development remains complicated, expensive, and risky.

Product teams turn to companies like Seebo to visually describe their connected products in a digital model. The Seebo platform then automatically generates the specs, simulations, and analytics to make it happen.

At the SOLIDWORKS World 2018 Conference, Seebo announced a SOLIDWORKS add-in for manufacturers to plan and deliver smart, connected products. As a new certified Gold Partner for SOLIDWORKS, Seebo launched the add-in for SOLIDWORKS users to turn their existing 3D product designs into a visual model of the entire IoT system, and get auto-generated specs, simulations, and analytics to make their products IoT connected.

 

Seebo and SOLIDWORKS For Planning And Delivering IoT Products

The Seebo add-in for SOLIDWORKS addresses the pains of planning and delivering IoT products. With Seebo, SOLIDWORKS users are equipped with tools for IoT modeling, simulation, execution, and behavior analytics. This allows them to quickly and easily define, validate, and build IoT products. Once in-market, product teams see exactly how their product is being used and make informed data-driven decisions about product enhancements to boost product adoption and profits.

“Mastering how to design for the Internet of Things will be one of the major challenges for companies in the next 2-3 years,” said Kishore Boyalakuntla, VP of Product Portfolio Management, SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes. “The Seebo add-in helps users seamlessly turn their existing SOLIDWORKS designs into connected products that drive outstanding customer value.”

Lior Akavia, Seebo Co-Founder and CEO said, “We are excited to be a certified Gold Partner for SOLIDWORKS, making IoT design accessible and simple to the millions of SOLIDWORKS users worldwide. Equipped with the Seebo add-in, users will be able to launch products that stand out from the competition and boost customer satisfaction with innovative capabilities, superior performance, and minimized downtime.”

According to VP of Product Portfolio Management at Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS, Kishore Boyalakuntla, among the leading challenges companies are facing is “mastering how to design for the Internet of Things.”

To address these pains, SOLIDWORKS has teamed up with Seebo to make IoT design accessible to SOLIDWORKS.

With Seebo, SOLIDWORKS users have tools for IoT Modeling, Simulation, Execution, and Behavior Analytics. This allows them to quickly define, validate, and build IoT products. Once in-market, product teams see exactly how their product is being used and make informed data-driven decisions about product enhancements​ to boost product adoption and profits.

It takes just a few hours for SOLIDWORKS users to turn their existing 3D product designs into a visual model of the entire IoT system on Seebo’s platform. Inside Seebo, users get auto-generated specs, simulations, and behavior analytics to make their products IoT connected.

Lior Akavia, CEO of Seebo, Delivers Keynote Address At SOLIDWORKS WORLD 2018 Announcing The Partnership Between Seebo And SOLIDWORKS

The Seebo add-in for SOLIDWORKS is available in a controlled release, and SOLIDWORKS users can register for a free trial at seebo.com/solidworks.

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SOLIDWORKS World 2018 Greatest Hits

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

As usual, last week at SOLIDWORKS World was very busy and we enjoyed every minute of it. During the event we talk to a lot of people during video interviews, on the exhibit floor, at conference sessions, classes, and really informally over coffee, dinner, or a beer. We talked about many things over the course of the conference, but usually came back to the common question, “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen on the exhibit floor?”

Below are what I considered to be among the most significant innovations put on display this year at SOLIDWORKS World 2018 (excluding SOLIDWORKS itself, of course) in four categories — hardware, software, service, and best of show.

 

Best Hardware: HP 300/500 Series 3D Printers – Capability and Affordability

HP Inc. expanded its 3D printing portfolio with the introduction of its new Jet Fusion 300/500 series of 3D printers that produce engineering-grade, functional parts in full color, black or white – with voxel (basically, a 3D pixel, where the position of each voxel is inferred based upon its position relative to other voxels) control – in a fraction of the time of other solutions per HP’s claims. Depending on configuration and color preference, the Jet Fusion 300/500 series is available starting in the $50,000s, which is impressive for the capabilities the machines offer.

