CAD Tech News (#2)

2 Oct, 2014 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ The Democratization of Manufacturing — and PLM Software

At the first-ever Accelerate 2014, innovative product developers discuss a new landscape where SMBs are thriving — and how cloud-based Autodesk PLM 360 is playing a key role.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

As the tools, funding, and know-how required for manufacturing success become increasingly accessible to even the smallest organizations, so has the software that supports product development. Just a few years ago, manufacturing success required extensive understanding of complex processes and markets as well as significant time and funding to get a new venture off the ground. And until recently, product lifecycle management (PLM) software was typically complex and costly as well — making its benefits beyond reach of most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Today, everything is turning upside down.

The smallest of companies — even individuals — now have access to tools such as free and low-cost cloud-based modeling software as well as 3D printers that can drastically reduce manufacturing costs, not to mention time to market. With not much more than a great idea, inventors can receive product-development expertise from online services such as Quirky, and entrepreneurs can secure startup funding from sources such as Kickstarter. As for PLM software, new flexibility and affordability via the cloud are bringing it into the realm of the SMB and delivering a valuable boost in a very competitive market.

These manufacturing market turnabouts were front and center at Accelerate 2014, the first-ever Autodesk conference devoted to Autodesk PLM 360, the company's cloud-based product lifecycle management solution. The free two-day event featured presentations from Autodesk customers and partners including NetSuite, Quirky, Accenture, and Dragon Innovation. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is content director for Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst.

▶ Herrera on Hardware: DDR4 Memory Technology: What's in a Number?

Capable memory is essential for efficient workstation operation. But do you need the newest generation of memory technology?

By Alex Herrera

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link — it's an adage that applies in many contexts, especially computer hardware design. Of the four main components in a workstation, the central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) often get the lion's share of attention. But if the remaining two are ignored when configuring a new CAD machine, they can become key bottlenecks that can render moot all the dollars spent on premium CPU and GPU processors. Memory and storage subsystems don't always get the billing they should, but they can be just as critical in determining what users will ultimately see in their day-to-day work.

The fastest processors in the world — whether they're ranked by GHz or floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) or millions of instructions per second (MIPS) — won't accomplish much if they can't read data and write results quickly enough. That need to effectively "feed the beast" is why big and sophisticated on-chip memory caches are commonplace on both CPUs and GPUs — so that the processing elements that need data can be located closer to where the data resides. Still, caches can only get so big, and ultimately processors' accesses need to be served by main system memory. And often, the bigger and multiple datasets common in product design mean CAD workflows can see a higher percentage of accesses requiring system memory cycles. In the end, a high-performance memory subsystem almost always becomes a critical component in a high-performance computer tasked with running a modern, demanding CAD workflow. Read more »

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Alex Herrera is a consultant focusing on high-performance graphics and workstations.

▶ MSC Aims to Take CAE from Frustrating to Efficient

New MSC Apex will enable a paradigm shift that accelerates design validation and enables rapid trade studies earlier in product development, the company reports.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

"Simulation today is a QA tool, a checking tool," said MSC Software CEO and President Dominic Gallello during a phone interview with Cadalyst last week. Following the CAD stage of the design workflow, he explained, users typically approach computer-aided engineering (CAE) with an attitude of, "'Oh, by the way, let's evaluate [design] behavior,'" he said. "In the end, simulation is just a bottleneck for companies. ... What people would like to do is move simulation to a much earlier stage of design.' Knowing design behavior early, he said, "is fantastic in terms of overall productivity."

That is the reality that MSC Software aims to address with MSC Apex, announced this week. Described as the next-generation CAE platform and the world's first computational parts–based CAE system, MSC Apex will serve as the platform for a broad range of physics and other applications that MSC Software will introduce over time, according to the company, and will transform the way engineers perform simulation by reducing critical CAE modeling and process time from days to hours and enabling predictive product development in the earlier stages of design when it is critical to saving time and money. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is content director for Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst.

▶ The Promise of Virtualization: Secure Remote Access to 3D Data

Technologies such as XenDesktop are designed to centralize 3D apps and data while preserving visual performance.

By Yvonne Dresser

Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To decrease time to market, they must be able to collaborate and manage design lifecycles effectively with offshore, mobile, and remote employees. At the same time, they have to maintain security and control over intellectual property even as their workforce becomes more mobile and more widely distributed, and their computing environment becomes more diverse.

To achieve these goals, companies that rely heavily on collaborating and exchanging 3D models and 2D drawings need to overcome several key challenges. Product and design data residing on users' workstations is difficult to secure and to share with other team members, partners, suppliers, and customers. Indeed, the most common ways to exchange design data are e-mail, FTP, and physical media such as USB thumb drives — all cumbersome and asynchronous methods that fail to support real-time 3D collaboration. Data synchronization across global design centers becomes less efficient with each passing year as file sizes grow at a faster rate than network capacity. It is far too difficult to access designs from the factory floor or the field in order to make simple edits or analyze a change in real time. Security has become a critical problem as well: Sharing product and design data among partners and suppliers increases the risk of intellectual property theft. Read more »

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Yvonne Dresser is a senior product marketing manager at Citrix.


Section Navisworks Models
Bisect and divide working models in various ways to emphasize features you want to isolate. Watch the video »

Use Navisworks to Create Animated Building Walkthroughs
Learn how to make an immersive animated walkthrough of a building within Autodesk Navisworks, including specific viewpoints to highlight project features you want to share. Watch the video »

Create 3D Cells in MicroStation
In this tutorial, trainer Peter Mann demonstrates how to put together a custom cell that emphasizes the views of any 3D object you wish to highlight within a project. Watch the video »

Adjust Standards for Notes and Leaders in Autodesk Inventor
This IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial video demonstrates how to set standards for notes and leaders in Autodesk Inventor's detailing environment. Watch the video »


MODO for Product Design and Design Visualization
October 8, 2014
11 a.m. PT
This Novedge webinar offers an in-depth look at the use of MODO for product design and design visualization. Read more »

Dallas BIMForum 2014
October 9–10, 2014
Dallas, Texas
With the theme of "Optimizing Construction with BIM," this BIMForum event will feature tracks including "Designing for Construction Optimization," "On the Job Site," and "BIM for Campus Construction." Read more »

3D Documentation Conference Americas 2014
October 13–15, 2014
Orlando, Florida
The 2014 FARO 3D Conference was created as a forum for the sharing of knowledge, best practices, and insight into the world of laser scanning and 3D documentation. Read more »

Capture 3D Innovation 2014
October 14–16, 2014
Costa Mesa, California
Capture 3D Innovation is the biannual users' group meeting for customers of Capture 3D. It is designed for quality and manufacturing executives, managers, and engineers focusing on continuing process improvement through metrology. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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