MCAD Tech News (#343)

25 Apr, 2013 By: Cadalyst Staff

Firm Cuts Seat Design Costs by 60% Using Topology-Optimization Software

Design Concepts calls on PareTOWorks, a new SolidWorks add-in, to confidently eliminate the metal hinge in a stadium seat.

By Beth Stetenfeld

Imagine you're a team member at a product design firm, and your team has an idea for an innovative new stadium seat. The project poses a number of challenges, including the following:

  • Tight competition requires that you minimize materials and manufacturing costs for the seat.
  • Limited time and engineering resources mean that the design process must be fast and efficient.
  • The design must maintain high standards for quality and appearance, and must meet specific safety requirements.

That was the scenario for Design Concepts, an award-winning product design consultancy in Madison, Wisconsin. Fortunately, new topology-optimization software — in the form of an add-in to SolidWorks — helped the firm cut design time by about 60% and design costs by more than 50%. In addition, the team eliminated the need for a metal hinge in the seat, which previously constituted 60% of the total manufacturing cost.

A rendering illustrates the new folding stadium seat, redesigned by Design Concepts.
A rendering illustrates the new folding stadium seat, redesigned by Design Concepts.

The lead mechanical engineer on the project, Chris Strahm, believes topology optimization will become a powerful tool for designers. "It's exciting," he said. "Now we have a new approach to starting an engineering-heavy project. There's greater potential for a unique design for our clients."

Topology Optimization

The add-in, named PareTOWorks, uses generic geometry and specific user-defined constraints to arrive at a first proof of principle (POP) model within minutes — or even seconds. From there, it's a matter of a few adjustments to create a presentation-ready design option.

PareTOWorks is being developed by Krishnan Suresh, an associate professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The name stems from pareto-optimal solutions to topology optimization, he explained, with pareto-optimal meaning many solutions to engineering problems that have conflicting objectives. Read more »

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Beth Stetenfeld is an editor and writer, and principal of Stetenfeld Associates.

Epson SureColor T5000

First Look Review: Superb print quality and an excellent price are highlights of company's first wide-format printer for CAD market.

By R.K. McSwain

Highly Recommended

Epson has long been known for the ink technology that draws professional photographers to its printers. Last fall, the company plunged into the CAD market, debuting a line of wide-format printers designed to meet the needs of those users. It appears the company did its homework: The new Epson SureColor T5000 reviewed in Cadalyst Labs looks as good — and performs as well — as its competition.

A 36" wide-format printer, the Epson SureColor T5000 is one model in the new Epson SureColor T-Series, which also includes the 24" SureColor T3000 and the 44" SureColor T7000. Other than the printing width and price, these machines are virtually identical.

The Epson SureColor T5000 36" wide-format printer comes with a stand and a stacking print basket.
The Epson SureColor T5000 36" wide-format printer comes with a stand and a stacking print basket.

SureColor T-Series printers can accommodate a variety of materials without any special mounting, from inexpensive 20-lb bond and photo paper to 1.2-mm poster board and 1.5-mm rigid stock, according to Epson. They draw on five cartridges of Epson UltraChrome XD pigment-based ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, photo black, and matte black), available in quantities of 110 ml, 350 ml, and 750 ml. They run on standard 120-volt power and include standard USB and Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor R.K. McSwain is a designer and CAD systems administrator for Pate Engineers in Houston.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

3D Scanning for CAD
April 30, 2013
11 a.m. PT
This NextEngine webinar will show attendees how to create usable models for CAD programs such as SolidWorks, Creo, and Inventor. Read more »

Integrating modeFRONTIER with Sculptor
May 2, 2013
9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET
This free webinar, hosted jointly by ESTECO and Optimal Solutions, will demonstrate the new interface between the two programs and cover some relevant case studies. Users of ESTECO's process integration and optimization software modeFRONTIER and Optimal Solutions' SCULPTOR mesh morphing software will now find it easier to couple the two tools, thanks to the new interface. Read more »

PTC Live Global
June 9–12, 2013
Anaheim, California
At this training and networking event, the product development community will learn how PTC technologies can help users address product development challenges. Attendees will hear — directly from current PTC technology users — how they are boosting productivity and streamlining deployments and upgrades. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


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Cyon Research Wants to Know About Your CAD Use
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You don't have to do everything on your own — not when there are inexpensive ways to buy yourself some breathing room. Read more »

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Right-Click Customization in AutoCAD
You can navigate through commands twice as fast if you modify your right-click customization options — and who doesn't want to go twice as fast? In this video tip from Lynn Allen and Cadalyst, Lynn will show you how to set up the right button on your mouse to execute an Enter or access the shortcut menus, depending on how long you hold down the button. Watch the video »

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