Posts by Stephen Holmes

Modelling moves into the mainstream

Published 28 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: shapeways, philips, ponoko

Online open 3D print site Shapeways has been around for a few months now, but has now added its own Creator engine, allowing anyone to go online to design, model and print.

The latest step towards making 3D design more mainstream, Shapeways, the offspring of Philips Research sponsoring bills itself as ‘the next generation of consumer co-creation’. It joins a number of sites, including the impressive laser-cutting based Ponoko, that offer anyone the chance to grab their mouse and create anything onscreen to be built and shipped to them.

CMO of Shapeway Jochem de Boer, said:“In today’s world, consumers are universally less and less satisfied with the choice that the usual shops offer. Instead, they are looking for ways to reflect their personal identity in the objects that they choose to have around them.”

The sites gallery shows this clearly, with the greatest uptake beginning to produce seasonal items; Christmas Tree decorations, Nativity scene candle holders and snowmen ornaments hoard the pages and fill the niche of the personal gift, with the benefit of having someone else make it and having a 10-day shipping period.

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3D design battled out to the death*

Published 27 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: autodesk, autodesk university, cutandpaste, au design slam

I might be missing out on the weather, the casinos, the showgirls and something called Autodesk University in Las Vegas next week, but the AU Design Slam by the guys behind Cut&Paste is something I’d really have loved to have seen.

The live on-stage design competition is going to be the first to feature 3D design, with teams hacking out designs against the clock using Autodesk Maya, AliasStudio, SketchBook Pro, and Revit Architecture software.

20 minute rounds mean competitors are pushed to use their wits and showmanship to entertain the crowds as their progress is projected in real-time onto massive screens.

In an interview in the build-up to AU, Cut&Paste executive director John Fiorelli, said: “It’s a live battle between industrial designers and between architects, it’s very similar to the digital design series we do for graphic designers around the world. We’re working with Autodesk University to bring it to industrial design and architecture for the first time this year.

“The idea is to do in 3D what we do in 2D: Give people a chance to see what the creative process is like; give people a chance to see what industrial designers and architects do in real-time,” explained John. “In essence the show is pretty straightforward. We put designers on stage, we give them a theme or a brief and they create work alive in front of your very eyes on LCD projectors. You can watch every brushstroke, every mistake, every scratch-out, every revision, and it gives you the chance to see what people do using Autodesk tools.”

The design briefs are issued to contestants a week or so in advance to allow for concepts to begin developing, but organisers throw in extra elements just before the battle begins, adding a bit more spice to the events.

In case you’re wondering where I’ll be while the rest of the D3D team apply their factor 30, bare their pale flesh, and delve into the 3D battles in Vegas; I’ll be reporting back from deepest-winter Frankfurt. Chilling.

*might not constitute actual death

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PTC encourage boys and their toys

Published 24 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: ptc, proengineer, scalextric, schools, my little pony

As Christmas approaches many a man will go bleary-eyed reminiscing of that childhood memory of waking in hope of finding a Scalextric set under the Christmas tree; only to find they’d been brought My Little Pony.

Now PTC are jumping on the retro toy bandwagon and joining up with Hornby to launch the Scalextric4schools Slot Car Design Challenge.

Using Pro/Engineer Wildfire software secondary school children to design their own Scalextric car then manufacture their car, fit it with a standard Scalextric motor and drive train and then race it on a standard Scalextric track. During this process the aim is to teach the students how the car works mechanically and dynamically and strive to design a car to go round a Scalextric track as quickly as possible.

“PTC is committed to delivering a truly unique and rewarding academic learning experience,” says PTC education programme manager Mike Brown. “Our strong relationship with Hornby Hobbies, together with their world-class Scalextric range of products provides the perfect foundation on which to continue development and expansion of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum modules.”

Via the ‘CAD in Schools’ initiative every school in the UK can obtain a 300 seat site license of Pro/Engineer software at no cost to the school; the license also includes free home use for students.

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NAFEMS seminar to get ‘upfront’ with CFD

Published 13 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: cfd, nafems

A NAFEMS seminar in Coventry is bringing together experts from motorsports, motion and control, and telecommunications industries to present ways in which designers can apply CFD earlier.

Renault F1, Rolls-Royce, Alcatel and Parker Hannifin will be on hand to give an insight into how simulation driven product development is making a difference in their industries.

The event on 26 November is free to members of the organization as part of their membership,as well as anyone else interested, and hopes to show them the benefits that the concept of ‘upfront CFD’ or the bizarrely named ‘front-loading CFD’ in the design process.

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PTC ‘unleashes’ its six-way beast

Published 13 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: ptc, pro engineer, webcasts

Pro/Engineer users, and anyone else for that matter, are being invited via webcast to listen to PTC offer its six-point mantra for helping make companies more money.

Despite sounding like a dodgy pyramid scheme, the series of webcasts will show major companies explaining how they’ve boosted their profits by improving their product development practices.

Promising a six-way initiative that can help boost productivity it seems unlikely that it will provide a definite stop to the country’s economic recession, but any advice that might help and we’re listening.

The first webcast takes place on 24 November.

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Bass breaks the bad news

Published 06 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: autodesk, carl bass

Carl Bass, president and CEO of Autodesk has admitted they are feeling the pinch of the global financial crisis, as demand for products fell throughout October.

“The sharp downturn of the global economy is substantially impacting our business. Demand for our products fell dramatically in October in all geographies as the financial crisis worsened,” said Bass, blaming the downturn in the global economy for customers delaying projects.

Profits for the financial quarter ending in October were in the range of $604 million to $607 million, having previously been forecasted in the region of $625 million to $635 million. As a result, forecasts for the next financial quarter have been greatly decreased.

“Our third quarter net income will include the benefit of some reductions to previous cost estimates. In addition we have begun to take actions to reduce our cost structure,” added Bass, without elaborating on what these would include.

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Chair made from WEEE

Published 05 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: solidworks

A chair made the recycled plastics of redundant video game consoles is helping reduce the amount of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) from our nations gaming habit heading to landfills.

The design of Sprout Design, the REEE chair incorporates the plastic from 9 Playstation2 consoles, each chair preventing 2.4Kg of plastic entering our already crammed landfill sites. Using Solidworks to tweak individual components and construct the final design, the team at Sprout expect to ship 3,000 chairs (equivalent to 7.5 tonnes of recycled plastic) in the next year.

Engineer Guy Robinson, said “The final design is quite complex, though each component by itself is fairly simple. There were a lot of details to get the geometry and ergonomics right, such as how the stiffness and flex of the ribs responded to the body, and how to make the clips tamperproof yet easy to disassemble, etc. Solidworks allowed us to tweak the design of the individual components while showing how this affected the whole product to get it right. We would have abandoned this concept early on if we didn’t have that flexibility.”

The chair is the brainchild of Christopher Pett, founder of sustainable product development company Pli Design Ltd. Sprout used SolidWorks SimulationXpress to ensure the chair would be strong enough to support sitters without over-engineering the amount of plastic in the seat’s ribs, reinforcing the sustainable design theme. Both Pett and Robinson hope the Reee Chair sets a precedent for electronics manufacturers around the world.

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