“HP is committed to democratizing 3D design and manufacturing, unleashing new possibilities for millions of innovators around the world,” said Stephen Nigro, President of 3D Printing, HP Inc. “No matter your industry, no matter your design complexity, no matter what colors fit your business needs – black, white, or the full color spectrum – the new HP Jet Fusion 300/500 series gives you the freedom to create brilliant new parts liberated from the constraints of traditional production methods.”

HP’s unique ability to control part properties at the individual voxel level enables the design and production of previously unconceivable parts and is now available, for the first time, in full color. HP is already engaging in the co-development of new color applications with universities and businesses around the world including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Yazaki Corp., and Youngstown State University, and others.

HP 300/500 Series 3D Printers Introduced

In addition to providing voxel-level control, the new Jet Fusion 300/500 series of 3D printers have a compact design, enhanced workflow, and the first integrated and automated materials delivery system, enabling greater unattended operation, ease of use, and dramatically increasing production efficiency and output. The Jet Fusion 300/500 series also supports the three leading color file formats (OBJ, VRML, and 3MF) enabling designers to reliably and easily produce the parts they want without file conversion or data corruption.

The HP Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series offerings include:

  • HP Jet Fusion 340 (Black and White) / 380 (Color): for customers who have smaller part-size needs or who commonly print fewer parts per build.
  • HP Jet Fusion 540 (Black and White) / 580 (Color): with a bigger build size than the 300 series for customers who have larger part-size needs or heavier production demands.

“I’m excited about the range of applications for functional multi-color 3D printing,” said Terry Wohlers, President, Wohlers Associates Inc. “It’s good to see that HP is targeting this interesting and largely untapped opportunity. The possibilities are infinite.”

The HP Jet Fusion 300/500 3D printers will launch with a new material, HP 3D High Reusability CB PA 12. Parts using this material will have mechanical properties similar to the HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 material from HP’s industrial solutions.

Leveraging HP’s unique Open Platform for materials and applications development, HP will work with its growing materials ecosystem to grow the material breadth and drive costs down. The Jet Fusion 300 / 500 series will ultimately support similar materials as the Jet Fusion 3200/4200/4210, and also support unique materials that enable color or other voxel-level capabilities.

The HP Jet Fusion 300/500 series of 3D printers is available for order today and will begin shipping in the second half of 2018. For complete details and technical specifications please visit HP.com/go/Color3DPrint.

At SOLIDWORKS World HP Inc. and Dassault Systèmes announced their collaboration to align future technology roadmaps to ensure that users have access to the latest design tools integrated with HP’s voxel-level technology, as well as design tools for new materials. This roadmap includes upcoming releases of the SOLIDWORKS portfolio to support the full-color capabilities of HP’s new Jet Fusion 300/500 series 3D printers. Both companies are also strong supporters of the 3MF standard to ensure reliable exchange of color information for 3D printing. They will continue to test, validate, and support 3MF for their solutions to assure accuracy of information exchange across the manufacturing workflow.

 

Best Software: 3DXpert – Direct Path From SOLIDWORKS To Additive Manufacturing

This was the toughest category because there so many noteworthy new and improved software products demonstrated. In the end, though, I found 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS from 3D Systems to be one of the most compelling for a couple of reasons – first, for its capabilities; second, it’s a free add-in for SOLIDWORKS subscribers. Free? I was surprised, too. The free version is called the Standard Edition, and the Pro Edition with additional capabilities is available for purchase.

3DXpert For SOLIDWORKS Overview

3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS is a complementary software for SOLIDWORKS, providing designers and engineers with everything needed to prepare and optimize designs for 3D printing. A click of a button in SOLIDWORKS brings native CAD data directly into 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS and provides an extensive toolset to easily analyze, prepare and optimize designs for additive manufacturing. In other words, 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS provides a direct path from SOLIDWORKS design to additive manufacturing and eliminates the need for a back and forth iterative process.

