CAD Tech News (#16)

30 Apr, 2015 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ Herrera on Hardware: 3D Printing Can Speed Modern CAD Workflows — or Slow Them Down

The advent of cheap, fast, and easily accessible 3D printing shouldn't fundamentally change the way we design and validate products.

By Alex Herrera

It hasn't been a struggle for marketers of 3D printers to sell potential customers on the technology's benefits. The value of 3D printing — the ability to quickly and accurately create a physical manifestation of a virtual representation — is both obvious and compelling. What was historically a challenge, though, was convincing customers that the benefits of 3D printers were worth coughing up a whole lot of money and coping with the problems and incompatibilities that came with early-generation products.

Today, however, that obstacle is falling quickly, thanks to two notable trends in the market. One, big vendors such as HP and Autodesk are demonstrating their commitment to the market and putting infrastructure in place to eliminate the interoperability issues that have plagued the technology in the past. And two, more than a few key 3D printer patents are expiring, freeing more vendors to compete in the space and to offer products at dramatically lower prices. Together, these trends are making 3D printers significantly more appealing and affordable.

HP, one of many vendors entering the burgeoning 3D printing market, recently announced its Multi Jet Fusion technology. Image courtesy of HP.
HP, one of many vendors entering the burgeoning 3D printing market, recently announced its Multi Jet Fusion technology. Image courtesy of HP.

With 3D printing relatively mature and now available to designers of almost any budget, some companies are starting to view a 3D printer as a mandatory part of the design iteration process, akin to a workstation. As they strive to provide the capability to every designer and engineer in the enterprise, it's worth stepping back to examine exactly what a 3D printed prototype can do to add value to a CAD-based product development workflow — and, just as importantly, what it can't.

The Time Cost of Prototyping

The 3D printer's move toward ubiquity begs an important question: Should the advent of cheap, fast, and easily accessible 3D printing fundamentally change the way in which we design and validate products? Generally speaking, the answer is no. For most, the mainstream availability of 3D printing will augment and accelerate their existing workflow. It won't change the tried-and-true design iteration cycle — model, render, simulate, and repeat — that forms the foundation of the modern CAD-based workflow. And really, it shouldn't. Read more »

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

▶ Femap Tips and Tricks: Shortcuts for Navigating Femap's Model Info Tree

If you're working with a long list of entities, such as Materials or Properties, save yourself some time by using the Model Info entity scrolling capability.

By Alastair Robertson

In Femap finite element analysis (FEA) software, long lists of entities such as Materials or Properties are easier to navigate using the Model Info entity scrolling capability. You can set the maximum number of entities to display in File > Preferences; in the Model Info section of the User Interface tab you can specify Max Entities. Read more »

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Alastair Robertson is the product marketing manager for Siemens PLM Software Velocity Series CAE solutions.


Survey: How Will 3D Printing Affect You?
Cadalyst wants to know: How does 3D printing fit into your CAD workflow, now or in the future? Help us better understand the realities of 3D printing in the CAD community, and we'll reward you with insight and information on the effects of 3D printing so you can plan for the future. Simply complete our 5-minute survey, and we'll send you the survey results and access to the whitepaper, "An Inside Look at 3D Printer Adoption in the CAD Market."

CAD Manager's Toolbox: New SSDs Deliver Brute Bandwidth
Latest announcements in solid-state drives promise faster handling of large data sets. Read more »

CAD Manager Column: Perfect Your Fundamental CAD Technology
Before you push to adopt the latest cutting-edge hardware and software developments, optimize the tech you already have. Read more »

Open Your AutoCAD Drawing to a Saved View
Join Autodesk Evangelist Lynn Allen as she shows you how to open a drawing file and go to a specific area of your drawing in one easy step (perfect for working on large files!). Watch the video »


AIA Convention 2015
May 14–16, 2015
Atlanta, Georgia
This year's AIA convention will offer nearly 300 education, along with a first look at new materials and technology from nearly 800 exhibitors. Read more »

Revit Technology Conference Australasia
May 14–16, 2015
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Those who attend the eleventh Australasian Revit Technology Conference can learn from some of the world's top instructors and industry experts, share ideas and insights with an international community of their peers, and explore the latest trends and technologies. Read more »

RAPID Conference and Exposition
May 18 –21, 2015
Long Beach, California
SME will sponsor this 25th annual additive manufacturing conference where visitors will have an opportunity to evaluate and compare major manufacturers and leading technologies. Seventeen industries will be represented at RAPID 2015, promoting cross-industry collaboration between aerospace, medical, consumer goods, automotive, and more. Read more »

The Internet of Things and What it Means for PLM
May 20, 2015
11 a.m. ET
This CIMdata webinar will discuss the reality of the Internet of Things and the new challenges and new opportunities it is bringing to product development. Several use cases will be shared, along with a discussion on the ramifications of managing the product versus managing the information from the product. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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