Posts by Stephen Holmes

Take to the polls: Your chance to answer

Published 13 September 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with:

Readers of DEVELOP3D take to the polls

Amidst the Monday morning drudgery here at DEVELOP3D.com we are giving you the chance to get motivated with the opportunity for you to cast your opinion on a head-scratching debate with our all new Poll of the Week.

As you fill your fifth cup of coffee; curse the start of the working week, and solicit explanations from your co-colleagues as to how you woke up after post-work Friday drinks in an old lady’s front garden, here you have the chance to do something productive for the benefit of your fellow designers and engineers.

All the totals will be collated and scrutinised on Friday’s blog - so return then to see if you’re amongst the masses, or striving out there as an intellectual pioneer/dumbwit [delete as applicable].

So, today’s question is:

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Siggraph 2010 #2: GPU, CPU, HPU. Who cares?

Published 29 July 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: gpu, cpu, ray tracing

At Siggraph 2010, a not-so-subtle battle is taking place.  It’s the battle of the graphics computing future.  Depending on whom you listen to, the path to graphics performance nirvana is paved by graphics processing units (GPUs), central processing units (CPUs) or a combination of the two called heterogeneous processing units (HPUs) by analyst Jon Peddie.

At Peddie’s annual luncheon on Wednesday, the graphics processing future was discussed by a panel of high-ranking technologists, some with vested interest in which acronym comes out on top:

Eric Demers, GPG CTO of AMD
Brian Harrison, CTO of SolidWorks Labs
Rolf Herken, CEO & CTO of mental images
Bill Mark, Senior Research Scientist for Intel
Paul Stallings, VP of Software Development for Kubotek

Cheaper and faster

The principal area of interest for designers and engineers, of course, is how high-end rendering can improve their work, now and in the future.

Prices for heterogeneous computing are dropping dramatically, according to Peddie, giving more designers and engineers access to capabilities such as real-time ray tracing on lower-cost workstations.  More bandwidth, better compression and optimized software are making it more feasible to work with computer graphics via the cloud, whether over a company intranet or public internet.

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Siggraph 2010 #1: promises, promises

Published 28 July 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: amd, nvidia, gpu, quadro, siggraph

Nvidia’s new 3D Vision Pro, one of the many new 3D technologies on show

The show floor opened Tuesday in Los Angeles for SIGGRAPH 2010, the 37th edition of the conference and exposition that sets the stage for where computer graphics technology is going to take us. And although a few splashy demos were on display, there was little in the way of concrete product introductions to set hearts racing for CAD/CAM/CAE professionals.

Siggraph is the place where we first hear about exciting developments that make their way into the CAD/CAM world: 3D graphics; solid modelling; real-time rendering and ray tracing; textures, shadows and image mapping; and graphics processing units (GPUs) as stand-ins or maybe even superior alternatives to central processing units (CPUs).

Over the years, the Siggraph exposition has migrated from a general computer graphics event that included CAD/CAM and workstation vendors to one geared to the entertainment business. It’s an atmosphere of hope and sometimes desperation, a bit like a sports camp: A few of the prospective technologies on display are potential breakthroughs, but many will never quite find a lucrative application.

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Super fast students

Published 16 July 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: automotive, formula student, david coulthard's massive jaw

The team from the University of Padova, Italy, push its car down to the judges

As the workers still clear away the stands and hospitality marquees from the previous weekend’s British Grand Prix, teams of students from across the world descended into the famous Silverstone pitlane for the annual Formula Student event.

Despite struggling through the blustery conditions, temperamental rain showers, and the fact that most of the teams had been up most of the night still finishing adjustments to their cars, the cheery bunch all seemed to be looking forward to getting their creations onto the hallowed track following a year of design and engineering.

Most of the British entrants are final year students, in some cases graduating days before the event, proudly displaying their final projects and getting the chance to work from the pitlanes still marked with F1 team liveries, logos and even tyre marks.

All the cars were modeled in 3D CAD, with some more comprehensively than others. With many of the teams made of pure automotive and motorsport degree classes, their proficiency for strength testing, FEA analysis, and component design in CAD was pretty impressive.