Some of the capabilities of 3DXpert include:

  • Native Data Transfer — click a button in SOLIDWORKS to continue working with your native CAD data (both solid and mesh) without conversion. Maintain data integrity including analytic geometry, part topology and color-coding. There is also automatic healing of both STL and B-rep (solids and surfaces) geometry when required.
  • Ensure Printable Geometry — Automated best fit – minimize printing time, supports and tray area usage. Shrinkage compensation – apply scaling to compensate for part shrinkage during build. Hybrid CAD – use direct modeling, parametric and history-based hybrid (B-rep and mesh) CAD tools to improve part printability
  • Optimize Structure – minimize weight and material usage and apply surface textures.
  • Design Supports – ensure quality 3D prints with minimal supports
  • Arrange Build Plate and Send To Print – optimize utilization of tray area and printer time

3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS is machine agnostic and can work with any printer and technology, although the product’s main focus is currently on powder bed metal (DMLS), however, the part positioning on tray, lattice design and send to print tools are suitable for any printer and technology. Dedicated supports’ functionality is optimized for powder bed metal (DMLS) and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF, FDM, MJP). Support free technologies such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Plaster-Based Printing (PP, CJP) are supported as well.

In terms of exporting data to the 3D printer, 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS can export slicing as CLI C0 contours to any machine that can read it. Geometry can also be sent to a 3D printer as mesh data in various formats (STL, 3MF, OBJ, VRML).

 

Best Service: Xometry – On-Demand Quoting and Manufacturing Services

Xometry is a company committed to bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. with its software platform for building a reliable and scalable manufacturing program. It employs a unique machine-learning approach that provides its customers with optimal manufacturing capabilities at the best price based on parameters input by customers.

Founded in 2014, Xometry is transforming American manufacturing through a proprietary software platform that provides on-demand manufacturing to a diverse customer base, ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. The platform provides an efficient way to source high-quality custom parts, with 24/7 access to instant pricing, expected lead time and manufacturability feedback that recommends best processes and practices. With well more than 100 manufacturing partners, the manufacturing capabilities include CNC machining, 3D printing, sheet metal forming and fabrication, and urethane casting with over 200 materials. Xometry’s customers include General Electric, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, NASA, and the United States Army.

Video Interview With Xometry at SOLIDWORKS World 2017

Xometry’s technology platform enables it to leverage the expertise and capacity of more than 200,000 manufacturers across the United States who have on average less than 20 employees. Xometry’s partners are spending less time bidding for new business and more time producing parts.

Xometry employs strict quality control to ensure it’s only offering up the best vendors. When a manufacturer initially signs up to join the network, Xometry screens the company by giving it only one job to complete. Instead of shipping the product directly to the customer, it’s first sent to Xometry; where their team assesses the quality of the product and whether it meets standards established by the customer and Xometry. Customers are also encouraged to rate their vendors based on their performance, and any manufacturers flagged for producing poor-quality products will receive additional scrutiny from Xometry.

Xometry’s capabilities are available as a free SOLIDWORKS Instant Quoting add-in that can be accessed directly from the SOLIDWORKS interface.

Some of the features available in the SOLIDWORKS add-in include:

  • Instantly price a design inside SOLIDWORKS
  • Feedback on how to best make the parts
  • Transparent and instant lead time estimation
  • Add notes and drawings to further specify part features, finishes, and tolerances
  • Order custom parts with one click
  • Adjust parts based on manufacturability analysis to avoid potential fabrication issues
  • Insight into pricing, lead-times, and manufacturability impacts for materials and processes
  • Re-quote directly in SOLIDWORKS to explore design iterations
  • Access manufacturability resources, guidelines, and knowledge base

Is Xometry the first company to explore the possibilities of on-demand manufacturing? Well, no, not exactly. However, we have been impressed with the company’s approach, growing partner network and customer base, relationship with SOLIDWORKS, and substantial financial connections that will help it continue down a bright path.

 

Best of Show: Desktop Metal Live Parts – Auto-Generate Optimized Part Designs

Although a technology preview right now, Desktop Metal Live Parts awed just about everyone who witnessed it being demonstrated, myself included.

