Fancy footwork

Published 13 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: rhino, proengineer, autocad, eamz, symatron, united nude

For those of us men spending this afternoon (and possibly the early hours of tomorrow morning) finding a gift for our loved ones in time for Valentines Day tomorrow (yes it’s tomorrow), then DEVELOP3D are on hand to help.

These Eamz shoes are from United Nude, a company that works with designers from all industries. Referencing the classic Eames chair, founder and designer Rem D Koolhaas wanted it to embody the same sense of cool. “It’s an ode to them, saying that the Eames chair is so cool and so clean in its design that you can create a shoe from the concept of it,” says Rem.

Developed with the assistance of Dutch master shoe-maker Rene van den Berg, the shoe took a lot of designing. “I drew the heel myself in AutoCad since I am a trained architect and this is the software that I’ve always used and feel most comfortable with,” explains Rem, adding “Since the Mono Eamz has a fully moulded upper, you’re dealing with double curved surfaces and you use 3-D software like Rhino, Pro/E or Symatron to make high-level moulds.”

Following several rounds of prototyping, adjustments, and scanning, the heel was finally completed in design, although the assistance of a motorcycle factory had to be enlisted in order to manufacture it.

You still have a few hours in which to get a pair. That is, if you can remember her shoe size.

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The future, the past and obliteration on the menu for Solidworks World keynote

Published 11 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: solidworks, solidworks world, jeff ray

SolidWorks World 2009 Monday Keynote – Jeff Ray by SolidWorksCorp

As the announcer bellowed his name as though a boxer was entering the ring and the blistering music rang in my ears I actually got a bit excited about Jeff Ray’s keynote speech at this year’s Solidworks World (SW).

I was slightly taken aback by the rock and roll entry, but it didn’t hold back CEO Jeff. Customer service is up to 91%, 1.2 million people are firing through the customer portal, and localisation of languages has been upped to 16.

So how would he grade their performance overall last year? “I would say it’s a B, but it’s a B-minus because we have plenty of room to improve.”

A survey of users after the last SW said they spend 70% of their time in SW, a huge chunk of their working lives to be in one program, and Jeff seemed set to make sure users have the chance to give their opinion.

Located in the customer portal, Brainstorm, a way to vote publicly about what goes into Solidworks, was key to this message of interaction. “It’s going to be a core part of the R&D process for those people who have access to the customer portal,” said Jeff, adding “The key word here is transparency. We’re going to show you everything and we trust that you’ll give us your best advice in our best interest.”

Showing that his inner cool belies his age, Jeff even gives out the tweet code for everyone to chase-up later on Twitter.

The outlay for the next version was summed up through “three things we have to concentrate on” – and this came through obliterating installs, obliterating the upgrade process, and the way that users have to work when managing design data. “When you need to go find that part, or that assembly, you have to become a database administrator. And we need to obliterate that language,” explained Jeff, his heart clearly set on destroying the niggling parts of the Solidworks experience. “It shouldn’t matter where those files are located – if they’re on your hard drive, on the server, or out in the cloud – you shouldn’t care and you shouldn’t have to talk to the computer in the language that it understands.”

Despite his rallying it was a tricky crowd. Although the audience was there through their love of SW, many of the claims were being met with stony silence as everyone waited for the news of what the financial crisis was to bring.

Jeff attacked this with a bit of history. “Some of the great inventions that we take for granted today came out of adversity.” He began, before extolling the virtues of Spam rising up from the Great Depression. He also gave examples of companies pushing their designs in the modern world – an interesting micro-windmill, UV water treatment for developing nations, and a baby incubator made from readily available car parts – as how resourceful thinking and design is already starting to blossom from our own recession.

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Making the cut

Published 11 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: arrk, flymo

This little Flymo is a prototype put together by ARRK comprising of 25 CNC components in ABS and clear acrylic, whipped together in under a fortnight that allowed for actual field trials to cut grass.

Garden tool manufacturer Husqvarna called upon ARRK to assist in the development of their new rear collection lawnmower, the Multimo 360XC.

After successful trials ARRK was then commissioned to produce vacuum castings to build 15 fully assembled lawnmowers to be used for photo shoots and marketing meetings.

