CAD Tech News (#94)

19 Sep, 2018 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ Digital Construction Methods Are Rewriting Business Models

As digital processes — from building information modeling (BIM) to 3D printing — replace traditional ways of working, the design and construction of the built world are being fundamentally changed.

By Randall S. Newton

Bruce Bell says home builders have a problem: The transformation of society by the increased use of technology means the pool of available workers who favor outdoorsy construction jobs is shrinking. Bell is managing director at Facit Homes, a home manufacturer in the UK, and he explained that the company has noticed an increase in job site problems stemming from misread plans and botched construction details. Fewer skilled construction workers means a greater need to send experts to individual home sites, increasing costs. But Bell thinks Facit has found a way to fight fire with fire — by using digital construction.

"Modern digital manufacturing techniques have revolutionized the way we make things," says Bell. "We asked ourselves if this technology could bring more clarity and certainty to creating homes, and provide a better service and end product for the customer. Could we take house building into the digital age and manufacture homes?" Yes, they can — thanks to years of research and development, testing, and refining the process, Bell says.

Facit Homes is not alone in turning to digital construction methods. For some, it means increasing the use of structural engineering software, or using jobsite data gathered using sensors, cameras, and scanners. To others, it means combining elements of factory fabrication with on-site assembly, extending building information modeling (BIM) beyond design. More than a specific use of technology, digital construction is about new construction business models that put digital tools at the heart of construction processes.

Facit's innovations in the use of digital fabrication techniques and other uses of computer technologies have led to industry honors. The UK television program Grand Designs devoted an episode to Facit and the "world's first computer-cut house." Bell says what they are doing is more than prefab in a factory; it will be impossible to build enough factories to manufacture all the homes required. "We are looking bringing digital tools to traditional techniques on a small scale," says Bell. "We call it digitizing the analog."

Facit Homes seem custom to the buyer, but they are based on a set of standard
Facit Homes seem custom to the buyer, but they are based on a set of standard "chassis" templates assembled on-site. Image courtesy of Facit Homes.

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Randall S. Newton is a Cadalyst contributing editor. He is managing director of Consilia Vektor, a boutique consulting firm specializing in engineering and distributed ledger technologies for industry.

▶ SOLIDWORKS 2019 Focuses on Current Productivity, while Preparing for Tomorrow's Tech

With the latest update of its 3D design and engineering portfolio, Dassault Systèmes aims to address the needs of existing customers — and those it doesn't have yet.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Dassault Systèmes launched SOLIDWORKS 2019 this week, announcing improvements to the portfolio of 3D design and engineering applications that, according to the company, decrease design-to-production times and improve design flexibility. "Like every year, we made a lot of enhancements this year," Manish Kumar, vice-president of research and development at Dassault Systèmes, told Cadalyst. Kumar emphasized that the full portfolio of applications — the "entire design ecosystem," as he put it — is improved with each annual update. "Today, SOLIDWORKS does not just do CAD," he stressed.

"We always have themes around which we try to energize and focus our entire team," Kumar explained. This year, the focus was on performance — especially the performance of large assemblies. SOLIDWORKS 2019 features enhancements to the Large Design Review functionality, enabling users to quickly interrogate or adjust models that comprise many components, while preserving shadows, reflections, and other visual elements.

During a broadcast of the launch event, Mark Schneider, senior product introduction manager for SOLIDWORKS, compared the manipulation of a 7,500-part telescope model in SOLIDWORKS 2018 and 2019; motion lagged and was jerky in the former, but smooth and responsive in the latter. "When you have these massive models … you want to be able to interact with them and work with them and kind of zoom around," Schneider commented. "[In SOLIDWORKS 2019,] you can zoom, pan, rotate very fast … it feels like I'm rotating a block around on the screen." This improvement was accomplished, Schneider explained, by moving more of the computational work involved from the CPU to the graphics card.

Large models like this 10-meter-class telescope, which comprises some 7,500 parts, can be manipulated smoothly with the enhanced Large Design Review functionality in SOLIDWORKS 2019. Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.
Large models like this 10-meter-class telescope, which comprises some 7,500 parts, can be manipulated smoothly with the enhanced Large Design Review functionality in SOLIDWORKS 2019. Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.


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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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