Live Parts is an experimental technology that applies morphogenetic principles and advanced simulation to auto-generate part designs very quickly. Desktop Metal’s vision for Live Parts is to enable users to realize a new potential for additive manufacturing—including material and cost efficiency, as well as design flexibility.

Desktop Metal Live Parts Discussion

At this point, Live Parts is actually an explorative extension of generative design, a form-finding process that can mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design.

Overview Of Adjusting Live Parts Cell Properties

Similar to how plants grow, there are no straight lines in parts except where needed for mounting regions, symmetries, or keep out zones. This makes them well suited for additive manufacturing processes, where typical design limitations don’t apply.

Some of Live Parts most notable capabilities include:

  • Real-time simulation of static and dynamic load – A GPU-accelerated multi-physics engine models parts as living organisms so that parts can be generated in real-time based on constraints and load conditions. Loads can be linear, radial, rotational, and dynamic.
  • Auto-generates designs in minutes – Nature-inspired algorithms drive Live Parts. Unlike topology optimization, no pre-existing part design is needed. Parts grow and adapt like plants and bones, changing shape to find the best form for their environment and function.
  • Integrated with SOLIDWORKS – Define constraints and forces inside the Live Parts for SolidWorks add-in before exporting to Live Parts for part generation. Parts can be exported back to SOLIDWORKS, auto-assembled, and further analyzed.

Very interesting and innovative technology from a relatively new company.

Editor’s Note: If you want to check out the video interviews we recorded at SOLIDWORKS World 2018, check out our website and click on videos.

 

And We Have A Winner!

At our exhibit booth last week at SOLIDWORKS World we encouraged attendees to drop a business card off for a chance to win an Amazon Echo with a random drawing at the end of the conference. We received a lot of business cards and the winner of our drawing was Victor Oswaldo Carreon.Victor is an electromechanical engineer working with Intelligy a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller from Mexico, who specializes in data management. He says he went to SWW2018 to see the different solutions that SolidWorks will release in the future, as well as see the solutions that the partners offer to customers and resellers. Congratulations Victor!

Victor Oswaldo Carreon Won An Amazon Echo From MCADCafe At SOLIDWORKS World 2018

 

SOLIDWORKS World 2018: New SOLIDWORKS Experiences For The 3DEXPERIENCE

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

This week was the 20th edition of SOLIDWORKS World and I think I’ve been to 17 or 18 of them. Some have been great, some not so great, but every one has provided something interesting that makes the company and its impact on the MCAD community stand out. This year was no exception as it had several significant announcements.

The theme for this years SOLIDWORKS WORLD was “Think,” which was a good idea but was really more about “experience,” as in 3DEXPERIENCE which is the mantra of Dassault Systemes, and not so much about specific software products. The various experiences that were discussed ranged from 3DEXPERIENCE Design Services to the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace|Make that include Socual Collaboration and PLM services. I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around all of this because there was little discussion on what all this means and how it’s all tied together, but it’s an interesting direction that I’ll continue to explore and try to understand.

Dassault Systems 3DEXPERIENCE platform continues to play an increasingly prominent role at the annual SOLIDWORKS event, although this is SOLIDWORKS World, not Dassault Systemes Universe. That aside, I heard SOLIDWORKS and CATIA mentioned a couple times in the same sentence on the stage during the event — a first for me.

However, things got much better as the conference commenced in earnest with classes and the exhibition floor in full swing.

 

SOLIDWORKS World 2018 Day 1 Highlights

Not to be left off the Internet of Things (IoT) bandwagon, SOLIDWORKS is also making a strong charge into this market by including design elements from SOLIDWORKS mechanical, SOLIDWORKS Electrical, and SOLIDWORKS PCB. During the conference, Seebo announced a SOLIDWORKS add-in for manufacturers to plan and deliver smart, connected products. As a new certified Gold Partner for SOLIDWORKS, theSeebo  add-in for SOLIDWORKS lets users transform existing 3D product designs into a visual model of the entire IoT system, and get auto-generated specs, simulations, and analytics to make products IoT connected.

