Earlier this month, I mentioned that there are places where Makers gather opening all over the country. One of my favorites is NextFab Studio.
Well, on May 11th they held a casting call for the reality TV show Shark Tank
Even Hollywood recognizes that these Maker spaces are the “next big thing” in innovation and entrepreneurship. So get in there and invent something (except another iPhone case, please) – and tell Mr. Wonderful I said “hello”.
May 16, 2013 - West Springfield - Staff photo by Michael S. Gordon - Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, second from left, visiting the booth of CADD Edge, a reseller of CAD (computer aided design) software and 3D printers based in Westborough, Mass. Thursday at The Society of Manufacturing Engineers sponsored Eastec machine tool trade show at the Eastern States Exposition. From left: Susan Leuci, marketing, Murray, Tim Pulaski, engineering, Kevin Dillon, 3D printer sales and Cassie Catania, marketing.
Click here for original article
Post By Wayne White
I picked up a first person image capturing device called the AR Drone 2 last week from a local retailer. Given its cool mechanical concept, coupled with the ability to take pictures with its onboard camera, I figured this would be absolutely a blast of a project to tie into Solidworks for our online blog.
I am going to dissect this piece by piece, noting tidbits of information of “to do’s” and things to avoid when designing some of these items in Solidworks. And, these posts will be geared toward Solidworks themes, not focused on improving the original design or mechanical concepts.
First up: The blade/ rotor creation
Given its complex bends, just how do we go about creating this?
First, you must remember, there are many ways to tackle this. But, come up with a thought process and follow it. I actually created this two different ways before I found a technique that worked ‘best’ for me.
Given the shape, I found that working with surfaces and more specifically a lofted surface would do the job. What can we do with a lofted surface that we couldn’t do with a boundary surface or sweep or fill? And why use surfaces, not solids?
In this case, the cross section changes only slightly throughout the length, and surfaces allow me to create nicer blend patches, and I can easily convert it to a solid at the end.
So, let’s define some cross sections for the loft.
I created the cross sections as 2d sketched splines. I ran the “Fit Spline” tool to create a smoother curve after the spline was made.
When using surfaces, it’s important to rename sketches and reference data- this only helps you later to remember the initial thought process. A slow left click or F2 will allow you to rename.
I created both a 2d and 3d sketch as guide curves. When working with 3d sketches, you’ll want to manipulate the spline points from multiple perspectives to give the spline a 3d presence. Additionally, make special note of the spline points or handles. You can control the vector at that point, so both magnitude and direction to get that ‘perfect’ curve.
You quickly run a lofted surface from the 2 profiles and 2 guide curves.
When operating with surfaces, you’ll quickly become familiar with extend surface. This allows you to create ‘reference surfaces’ that can later be used to aid in trim functions, hopefully creating water-tight volumes.
Creating a quick 2d sketch and extruding the surface in 2 directions gives me the terminating end condition for the surface extension on the right.
Here we control the end condition for the end condition; we’ve affectively taken our surface and extended it and linearly cut the end of it with a specified angle.
Mutual trim.. to prepare this for a knit surface operation.
I used planar surface to cap the end of the left side.
Then I created 2d geometry in space for yet another loft. This, I did on purpose. Typically your cross sections should have the same number of points- remember a loft is just an interpolation of information.
When we loft in this manner and mirror, we’re left with something that doesn’t look good and certainly is not smooth because of the dissimilar cross sections and number of points. Let’s delete those faces and recreate them.
Working with surfaces and solids collectively is not a problem. We’ll knit these pieces together, choosing the option ‘try to form solid’.
We’ll create some circular bosses offset from the blade. When doing the extrude-thin on the line, we get a rebuild error- no problem. We can copy the surfaces using the Offset command and magnitude of 0, and choose the proper end condition then as ‘up to surface’.
The final geometry…note the techniques used may not be the best design practice. However, it allows for multiple commands to be used, and exposure to some ‘solid’ surfacing techniques.
I have a Jeep. For me this is great, because other than the Series III Defender that can be disassembled entirely with a 7/16” nut driver, it is the easiest vehicle I know of to modify (yes, I’ve owned a Beetle). Since I have a seat of SolidWorks and an understanding of the 3D printing opportunities in the world, I have lots of things on my ToDo list. As it turns out, I needed to fix my Jeep before I got to modify my Jeep, so I combined the two.
The wheel center caps have an annoying habit of popping off. The first time, I found the center cap in my driveway before it was missed. The second time the center cap escaped, a replacement cost me $8. By the third time I needed a replacement 4 months later, it cost me $12. 50% increase – really?! Another few months went by and … the dealer broke one during a flat repair. They called me a few weeks later to pick up my free replacement. I strolled up to the parts counter, announced my intentions and was asked for … $32! The dealer straightened things out and I got my center cap gratis, but the prospect of having to pay $32 two or three times a year sent me in search of my calipers.
