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WALTHAM, MA, Sep 24, 2014 - With every major release of a CAD program comes a dilemma. How to convey all that information? SOLIDWORKS 2015 is no exception. Dassault did its best to dumb down the changes --- there were literally thousands – for the assembled press. As most of the press are not CAD users the significance of most of the enhancements are lost upon us. For example, is the new Treehouse feature going to be a hit? No idea.
But SOLIDWORKS almost missed a opportunity to trumpet one enhancement that would have resonated with all the media present. Saying “3D printing” would have stirred even the sleepiest old journalist in a post-meatball-calzone-lunch induced daze.
With SOLIDWORKS 2015, you can make a 3D print right from the menu. You have to have Windows 8.1. Microsoft had introduced 3D printing back in November 2013 but neglected to mention that it was going to be up to software and hardware vendors to create the drivers to actually make 3D objects actually appear.
SOLIDWORKS 2015 is the first CAD vendor to come through on the 3D printing promise, says Aaron Kelly, product manager at Dassault, who was kind enough to wheel a Makerbot 3D printer to where the press had already started to file out, to show me how it was done.
Currently, the Print to 3D command only works with MakerBot 3D printers, though.
Sure enough, Aaron clicks on the menu and the MakerBot print head starts whizzing. The print volume is displayed on the SOLIDWORKS screen. The MakerBot display shows it is printing a SLDPRT file – the native part file. The conversion to STL files is either not happening or is invisible to the user.
I ask about support structures, which were not needed for the simple part being made.
“The program creates support structures if needed," says Aaron, as if by magic. Support structures are not displayed on the screen, however.
VANCOUVER, BC (SIGGRAPH 2014) - The longer you look at a Lumiscaphe (pronounced lumis-scape) rendering, the more you have to remind yourself that it is not a photograph. At this years SIGGRAPH, I saw some of the best renderings of autos - inside and out- that I have ever seen.
Ok, maybe Real Time Technology (RTT) renderings are just as good. Automotive rendering industry leader RTT was acquired by Dassault towards the end of 2013 and has been relabeled 3DXcite.
Speed may well be Lumiscaphe's forte. I am seeing 4.1 million triangles rendered per second, which James Brown, who is kind enough to demo for me, is faster than anything else out there. It's fast enough to render video in real time!
While Lumiscaphe may seem expensive e at $30k, it is a bargain compared to RTT, which can cost over $76k, says James.
For more information, go to http://www.lumiscaphe.com/
VANCOUVER, BC (SIGGRAPH 2014) - Kubity will work inside SketchUp to add textures, colors to your interior, then create a model that can be displayed on a browser. You can even add sound.
Although architects are the serious market Kubity, it seems to have accidentally found a home with wedding planners, according to Rebeca Moreno, Kubity's head of marketing. I imagine wedding planners savvy enough to show the lovely couple taking their vows in Westminster Abby (even if they can only be able to do Vegas) could add a bit of fantasy to their portfolio.
For more information, see www.kubity.com
VANCOUVER, BC (SIGGRAPH 2014) - edddison (that's a small "e" and 3 d's) allows you to move a matchbox-sized car on a light table and have it move a 3D model of a car in a SketchUp model. Or move the human figurine and walk through a Revit model.
How does the edddison table (being called LightRig at SIGGRAPH) do this particular type of mixed reality? The underside of the light table is ringed with sensors that pick up the position and motion of the he objects on top.
The effect is remarkably natural, quite a bit more than even the most popular 3D input device, the 3D Connexion mice. In the spectrum of 3D virtual and mixed reality, the LightRig is by far more attainable that other devices we have looked at, examples ranging from million dollar CAVEs to zSpace. And it's hardly as goofy looking as head mounted displays.
In fact, the LightRig may be the least expensive way to get into virtual reality. It's folding table (which can easily be taken to a client's site) costs only $1600.
eddison's owner, Austrian Thomans Keinzl, chose SIGGRAPH 2014 to launch the LightRig to the US market.
For more information, see edddison's website, http://edddison.com/
by Ralph Grabowski, Sr Editor, TenLinks
reprinted from WorldCAD Access
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (SIGGRAPH) -- I had a preview of Thinkbox's point cloud processing software last year at SIGGRAPH; this year it is announced, and next year it ships. Thinkbox wants to be the biggest, fastest processor of point cloud data for the CAD industry, and they spent a whole year talking to people who work with such data, before starting to program. Which means the software has some pretty nice functions
The Sequoia engine is based on their particle physics code that generates artificial water, clouds, sand, and other effects for movies and games. Nevertheless, they claim that Sequoia is capable of the following:
The points can be meshed; colors are captured, if recorded; 360-degree photos can be applied as textures. ThinkBox is working on mesh editing so that 3D printing is more reliable (like thickening walls, closing holes).
While they had a computer the size of large suitcase powering the demo, they claim the software runs on portable devices, like Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet. The number of points that can be handled is greatly reduced, of course, like down to 50 million, and processing is slower.
For more information
by Ralph Grabowski, Sr Editor, TenLinks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (SIGGRAPH) - Pufferfish is an interactive 3D viewer that looks like a fortune teller's crystal ball. It consists of a sphere about 1.5 feet in diameter that sits on a mammoth computer case. Its surface is touch sensitive; projectors inside the sphere project 3D images; infra-red sensors (made by Viecon) are mounted high on walls and sense motion; and you wear Viecon's 3D glasses with small white balls that the sensors track.
