A professor from Georgia Tech's School of Mechanical Engineering has developed a method of producing metal parts directly from computer-aided design (CAD) programs that may lead to significant changes in how industries design and cast complex metal parts, the school reports.
Better metal manufacturing
According to the news source, Suman Das' innovation may significantly reduce prototype development times while making the mass production manufacturing process more efficient and less expensive.
"We have developed a proof-of-concept system which is already turning out complex metal parts, and which fundamentally transforms the way that very high-value castings are made," Das said. "We're confident that our approach can lower costs by at least 25 percent and reduce the number of unusable waste parts by more than 90 percent, while eliminating 100 percent of the tooling."
Conventionally, the process of creating a ceramic mold - a necessity for the production of metal parts on a mass scale - involved a sequence of six major steps, each of which required expensive machinery and tools. With Das' method, however, the ceramic molds can be created directly from CAD designs, allowing manufacturers to create metal parts faster and with less expense.
Advances in plastics
Another innovation in mold and part design was recently reported by European Plastic News. According to the source, Dassault Systemes, a leading developer of 3D design software, has announced the launch of SolidWorks Plastics 2012, the latest development in its line of SolidWorks CAD software offerings. This program will allow manufacturers to detect defects in the early stages of mold and part design, allowing them to improve their products faster and at lower cost than with conventional methods.
For many years, construction and architecture firms have used computer-aided design (CAD) software. As early as 1990, Stanford University's Center for Integrated Facility Engineering released a report titled Construction Site Applications of CAD, arguing that the technology could be used to improve users' ability to visualize and design buildings and other projects, simulate construction operations and batch materials to better quantity predictions.
In the most recent application of CAD in the construction industry, researchers from the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a method that allows for the automation of processes for producing concrete building elements based upon computer-based designs.
Award winning project
With these new techniques, Tristan Al-Haddad, an assistant professor and leader of the project, can fabricate real-world building elements directly from digital designs, which allows for customization and rapid, low cost manufacture of concrete components.
"We think this work offers opportunities for architectural creativity at a new level and with tremendously increased efficiency," said Al-Haddad.
With these tools at their disposal, Al-Haddad and his team collaborated with Lafarge North America to create a building-element concept called a "Liquid Wall." This project consisted of a novel means of creating non-structural, lightweight coverings designed to keep wind and rain out of buildings in inclement weather. The design went on to win the Open Call for Innovative Curtain-Wall Design competition and was later displayed by the American Institute of Architects in its "Innovate:Integrate" exhibition in New York.
CAD and architectural innovation
As this project demonstrates, CAD tools can be used not simply to improve existing construction techniques, but also to develop innovative new methods and constructions. For example, French construction firm Domespace International has used SolidWorks CAD software to create experimental, eco-friendly designs without incurring costs.
As a general rule, Apple products, including laptops, mp3 players and phones, tend to be more expensive than similar offerings from other companies.
Despite the added cost, however, Apple products continue to sell well, with some of their products, such as the iPad, dominating their respective markets. While it is almost certain that perceived "coolness" and brand loyalty play significant roles in maintaining this dominance, it is also true that Apple's quality is a major factor.
To test the extent and level of this quality, technology expert Ken Shirriff decided to disassemble and analyze an Apple iPhone charger. He found that, while costing more than the competition, the charger's printed circuit boards are more complex, innovative and smaller than others'.
Complexity in a small package
As Shirriff discovered upon examining the charger's inner workings, Apple uses a printed circuit board about the size of a quarter to house the majority of its components. Presumably using sophisticated PCB design software, this makes Apple's circuitry significantly smaller and more complex than competitor's models, Shirriff noted.
"Apple's power adapter is clearly a high-quality power supply designed to produce carefully filtered power. Apple has obviously gone to extra effort to reduce EMI interference, probably to keep the charger from interfering with the touchscreen," he wrote.
Going beyond compliance
In addition to offering better quality of service, Apple's device includes a number of extra safety features. Shirriff singled out the "super-strong" AC prongs and "complex over-temperature/over-voltage shutdown circuit" as particularly praiseworthy. He also noted that "Apple's isolation distance between primary and secondary appears to go beyond the regulations."
Recently, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that local high school students had used computer-aided design (CAD) software to create what is probably the world's largest Monopoly board.
Now, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that several teens have used this technology for an even more significant achievement: the creation of a fully-functioning jet flight simulator.
An ambitious project
The simulator, nicknamed Viper, was created by five teens with assistance from several adult mentors, including Tony DeRose, the head of research at Pixar Animation Studios, the news source reports.
The project was inspired by a trip to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. After riding in a flight simulator, two of the adolescents decided to create their own. Yet while the Smithsonian's simulator had only a 30 degree range of pitch, the teens decided that theirs should have 360 degree mobility for both pitch and roll.
