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Granta bring Materials intelligence to the Engineering Desktop

Published 26 May 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, simulation, dassault systemes, ptc, proengineer, manufacture, simulia, granta design, materials selection, mike ashby

This, I love, in all the right ways. I’ve always been of the opinion that perhaps the one missing piece in the 3D design toolkit is a set of decent materials selection tools that integrate with the workhorse design systems we use every day. After, aside from form, perhaps one of the biggest contributing factors in the performance of the part or a product, is materials and ensuring that you’re using the correct material for the job at hand. Often, it’s a known factor, but in these days of drive for cost efficiency or indeed, green design or the simple drive to do less for more, a change in materials can help push that forward.

So, it’s with great pleasure I read today’s news out of the Simulia Customer Conference over in Providence, that Granta Design (based in Cambridge - that’s UK, not Mass), has release the GRANTA MI:Materials Gateway which provides “integration of materials information technology with computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE).” Alongside the Simulia event, it’ll also be shown at the forthcoming PTC/User Event in Florida in June.

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Good for your health

Published 26 May 2010

Posted by Tanya Weaver

Article tagged with: design, design council, healthcare

Going to hospital isn’t an experience that many of us relish, even if it’s for a minor operation or just to visit a patient.  It seems that a change from the clinical white and impersonal feel that many of us experience as soon as we walk into a hospital as well as the inefficiencies and issues with cleanliness that are often the case with many healthcare systems, would be very much welcomed. In fact, there has been quite a bit of press recently about design in healthcare and how to rethink and improve the role of NHS hospitals and patient care in the UK. A number of organisations including the Design Council has been pushing this issue for quite some time. For instance, it has orchestrated a number of campaigns such as Design Bugs Out that is looking at redesigning hospital equipment and furniture and Design for Patient Dignity that recently commissioned six teams of designers and manufacturers to look at how innovative new designs can solve privacy and dignity issues (think of the standard hospital gown that often exposes the patient’s rear end to all who make walk behind them!).

Priestmangoode, a London-based design consultancy, has identified a compelling opportunity for using design to address some of the specific challenges thrown up by such cases for rethinking healthcare.  It believes that intelligent, efficient design has the potential to improve everyday life for millions of people each year. As a result, they have put together a paper - The Health Manifesto: A Smarter Role for Design in Healthcare – that provides a raft of principles, ideas and new thinking. Although not specifically a healthcare design consultancy, this area is something that managing director Paul Priestman feels very strongly about:  “I love new challenges and there seems to be a natural progression from the work we’ve done on micro environments such as airline seats and hotel rooms where we are maximising best use of space to healthcare. Hospitals, despite investment in the past decade or so, have still not moved on as much as consumer and leisure environments yet patient expectations have. Using the expertise we have developed from our work in product and environment design, we believe we can make healthcare more efficient, enjoyable to work in and use.”

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Deal made to continue 3D technology development behind PDF

Published 26 May 2010

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: adobe, ttf, hoops, anark, ron fritz, techsoft3d, acrobat pro extended, components, prc, pdf

Back in November 2009 we reported that Adobe had allegedly laid off most of the employees in its Manufacturing Solutions Group . Since then, there has been no word on what Adobe was planning on doing with regard to the development of 3D in PDF or its focus on the engineering sector. This month, it emerged that a deal has been done between Adobe and CAD / graphics component supplier TechSoft 3D that will offer some clarity on what will happen with 3D in PDF.

Before we look at what this new deal might mean for the future of 3D PDF, it’s worth going over a little bit of history. In 2006 Adobe introduced Acrobat 3D, a new version heralding the inclusion of lightweight 3D, in the form of the U3D format. Adobe had realised that PDF was big in AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) and took the plunge to incorporate the ability to capture 3D geometry in an open format. Up until that point the various CAD firms had all been trying very hard to give away their ‘open’ 3D formats to try and dominate the collaboration slice of the 3D market but nobody had reached critical mass. It was hoped that Adobe could be the big gorilla to drive through a standard. Unfortunately U3D was not a brilliant format, could get quite large in terms of file size, and there were not many ways to create U3D. In addition, as most CAD vendors had their own formats they were already promoting, not many wanted to include U3D capabilities.

Adobe then made a significant acquisition, buying Trade and Technologies France (TTF), a developer of data translation and viewing tools. TTF was a respected provider of CAD file conversion tools, which now gave Adobe the ability to create 3D PDF from the majority of key CAD applications, as well as a new highly compressed b-rep file format called PRC (Product Representation Compact). PRC has the ability to save geometry in low-level tessellated or high-level b-rep formats, the latter of which is so accurate it has been said you could machine off it. With this technology included in PDF, Adobe produced Acrobat Pro Extended in 2008. This version of Acrobat could be used to import many native CAD formats and included assembly information, object hierarchies and PMI for embedding in PDF documents. Adobe also worked with TechSoft 3D (http://www.hoops3d.com) to sell development kits (SDKs) to CAD developers, providing all the translation tools plus native PDF creation for a pretty aggressive price. A year and a half later the majority of the team behind that product at Adobe was let go.

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NX 7.5 #1 : Core Synchronous Technology updates

Published 20 May 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, nx, synchronous technology, siemens plm software, surface modelling, nx 7.5

Today is the launch of the latest release in Siemens PLM Software’s NX product line and I’m sure the online world will be aflutter with all manner of content and thoughts on what the company is up to with its flagship product. I wanted to do things slightly different and take a look at a different areas of the release over the course of a couple of posts and spend some time focussing on the details of what’s changed and what looks exciting. And today’s subject is, Synchronous Technology.

While the launch saw a huge amount of noise made around how this breakthrough technology was impacting Solid Edge, many missed the really joucy stuff, the place where Synchronous Technology made much more sense in terms of supporting and adding to existing workflows and capabilities - and that was within NX. The problem was that NX has, for many years, allowed the user much more freedom from the traditional Feature/History way of working found in Solid Edge and its mainstream competition. The removal of a reliance on history was something that didn’t make huge deadlines purely because that’s how NX has always worked to a greater or lesser extent. Also, the manner in which it was integrated into NX was much less prescriptive than Edge and allows the user to much greater choice. History (of each modelling operation executed) could be stored if needs be, or you could simply work in the way you wanted without storing that trail of operations. But which ever way the user chose to work (and experience tells me that users use the most appropriate method based on the task at hand), the one thing that Syncronous Technology couldn’t do was work with non-prismatic geometry. Basically, while the drag and drop, auto-inferred, relationship driven way of working that Sync Tech brings, didn’t give you much advantage once you stepped outside of extrudes, revolves, shells, fillets and chamfers.

For NX 7.5, this changes. And changes big style. The concepts of Sync Tech have now been integrated into NX’s pre-existing tools for working with typically surface-based complex geometry in the form of iForm operation. Like the xForm tools that have been around since the system was called Unigraphics, it allows you to manipulate surfaces on a very fundamental level. You can dive in and manipulate the geometry using a range of methods which it would take quite sometime to explain with words. So, instead, we’ve got a little time lapsed video to show how it works. Have a watch of this, then pop back for some thoughts.

Cue the VT

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