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COFES 2009: Why we go

Published 13 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: cofes 2009, industry event, the das symposium

COFES is just a few short weeks away and I’ve been asked by a few people as to why I’ve been over the past few years (I think this is my fourth). For those unaware of this invitation only event, COFES, or the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software is held in April every year at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, in Scottsdale Arizona (16th to the 19th). It sees a huge number of both vendor executives and users gather together in the desert, to discuss themes of the engineering software industry.

According to lore (and the web-site if I’m honest), the three founders of the event, Evan Yares, Dr. Joel Orr, and Brad Holtz, originally “became friends through industry conferences. The idea for COFES sprang from a casual discussion itself, between Yares and Orr, on their desire to assemble the presidents of CAD firms in such a context, provoking a free exchange of ideas among people who have both the vision and the connections turn ideas into reality.”

COFES was founded on the idea that one-on-one interaction and the building of community are the most valuable functions of an industry forum. COFES eschews the distractions of a trade show floor and the formality of executive presentations for a comfortable, causal atmosphere consisting of large and small group discussions with the most influential players and most innovative minds of the software world.

What does tht translate into? All of the big names in the world of engineering focussed technology, in the desert, talking about what is most commonly, their passion and professional interest. Yes, there are an interesting number of keynotes (you can see the agenda here), there are a similar number of roundtable discussions, group discussions and briefings – all of which help to justify the time spent learning and talking. Yes, as a reporter working in this industry, its interesting to see who is talking to who in a huddle corner, guessing who’s up for sale and who’s buying.

But for me, COFES is about its core tenet. It’s those impromptu conversations, the chance meetings, the introductions over a drink or canape, that make it worthwhile. As I put it to someone recently who asked about what COFES was like, “It’s like LinkedIn Live.

DEVELOP3D’s very own Martyn Day discusses the environment impact of making everything out of ice… He meant… Everything.

Alongside this year’s event, there’s also the The Design and Sustainability Symposium which is intending to explore the intersection of design, simulation, and sustainability for the built (AEC) and manufactured (Mfg) environment. The goal of the event is to to raise the issues that need to be addressed and to identify areas of common ground that may be best served by collaborative, rather than competitive solutions.

I"m also very proud to announce that DEVELOP3D is a sponsoring publication for the event and both myself and Martyn will be in attendance to find out what cracking this year. And to work out our winter tans. Oh. And OK, it’s also 5 miles from the best Mojito in Arizona. Look out for live coverage from the event. Right Here.

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Catia + BMW = Greener Engines

Published 12 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, catia, dassault systemes, automotive, bmw, generative vehicle

IBM and Dassault, just sent out a press release that highlights BMW’s use of a “single digital software environment for the design of all BMW engines across its fuel and diesel-powered cars, motorcycles, and its newest line of eco-friendly, hybrid cars including the industry’s first hydrogen-powered vehicle.

According to the release: With the use of Catia software, a 3D virtual design platform, engineers can consolidate design environments and create a single reference model for the design of all future BMW engines. IBM and Dassault Systemes PLM experts have helped the automaker to harmonize and consolidate all mechanical design initiatives into a single digital infrastructure that provides the latest technologies to aid in the software simulation, calculation and testing of new engine models. As industrial sector companies intensify efforts to deliver increased value to customers, they are using smart technology to help deliver a new class of products. For example, working with IBM and Dassault Systemes, BMW has developed a series of software design initiatives aimed at equipping new cars with fuel-saving technologies. From designing smaller engines to increasing piston and cylinder performance for better ignition and fuel performance, product lifecycle management software continues to play a key role in the intelligent design of new products. In the past, aerodynamicists, physicists, and product engineers relied on CAD geometry and manual changes to create new design models. With Catia, product designers can create multiple engineering applications that significantly enhance a manufacturer’s ability to digitally share master versions of an engine or a gear-box design. The use of one digital reference model that can be updated and shared instantly across the globe helps BMW respond quickly to consumer changes prior to signing off on production and shipment plans. The time span required for designing and shipping new cars has been cut in half through the use of these new digital technologies.

BMW is an interesting organization, but a quick look at their line of products, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s less likely to push the environmentally conscious nature of its products too heavily, but the release also reveals that BMW has shipped 22 new cars with engines that produce less than 140grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels per kilometer, an achievement that meets the goals set by Kyoto Protocol participants in 1992 as part of an international treaty on climate change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. It’s use of Catia dates back many years.

In recent years, I’ve seen numerous presentations from BMW executives at Dassault events, where they discuss the potential for the generative car, where a complete master vehicle is created and used to generate all subsequent variations – an interesting prospect I’m sure you’ll agree.

But when you then look at the BMW’s marque and indeed, investigate their media web-site, you’ll quickly find that very traditional tools are still in use at the front end of the process (as you’ll see from these pics above), so for now, until technology catches up with these artisan led practices, the use of generative model to develop products will perhaps remain at the component or certain sub-system engineering level (of which engine development is a prime example).

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The Corkscrew designed by Rob Higgs

Published 11 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, mechanism, stunning

I was lead to this by David Boyle at and his twitter feed. I have very little to say about this, other than I’m utterly utterly in shear awe of what this thing does. In an age where software vendors are trying to convince us that 3D is the way to go, that to ‘innovate’ and to create the truly remarkable product, that we need high-technology tools, this, perhaps shows that great things, can be done, by talented individuals, without all the high-tech nonsense.

As, Rob Higgs, the designer and creator says “I would like my work to inspire people to consider the general pointlessness and excessiveness of the majority of man-made things in our world and to smile at our tireless pursuit of happiness through the invention of ingenious nonsense.

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The 3D Cube

Published 10 March 2009

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: visualisation, 3d display, display technology, tech-on japan

3D displays are starting to become a reality but Japanese researchers at the National Institute of Information have come up with something quite amazing. It’s a cube that has displays on all sides, plus at angular intervals.

Displaying a 3D model, the 6 screens display the corresponding view (in the case of the video, it’s the classic teapot). The screens are also touch-sensitive, like the iPhone, so the model can be manipulated in real time too. This version is low resolution, running at 36 x 30 at every 6.7 degrees of view. They are working on a high resolution version. Brilliant madness!

Originally posted at Tech-On in Japan

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