Ultimately, the project took eight months to complete and cost $20,000, much of which was provided by a fundraising campaign on the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter.com.
Along with modeling in Legos and sketches, one of the creators worked with mentors for three months on CAD models to attain the correct dimensions for their machine.
According to the news source, the Viper will make its official debut at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, California.
CAD and aerospace
CAD software has a long history of use within the aerospace industry, improving the performance of both aircraft and spacecraft. For example, NTE-Sener has used SolidWorks CAD software to develop a system that allows astronauts to exercise on the International Space Station, helping them avoid the effects of muscle atrophy that can otherwise plague individuals in zero-gravity environments.
Computer-aided design (CAD) is no longer exclusively for professional engineers. Now, college, university and even high school students can gain experience and knowledge from working with CAD programs. For example, earlier this month, Dassault Systemes announced the release of the latest version of its SolidWorks CAD software Education Edition, intended to be used primarily by students and teachers in the classroom.
Further emphasizing the spread of CAD software to younger demographics, students recently used the technology to create a giant version of a classic board game.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that students at Lynn Camp High School used CAD software to create a giant Monopoly board nearly the size of the school's gymnasium.
Design and engineering students used CAD to design the pieces, then created the pieces from fiberboard using automated equipment. According to Arthur Canada, a teacher at the school, the board measured more than 50 feet on each of its sides for a total area of 2,537 square feet.
The news source notes that this makes the students' Monopoly board slightly larger than the Guinness world record. However, Canada indicated he was unsure whether the school would attempt to verify the record, saying that the focus of the project was learning and collaboration, not record-setting.
Not the first creation
According to the news source, this is the third oversized game created by the school's students and teachers using CAD software. Previously, the group created a chess set with 10-foot-tall pieces. Last year, the school produced a set of playing cards that were 7 feet, 4 inches tall - more than double the Guinness record for the largest set. However, in that case as well, the school did not pursue verification.
Dassault Systemes has unveiled a new project that will allow the public to explore a 3D recreation of the Giza plateau in Egypt.
The announcement was made at a gala event at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, Massachusetts. According to Computer Graphics World, Dassault Systemes is offering access to the 3D interactive application for free via the project's website, www.3ds.com/giza3d. Visitors will be able to go on a guided tour of the city, as well as explore on their own. Among other landmarks, the 3D creation will feature the pyramids of Khufu and Menkaure, four ancient temples, restored tombs, shafts and burial chambers.
Perhaps most notably, the program includes a model of the historic Giza Necropolis.
In addition to these ancient objects, visitors will also be able to view contemporary pictures, allowing them to compare the current state of the city with Dassault Systeme's model of the past.
According to Computer Graphics World, the project is not aimed exclusively at the general public. Educators will be able to use the program to improve their ability to teach students about ancient Egypt. The program is accessible via a range of devices, allowing teachers to display the recreated city in the classroom and students to view it in their homes.
Additionally, thanks to Dassault's 3D imaging and computer-aided design (CAD) programs, researchers can view inscriptions on the backs and sides of statues that may otherwise be inaccessible due the constraints of glass museum displays.
At least one teacher has already begun to use the Giza project in his classroom. Harvard University professor Peter Der Manuelian, who teamed with Dassault Systemes to create the project, says that it has allowed his students to visualize Giza and integrate that knowledge in a new, previously unavailable way, according to Mass High Tech.
Dassault Systemes recently announced the release of the latest Education Edition of its popular SolidWorks CAD software. In addition to offering a range of CAD functions, Dassault is also offering a SolidWorks curriculum library containing more than 20 projects for students to experiment with and explore.
Preparing students for the future
SolidWorks Education Edition 2012-2013 is intended to allow students to experience real-life engineering scenarios, preparing them to face the realities of such a career and improving their competitiveness in the global workplace. Among other upgrades, the program features enhanced tools for mechanical design, cost tracking and simulation.
Emma Katharine Singer, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, called SolidWorks "a must-have tool to open up doors from the classroom to the workplace." She also stated that she believes her Certified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA) certification, achieved by passing an extensive exam proving the student's expertise with SolidWorks CAD software, will give her an advantage in the job market once she graduates.
Commitment to education
Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks have a long history of commitment to education. The SolidWorks website features an academic blog on which students and teachers share their experiences with SolidWorks CAD software.