The components were fully finished, textured, assembled and then delivered to the client within four weeks, just in time for the product launch.

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Dyson digs deep for British manufacturing

Published 09 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: dyson, royal college of art

James Dyson, renowned inventor and hoover enthusiast, has made a giant donation of £5 million to the Royal College of Art to rediscover the nation’s talent for making things and rescue the manufacturing industry.

Speaking to the Observer this week, he said: “You often hear of British designers who’ve gone abroad and designed things for Apple, Volvo, Sony and so on, but if we are able to go on training very good designers and engineers, and manufacturing is given the right sort of support by government, I believe we can turn the tide and start exporting more than we import – and have great fun in the process.”

His educational charity, the James Dyson Foundation, makes the donation to help fund a new building on RCA’s Battersea campus in south London, including a lecture theatre, gallery space, studios and 40 business “incubator units” where recent graduates will be able to take their designs from the drawing board to production.

Dyson added: “Manufacturing is not a Dickensian, dark-satanic-mills place where you end up if you’re thick: it’s a very exciting intellectual exercise that is clean, poses fresh challenges every day and involves using science, design and engineering to make groundbreaking, wonderful products that the world wants.”

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AutoCAD 2010 unveiled

Published 05 February 2009

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: design, autodesk, autocad 2010, doublecad, augi

Autodesk has just finished its press launch of the next release of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2010 (they say it as ’twenty ten’). While the program is still in beta, first customer shipment is expected around March. While AutoCAD may be considered old hat in the world of modelling, or the defacto standard 2D solution, it appears that Autodesk has decided to give AutoCAD a new direction adding powerful 2D constraints and intuitive free-form modelling.

While the modelling and the constraints are shocking additions, Autodesk has also beefed up the standard 2D command set, adding in the now familiar AUGI (Autodesk User Group International) top wish list features. The main new capability being the capability to import PDF for underlays.

The bad news is that with all these additions the file format changes with the introduction of a 2010 format. It’s possible to SaveAs to a number of previous AutoCAD release formats. This time round Autodesk has included the ability to SaveAs AutoCAD R12 DXF for compatibility with releases back to AutoCAD 98.

Returning to the Constraints and Free Form capabilities, it seems that Autodesk has chosen to stop limiting the capabilities of AutoCAD within its greater 3D product range, especially Inventor and Revit. Parametric constraints and modelling have long been hailed as one of the key differentials between draughting and virtual design. It seems that Autodesk has internally accepted that many AutoCAD customers will not easily or quickly move to their vertical products as the draw of AutoCAD is still very strong. By adding these powerful features to AutoCAD, the other vertical products which are built-ontop of AutoCAD also benefit, namely AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD for Architecture and AutoCAD Civils. I assume the hope is that by introducing the technology, more customers will get the benefits and undergo migrations from AutoCAD. Or, this could be a defensive move to raise the stakes of competing against AutoCAD.

To reinforce this, probably by no coincidence but IMSI simultaneously released DoubleCAD XT, its AutoCAD clone, which is free for the base version. The company is targeting AutoCAD LT, which isn’t free (approx $1,000). While AutoCAD 2010 has 2D constraints, AutoCAD LT 2010 does not, getting only 2D enhancemnets like PDF underlays. The point here being that DoubleCAD XT does have 2D constraints and is free. If nothing else, this is good guerilla marketing.

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Behind the Scenes with Bang & Olufsen and the BeoSound 5

Published 05 February 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, design, beosound 5, lego, bang and olufsen

The March Edition of DEVELOP3D will tell the story of how legendary Audio specialist, Bang and Olufsen develops products – specifically, the BeoSound 5, “a high-quality digital audio player that is intended to bridge the gap between the company’s high-end Hi-Fi systems and music stored digitally.

What blew me away was how the team is using tools at hand (from 3D CAD, rendering, but at a more fundamental level, gloriously lo-tech cardboard, Lego and bastardised components) to experiment and create a stunning product – and I just wanted to share this photo below.

B&O’s Oliver Wallington explains that “Although these prototypes are unlikely to win any design prizes, they can tell you a great deal about what is needed to ensure good functionality.