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Get Ready For SOLIDWORKS World 2018!

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

It’s almost time to head to Los Angeles for SOLIDWORKS World 2018 and for many attendees, it will be a welcome relief from winter weather. This year will mark the 20th event and more than 5,000 attendees are expected.

For us, SOLIDWORKS World is all about people, products, and exchanging ideas — reacquainting ourselves with old friends and meeting new ones.

 

Conference Theme: Think!

Every day of SOLIDWORKS World starts with a general session with speakers that range from engineers, to industry leaders, to SOLIDWORKS executives and partners on their visions, perspectives, and ideas that provide a present and future context for the company and industry.

Day 1 – THINK: Future

The first general session is focused the future from several different perspectives. While SOLIDWORKS has been keeping specifics of the general sessions secretive, we do know the session feature the following speakers: Gian Paolo Bassi, Bernard Charles, Kishore Boyalakuntla, Richard Doyle, and Neri Oxman.

Day 2 –  THINK: Innovation

Day 2 ‘s general session focuses on innovation whay it’s obviously important and how to achieve it. There will be a little something for everyone, including “Wearable Robots That Help People Walk Again” presented by Kyoungchul Kong. The other speakers include Suchit Jain, Michel Jagemann, Suchit Jain, Kishore Boyalakuntla, and Brent Bushnell.

Day 3 –  THINK: Next Is Now

The final general group session includes one of our favorite parts of the conference, a peek into possible SOLIDWORKS 2019 features and capabilities. It wraps up with speakers that include Suchit Jain, Kishore Boyalakuntla, Mark Schneider, Joseph Hiura, Robert Andrew Johnson, Kurt Anliker, and Gian Paolo Bassi.

 

New and Improved SOLIDWORKS Products

Several SOLIDWORKS products, both new and improved, will be showcased and demonstrated on the main stage, breakout sessions, and the exhibition floor. Some of the more significant include:

SOLIDWORKS 3D 2018

Although the flagship product has been out for a few months, with SOLIDWORKS 2018,  the company says its design-to-manufacturing process provides the tools needed to implement a comprehensive design-through-manufacturing strategy, all inside the SOLIDWORKS environment. These tools let you work without having to export and import data from one system to another. With IP embedded in the 3D design model, and at the center of the model-based definition (MBD) process, and thanks to associativity, changes from design or manufacturing are automatically reflected in all related CAD models, CAM programs, drawings, and documentation.

Additionally, all the information for manufacturing, inspection, and simulation and verification is directly linked to the design, so it always reflects the current design iteration (which is always a good thing).

Some of the other major new and improved features for SOLIDWORKS 2018 include:

Inspection for MBD – With the enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2018, you can now create inspection documentation directly from 3D models with Production Manufacturing Information (PMI), as well as from 2D drawings, PDFs, and TIFFs. SOLIDWORKS Inspection is now integrated with SOLIDWORKS PDM, and supports SOLIDWORKS part and assembly files (*.sldprt, *.sldasm), as well as non-native 3D CAD formats.

3D Interconnect – You can work with more file formats including ACIS, STEP, and IGES, and automatically update your design whenever new files are received. In addition, 3D Interconnect now supports internal file information like custom properties, materials properties and reference axes.

Working With Mesh Data – You can now work directly with mesh data as you would with surface or solid geometry. Combine, intersect, split, move/copy, cut with surface, and check for interference. In addition, you can quickly fit surface bodies to regions of mesh models.

Sheet Metal – SOLIDWORKS 2018 includes tab and slot features for self-fixturing of parts for welding. A normal cut feature ensures that clearances are included for manufacturing, and tools to easily create or flatten corners that include three bends.

Generative Design – SOLIDWORKS Simulation Topology Study tool can automatically optimize the shape of a design based on weight, function, and manufacturing criteria. You can improve performance or reduce product weight based on simulation and manufacturing constraints.