Additionally, according to Bertrand Sicot, SolidWorks' CEO, more than 24,000 secondary schools and universities across the globe use SolidWorks software in their curricula. Most recently, Dassault Systemes announced that Notre Dame Preparatory School now uses Dassault's 3d Experience platform, which includes programs for virtual design authoring, digital manufacturing and collaborative innovation, Sys-Con reports. The school held its first product lifecycle management (PLM) class in September of last year, which proved so popular and successful that Notre Dame added another session and an Advanced PLM Design course to its 2012-2013 course offerings.
According to Beth Stackpole of Design News, the natural resource industry has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology. While the aeronautics, architecture and a variety of sectors have embraced 3D computer-aided design (CAD) technology, simulation software and product lifecycle management (PLM), the same cannot be said of the mining market.
Now, with a recent acquisition, Dassault Systemes aims to change this status quo.
A mutually beneficial union
Dassault Systemes recently announced its acquisition of privately held geological modeling and simulation company Gemcom Software International for $360 million. Gemcom, which is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, is the mining industry's leading provider of software solutions.
Gemcom CEO and President, Rick Moignard, indicated that the acquisition will lead to the creation of tools that will better enable geologists and engineers to create models and simulations of mines, as well as offer improved sustainability planning.
In order to better utilize the resources each organization brings to the table, a new band will be created following the completion of the acquisition. This company, which will be known as GEOVIA, will absorb Gemcom as it exists now. All of its 360 employees and management figures will remain in place, and Moignard will become the new company's CEO.
"Today's announcement is a significant step towards fulfilling our purpose of providing 3D experiences for imagining sustainable innovations to harmonize products, nature, and life," said Bernard Charles, president and CEO of Dassault Systemes.
Improvements in the mining sector
The global mining industry is currently experiencing significant growth, with industry experts anticipating a double digit rise in profits in the coming years. Currently, there are approximately 5,500 mines and 15,000 mining projects in operation globally, many of which use Gemcom's software. With Dassault Systeme's resources and technology, Dassault and Gemcom executives hope to create improved software solutions to help the mining industry move forward safely and sustainably.
In 2007, the Popular Flying Association (now called the Light Aircraft Association) initiated a contest encouraging the design of superlight aircraft. All designs had to abide by the limitations imposed by the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for Single-Seat De-Regulated (SSDR) aircraft, including the specification that the vehicle could not weigh more than 253 pounds when empty, including the engine.
The competition received numerous entries, but ultimately, it was e-Go that won top honors in the State-of-the-Art category, with a design created using SolidWorks computer-aided design (CAD) software.
3D CAD and e-Go
According to CompositesWorld, e-Go used SolidWorks CAD software to create a superior aircraft design. The CAD program allowed e-Go to perfect an easy to fly, ergonomic and fuel-efficient design that satisfied all of the CAA's stipulations.
Following e-Go's victory, more than 30 individuals and organizations contributed time, money and materials to help e-Go bring its design to life, according to the LAA.
CompositesWorld reports that the design has now reached the prototype phase. Patterns and parts are being machined and manufactured at various locations in the United Kingdom. E-Go anticipates the first test-flight for the aircraft to occur in the middle of this year. Wide-scale production will likely begin shortly thereafter.
3D CAD and Aeronautics
E-Go is not the first organization to use SolidWorks CAD software to design innovative aircraft. SolidWorks' software is widely used in the industry for a range of purposes. Mirror Image, for example, recently used SolidWorks technology to develop designs for a commuter aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing. By adopting this technology, Mirror Image was able to reduce its development cycle by more than a year, and saved tens of thousands of dollars in tooling costs.
In many industries, cloud computing has become a firmly established tool. Businesses big and small are increasingly adopting cloud services to improve their flexibility and data storage capabilities while simultaneously reducing their infrastructure costs. Industry experts have widely identified the rise of cloud computing as a revolution, drastically changing the way organizations structure themselves and conduct business.
According to Sachin Coughule, companies in the computer-aided design (CAD) field are now beginning to follow these other industries' leads by incorporating cloud computing into their own operations, which will likely have significant consequences for the future of the industry.
The cloud and CAD
Writing for IT News Online, Coughule notes that cloud computing offers many benefits to organizations of all types. Notably, because it removes the need for companies to own and maintain their own hardware, cloud services can significantly reduce operational costs.
Additionally, the cloud improves availability, as a company's network can be accessed at any time, from any location.
As CAD developers take advantage of these and other benefits and incorporate cloud servers and services into their own operations, Coughule believes that the CAD market will likely experience significant changes once it fully embraces the cloud. He anticipates CAD developers offering their products as software-as-a-service (SaaS), meaning users will be able to pay for products such as SolidWorks CAD software based on their incremental usage, rather than buying the design software outright.