The team from Delft University, Holland, show off their finished car, and its Catia model

Most teams seemed to have worked with Catia for the chassis, although others modeled the full thing in SolidWorks, while a sparse few were using sponsor Autodesk’s Inventor, or the really professional were really going for it in Pro/Engineer. It was interesting to see that even between the teams with the greater budgets (a lot of the European universities spend a full year traveling to the various international versions and racing) and those without, a lot of the emphasis for modern track-car building was put on the initial 3D CAD model.

Some F1 heavyweights were on hand to offer advice and add to the pressure

And it wasn’t just students at the opening day; on hand were some big guns from the world of F1 racing. Renault F1 managing director Bob Bell; Mercedes (and Michael Schumacer’s personal) race engineer Andrew Shovlin; Virgin Racing technical director Nick Wirth; and even square-jawed, taller-than-you-expect, former-F1 driver David Coulthard were all on site to give a motivational talk, some pearls of wisdom, and kick some tyres in the garages.

With over 2,500 students taking part, and the majority wanting to progress into the automotive and motorsport industry, there was some serious competition to be had even before the cars take to the track for individual time trials, handling and breaking tests over the next three days.

www.formulastudent.com

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PTC User: Orlando 2010 - Day 2

Published 09 June 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with:

A bright start as today’s presentations got underway

Today saw PTC wheel out a few of the big guns from its customer base as sportswear giant Adidas presented the well received keynote.

Elsewhere in the cavernous Rosen Shingle Creek conference centre DEVELOP3D got a couple of chances for exclusive interviews with the incredible multi-million dollar design challenge of the America’s Cup winning sailboat team BMW Oracle, and at the other scale of things, how a small 7-man design bureau Teknovtion are producing consumer electrics.

The latter came at the unholy time of interrupting breakfast, but in order to find out just how the previous day’s PLM attributes of Product Point were actually benefitting small to medium enterprises I reluctantly put down my scrambled egg quesadillas to meet Teknovation’s president Kelly Bryant.

An all round PTC success story, last year he showed up to the User event to get some more information on the Product Point system and 12 months on is utilising it fully amongst its small team. But even at this small scale it gave the impression that organising what everyone was doing on a higher level than just shared folders on a network drive was much more productive (saving roughly 10 hours a week in locating part folders) and efficient (no more duplicate folders).

The Adidas keynote was a PLM story that managed to keep everyone interested for the duration despite drifting into the intricacies of the product plan. Having sports to fall back on always helps, I suppose, when trying to keep your powerpoint presentation entertaining.

The speaker, CIO Emeritus Peter Burrows, gave an in depth look at a company worth more than $10 billion each year, and how a strong PLM system was key to its bringing new products to market, to the extent of making sure they had the right team names for the back of its World Cup jerseys, to bringing a new bum-toning trainer to market in 18 months, or being able to find the Pro/Engineer files for the component parts of the latest TaylorMade R9 SuperTri driver.

Having kept Pro/E relatively quiet for the entire weekend, and with all the CAD talk being based around the hush hush Project Lightning, it was somewhat refreshing for us to meet structual engineer Thiha Win from the BMW Oracle Americas Cup team, the man credited with designing “Winny’s System”: the ability to adjust the colossal wing sail at the centre of the 90 foot long Trimaran’s speed; a structure bigger than an Airbus A380’s wing.

As you’d expect, money was no object for what is not only the world’s oldest active sporting trophy in sport, but it is one of the most legally complicated and it’s ‘challenge’ system of ruling meant that boat specifications, plus the time and location of the race, were under wraps till the last minute, meaning that Thiha and the rest of the team were designing almost blind for one of the toughest challenges in sport.

Having found that their 90’ x 90’ Trimaran was going to be too slow they set about designing the wing sail as their ‘turbo boost’, and in the end became the first challengers to win a ‘Deed of Gift’ race in the trophy’s history. Stay tuned for more on the BMW Oracle team’s achievements later this month.