 

SOLIDWORKS CAM

The SOLIDWORKS CAM rules-based technology enables you to integrate design and manufacturing, connecting design and manufacturing teams through a common software tool and 3D model. SOLIDWORKS CAM is an add-on to all versions of SOLIDWORKS CAD that lets you prepare your designs for manufacturability earlier in the development cycle. Manufacturing tasks that had to wait until a design was complete can now be performed concurrently with the design process.

SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard lets you quickly program individual milled parts and configurations without leaving the SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD environment. You have full access to defining rules within SOLIDWORKS CAM to create and build to company standards, as well as Tolerance-Based Machining (TBM).

SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional builds on the capabilities of SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard with increased programming capabilities. The additional features include High-Speed Machining (HSM), configurations, assembly machining, turning, and 3+2 programming to drive four- and five-axis machines.

 

SOLIDWORKS Visualize

SOLIDWORKS Visualize lets you leverage your 3D CAD data to create photo-quality content in the fastest and easiest way you can–from images to animations, interactive web content, and immersive Virtual Reality. Bring your products to life. SOLIDWORKS Visualize is the “camera” for your CAD data.

SOLIDWORKS Visualize is hardware-agnostic and can leverage one or many GPUs in a single machine or across a network, which dramatically increases rendering performance over CPU hardware.

SOLIDWORKS Visualize Standard lets you produce photo-quality images for taking “photos” of 3D data, cutting costs, and accelerating time-to-market with compelling imagery.

SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional lets you tell a deeper story with your CAD data by generating photo-quality imagery, interactive animations, 360-degree spins, and immersive Virtual Reality (VR) for communicating complex design details.

 

SOLIDWORKS MBD

SOLIDWORKS Model-Based Definition (MBD) lets you define and organize 3D dimensions, tolerances, datums, notes, Bills of Material (BOMs), and other annotations; customize publishing templates for manufacturing, such as Part or Assembly Specifications, Request for Quote (RFQ), and Incoming Inspection Reports. You can also publish to widely accepted formats, such as eDrawings, STEP 242, and 3D PDF for clear 3D communications.

SOLIDWORKS MBD helps you define feature-based annotations in Parts and assemblies (DimXpert), and import 3D annotations from common CAD formats for more efficient design collaborations.

When there are too many 3D annotations, you can show and hide annotations automatically as a model rotates, capture comprehensive settings with 3D views similar to visual bookmarks, compare 3D annotation differences between revisions to capture subtle but critical differences, and reuse 3D views in 2D drawings when necessary.

 

SOLIDWORKS Xdesign

I don’t know a lot about this product yet, but suffice it to say this could be a real cloud-based game changer for SOLIDWORKS.

SOLIDWORKS Xdesign combines ease of use with innovative design methodologies and cloud collaboration from inside your browser. Create parametric models and assemblies, or let Xdesign’s Design Guidance suggest solutions. Share designs and collaborate through communities.

Being cloud-based, with no software to install configure or manage, you are always working with the latest version of Xdesign on all your devices.

With the single modeling environment, there is no need to worry about parts and assemblies. Top-down or bottom-up—Xdesign supports design needs and automatically creates a design structure.

When facing tough structural design challenges, Design Guidance can offer possible solutions. Simply provide the part connection points and force conditions and Design Guidance will give you insight into what your part should look like. Keep it as a guidance reference or use it in your model.

 

SOLIDWORKS 2019

Not too much to discuss here yet, but a preview of what the future might hold will be presented the final day of the show during the morning’s general session. More on this and what we might expect to see in the next release will be covered next week.

 

Partner Products

We’ll be on the lookout for innovative companies, products, and services. Next week I will discuss what I considered to be “Best of Show” for hardware, software, and service.

 

Meet Us At SOLIDWORKS World 2018!

We’ll be at SOLIDWORKS World 2018 in Los Angeles, February 4-7, 2018 conducting video interviews. If your company is interested and you haven’t signed up yet, click on this link to schedule a video interview. If you have any questions, contact me at 719-221-1867 or jeff@ibsystems.com. Stop by and say “hello” during the conference in exhibit booth #302. Hope to see you there!

