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Coming up: Live Events

Published 28 April 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, rapid prototyping, live events, productpoint, live reports, rapid2009

So, I don’t know if you heard, but there’s supposed to be some sort of global economic apocalypse happening. Would someone please tell my travel agent, because it seems that whilst the world is in financial freefall, I’m travelling more than ever, both within the UK and to the US. and its not just me, its the rest of the DEVELOP3D team too.

I’ve been in the US for a month of 2009 already this year and just got back from a trip to Portland and Arizona and I’m headed out to RAPID2009 in Chiacgo early next month. I’ve not been to RAPID before, so I’m pretty excited to see what’s on show. There’s pretty much three events that make my calender for a year on the rapid prototyping front. Euromold in Frankfurt at the tail end of the year and TCT Live just a few months before it in October in the UK.

RAPID is a new addition, organised by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and its on in Schaumburg, just outside of Chicago, 12 May to the 14th. A quick gander at the exhibitor list and all the big boys are there, Objet, Stratasys, EOS, Z Corp, all the reverse engineering guys as well as a some of the bigger service providers. It’ll be interesting to speak to the latter to see how things are going. I discovered a long while ago that talking to those that ’service’ the product development industry is a fantastic gauge for seeing how the industry is doing as a whole.

After that, next US trip is out to Orlando again for PTC/User 2009 – always an intriguing event. One thing I found interesting is that rather than, as they have in previous years, segregated the press/media from the users for all but a few select occasions, this year, we seem to have a lot more freedom to wander and to explore. Of course, with Wildfire 5 on its way very soon, I’ll be trying to find out a little more about what’s coming up and let you guys know. PTC also have another event on I’m going to try and make, that’s looking at Windchill ProductPoint, something I looked at in the last issue of DEVEVLOP3D. It’s running in the UK on the 7th of May at the Warwick Manufacturing Group International Centre. Details are here.

Which brings me to the point of my post. Are live events something you’re interested in? With staff reductions, greater work load and more pressure than ever, is a live event something you’d consider stepping foot out of the office for? I’m curious to know. I suspect the answer is a no, but if its a yes, I’d love to know the reason why.

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Proto Labs add the fourth axis to its plans for domination

Published 27 April 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, proto labs, protomold, first cut prototype

Ever heard of Proto Labs? What about Protomold or First Cut? Well, if you have, you probably know all about their service, if you don’t let me explain. Proto Labs, in both their US and European operation, have managed to build up a very interesting business – starting out with injection moulding, the company focussed on squeezing out the inefficiencies in the whole process and have squeezed things down until they’ve got it absolutely nailed. You load up the web-site, upload your 3D CAD data and get a quote back.

The quote is hyper-interactive, lets you see any potential problems and gives you a huge amount of Design for Manufacturing advice (its worth using it for that reason alone, as a sanity check). You get a price that’s an amalgamation of the cost of the Aluminium tool, batch size, material selection and time. If it meets your needs, the machine kicks into gear. The factory set-up in the UK (I’ve not seen the US operation) is super slick. Aluminium tools are produce, plastic is shot and parts are shipped. That’s pretty standard right? no. These guys can turn it around in 24 hours. Yup. Part uploaded, paid for, tool machined, loaded onto a moulder, parts produced, packed and shipped – in 24 hours. Now tell me that’s not impressive.

In the last few years, the company has been expanding its services, mostly notably with the creation of First Cut Prototype, where you can order prototype components, machined directly from production intent material (rather than moulded – and it just does plastic.. at the moment). Why would you want to do that when there’s a wealth of rapid prototyping technology avialable that claim the same? The answer is firstly, production intent means production intent, rather than a resin or powder-based simulacrum. The second is again, speed. They can get your order, give you the same ProtoQuote, then once accepted, you can get those parts, to your door, in the same time frame – 24 hours. Something that makes a mockery of the Rapid tag often attributed to some prototyping techniques.

Well, the interesting news is that the company has just added a 4th axis to its First Cut service – this means that they can rotate the around the z axis and can produce more complex components. Oh and John Tumelty, the MD of Proto Labs Europe, is also a columnist in DEVELOP3D, where he gets his hair off over manfuacturing issues every month. Why did we ask John to write for us? Because when it comes to design for manufacturing, these guys have got it nailed.

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Open Source PLM?

Published 26 April 2009

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: autodesk, design competition, lg, crowdsourcing, crowdspring, lg competition. lucky goldstar

Still recovering from the jetlag of attending COFES (Congress on the Future of Engineering Software) in Arizona but having flashbacks of some of the meetings we had. One of the stand-out sessions was with Simon Floyd of Microsoft, who is in charge of PLM strategy at the global giant. Simon introduced us to a company called Aras, which had decided to sack its entire sales force and turn its PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software into Open Source.

After much head scratching it seemed that Aras based it’s ‘Open’ PLM layer on all of Microsoft’s enterprise products, so companies that had already acquired Microsoft Enterprise products would have all the necessary products (like SharePoint) to assemble a PLM system, with the addition of the ‘as-many-users-as-you-want, no license fee, no nothing, honest’ Aras Innovator PLM Solution Suite.

While we didn’t get a demo of the software, the issue for us seemed to be that Microsoft was backing a specific PLM vendor,when its partnered with Dassault Systemes, PTC, Siemens PLM Software and many others. Pushing an Open Source alternative will certainly put some noses out of place. Even more when they hear that the Microsoft sales teams have all had a demo of Aras Innovator as a demonstration of adding value to the Microsoft Enterprise package.

I’m probably the last person on the planet to find anything about PLM interesting but many of the big CAD vendors have big investments in getting customers to spend big in this area. Now they have to get over the hurdle of what the free, or almost free software can do.

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LG, CROWDspring and Autodesk partner for the future of personal mobile communication competition

Published 21 April 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with:

LG Mobile Phones, crowdSPRING and Autodesk have announced a new competition to define the future of personal mobile communication. While it’s just for US residents (18 and over), you can have a chance to design your vision of the next revolutionary LG mobile phone and compete for more than whopping $80,000 in awards, $20,000 for the top prize, $10,000 and $5,000 for second and third, then 40 prizes of a grand for the runners up.

According to the particpation web-site, the LG are looking to “Predict what’s next.” and want to know what you, the designer, thinks mobile phones should look like in “2, 5, or 10 years?” as the web-site says, they’re not looking for a “long list of specs or phone ideas that already exist,” but rather new concepts or big ideas – but you do have to incorporate the LG logo must be included somewhere.

Entries will in judged on the basis of Need Fulfillment/Market Potential, Creativity/Originality/Innovation as the to leading criteria, then feasibility and Polish/Appeal. Submissions may be “illustrated or rendered in any format – hand sketches, digital drawings, or renderings – rendering tool used will not affect judging process. You may submit as many entries as you like.” Autodesk are sponsoring the event and providing a 15 day trial of SketchBook Pro to anyone that enters here. If you’re a twitter user, then you can follow it at @LGcompetition

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