MCAD Tech News (#240)

14 May, 2008

Autodesk Takes a Shot at Plastics Market

Moldflow acquisition to strengthen offerings for part, tool designers.

By Jeffrey Rowe

Jeffrey Rowe photo"I want to say one word to you. Just one word."
"Yes, sir."
"Are you listening?"
"Yes, I am."

Of course, "plastics" was the career advice that Mr. McGuire gave to Benjamin in the 1967 movie The Graduate. Plastics are also one reason behind Autodesk's newest acquisition, Moldflow.

Plastic parts and their tooling came on the scene more than a half-century ago, but their design is still among the most challenging in the mechanical arena. In earlier days, practically everyone involved in designing plastic parts and tooling -- myself included -- held their breath and hoped for the best until the first shot produced a successful first part. As is true for several other areas of mechanical design and engineering, using software to simulate plastic parts and processes has dramatically decreased the associated anxiety. Of the vendors that developed software for plastic part and tooling design, Moldflow rose to the top tier.

Founded in 1978, Moldflow has always been at the forefront of developing technologies that predict and optimize plastic parts and molds during all phases of the design and manufacturing processes. The company's most popular products are the Moldflow Plastics Advisers for simulating parts and molds. The Moldflow Part Adviser analyzes the manufacturability of plastic parts and offers specific recommendations for optimizing part design, identifying plastics material candidates, and maximizing physical performance. Similarly, the Moldflow Mold Adviser optimizes a mold's core and cavity design and the runner system, which is used to fill the mold with plastic. Used in tandem, the Part and Mold Advisers can estimate material and manufacturing costs for each part. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Jeffrey Rowe is the principal of Cairowest Group, an independent industrial design, mechanical engineering, and technical communication consulting firm with offices in Colorado and Michigan. You can reach him by e-mail at or by phone at 719.221.1867.


Trends in Reverse Engineering

By Jeffery Rowe

Over the years, reverse engineering (RE) has suffered from a lack of respect. While the "engineering" part of the term has always been regarded positively, the term as a whole has suffered because of the negative connotations associated with the word "reverse." In many people's minds, RE involves the illegal act of copying (in effect, stealing) an original design, whether the design is for software or a physical product. The old perception, however, is changing. As a result, RE's image is changing, too.

Simply put, RE is the process by which you digitally reconstruct a physical part. This is significant, because it's estimated that as many as 80% of new designs come from existing ones (usually from existing parts and assemblies). RE is part of a larger scheme increasingly known as digital shape sampling and processing (DSSP).
DSSP involves several technologies that, put together, bridge the physical and digital worlds. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

Las Vegas AUGI CAD Camp
May 20, 2008
Las Vegas, Nevada
AUGI CAD Camp promises to enlighten and inform through educational sessions, a wide variety of courses, and opportunities to network with fellow attendees and browse the exhibit area. Don't forget to enter the Top DAUG Competition. Read more »

Autodesk Experience Virtual Event
June 3, 2008
10 a.m. EDT
Join informative sessions including What's New with AutoCAD 2009 Tips & Tricks with Lynn Allen. Learn how to hone your AutoCAD skills and witness how the latest release of AutoCAD can make you more productive than ever. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on