Cloud use increasing
As recent research has shown, it likely that this trend will only continue. Organizations from virtually every industry are investing more of their budgets toward cloud computing solutions. Recently, CA Technologies released its annual Channel Index, a measure of how companies from Europe, the Middle East and Asia are investing in technology. It found that, for the second year in a row, cloud computing received the greatest amount of investment.
The University of Hertfordshire recently received a grant worth £2.1 million in the form of Altium software, hardware and professional training from Premier EDA Solutions.
Among other elements, the institution's School of Engineering and Technology will receive a number of Altium NanoBoard NB-3000s and USB JTAG Adaptors, a variety of Altium software and a new teaching and research lab. The equipment will be available to students throughout their course of study.
Additionally, students will be allowed to install Altium Designer licenses onto their own computers, allowing students to use Altium's electronics design automation (EDA) software to work on projects outside the classroom.
In order to ensure that the school takes full advantage of the sponsorship, the School of Engineering and Technology will adapt its curriculum to better incorporate Altium's design tools. Dr. David Lauder, a professor at the school, said, "With the new Altium software, we are able to revise the manner in which we introduce our first year undergraduates to circuit simulation."
The head of the School of Engineering and Technology, Professor Reza Sotudeh, highlighted the career benefits of working with Altium's EDA software. According to Sotudeh, he expects the software to be used by more than solely electronic engineering students, as EDA is relevant for engineers in the mechanical, automotive and aerospace industries as well.
This announcement comes several weeks after New Electronics reported on the successful integration of Altium software in The University of Manchester's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Senior Lecturer David Foster said that Altium's programs help the school's students gain "practical experience, rather than simulation," giving them a taste of "engineering in the real world."
Mere days after Bloomberg Businessweek offered a detailed profile of 3D printing, The Telegraph's Horatia Harrod has now shared her own examination of the technology. However, while Bloomberg Businessweek's report centered on the the possibilities of 3D printing in the home, The Telegraph story highlights 3D printing's potential on a larger scale.
Printing the home
Notably, Harrod cites the case of Enrico Dini, an Italian engineer stationed in London. Rather than focusing on 3D printing in the home, Dini is interested in actually printing homes - fully functional, organic structures made of sand and a binding agent that people could live in.
If 3D printed homes do not become a reality - Harrod notes that there are significant obstacles preventing their development, including the difficulty of transporting the massive amounts of sand required - Dini has set his hopes on another target: outer space.
To the moon
Dini hopes to create a structure on the moon using 3D printing technology and moon dust. The notion is not entirely unprecedented, as Harrod notes that an object was successfully printed in zero gravity for the first time in the summer of 2011. Harrod claims that 3D printing is an exemplary technology for use in outer space due to the low level of human input required, as well as the speed with which items can be created.
The benefits of 3D printing in space were recently highlighted by PCWorld's Rachel Martin and Alessondra Springmann. They wrote that a startup based in California is working to get a 3D printer on the International Space Station by 2014.
If successful, the United States would no longer need to rely on other countries for supplies, as it does now. Instead, engineers could use computer-aided design (CAD) programs to provide templates for everything the astronauts require. Some programs, such as SolidWorks 3D CAD software, are already widely used in the aerospace industry, making this a potentially viable strategy.
Pacific Dental Services announced it has reached a milestone in the production of in-office, single-unit restorations using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology, DentistryIQ reports.
In what Stephen Thorne, president and founder of Pacific Dental Services, called "an unprecedented achievement," the group recently produced its 400,000th in-office restoration using CAD and CAM software.
According to DentistryIQ, CAD and CAM dental software allows dentists to create single-unit restorations without requiring that they send the impressions to a laboratory for milling, as is the case with traditional methods. Consequently, patients may receive their restorations in the course of a single appointment.
Pacific Dental Services is an assemblage of nearly 4,000 dentists and team members from across the country. It was founded in 1994 and, according to Thorne, has always strived to remain a leader in the use of modern dental technology to improve patient care.
DentistryIQ also reported that CAD software was recently featured at the International Dental Exhibition and Meeting (IDEM) Singapore 2012 conference. Aimed at highlighting the most cutting-edge technological advances in the field of dentistry, IDEM Singapore 2012 drew more than 7,000 dentists and related tradespeople from around the world. Several companies demonstrated their CAD systems, including one that helps users customize fixed prosthetics, including bridges and dental crowns. Another showcased CAD program allowed for the direct, immediate viewing of scanned x-ray images, improving dentists' ability to accurately diagnose their patients.
As this announcement demonstrates, the use of CAD and CAM programs is expanding. Some systems, such as SolidWorks CAD software, is used in numerous industries, including aerospace, construction, consumer products and more. Notably, CAD has also found use in other areas of medicine. Cardiovascular Systems, for example, uses SoliderWorks' 3DVIA Composer to create a variety of medical equipment.