Here’s the result:
$27 on my front porch from Shapeways (www.shapeways.com) plus a can of metallic silver spray paint I already had hanging around. For less money than the dealer charges me, I get my own design – and I think a better one.
One of the design issues I ran into involves the retention system.
The Chrysler (or American Motors or Daimler or Wall Street) design includes a snap-ring to try … TRY to hold the cap in place. First – it desn't work or I wouldn’t be writing this. Second, I don’t know where to procure this snap-ring. Third, it’s difficult to reverse engineer the part to hold the ring in place. Here’s my solution.
Those spokes were "a flyer" figuring my first design wouldn't be exactly the right dimensions and would need tweaking anyway. As it turns out, the part fit just right and the 1mm x 2mm spokes work just like a spring. I assume the plastic will age and will lose tension, but it sure does snap in nicely – on the first shot! Even if it needs improvement, the good – no great news is that I can fix it right away and it still costs $27 four months from now.
If you come up with your own solution, you can open up a shop selling customized center caps right on the Shapeways site. Of course, you can’t use anything remotely resembling the Jeep 7-bar logo as I did for my personal use. But, how about a soccer ball? Tire tread? Whatever interests you. This Maker movement is empowering.
I'm interrupting May-ker month for a quick update.
We started getting SPR implementation notifications this week tagged as 2014b1. That's right, "the fix is in" - in 2014, that is. So, as I mentioned in an earlier post (http://www.caddedge.com/blog/bid/175802/SolidWorks-2014-Beta), it's coming and coming soon. I'll keep you in the loop, just keep checking back.
I’m sure there are many opinions on how this got started and where it is headed. But if the personal manufacturing trend is to continue, then the information has to spread to encourage adoption by more and more people. One of the ways this is happening is businesses aimed at the early adopters.
There are many branches to this new Maker “industry”. One branch is setting up gathering places for like-minded people to collaborate and learn. There are differences in the physical size of the facilities, the focus of the members, the funding, and the formality. But they are all similar in the way they are organized. NextFab describes it best - “a gym for Innovators”. Like a gym, there’s a membership fee and ways to spend money on extra things like personal trainers, classes, and equipment. I wish that, just as NextFab will take my napkin sketch and build it, I could hand my gym a P90X photo and pay someone to work-out for me.
The granddaddy of these facilities in terms of size, funding and organization is Tech Shop. Started by a former Myth Busters producer, the facilities are large, the amenities are many, membership is expensive, and the business has big money behind it. With 7 locations and three more on the way, some with 15,000ft2 and what I estimate to be about a million dollars worth of equipment, you could start your own business inside one of these things. They offer many classes, lots of materials - in short, lots of possibilities. Their size and relatively quick growth can be attributed to some big name backers. I already mentioned a former Myth Busters producer. They also have support from and a facility near Ford Motor Company. The Tech shop location is in Detroit – Allen Park – err.. Dearborn. An executive at “Fords” (insider auto industry joke) saw Tech Shop when it was getting started in California, got support to build one near the Ford engineering facilities, and credits an increase in patent applications to the membership of Ford engineers.
NextFab is larger than Tech Shop, but there’s only one - Philly. I visited this facility back in 2010 before they moved to their current location and it was great then. NextFab is tied more closely to the community than Tech Shop and has the look and feel I prefer. They have all the bells and whistles any Maker could want. For example, early on, they purchased 6 or 7 personal 3D printers, like MakerBot, built them, and let members test them out to see which one fit their needs so they could buy without worrying about making the wrong choice. They also had a Z-Corp machine without powder on it, the floor, the walls, etc., so you know they are on top of everything.
NextFab has some ties to Fab@home and MIT’s FabLab via the founder Evan Malone. I mention this because at the heart the Maker Movement is FabLab http://fab.cba.mit.edu . These three examples give a good picture of the category of Maker facilities as a whole. There are larger ones like Artisan’s Asylum www.artisansasylum.com . NYC Resistor calls itself a Hackerspace www.nycresistor.com . There was the first of it's kind named 3DEA in Manhattan (you already missed it). There’s a Wired magazine blogger who started his own (MindGear) in Mobile, AL, and there’s the Spark Truck that takes the whole thing on the road www.sparktruck.org .
So, you show up, sign up, take a safety course, and go to work on your dream. These types of facilities are popping up everywhere, so there’s likely one near you.
Welcome to May-ker month. This month, we’ll start a series of posts on the DIY’ers, Makers, Hackers, and Hobbyists. We’ll have our own projects and encourage the CADD Edge Customers out there to tell us about yours.
Makers are getting together, creating cool stuff and having a great time doing it. If you’re proficient in SolidWorks, you’re going to become very handy - an Angel of Competence (Dilbert reference). Even better, you have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. In Everett Rogers’ book Diffusion of Innovations, he lays out an innovation adoption lifecycle.
