Lenovo unveils new workstations

Published 25 March 2009

Posted by greg corke

Article tagged with: amd, nvidia, workstations, intel, tesla, lenovo, gpgpu

Today Lenovo became the first of the dedicated workstation manufacturers to announce its new generation Intel Xeon (Nehalem) based workstation range. Pipping Dell and HP to the post, Lenovo’s new ThinkStation S20 and D20 feature single socket and dual socket versions of Intel’s new Core i7-based Xeon chip.

In addition to offering both AMD (ATI) and Nvidia graphics cards, the big news is that Lenovo is pushing Nvidia’s Tesla GPU platform to supplement the jaw dropping performance of Intel’s new chips. For those that don’t know, Nvidia’s Tesla cards look like a graphics card and feature virtually the same technology as a graphics card, but are designed specifically to carry out compute tasks usually done on the CPU. Like all new technologies though, we are still waiting for the applications to come, most likely in the areas of simulation and rendering.

Elsewhere, Lenovo is boasting some pretty impressive green credentials, claiming that both workstations use 50% recycled content.

Look out for a full review review soon.


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Why Microsoft moved to Pro/E Wildfire 4.0

Published 25 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, ptc, visualisation, proengineer, microsoft, wildfire 4.0, upgrade

I picked up on this news through Franco’s Novedge Pulse news aggragation thing-a-me-bob, but it made for interesting reading so I thought I’d share it. PTC just announced (although its not dated) details that Microsoft has moved up to the Pro/Engineer Wildfire 4.0 release – while at first you think, “hmmmm,” you soon remember that Microsoft do a pretty bang on job of producing their own hardware using an in house design team (and with some consultancies – anyone else got one of those terrible Philipe Starck mice?).

And the very short details provides some interesting insight into the design process and how they compress development. According to the brief details, the challenge Microsoft faced was “initiating rapid change in a worldwide development process. Microsoft needed to improve a design process limited by 6+ weeks of surfacing, 2 weeks of shelling, and a substantial restriction on last-second changes.”

To solve this, the team upgraded to Wildfire 4.0 (from a mix of 2 and 3) so they could take advantage of the surfacing improvements. Going further, this satisfies Microsoft’s desire “for a CAD solution that handles Class-A surfacing to engineering detailing in a rapid change environment.” Using the new version, the team also revised its design process, which now retains “4 weeks for both surfacing and shelling and very few appreciable restrictions on last-second changes, delivering higher quality surfaces on a shorter timeline.”

The final tidbit is that a key driver for the move was the new Direct Surface Edit (DSE) functionality, which allows “users to manipulate existing surfaces, including regular surfacing, style, solids, and even imports. It also creates new surface with revised geometry (except in style super-feature case).” Many industry pundits tend to write off Pro/E these days for some reason. I think this shows that while its not the easiest, fresh looking system, once you dig into it, its got some incredibly powerful tools – which is why people hang on to it for dear life, particularly in sectors such as high-tech and consumer electronics.

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Blue Ridge & Bolton Photosciences release ‘first’ CFD UV Reactor design tool

Published 23 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: simulation, cfd, develop3d, computational fluid dynamics, blue ridge numerics, uv simulation

Here’s an interesting announcement, Blue Ridge Numerics just announced the availability of the new UVCalc Module for its CFdesign CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) system

that allows the simulation and validation of ultraviolet (UV) reactor performance to ensure accurate fluence rates (irradiances) for UV light disinfection.

According to the folks at Blue Ridge, “The use of germicidal UV light is a rapidly expanding technology that is used to ensure public safety by deactivating the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, removing their ability to multiply and cause disease.

Design engineers developing UV applications for drinking water disinfection, wastewater treatment, and manufacturing processes for the food and beverage, medical device, pharmaceutical, and semiconductors industries (among others) can now use a familiar, CAD integrated system to further extend what can be simulated using the same tools and same datasets.

After all, when this type of technology is built into a system like CFdesign, it can be used as a part of the design process – something that’s critical for this type of work, as being able to accurate simulate such processes, early on, means you can not only catch errors earlier (prior to build), but also perform some optimization and refinement of your work based on simulation, rather than best guess. Where has this technology come from? the answer is Bolton Photosciences and Dr. Jim Bolton, a recognized expert in the UV calculation field and developer of UVCalc, now it is third generation. While we could wax lyrical about how this system works and what it can do, instead we asked Derrek Cooper (@derrekcooper) at Blue Ridge (@cfdesign) to show us:

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LAG Guitars, VISI Series and Motorhead

Published 18 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: cad, design, manufacture, cam, vero software, visi, lag guitars, motorhead, visi series

LAG Guitars are ecognised for using the highest quality woods and their famous playability.