If you want to see this product in action, check this video

And if you want to read the full story, don’t forget to register and stay tuned – we’ve got another DEVELOP3D for you before this one hits the streets.

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Inventor Fusion goes Public

Published 04 February 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: autodesk, autodesk inventor, synchronous technology, inventor fusion, cocreate, direct modelling

Autodesk has officially launched Inventor Fusion (we reported on it at AU late last year). The company has finally come out from the cloud of secrecy surrounding Inventor Fusion and talked to the press/media about it openly. While there’s not been a great deal new learned in the last few days (as it’s still a while away from becoming available) it’s worth answering the major questions that cropped up. We’ve also got some better quality video showing how the system works in different use cases, so let’s mix up the two.

#1: Why?

Fusion #1: Here you’ll see how the system is configured to model from scratch. Things to look out for are the stripped back UI, how the majority of commands and operations are both highly context sensitive, and present in a radial manner around the cursor.

This one is easy. Inventor is currently a history-based parametric modeling system. Quite a number of Autodesk’s competitors have been developing systems which are not. These systems allow you to dynamically edit geometry without recourse to parametric design, without recourse to history – no regeneration, not flipping hourglass. Due to the nature of these systems, they allow you to work with geometry from other systems nicely.

And those other vendors have been making quite a lot of noise about it. Hence, Autodesk’s response. Yes, I’m sure everyone’s been working on something similar. Facts of the matter are that workstations of the last 20 years (since the release of Pro/E) have not had enough power to carry out these types of calculation in one go.

As a result, each model’s construction was split up into chunks (features) and executed in linear order (history). But we’re now at a stage where the compute power in your average workstation is sufficient enough to allow to do both, simultaneously. While the development of this technology was inevitable, the release of SpaceClaim and the subsequent acquisition of CoCreate by PTC, all brought things to a head and provided the catalyst. Here we are.

#2: Is it the new Inventor?

No. Not yet. It’s a technology preview. As such, its a system that you’ll be able to download and play with. Essentially, Autodesk want users to knock the rough bits off it, kick it into shape and see where it goes.

#3: Will it be the new Inventor?

No. Well. Sort of. The name is the clue. Fusion is about bringing in a new technology into the Autodesk offering. Eventually, I would imagine and it was confirmed during the launch web-conference, that all of this technology (in whatever form it ends up once the Technology Preview is over) will become part of standard Inventor – unless users want otherwise.

#4: What’s the difference between this and SpaceClaim, CoCreate, and Siemens’ Synchronous Technology et al?

The modeling technology is not particularly unique. Whatever system you work with, if you’re working with basic, prismatic and well translated parts, then it’ll work like a dream. Step outside of that, and it won’t. Basic topology changes will be OK, dramatic ones will not.

Inventor Fusion does have some very nice User Interface details, radial menus at cursor (rather than menu), stripped back dialogs, context sensitivity – it’s all there. It’s very NX like in fact. For me, that’s a 100% good thing.

Fusion Video #2: Here you’ll see how the system works with existing geometry, making design changes and editing patterns/array. While you’ll see a feature tree to the bottom left of the UI, that’s feature only – not a history tree. So updates are made instantly.

#5: So, it looks like other systems, works like them, what’s the Big Deal?

The Big Deal is this. Now, this is only demo-ware at the moment, but the potential is huge. You can take a history+parametric+feature-based part from standard inventor into Inventor Fusion. In Fusion, you can edit the geometry of the part, delete faces, move specific instances from a pattern.

Fusion Video#3: Edits are being made to this transmission housing, using the direct modelling tools. Note how the system is pulling, dragging and droppping non-native data.

You can then read it back into Inventor, have the system interrogate the part and reconfigure the history and feature tree to accommodate those changes. Whizz bang, your part has been round-tripped successfully, edits made without recourse to history.

Now, the quick amongst you (or the cynics) will say – surely that shows that you’re lacking tools in standard Inventor. Absolutely. but consider that eventually, this technology will be one and the same system. that’s intriguing. That’s mix and matching direct editing with parametric and history-based design and maintaining that history. Creating a Fusion. That, my friends, is very interesting indeed. See, I told you it’s all in a name.

Register your interest at www.inventorfusion.com

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