Notes from NDES

12 Mar, 2004 By: Sara Ferris

NDES-THE NATIONAL DESIGN ENGINEERING SHOW-is part of National Manufacturing Week (NMW), a collection of five separate shows that in the past practically filled all of McCormick Place. Though the show has shrunk in recent years, along with attendance, it's still the place to find out what's new in the mechanical design world. Why else would anyone go to Chicago in February?

  OFFSHORING. The exodus of U.S. jobs overseas to countries with lower labor costs figures to be a hot topic this election year. It's not only manufacturing jobs at risk-if you've ever thought that you could just as easily do your job at home, it can be done anywhere.

NMW kicked off with a Rally for American Manufacturing that illustrated the range of opinions on offshoring. (Perhaps to illustrate the complexity of today's global economy, the rally was sponsored by German software company SAP.)

One view holds that offshoring is good for the economy, though not so good if it's your job that goes away. Instead of messing with the free market, the U.S. government should devote resources to retraining displaced workers. Others call for more aggressive government action-requiring federal agencies to buy American, reforming export controls, discouraging other countries from manipulating their currencies, and making companies disclose any overseas help.

  FIND A NICHE. Announcements from CAD vendors focused mainly on adding tools for specialized tasks. UGS PLM Solutions will introduce a Mold Tooling add-on for Solid Edge, while SolidWorks is working on a program to generate electrical harness designs in conjunction with its existing Routing add-on. Through its acquisition of MechSoft technology, Autodesk will provide Inventor users with a number of parts generators and the ability to use engineering calculations to drive designs.

  ANALYSIS FOR THE DESKTOP. Various analysis software developers showcased versions of their applications designed for the occasional user-the product designer. These programs mask the underlying computational engines with wizards or other step-by-step input options. For more on this trend, see "FEA automates analysis" on p. 30.

  3D PUBLISHING FORMATS. Options for compressing 3D models for transfer via the Internet (overseas, no doubt) abound. Veterans such as Actify were joined by Lattice3D and the oddly named OKYZ. OKYZ's Raider3D taps directly into OpenGL information to capture models, so it works with any 3D application. It runs on Windows, Linux, and UNIX.

  WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE? The eBay kiosks at the show entrance signaled that company's growing emphasis on matching up buyers and sellers of business equipment, materials, and technology. The Web site showcases business categories such as metalworking and financing for purchases of more than $2,000 is available.

  NEW VIEW. Deep Video Imaging, a New Zealand company, adds a new twist to multimonitor displays by overlaying one LCD screen on top of another so you can view two images at once.

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Sara Ferris

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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