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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Objet launches smaller size multi-material prototyping machine with Connex350

Published 17 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, rapid prototyping, objet, polyjet, multi-material rp

Objet Geometries has just launched the Connex350, the follow up to the Connex 500 that allows you to simultaneously print multiple materials with different mechanical and physical properties.

Based on the same core PolyJet Matrix technology, Connex350 brings greater affordability, with a smaller build tray size (350x350x200mm). For those unaware of it, the Connex machines can replicate a huge range of different materials (read: different Shore hardnesses) in a single build by mixing how Objet’s FullCure materials are jetted to create different composites. The two FullCure model materials are jetted from designated nozzles according to location and model type, providing full control of their structure and mechanical properties.

The combination of rubberlike, flexible material and rigid material allows users to print models for a wide variety of applications, from coating and shock absorbers to living hinges and gaskets – and excels at replicating the feel and tactile response of over moulded or multi-stage injection moulded components – something which is very time consuming and labour intensive to prototype using vacuum casting. The device will be on show next week at Dassault Systemes DEVCON event in Velizey (that’s in France) – I’ll be there briefly, so say hi if you spot me.

On other Objet related notes, the company has recently launched a number of plug-ins for 3D design systems that give you control over your builds directly from within your CAD system. There’s currently three CADMatrix plug-ins available for Inventor, Pro/Engineer and SolidWorks. More details here.

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i4 Design new locomotive for Pete Waterman’s loco company

Published 17 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, design, rude boy, pete waterman, i4 product design

I love the press releases we get through the “door” at DEVELOP3D. Amongst the odd things inviting you to a Porn Exhibition in Munich to the stunning tediousness of someone, somewhere, launching a new stapler (seriously, it wasn’t even a nice one – it didn’t come in green). Then you get things that are just too funny (but equally as impressive).

Today’s jem has come from i4, an Edinburgh-based Product Design house, who have just announced details of a project its been working for ‘Just Like The Real Thing’ (JLTRT), a model railway company owned by none other than Pete Waterman. Yes. THAT Pete Waterman. The man that brought us Musical Youth, Kylie Minogue, Steps and some others.

JLTRT is Waterman’s model railway company based in Irvine, Ayrshire and they appointed i4 Product Design to design a model diesel locomotive, the ‘Class 26’ for the company. The team where tasked with creating a true representation of the Class 26 diesel loco through building a CAD model of the train. The project is due to be complete within the next few weeks. Then, JLTRT will start the manufacturing process at its plant in Irvine ad will launch next year.

As you can see from these pics, it’s an impressive beast. Modelled in SolidWorks but what I found most interest where the comments from Laurie Lynch, managing director for JLTRT who commented on i4’s work on the product “i4 Product Design has really come up trumps on this project. Being a market leader in model trains, we’re all about creating kits that our customers will be delighted with. That’s why we need to work with talented, professional designers who combined with our years of experience, can help create high-end models that our demanding modelers expect from us. We’ve been really impressed with i4’s work – they have an enviable reputation for delivering on time and to budget and work really well with our team. Our aim is to develop a long-term relationship with i4 and create more model trains in the future.

Finally, I was pondering what music video to post. To be honest, while I admire Waterman’s engineering-related interests and biz acumen, most of music output has been pretty much crap. Then I discovered an interesting fact. For a very brief period, Pete Waterman managed this lot. (who are on tour this year and I’ve just got tickets to see them in wolves). Enjoy the most gratuitous link to a music video ever. But its worth it.

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New DEVELOP3D is coming – competition, Inventor, Solid Edge with ST 2.0, SpacePilot Pro and al

Published 15 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: amd, nvidia, solid edge, autodesk inventor, synchronous technology, spaceclaim, 3dconnexion, scalextric, marin bikes

The next issue of DEVELOP3D is out for your enjoyment and we’ve got a wicked issue in store for you this month. Our cover story is about Marin Bikes and how they use Autodesk Inventor to develop their range of cycles. One thing struck us about this story, along with many others we run every month, is the passion behind the products, and the shear bloody enthusiasm people have for their job. As Jason Faircloth, Marin’s product manager and bike designer commented, “Working at Marin turns a hobby into an income producing job.

Alongside the story, we’ve worked with the folks at Autodesk to give away a pretty sweet little deal. In return for some information and your thoughts on simulation and analysis, we’ll enter you into a competition to win the product on the cover – a pretty sweet Point Reyes Commuter bikes (worth a grand). If you haven’t registered for the magazine or PDF, visit here to reg up and enter. If you’ve already registered, then visit here and all you need do is enter the email address you registered with and enter the competition.*

Elsewhere we take a look at how Senz used SpaceClaim to help design a breakthrough product is a pretty static marketplace. How Hornby designs its Scalectrix cars based on real world data. Of course, no DEVELOP3D would be bunch of reviews for you. We take a look at what’s new in Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology 2.0, Inventor 2010, the new SpacePilot Pro, a bunch of new Graphics hardware from AMD and Nvidia.

I’m also delighted to announce the latest contributor to join the Team, Joe Moak from who’s discussing assembly constraints design and how early decisions can influence manfacturability. Joe will be writing us his thoughts on a bi-monthly basis or more depending on how busy he is designing awesome stuff.

* Those inevitable Terms and conditions: This competition closes on 31st July 2009 and is only open to those over the age of 18. Entry into the competition and acceptance of the prize constitutes permission to use their name inside the magazine. The winners will be selected at random by X3DMedia Ltd. No purchase necessary. Only winners will be contacted personally.