As we sailed off into the sunset it’s a fair reflection to say that PTC were using this year’s event to show its strengthened position in the world of PLM, and that other than a updated CoCreate release and the whisperings of Project Lightning it will be not until October that we hear of any further CAD developments from the new CEO. 

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PTC User: Orlando 2010

Published 08 June 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with:

Jim Heppelmann probably won’t be getting a Christmas card from Dassault this year

It’s been a long day here in the humid climate of Florida, but the constant chill of air-conditioning has kept the majority of visitors indoors and at the presentations on the first day.

The big speeches were made early on, with the keynote showing a rather unemotional leadership changeover from Dick Harrison to Jim Heppelmann with nothing more than a handshake and a quick ‘exit stage right’ for the former CEO.

Heppelmann was quick to launch into a taster of what he was storing up for later, the new project from PTC of ‘Project Lightning’. Describing the current CAD market as a ‘mature industry’, he added that it’s become “less exciting”. Project Lightning, he later added in a meeting with the media, would be PTC’s “offensive on the CAD market”, although how it would plan out was still unsure.

Rumours were abound that it would see a merger of Pro/Engineer and Co-Create, while others were adamant that it was still in its design stages and would be a long way off a prototype version, but just in time for the scheduled October 28 launch that will outline PTC’s CAD plan for the next 20 years.

Keen to promote the PLM side of business, Windchill and the Microsoft SharePoint based Product Point were both at the centre of attention, although apart from the addition of several new big name clients, very little seemed to have changed since DEVELOP3D spoke to them in February at the Media Analyst day.

Back then we described it as PTC taking off the gloves in the PLM market, although the heaviest blows were today fired at Dassault Systemes. The broadside from Heppelmann was aimed directly at the V6 platform. “I think their future’s not so promising as their past has been. We look at V6 - I think it’s V5 plus one,” he said, adding that it lacked ‘innovation’.

A few other little things stood out, like a brief look at Windchill version 10: 27 months in the making and with a much cleaner look than its predecessor. Collaborative design “inside the firewall” looked like a social collaborative tool that could actually work, like a Facebook for engineers, micro blogging was encouraged, image posting for solving design problems/stealing someone else’s’ solutions, to the extent that you can even ‘like’ a colleague’s post.

Hopefully day two will bring more design-based software revelations.

 

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New HP Designjet 3D printing solution takes RP mainstream

Published 19 April 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: rapid prototyping, hp

3D printing is about to go mainstream as Hewlett Packard released their first rapid prototyping machine for office use.

We’ve been expecting it for a while now, and as more and more attention is given to 3D printing in various media, it was only a matter of time before a giant company sat up and took notice.

The new HP Designjet 3D and it’s colour varient, the Designjet Colour 3D will start from just under €13,000 for the single coloured ABS printer. Although what you first notice is that the printer looks very familiar…

The HP printer is essentially a Stratasys Uprint, a printer we loved for it’s small, simple nature and tough models.

HP have got into bed with Stratasys, signing a deal back in January to develop their line of 3D printers, with the result being a machine ‘built to HP-spec’ (ie. gone is the cheerful colour frontages), but with very little difference.

It’s bad news were you fancying a Uprint for your office; the deal with the giant firm means that Stratasys are no longer allowed to sell their models in the UK or any other country where HP is launching the Designjet 3D, despite it costing nearly €1,000 more.

HP were happy to reveal that they are also developing a full range of 3D printers with Stratysys, leaving the possibility that the RP firm will either be completely engulfed by HP sometime in the future, or resort to making it’s money from stepping back and producing the machines and supplying the lucrative ABS plastic.

HP have found a less messy method, no dust clouds or intensive cleaning needed, plus it’s a relatively small and quiet machine. Marketing it as something that every office could use (much like it’s other 2D printers) it even comes with its own ‘Removal System’, or a mini dishwasher to wash away the build-support material for an eye-watering €5,000.

With HP rapid prototyping now has a big brand name to bring more attention to it, and a huge reseller base to get it out there, but will this be tempting you into buying one?

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