We’re in the Early Adopters phase, but it’s moving fast. Even Kindergartner’s are using Doodle and Utilimaker. Just think for a moment - life with 3DP for these kids “just is”. If you thought today’s children have it good, the next generation will have their 3D printing privilges revoked as punishment.
Because of that, this industry is going to change things and change it in more ways than we can imagine. Own Fed-Ex stock? I’ll be able to download a model and print it – no shipping. And that expectation that it is easy to get what I want will reach into everything. “I want these wheels I designed on my new car. Send them to your wheel printer”.
Acceptance and use of the technology spreads via social connections – said another way – word of mouth. A few people get interested, get involved, tell two friends, then they tell two friends, and so on and so on… Right now, there are many more people that haven’t even heard of 3D printing, additive manufacturing, or Makers than have heard of them. There will be new names for it, new technologies, and new business models as the word of mouth spreads. Right now, there are companies making 3D printers, offering basic 3D modeling software, providing service bureaus to print those 3D designs, and companies opening spaces for like-minded Early Adopters to get together and share. But it will be different next week, next month, and next year. So check back often this month to get caught up and maybe learn some new things about the industry.
As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm using SolidWorks on a MacbookPro. But as most of you will recognize, that graphic above is Windows 8. To run SolidWorks, I need a virtual machine or Boot Camp. I have both, but you can't install Windows 8 on Boot Camp - even though the instructions state "Windows 7 or higher".
So this is Windows 8 on a virtual machine on a Mac with SolidWorks installed - Ugly, huh? It looks like every exe is dropped onto the desktop … errrr … Start page. Of course this can be cleaned up, but here’s what your future looks like. This is Windows 8 “Pro”.
Windows 8 takes some adjustment, just as the Mac does. There is a “desktop” button and pressing it brings immediate relief. However, you quickly learn that despite appearances, you are not in Windows 7 any more. Go ahead, try to find the Start button so you can get to All Programs and add a few items to your taskbar. When you decide to give up and go back to the purple desktop … errr … Start page to launch SolidWorks, go ahead – give it a shot. And when you decide to power off and go home for a nap so you can try these things again with renewed energy, best of luck! It's a good thing I'm here to help.
Once I found myself on the familiar desktop, the first thing I wanted to do was launch SolidWorks from there. But there’s no Start button in the bottom left corner. Hovering there brings up a button to take you back to the Start page, which is where I came from and do not want to be. The answer here is – there is no way to get to All Programs and launch SolidWorks from the “desktop” that I found. There’s no way to find out what is installed on the machine. To do those things, you need to go to the Start page. As I show above, when SolidWorks is installed on a Windows 8 machine, your Start page is littered with icons; some to programs you probably didn’t even know installed with SolidWorks. If you rmb any of those icons, you are presented with an opportunity to pin that item to the taskbar – “TASKBAR?! I missed you taskbar!” Now when you go back to the desktop, SolidWorks will be there waiting for you on the familiar taskbar.
But let’s take an example that you didn’t install, like the Snipping tool. To get that in plain sight, rmb in some purple space on the Start page. “All Apps” appears in the bottom of the screen. Selecting that releases a flurry of buttons arranged in an unsuspected way – by software package. There’s a way to search these things, but I found the rmb trick first, so I scrolled through all of them until I found the Snipping tool, then again just rmb the icon and pinned it to my taskbar and to the Start page.
Then, thanks to my pal Matt for finding the bestest trick of all. In the “desktop” environment, you can still get to “run” and “control panel” and “device manager”.
Editorial comment here: This is where I think that Microsoft has abandoned us. Like millions of others, I own a tablet thingy and I grab that instead of my laptop for surfing – it’s just always “on” - no booting, etc. I have my “home” computer that rarely gets used for anything heavier than photo editing. But at work, I use control panel every day and it’s obvious Microsoft doesn’t think I need it since it’s a pain to find it in Windows 8. I mean just l-o-o-k at all those icons Windows 8 dumps on the start page when I installed SolidWorks. That cannot be the goal, so the assumption is if Microsoft knew about it, they woulda fixed it. Since they didn’t, they obviously weren’t concerned about us installing SQL or SolidWorks.
There’s a trick to getting this old school menu. You need to rmb in the bottom left corner of the screen. Here’s the two possible outcomes:
Notice in the second picture that the purple Windows 8 icon is in the background. That’s the trick – make sure you hover in the bottom left and wait for the Windows 8 icon to appear before rmb seleting it. Then you get that old familiar list of programs from which to select. Again, thanks Matt – never woulda found it.
That’s it for now. In the other posts, I’ll continue to drop in tips and problems I run into with Windows 8 and the Mac. For example, right now on my ToDo list is find a way to ctrl+tab between open windows other than the Apple F3 key.