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Students these days don’t know they’re born – but they’re rather clever

Published 11 June 2009

Posted by greg corke

Article tagged with: solidworks, student design, touch-based displays

When I was an engineering student back in the early nineties, even though computers and CAD were widespread in industry and we were taught CAD (albeit at a very basic level), we had to draft all of our projects on drawing boards with set squares and Rotring pens. As I had been a CAD operator the previous year I found this incredibly frustrating.

Of course, it all came down to resources, of which my University seemingly had very little of at the time. Hardware was expensive and so was software and there were only a dozen AutoCAD stations to share between ALL the engineering departments – about 1,500 students in total. Today, of course, things have changed. The CAD software industry is literally chucking software at educational establishments, and students are coming out of University extremely clued up on all things tech.

This little ramble is a precursor to a nice little story I heard about some Cambridge University students who have developed an innovative new collaborative 3D design system called BrickBox, which is completely controlled by touch. SolidWorks was the inspiration behind this fascinating project, which may come as no surprise considering its Cambridge location.

I could waffle on forever about the tech, but it’s much more interesting (and informative) to show you the videos.

I just wish I’d had access to such tech and resource when I was a student. In saying that, I couldn’t even get my head round programming in Fortran back then. The computer expertise I’d picked up in my formative ‘Commodore 64’ years just didn’t seem to cut it. I can’t think why.

10 print “Greg is skill”
20 go to 10

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Autodesk expands its employment Assistance Programme

Published 10 June 2009

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with: autodesk, autodesk inventor, education, autodesk assistance program, training

In April Autodesk announced a programme for engineers and architects that had lost their jobs in the current financial crisis. In essence, people who were unfortunate to qualify were entitled to free software and on-line training for 13 months, together with a possibility of achieving a professional accreditation.

Autodesk has just announced that companies which hire people who have been through the Assistance Programme will be entitled to get a discount of 40% on new commercial licenses of AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit Architecture and AutoCAD Civil3D. Should an individual decide to go freelance the same discount applies to trade up to a full commercial license.

The company has expanded the software available on the programme to include AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical Alias Design and Alias Surface, together with 90 day licenses of 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya.

Access to the Auodesk University web site has also been added, which has over 1,000 online session videos and 400 presentations, together with all the e-learning tools that are available to Autodesk Subscribers.

Since its launch Autodesk has recruited 74 partners offering training, together with 4,700 registrations and over 5,700 product downloads.

Autodesk is also getting proactive by organising local events, inviting recruiting firms and engineers and architects seeking employment to its facilities for ‘meet and greet’ events. The image here is from an networking event the company put together at its San Francisco customer product gallery at One Market. Representatives from local firms actively recruiting, together with employment firms such as, Linkedin and Aerotek were present. Ideate and Ketiv co-hosted the evening. We understand more networking events will follow.

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New Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design in the UK holds promise

Published 10 June 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: education, rebuilding manufacturing

I just got details through of a new qualification in the UK that will allow 14 to 19 year olds to study vocational courses in a wide range of manufacturing disciplines while still in school and college. The Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD), which is being introduced in 28 areas around England from September, will allow students “to gain accredited qualifications in disciplines ranging from computer aided design (CAD) and engineering to furniture making and food safety as an alternative to studying GCSEs or A-Levels.”

The choice of qualifications, known as Additional and Specialist Learning (ASL), has recently been released ahead of launch and is intended to complement the study of core principles relevant to all manufacturing sectors by offering clear progression routes into the industry.

Derek Jones, who has led the development of the Diploma in MPD on behalf of food and drink sector skills council Improve, said: “The Diploma in MPD is a response to the long-standing complaint from industry that young people are leaving education without the practical skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace.

Its main purpose is to give young people a sound understanding of what manufacturing is in an applied, real-life context. The core topics cover product design, materials science, production systems and business and management, and it also pays close attention to ‘employability’ skills like communication, numeracy and ICT, as well as ’soft’ skills such as critical thinking and team work.

But the intention is also to give students an education they can actually use, which will stand them in good stead in the workplace. So the ASL requirement has been developed to allow students to pick from a wide range of existing, recognised qualifications, be it something specific to a particular sector or to a particular manufacturing theme, or on a different topic altogether, for example a modern language, which could be useful to them. This offers students the widest possible choice of future paths, preparing them for further academic study in college or university, but and giving them the chance to gain qualifications that will be recognised in the workplace if they choose to seek a job or further vocational training through an Apprenticeship or similar.

The Diploma in MPD has been developed by employers working with the five manufacturing sector skills councils – Improve, Cogent, Skillfast-UK, Semta, Proskills. Employers will play a central role in its delivery, working as part of consortia, or partnerships, with school and colleges. Their role will range from offering work placements to assisting with project topics to assisting with teachers’ Continuing Professional Development.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for employers to shape the education of the next generation of workers,” added Mr Jones. “Not only is this putting manufacturing right at the heart of mainstream education, it is mirroring the way companies train and develop staff in the workplace and giving young people practical skills they require in the workplace.”

Notes: I have just two thoughts about this. the first is “Thank **** for that. What took so long.” And the second is that I seriously hope this isn’t just a temporary initiative and something long term. I’m going to try and get hold of the man in charge and have a chat and see what the plans are. The real challenge I can see is two fold. Firstly, getting kids to engage with design and manfacturing at an age early enough for them to find taking on these course attractive. The other is that the interest is maintained while on these courses. It strikes me that the use of CAD within education can do wonderful things. Kids love tech. If you can tie some of the amazing technology we all perhaps take for granted and expose kids to it at an early enough stage in their career formulation, then it might stick. Because frankly, if we don’t. We’re screwed three ways from Sunday.

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