Point Clouds Moving Beyond Surface Representation To 3D Modeling

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

For quite some time, I’ve been saying to my peers and detractors that 2018 might finally be the year the “cloud” takes off, whether we’re talking storage in the cloud, CAD in the cloud, simulation in the cloud – whatever in the cloud. I also think that another “cloud” innovation that will get its just attention is the point cloud that will grow far beyond its traditional role for representing surfaces to becoming an integral component of 3D modeling and maybe even virtual reality.

So, exactly what is a point cloud? Technically, a point cloud is a data base containing points in a 3D coordinate system. A point cloud is a very accurate digital record of an object or space. It is saved as a (very) large number of points that cover surfaces of a scanned/sensed object. The points in a point clouds are always located on the external surfaces of visible objects, because they are the points reflected from scanned objects.

In a three-dimensional coordinate system, these points are usually defined by X, Y, and Z coordinates, and intended to represent the external surface of an object.

Point clouds can be created by several methods, including 3D scanners and photographs. These devices measure a large number of points on an object’s surface, and often output a point cloud as a data file. The point cloud represents the set of points that the device has measured.

Reality Capture – Converting Photos Into 3D Models

The key factor in acquiring point cloud data is the access/visibility to scanned surfaces. It is important to remember, that point clouds are created with visible access to real objects. Regardless of the method of acquisition (scanner or photos). It is impossible to obtain points on the surfaces that are not visible from the position from which data is collected. This means that to cover entire objects, many scanning positions must be combined.

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Forging Ahead With Autodesk’s Cloud-Based Development Platform, Developer Program, and Investment Fund

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

In November, Autodesk announced several updates to its Forge platform, including new cloud application development tools, the Forge Application Framework, and several new investments at Forge DevCon, the company’s event for Forge developers held immediately before Autodesk University.

Since its inception in December 2015, Autodesk claims that rapid progress has been made with adopters of the Forge Platform in changing both what and how things are made, and at transforming “the future of making things.”

The cloud-based Forge Platform features APIs and SDKs developers can use to create design, engineering, visualization, collaboration, and other types of enterprise applications. The Forge developer program aims to bring together a community of cloud application developers by providing application development resources.

The Forge Program consists of three main components:

  • The Forge platform (PaaS) that originally provided access only to APIs, but now can be used to do that as well as build apps from scratch with the Forge Application Framework
  • The developer program which is the growing Forge community
  • Autodesk Forge Fund investments that increased significantly in 2017

What is Autodesk Forge?

The Forge DevCon event is part of a comprehensive Forge developer program that provides learning, support, and business development resources for Autodesk’s community of cloud developers. This community includes developers representing industries that include architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and manufacturing, as well as emerging areas such as augmented reality (AR), additive manufacturing (AM), and the Internet of Things (IoT). The majority of Forge developers are using multiple APIs to create services and solutions that fuel how software products are designed, built and used.

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Blockchain For The Manufacturing Supply Chain

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

In 2017, bitcoin value surged from just under $1,000 at the beginning of the year to nearly $20,000 by mid-December.

While some industry leaders are skeptical of bitcoin, others are eagerly investing, confident in projections that bitcoin value will reach $1 million by the end of 2020. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but then again, I’m no financial expert.

However, many financial pundits and industry observers see bitcoin’s supporting technology, blockchain, as the true star with the greatest potential in coming years, and manufacturing could prove to be one of its biggest successes.

 

What Exactly Is A Blockchain?

According to Investopedia, “A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks (the most recent transactions) are recorded and added to it in chronological order, it allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping. Each node (a computer connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically.

Originally developed as the accounting method for the virtual currency Bitcoin blockchains – which use what’s known as distributed ledger technology (DLT) – are beginning to appear in a variety of commercial applications, including manufacturing. Currently, the technology is primarily used to verify transactions, within digital currencies, though it is possible to digitize, code, and insert practically any document into a blockchain, including those found in the manufacturing process. Doing so creates an indelible record that cannot be changed and the record’s authenticity can be verified by an entire community (supply chain) using the blockchain instead of a single centralized authority.

