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The future, the past and obliteration on the menu for Solidworks World keynote

Published 11 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: solidworks, jeff ray, solidworks world

SolidWorks World 2009 Monday Keynote – Jeff Ray by SolidWorksCorp

As the announcer bellowed his name as though a boxer was entering the ring and the blistering music rang in my ears I actually got a bit excited about Jeff Ray’s keynote speech at this year’s Solidworks World (SW).

I was slightly taken aback by the rock and roll entry, but it didn’t hold back CEO Jeff. Customer service is up to 91%, 1.2 million people are firing through the customer portal, and localisation of languages has been upped to 16.

So how would he grade their performance overall last year? “I would say it’s a B, but it’s a B-minus because we have plenty of room to improve.”

A survey of users after the last SW said they spend 70% of their time in SW, a huge chunk of their working lives to be in one program, and Jeff seemed set to make sure users have the chance to give their opinion.

Located in the customer portal, Brainstorm, a way to vote publicly about what goes into Solidworks, was key to this message of interaction. “It’s going to be a core part of the R&D process for those people who have access to the customer portal,” said Jeff, adding “The key word here is transparency. We’re going to show you everything and we trust that you’ll give us your best advice in our best interest.”

Showing that his inner cool belies his age, Jeff even gives out the tweet code for everyone to chase-up later on Twitter.

The outlay for the next version was summed up through “three things we have to concentrate on” – and this came through obliterating installs, obliterating the upgrade process, and the way that users have to work when managing design data. “When you need to go find that part, or that assembly, you have to become a database administrator. And we need to obliterate that language,” explained Jeff, his heart clearly set on destroying the niggling parts of the Solidworks experience. “It shouldn’t matter where those files are located – if they’re on your hard drive, on the server, or out in the cloud – you shouldn’t care and you shouldn’t have to talk to the computer in the language that it understands.”

Despite his rallying it was a tricky crowd. Although the audience was there through their love of SW, many of the claims were being met with stony silence as everyone waited for the news of what the financial crisis was to bring.

Jeff attacked this with a bit of history. “Some of the great inventions that we take for granted today came out of adversity.” He began, before extolling the virtues of Spam rising up from the Great Depression. He also gave examples of companies pushing their designs in the modern world – an interesting micro-windmill, UV water treatment for developing nations, and a baby incubator made from readily available car parts – as how resourceful thinking and design is already starting to blossom from our own recession.

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Making the cut

Published 11 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: arrk, flymo

This little Flymo is a prototype put together by ARRK comprising of 25 CNC components in ABS and clear acrylic, whipped together in under a fortnight that allowed for actual field trials to cut grass.

Garden tool manufacturer Husqvarna called upon ARRK to assist in the development of their new rear collection lawnmower, the Multimo 360XC.

After successful trials ARRK was then commissioned to produce vacuum castings to build 15 fully assembled lawnmowers to be used for photo shoots and marketing meetings.

The components were fully finished, textured, assembled and then delivered to the client within four weeks, just in time for the product launch.

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Dyson digs deep for British manufacturing

Published 09 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: dyson, royal college of art

James Dyson, renowned inventor and hoover enthusiast, has made a giant donation of £5 million to the Royal College of Art to rediscover the nation’s talent for making things and rescue the manufacturing industry.

Speaking to the Observer this week, he said: “You often hear of British designers who’ve gone abroad and designed things for Apple, Volvo, Sony and so on, but if we are able to go on training very good designers and engineers, and manufacturing is given the right sort of support by government, I believe we can turn the tide and start exporting more than we import – and have great fun in the process.”

His educational charity, the James Dyson Foundation, makes the donation to help fund a new building on RCA’s Battersea campus in south London, including a lecture theatre, gallery space, studios and 40 business “incubator units” where recent graduates will be able to take their designs from the drawing board to production.

Dyson added: “Manufacturing is not a Dickensian, dark-satanic-mills place where you end up if you’re thick: it’s a very exciting intellectual exercise that is clean, poses fresh challenges every day and involves using science, design and engineering to make groundbreaking, wonderful products that the world wants.”

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AutoCAD 2010 unveiled

Published 05 February 2009

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: design, autodesk, autocad 2010, doublecad, augi

Autodesk has just finished its press launch of the next release of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2010 (they say it as ’twenty ten’). While the program is still in beta, first customer shipment is expected around March. While AutoCAD may be considered old hat in the world of modelling, or the defacto standard 2D solution, it appears that Autodesk has decided to give AutoCAD a new direction adding powerful 2D constraints and intuitive free-form modelling.

While the modelling and the constraints are shocking additions, Autodesk has also beefed up the standard 2D command set, adding in the now familiar AUGI (Autodesk User Group International) top wish list features. The main new capability being the capability to import PDF for underlays.

The bad news is that with all these additions the file format changes with the introduction of a 2010 format. It’s possible to SaveAs to a number of previous AutoCAD release formats. This time round Autodesk has included the ability to SaveAs AutoCAD R12 DXF for compatibility with releases back to AutoCAD 98.

Returning to the Constraints and Free Form capabilities, it seems that Autodesk has chosen to stop limiting the capabilities of AutoCAD within its greater 3D product range, especially Inventor and Revit. Parametric constraints and modelling have long been hailed as one of the key differentials between draughting and virtual design. It seems that Autodesk has internally accepted that many AutoCAD customers will not easily or quickly move to their vertical products as the draw of AutoCAD is still very strong. By adding these powerful features to AutoCAD, the other vertical products which are built-ontop of AutoCAD also benefit, namely AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD for Architecture and AutoCAD Civils. I assume the hope is that by introducing the technology, more customers will get the benefits and undergo migrations from AutoCAD. Or, this could be a defensive move to raise the stakes of competing against AutoCAD.

To reinforce this, probably by no coincidence but IMSI simultaneously released DoubleCAD XT, its AutoCAD clone, which is free for the base version. The company is targeting AutoCAD LT, which isn’t free (approx $1,000). While AutoCAD 2010 has 2D constraints, AutoCAD LT 2010 does not, getting only 2D enhancemnets like PDF underlays. The point here being that DoubleCAD XT does have 2D constraints and is free. If nothing else, this is good guerilla marketing.

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