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DEVCON 2009: 3dvia iPhone App

Published 24 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: dassault systemes, apple, iphone app, 3dvia, devcon 2009, mobile 3d

#2: At the recent DEVCON event, Dassault Systemes unvieled a forthcoming application for the iPhone that allows users to connect to the 3d data respository, view data and manipulate it in 3D. There’s also an interesting looking feature which takes a photo from the phone’s camera and allows you to position that part or product within that photo (which is semi automated because of the iPhone orientation awareness and the fixed focal length of the camera). While it might sound a little gimmicky, what I found most interesting is that almost every vendor I’ve been talking to has iPhone ambitions and while this isn’t the first 3D and product development related app or iPhone tool from a traditionally CAD focussed vendor, you can bet your bottom dollar, it’s not going to be the last. Word has it that this app should ship on the App Store by the end of the month once Apple has approved it (which is apparently the major challenge for anyone developing iPhone apps).

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Dassault Systemes – DEVCON 2009

Published 23 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: catia, dassault systemes, enovia, delmia, devcon 2009, liveshape

#1: Apologies for the tardiness in posting this, the video took way too long to process and even then, doesn’t really give the right look. But anyway, on with the show: Well, it’s a bright, brisk morning in Velizy, located in the southwest of Paris and the first thing we’re doing it donning a wicked pair of 3D stereographic glasses for a virtual tour of Dassault Systemes impressive new campus (where you can buy a heart attack inducing strong cup of coffee for a bargain .50 euro). The DS campus is split into four interconnected buildings, named Air, Water, Fire and Earth are the names for the four buildings that make up the – and as the campus uses 3 times less electricity and emits 6 times less CO2 compared to the average office block.

Taking the stage first is Domnique Florack, who heads up research and development at Dassault Systemes. Three major achievements since the last DEVCON are the last 18 months, won 4,000 new Enovia customers (including Gucci and Samsung Semiconductor). Second key fact is relating to SolidWorks and its achievement of reaching 1,000,000 user licenses and the final one is (amazing considering) has more than 600,000 users connected using content relating to 3dvia related communities. Incidently there’s just been an annoucement regarding the availability of high-end content for 3dvia as well – details here.

When asked about the three key events that have happened in the last 12 months, Florack picked up the acquisition of Engenious enable “Lifecycle Simulation” capabilities in Simulia, a new partnership with Intercim and its tools for PLM driven manufacturing execution and business process engineering to work with Delmia to develop the next generation tools manufacturing related set of tools. Finally Florack highlighted the creation of the DS Design Studio, lead by industry veteran Anne Asensio) which is aiming to help companies with their design processes.
Announcements for this morning are: the announcement of V6R2010, highlights including 42 new products (modules), a new solution for the mid-market PLM Express Version 6 (which we’ll try to get more details about) and “revolutionary modelling and simulation technologies” tools for “innovation collaboration and social engineering.”

Demonstrated this morning was the new platform for Social Innovation (iPLM), a hosted service for managing a company’s development based processes by allowing a much richer set of tools that are in line with the current thinking in social networking, but with 3D at its centre, enhanced with the usual range of web 2.0 tools for tagging, status updating, access management, group subscription and threaded discussion.

Communities can be open or closed. Setting up new community projects is pretty much a case of selecting users and assigning priorities and access levels (Author, commentator), adding the required media, whether in the form of documents, text, images, video or 3D data.

The Innovation Sphere – a slick little way to navigate content hosted on the iPLM service.

Much of this information can be viewed using the ‘innovation sphere’, which presents all of this information in a odd looking but seemingly highly navigable spherical manner, so you can browse through your assets with ease. There also seems to be a wealth of analytics data, which allows the project manager to view information about how your community is reacting to content (which from a design perspective is highly value and almost impossible to gauge using currently available tools).

Here we’ve got some quickly shot video of what was demonstrated next and to say that this is impressive technology for connecting a community centred around product development and use of 3D data is a massive understatement. While some parts aren’t shown in the video, there’s been a complete demonstration of how the company is using Cloud-based computing to offer additional services alongside interconnected design and collaboration tools, from Live Experts (which are real people, available 24/7 to assist with learning all manner of things covering the full range of DS offerings), photo realistic rendering.

What’s interesting about what Dassault have is how its connected with its tools currently available. By using a platform that actually follows many of the clues given by generally application web 2.0 technologies and services, but readapting them to the process of product development and execution, Dassault are doing something quite different from many other vendors jumping on the social networking bandwagon – in that they seem to ‘get’ what its all about. Allowing users and communities to connect using web-based technology, then offer them tools that back that up. One of the most interesting thing shown is how you can create a project, then provide the tools that are required to fulfil that project – whether that’s lightweight modelling technologies in the form of LiveShape or more industrial strength tools like Catia, Delmia and yes, Solidworks. For several years, Dassault have been discussing delivering its technologies across the web – and we’re finally starting to see that enabled and delivered upon.

Note: Dassault also unveiled an 3d iPhone app that let’s you access content from 3Dvia and do some funky things with the phone’s camera. I’ll post about that later today, maybe early tomorrow.