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2018: The Year of MCAD Cloud Computing?

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

For as long as I can remember, cloud storage and computing have offered two things – endless (unrealistic) promises and perpetual (unrealistic) growth. For some time that was true, but several things have occurred in the past couple of years that temper those claims and portend what may happen in the future for technology providers that become increasingly reliant on the cloud – reliability, accessibility, and security.

Cloud computing, or internet-based computing provide shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. From the beginning, it was intended as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort.

Proponents have always claimed that cloud computing allows companies to avoid upfront infrastructure costs, and focus on projects that differentiate their businesses instead of on infrastructure. Proponents have also claimed that cloud computing allows enterprises to get their applications up and running faster, with improved manageability and less maintenance, and enables IT to more rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand. Cloud providers typically use a “pay as you go” model. This can lead to unexpectedly high charges if administrators do not adapt to the cloud pricing model. Even so, the potential for premium MCAD with minimal computing hardware cost make the prospect attractive and compelling.

To a large extent most of these claims have proven true, and I have been a proponent for many aspects of cloud computing, but there is also a downside – generally, you just don’t need as many people to run and maintain a cloud-based organization.

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Good Week for 3D Printing

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

With 2017 winding down and the holidays upon us, MCAD news typically slows down big time. Not so this year, though, as two 3D printing manufacturers – Desktop Metal and Carbon – announced big news this week.

Desktop Metal Shipping Studio System

Just eight months after its initial introduction, Desktop Metal announced it has begun shipping its metal 3D printer to early pioneer customers as part of the Studio System rollout.

The Studio System, which debuted in May, is the first office-friendly metal 3D printing system for rapid prototyping and is 10 times less expensive than existing technology today. The Studio System is a complete platform, including a printer, a debinder, and a sintering furnace that, together, deliver metal 3D printed parts in an office or on the shop floor.

Participating in Desktop Metal’s Pioneers Program, Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group is the first pioneer to receive the Studio printer. Among the inaugural Pioneer customers in the program, companies span six industries – heavy machinery, consumer electronics, automotive, service bureaus, machine shops and government & education. Benchmark parts range from tooling, prototyping and jigs & fixtures, to end-use parts for functional applications.

Desktop Metal’s 3D Printer (video courtesy of TechCrunch)

“Since the launch of our Pioneers Program, we have seen really passionate engineers and world-class companies begin to develop benchmark metal 3D printed parts with the Studio System,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal. “We are extremely excited to begin shipping our Studio printer to these early pioneer customers and sales partners, including Google’s ATAP, and, over the next several months, will be working closely with each to learn more about how engineers want to use our system.”

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A Conversation with Grant Imahara at Arm TechCon 2017

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Grant Imahara at the Arm TechCon 2017 Conference in Santa Clara, CA.

Grant is the celebrity engineer spokesperson for Mouser Electronics, the leading global New Product Introduction (NPI) distributor. Grant is an electrical engineer, roboticist, and television host. He is best known for his work on the television series MythBusters, where he designed and built numerous robots and specialized in operating the various computers and electronics that were utilized to objectively test myths. More recently, Grant has partnered with Mouser Electronics in launching its Empowering Innovation Together program, where he hosts webisodes and contributes blog posts and articles.

Grant visited our EDACafe exhibition booth at Arm TechCon for an interesting interview that covered many topics, including his relationship with Mouser Electronics.

Interview with Grant Imahara at Arm TechCon 2017

EDACafe: Can you discuss your relationship with Mouser Electronics and what you do with the company?

Grant I: I am Mouser’s celebrity engineer spokesman, which is kind of funny because generally speaking, engineers are not the rock stars and don’t often get the recognition we deserve for all the amazing things that we do. Mouser said, “Let’s take a person who is a known face from TV, who is also an engineer and make them our spokesperson.” So, here I am.

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