Just had a case study come in to the office from Vero Software about how it’s VISI Series CADCAM system is being used by french luthiers, LAG Guitars. What’s interesting is that LAG are using VISI Series for both CAM and design and with all manner of users, ranging from Jean Michel Jarre to Phil Campbell from Motorhead. To give you the basics of the story, the company was founded in 1978 by Michel Lag Chavarria in Toulouse, LAG started to make a name for itself after setting up its workshop in Bedarieux, a small town in the hills of Roussillon in the south of France. Things have expanded greatly and as with many organisations, manufacturing has moved out East to China and South Korea, but the prototyping and design is still conducted in their french headquarters.

LAG Imperator guitar designed and manufactured using VISI

In the eighteen months since the company adopted VISI, the company LAG has produced over 500 NC program files and the software has had a major impact on the company’s working methods. The guitars are designed in an extraordinary “matter of hours” and the musician or sales department can get an immediate, detailed idea of what the instrument looks like. This provides a solid basis for either approving or requesting modifications to the design. Since the company invested in a rapid prototyping machine, it is even possible to watch the guitar being made. As soon as the prototype has been approved, the drawings or models are sent to the Chinese plant for production.

For those that don’t know Vero or its products, it was the first modelling tools to be developed on the Windows platform using the Parasolid kernel, but more importantly, its amongst that rare breed of system that is ultra powerful, whether using the modelling tools for creation or more importantly, editing of geometry from any source and taking that through every step into production. By providing you with all manner of tools for mould, progressive die and electrode design, a huge range of NC programming tools, it’s a one stop shop. If you missed it, we looked at VISI Series in a two parter in DEVELOP3D – check the downloads for the content in the October and November issue. We’ll have more details in the next issue.

Oh and before I’m finished, couldn’t pass this chance up (CAUTION: Naughty Words):

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Metropolitan Works Juggles Tings Proper for Roots Manuva

Published 17 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, rapid prototyping, z corporation, king of uk hip hop, roots manuva, metropolitan works

‘Album cover for ‘Slime & Reason’ by Roots Manuva. Designed by Oscar & Ewan’.

Here’s an intriguing use of prototyping and laser scanning technology. Those UK hip hop afficionados out there will no doubt have got hold of Roots Manuva’s Slime and Reason late last year – I know I did. When I looked at the cover, I wondered how that freaky image has been made and the liner notes give it away with extra images from a white light laser scanner running across the Artist formerly known as Rodney Smith’s face and a small note thanking Metropolitan Works for its help on its creation.

I just got a press release through from Z Corp that sheds a little more light on how that image was created. Designed by graphic design duo Oscar & Ewan, the cover features a head and shoulders image showing the top of his head missing and the contents filled with green slime – as you can see above. Apparently Roots came into Metro Work’s facility, had his head scanned and the scan was printed using Z-Corp’s Spectrum Z510 to create a master that was cast by a sculptor to create a ceramic vessel filled with slime. Wicked. We’ll be exploring use of technology those within product development take for granted in areas that aren’t particularly well versed in the matter over the coming weeks and months. And of course, I can’t let this oppurtunity pass without posting these, some of the best lyrics ever:

We lean all day and some say that ain’t productive

That depend upon the demons that you’re stuck with

Cause right now, I see clearer than most

I sit here contending with this cheese on toast

And the accompanying video:

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If you thought the 3D Cube was cool…

Published 13 March 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: hardware, visualisation, touch-based displays, 3d display, the future of everything

The prototyped “3D touch panel.” A white circle is displayed on the area approached by a finger. The circle becomes larger as the finger moves closer to the panel.

Again from the guys at Tech-On in Japan (which is rapidly becoming my favourite web-site read of a morning), comes the 3D touch panel..

According to the Tech-On guys, “Mitsubishi Electric Corp prototyped a capacitive touch panel that can detect the distance between a finger and the panel and demonstrated it at Interaction 2009, which took place from March 5 to 6, 2009, in Tokyo. Mitsubishi Electric calls the touch panel ” 3D touch panel” because it can determine not only the x- and y- (plane) coordinates of a finger but also its z- (normal direction) coordinate. The prototype has a 5.7-inch screen with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels (VGA). The prototype is based on a capacitive touch panel that is available on the market, and “only a few changes were made to it,” according to the spokesperson. Mitsubishi Electric just added switch elements to connect multiple sensors and improved the detection circuit to reduce its parasitic capacity.

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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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