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RCA Student makes Toaster from Scratch

Published 22 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: sustainability, toaster, argos, design as art, keepers of the booty

Photo Credit: Daniel Alexander

Loving this press release, so I’m pretty much going to republish it verbatim.

A design student at the Royal College of Art in London has made a toaster – literally from the ground up. Thomas Thwaites has travelled to mines across the country to get the raw materials for his toaster. Processing these raw materials at home, (for example he smelted iron ore in a microwave), he has produced a ‘kind of half-baked, handmade pastiche’ of a toaster you can buy in Argos for less than five pounds (for those non-UK readers, Argos is like walmart, except everything is hidden underground and accessed via a combination of small slips of paper, small pens and trolls that guard the booty). Thwaites’ toaster has cost 1187.54 ounds and has taken him on a 9 month quest around Great Britain. The project web-site is here


The project is a reaction to the idea that it’s possible or desirable to be self-sufficient, but also to the view that having more stuff, more cheaply is better. “The steel parts in a shop bought toaster probably came from rock mined in Australia. Now they’re on my kitchen worktop – for the price of less than an hour’s work. Quite amazing,” says Thwaites.

The real cost of objects is hidden. You wouldn’t want iron smelted or plastics being melted in your back garden, trust me. Though my neighbours have been quite nice about it,” he continues. “It seems the need to buy more stuff to save our economy and the need to buy less to save our environment are on a collision course. So, we either have to value what we’ve got a lot more, or spend as much time and effort taking things apart and disposing of them as we do putting them together.

As well as visiting disused mines in the Forest of Dean, England, the Knoydart Peninsula in Scotland and the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, he has consulted experts in mining, oil drilling and recycling (as well as a drunken deer stalker) to turn his vision of a making a toaster from scratch into a reality.

Photo Credit: Daniel Alexander

However, the practicalities of the project came as quite a shock when he realised that he’d need to find and process nearly 100 materials to make a true likeness of the Argos Value Range toaster he used as his model. Thwaites’ toaster uses just five materials; iron (for the grill), copper (for the pins of the plug and the wires), plastic (for the casing, plug and wire insulation), nickel (for the heating elements) and mica (around which the heating element is wound).

Step 2:Smelting Iron Ore in a Leafblower Furnace from Thomas Thwaites on Vimeo.

Steve Furlonger, the former Head of Sculpture at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and Director of Windsor Workshops, described Thwaites’ project as “disguised information”, adding, “Under his toaster making project he is saying profound things, of a different order. The ‘failures’ he encounters, during his toaster making, point to the success of his real message; that we have become disconnected from how our world is supported and sustained.

Thwaites completed the project as part of his MA in Design Interactions from the RCA and will be displaying his toaster (and making toast with it) at the RCA Show Two, the College’s annual graduate showcase for new designers from 26 June. He is also working on a short film and book which documents the toaster project in full.

The Toaster Project will be displayed at RCA Show Two, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU – 26 June – 5 July, 11am – 8pm daily (closed 3 July, closes at 5pm on 30 June, 1 July, 5 July) – admission is free.

Step 2, Attempt 2: Smelting Iron Ore in a Microwave from Thomas Thwaites on Vimeo.

Simply wonderful eh? I think while this is an interesting and from my perspective, very amusing story, there’s a salutary lesson here about consumption of materials and sustainability. I’m just not entirely sure I know what it is.

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Roland launch new MDX-40A with more automation

Published 18 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, rapid prototyping, roland dg

Here’s a strange one. The world surrounding rapid prototyping often focusses on the additive, layer-based processes, SLA, FDM, SLS etc etc. That’s fine. But if there’s one thing these systems are not. its rapid. At an inch an hour, Z corp is probably the fastest.

The thing that often gets missed in the many publications and trade shows surrounding that tag, is that there are much quicker ways to create prototypes and the strange thing is, that they typically are much more cost effective and less complex than their additive counterparts. The perfect example is Roland and its range of Modela products. These are effectively small form factor CNC machines, many capable of cutting some tough materials, from the usual chemical wood, resins and model-board, through all manner of plastics and such and into metals, particularly aluminium and copper (which is super handy for electrode machining). What the smaller machines (the MDX-15 and MDX-20) lack in the ability to cut tougher materials, they do make up for with digitising tools, using an integrated probe. The Larger machines (the MDX-540 range) are more benchtop, rather than desktop, but give you much bigger working envelopes, greater cutting speed and (with some accessories for tool changing and auto-rotating billets) unattended operation.

Roland has just launched a new machine which bridges the gap between the end of their range, the MDX-40A – an iteration of the MDX-40 launched a little while ago. This is based on a much more rigid chassis that the desktop machines, provides you with automation options and gives you the ability to cut tougher materials – but in a much smaller form factor.

It’s got a build envelope of 305 (X) x 305 (Y) mm 123 mm (Z). If you have the new optional rotary axis, it’ll support materials up to 270mm long by 120mm in diameter (10.63” long by 4.72” in diameter) – four times the previous model – and its big enough to mill a 500ml bottle. I’ve met a great number of people in the structural packaging space and they swear by these things, as they can do amazing things with acrylic (Tin Horse spring to mind).

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