You put on the polarizing glasses to see the model in 3D; nothing new there. As you touch the surface, however, you manipulate the 3D model (rotating and zooming it). As you walk around the sphere, the model rotates with you. A larger version is available as an inflatable ball. The multi-user version dispenses with the touch interface; users wear the goggles and walk around the sphere. The system needed two computers (or was it three?) to generate the imagery and control the cameras.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Lenovo was letting the press peek under the covers off their top of the line P900 workstation at SIGGRAPH. Recently introduced as part of the new ThinkStation P Series (see press release), it won't be ready to ship until October.
But I already want one.
Engineers, those lucky enough to get a P900, will appreciate the engineering that has gone into the internals workings. While Lenovo offers multiple drive bays, up to 3 high-end NVIDIA graphics cards, support for 3 monitors, Intel Xeon processors and DDR4 memory, even 8 USB 3.0 ports...and a host of other advantages over ordinary PCs, what really sets the P900 apart from other workstations is its innovative air flow management. Whereas ordinary computers may rely on one fan to suck air from the front, with the heat dissipation off the hot zones a hit of miss affair, the P9000 has a "big ass" fan on one side and 2 smaller fans on the other, an effective push-pull arrangement. In between, there is a carefully designed plenum with channels airflow from and over hot spots.
Robert Herman, whose business card declares him a "distinguished designer," is so proud of the plenum that he chose to commemorate the opening launch party with an ice sculpture of its shape and a "P900" punch that cooled itself as it flowed through it. I expect the working model will have no such feature.
Rob Herman of Lenovo demonstrates the cooling effect of the ThinkStation P900 baffle
"Won't that fan be noisy?" I say pointing to what has just been referred to as a "big ass" fan. A large fan will actually run quieter, says Rob without so much as a I-thought-you-were-an-engineer look lets me know that a larger fan can draw the same amount of air at a lower speed. That means less noise.
Also proudly shown was the extent Lenovo has gone tool-less. Red markings and indents over components show where to press and and obliging drives, fans, boards, power supplies -- even the motherboard -- pop right out.
For more information, see Lenovo's product page: https://www.thinkworkstations.com/
From Their Cold, Dead Hands: How to Pry Users from their CAE Programs
LAKE OSWEGO, OR - Autodesk’s NEi Nastran acquisition gives the company instant credibility in the CAE (computer aided engineering) community. No longer can CAE users dismiss Autodesk as that pretentious CAD company that did little more than assemble a rag-tag collection of little-known analysis applications.
Nastran is serious CAE. It's what the big boys use. It puts planes in the sky and cars on race tracks. I'm not sure I would have boarded the Boeing 737 on which I am writing this had I know Algor1 was used in its analysis.
But now the acquisition of NEi Nastran changes the game. Your PhD friends will not laugh at you for using Autodesk software. You can just tell them "It's Nastran, dammit!"
CAE applications garner loyalty beyond that of CAD users, owing to the fact that CAE applications take much longer to learn, are harder to use, require higher educational qualifications, and cost a lot more money. These factors combine to create an atmosphere of exclusivity and clubby camaraderie. No serious CAE user is going to switch CAE programs without a fight just to save a few bucks.
Autodesk admits it will not be able to pry current CAE, except from "cold dead hands," but also shows no panic at the prospect. Autodesk can afford to be patient, and wait, because CAE is not their core business. They can sell their CAE products all around the entrenched CAE users and to CAD users. But the lower price, when coupled a deep and protracted commitment to the market, can't help but over time erode the hold of CAE companies of even their most stalwart supporters.
Commitment is really is the key; that low initial cost of the software is secondary. Autodesk has not yet shown it can support CAE users in the manner to which they hard core analysts are accustomed. Will users be able to pick up the phone and get a reseller who has a PhD in mechanics and so can tell users when to use Von Mises failure theory -- from years of experience? Both ANSYS and MSC provide this level of support.
Should you have been paying attention in your Mechanics of Material classes, you may not need support for basic questions, but how many would you build the next Boeing aircraft without an advanced level of backup?
CAE companies instilled and maintained a culture that worships theory, academics with advanced degrees, deep knowledge, years of experience, cultivation of engineering judgment ... qualities that narrow the field of prospective support personnel. CAD companies, on the other hand, set the opposite tone: ease of use, democratization, ... everything that CAE is not.
As the products of CAD companies and CAE companies converge (see ANSYS Acquires SpaceClaim...), note that eventual success depends not only on product portfolios or the pricing (no matter how low they go), but on something that is much harder to establish: credibility, built on trust.
Market leaders establish trust after providing years of excellent service and great products. And so if indeed an analyst can nail that new composite tailfin panel analysis, if he or she really can do it in less time, or can run it from an iPad, if I can be cool and still hold my head up among my peers, or we can be sure the application has already kept planes in the air... yeah, then, maybe we will try it.
Autodesk Nastran - Autodesk product page
1. Algor was a midrange analysis program purchased by Autodesk in 2009. Although a general purpose solver, it never achieved the status of Nastran or ANSYS. It is currently called Autodesk Simulation.