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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - If you have a machine shop in America, you have a problem. There are thousands like you. Many are going under or about to, their machines idle, operators laid off, victims of large scale decline in domestic manufacturing.
What do you do? If you are Titan Gilroy, you appeal to America.
The burly and tattooed Titan, who gives his name to his business, looks every bit like the fighter he once was. A one time serious amateur boxer, it was street fighting that got him in trouble with the law (he served 3 years in prison). Somehow he ends up owning a machine shop in California's gold country. If that is not enough of a career twist, he is also now in the media business.
Titan Media has produced TV show and lined up Autodesk to throw VIP party to launch its premiere show, in which the Titan story is told.
Titan is perfect for adding the role of restoring pride in his country. Citing America at least one a sentence, he combines the fervor of a evangelical preacher with the beat of a Detroit rapper. The crowd in the Autodesk Gallerey is lapping it up. It may be that the show tells a good story or that the room is stocked with Titan employees, but whoops and hollers abound. We see how Titan's shop makes gun parts, his bullied youth, the boxing, a redemption by the Lord after the bout in prison.
Titan Gilroy with Roopinder from the local liberal San Francisco press
It is a hell of a story. To hear it well received in ultra liberal San Francisco is a bit of a surprise.
With a "Fight for America" on his t-shirt, Titan is on a mission to not just keep his machine shop open, but to bring American manufacturing back to the forefront. It could tie into the buying local movement, which the San Francisco area has taken to heart, albeit for food. Why not buy locally made products? Yes, they cost more. But they keep guys like Titan and his employees employed. Off the streets. Off welfare.
If business is an indication (company was expected to top $6M in revenue in 2008, according to a Wall Street Journal article on the Titan America website), Titan America does seem to be doing something right with its precision machining of high-value parts. In the video, we see Titan take on an order for hundreds of parts for thermal imaging rifle scope. Customer needs them by Thursday. Titan runs his machine shop around the clock and makes his employees do whatever it takes to produce the parts. We see one machinist almost getting fired after ramming a tool into a part causing a production delay. The parts are delivered almost on time. The machinist not fired (was actually spotted applauding during the premiere). A happy ending.
It remains to be seen if the concept could work well for manufacturing as volumes of mass production, which is the strength of overseas manufacturing, notably that in China. Though Titan's shop is stocked with state of the art CNC machines and with an over abundance of American pride, there is still the reality of paying the American worker 10 times more than a Chinese worker. The Titan operation works well for high value parts (the scope housing was $8K each) and with ultra-demanding schedules, when the customers are from the military, aerospace and medicine.
But what if your customer is a Wal-Mart shopper?
For more information
Titan American Built - TV series, Fridays at 7pm, on MAVTV, available on Dish and DirecTV
Titan American Built Premier: The Fight for American Manufacturing - Sharon Stark, 3DPrint Press, Oct 26, 2014
Grass Valley Manufacturing Titan Featured in New TV Series - Mark Glover, Sacramento Bee, Oct 24, 2014
A Tale of a Young Boxer's Redemption - Dennis Nishi, Wall Street Journal, Dec 2, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - BIM consultant and reseller Microdesk is open for business in San Francisco, with their new office in the financial district. In their first Tech Talk Thursday, they invited potential customers -- and yours truly -– to show how UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles a.k.a. drones) can photograph nearby buildings, leading to 3D models.
Microdesk got its start in the Boston area 20 years ago, and now has 11 offices around the country. It sells its products and services mostly in the architecture and construction industry. Their newest office is in San Francisco and houses eight employees.
Flying the Drone
Peter Marchese, who is Microdesk's 3D scanning ace, came from his Philadelphia location to fly the UAV overhead San Francisco – nearby and always within sight. During its time in the air, it took a few photos with its GoPro camera but not enough to make a model. In contrast, a previous project took 6,200 photos and about a day to process.
Models are stored as .rcp (recap) files. To view them, we have to download a trial version of Autodesk’s ReCap, which, frankly, seems to me to be a little too much work. I await from Autodesk a lightweight RCP viewer.
Bargain 3D Modeling from Photographs
Peter gave a presentation to the 20 or so architects who were in attendance that showed, among other things, how camera-equipped drones might actually be employed. The photos are copied from the GoPro’s SD card, and then uploaded to an Autodesk's cloud-based service, which, as if by magic, stitches the pictures together to make the 3D model.
I suspect the process to make 3D models may be a lot more labor intensive than we are being led to believe. At previous demos, the demo jocks don't actually show me the process, except that days later they come back with a model. I am not a believer of miracles; I expect a lot of work transpired. I find that Autodesk takes 4 to 8 hours just to process the photos. Peter has to comb through the photos and "help" the not-so-good photos by "connecting the dots" in multiple photos: telling the application that something in 5 different photos is really the same thing. This helps the stitching. But even if you add up a person and toiling away for hours, this is remarkably less time, effort and money than a model from alternative means: from a blank screen with computer modeling, or from a point cloud from a LIDAR scan.
Peter Marchese, far left, flies a UAV equipped with a GoPro camera near Microdesk's recently opened San Francisco office
Here is a glimpse of a real project Microdesk was involved with
The 3D model produced by the demo is not perfect, nor is the process very streamlined. It takes many photos to make a detailed model, and uploading them all to the cloud takes time. The resulting 3D model is not easily shared. It looks grainy. Parts of it near the edge are distorted. Black spots show missing details, and there are many of them. In other words, it's not exactly movie-quality imagery.
However, I get the sense that improvements will be forthcoming. Photogrammetry is simply too compelling a technology, its uses so varied, and its cost of entry too low, for it not to attract users, adherents, and investment. The cost of the hardware is minimal compared to alternatives. The UAV is essentially a radio-controlled aircraft, available in toy stores. The whole rig, plane and camera, costs less than $2K, says Marchese.
With this demo, Microdesk is positioning itself as a leader in photogrammetry services for AEC and civil applications.
For more information:
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.