I am working on a particularly stubborn problem with a really good Customer. Having a problem with SolidWorks is always frustrating. I decided that if I were a Customer, I’d like a little insight into the process – kind of like knowing what to say at the dealership to get my car fixed the right way the first time – quickly.
We’re here to fix the software problems Customers experience or at least get them documented for a fix by SolidWorks (aka SPR). Some issues are easier than others to handle, of course. But there is a process we go through and I thought I’d describe it so you have an “insider’s” view.
The overall process is simple – either there is a problem with SolidWorks or there isn’t. If there is a problem, then I’ll be able to reproduce it on my installation, report it to SolidWorks and it then gets put into the queue for a fix. If possible, I’ll also find a work-around to use until the bug is fixed. If there isn’t a problem with SolidWorks – meaning I cannot reproduce it – then I need to figure out the difference between my system and the Customer’s.
My first tech support tip is to approach the problem with the assumption that the software works. I got this tip from a “wise old owl” when I first started and it is great advice. It causes us to think outside of SolidWorks and make sure there isn't something other than SolidWorks that changed, and knowing what changed (assuming SolidWorks was working fine) is critical. For example, there’s win zip, 7-zip, IZarc, and a many other compression programs. These simple programs mess around with the dll’s and the right mouse button menus, but seem completely unrelated to SolidWorks, so Customers don't mention installing them.
To determine whether there is a problem with SolidWorks, the first step is to understand the problem. There are barriers to communication in everyday life and tech support is no different. We use SolidWorks-specific terms like Command Manager and Task Pane, but the person describing the problem may use the term “toolbar” to describe the Command Manager. I’ve learned over the years that “drawing” can mean *.slddrw, *.sldprt, *.sldasm, and even *.pdf. This communication challenge is why we ask for screenshots and Rx videos. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Once we understand the issue, we typically know right away whether we can we can fix it or need help. Sometimes we get help from another Application Engineer here, but other times we get help from SolidWorks. If we end up needing help from SolidWorks we submit an “sr” – Service Request. For an sr, we need documentation – the problem needs to be reproducible. To get this documentation for SolidWorks, the problem-solving time is spent trying to figure out why the software isn’t working in a specific set of circumstances. Take the example of the car dealership, again. We’ve all heard the stories about going to the dealership to pick up a repaired car, only to hear that they could not find anything wrong. That’s what SolidWorks will tell CADD Edge if we don’t get enough detail for them to reproduce the problem.
There can be many reasons why we cannot “repro” the issue, but it usually boils down to not having access to the same hardware or software as the Customer. Sometimes Customers think we are wasting time asking for the screenshots and Rx files, but really we are saving time. It's important for me to reproduce the problem on my machine, not just see it on the Customer's. The more clear and concise the sr, the faster SolidWorks can reproduce it themselves. We have to describe to SolidWorks every mouse pick and every setup detail. It’s very time consuming, but necessary. Once we get SolidWorks to reproduce the problem, they submit it to development for a fix.
If it is a bug, it will likely take at least one major release before it is addressed. Said another way, if you find a bug in 2013 sp3, it could take until 2014 sp1 to see a fix. That’s why we work to find and recommend work-arounds when there is a problem. Work-arounds get a negative reaction sometimes – by definition it is more work, so that’s understandable. But now you know why we spend time on them. Also, if you’ve decided to stay with good ol’ version 20XX, if we find a bug, you’ll need to upgrade all the way to the version with the fix. SolidWork won’t fix an old version.
Once SolidWorks Development accepts the sr, it gets assigned an SPR number (Software Performance Request), it is assigned a priority, and we wait. I’m not privy to the details of how priorities are set at SolidWorks, but I know two things about it – Customers think I have some influence on it and I don’t, and the more Customers that report the problem, the faster it is fixed.
So, the next time you run into a problem, please let us know as much detail as you can in pictures – model files, screenshots, and Rx videos. We’ll be able to see what you see and get you the response much more quickly. Test the problem on another system or with a different Windows login on your system to see if there's something other than SolidWorks involved.
I love Fast Company . I’ve been subscribing long enough to see it go from a large-format bi-monthly with quotes and info typed around the margins of the page to the monthly publication available on my iPad it is today. They were doing infographics before they were called infographics. I have a few favorites (check out “beef space”), but few are 3D CAD related. “As it turns out” (Dilbert reference), they published a great one a couple of months ago. Friday I posted about SolidWorks Simulation and mentioned measurment units. This infographic was also related to units.
It’s a calendar designed around measurement – all sorts of measurement. It’s tough to describe it in words – it’s functional art (work with me). Wanna look up how many yards in an acre? How about what time it is in Beijing? I won’t say it replaces that black and red hole diameter to drill size chart you have on your wall (you know you have one), but it sure is more interesting and informative. And… AND you can purchase one for your wall.