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Maker infographics

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 10:05 AM

I mentioned in an earlier post that I like infographics.  I decided to finish out our May-ker month with a few:

First, an oldie from years ago...3D Printing infographic 02 resized 600

Everyone is noticing our industry:

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Makers on Shark Tank

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 08:05 AM

Earlier this month, I mentioned that there are places where Makers gather opening all over the country.  One of my favorites is NextFab Studio.


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Well, on May 11th they held a casting call for the reality TV show Shark Tank

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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”.


Use SolidWorks Simulation - it's easy(?)

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 @ 08:04 AM


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For some reason, I started the day thinking about simulation.  I just passed my certification “renewal” for SolidWorks Simulation Professional, so maybe that is the genesis.  There were some hands-on problems on the test and some multiple choice questions.  If I missed even one of the hands-on questions, I was unlikely to pass.  If I got all three of the hands-on correct, I didn’t need any of the multiple choice to pass.  Translation: SolidWorks values our ability to use the software.  Sometimes they put “tricky” questions in these tests and that annoys me.  By tricky, I mean a question that isn’t related to the real-world use or technical support of the product, like giving me the input in millimeters and requesting the answer in feet.

In SolidWorks’ defense, I remember an article on the importance of units and conversion in simulation and design.  The article was part of a great series of articles in Develop 3D magazine entitled “Engineering Workshop”.  I think there were 17 of them.  Anyway, Al Dean, the editor of Develop 3D, predicted 2010 would be the year when simulation took off.  Processors were getting cheaper, so processing time was decreasing, he reasoned.

In that same article, Al also noted that there is a disconnect between the language of engineering/designing and simulation that is holding back progress.  I agree.  I think the SolidWorks Study Advisor in Simulation bridges that gap.  It is also a great place to start learning how to run Simulation in SolidWorks.  Just like “visual” basic lets you write programs and masks the 0’s and 1’s – the guts of the program - the Study Advisor makes it easy to set up and run Simulation studies.   

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And yes, the Study Advisor makes it easy to miss things in a study and get the wrong answer.  For example, gravity is a commonly understood concept, but it still gets left off of thermal studies that need its effects applied.

So simulation is easier to use than ever – and it’s easy to get the wrong answer?

Here’s my point (and the little secret of FEA): Regardless of the analysis software in use, everyone does correlation testing.  No one trusts analyses implicitly.  No one goes to production without a physical test.  Simulation let's you take designs and modify them reliably. That makes quick work of design changes (not design-ING).  Imagine how much easier a new product design will be once you don't have to sweat whether to use 16 or 18 gage steel, or whether you could have used PA (nylon) instead?  Design the whole thing in the most likely material and don't worry about it.  Once you correlate the Simulation to the physical test - you can crank out design changes as fast as the computer can run. 

Yes, there is a learning curve, but that will always be the case.  Get started now and soon you’ll have reliable analyses and shorter product development cycles.  If FEA is already part of your process, but you're using one of those high-end packages, you can use that scarce, expensive resource for the second or third pass evaluation instead of the first pass.  No more plots on the designer’s desk covered in red - maybe just a spot of red.  By the way, don’t suggest fixing it by changing the scale like I did.  Those analysts don’t like that.


SWONAMAC (SolidWorks On A Mac)

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 08:04 AM

I have a Macbook Pro now.  To most readers this isn’t a big deal and certainly isn’t worth a blog post.  But if you’re reading this, you probably use SolidWorks and you know that SolidWorks isn’t supported – heck won’t even install on a Mac.  Thing is, my day job is to use SolidWorks… and Enterprise and Simulation and the entire suite of SolidWorks products.  I have to answer support questions and unravel errors. 

Understanding that, most AE’s (Application Engineers) here would pass on the opportunity to use a Mac – just too much extra effort for no additional benefit and even more importantly, it’s an extra impediment to Customer Service since none of our Customers use Macs because, as I mentioned, it isn’t support and won’t even install on a Mac.  Here’s the thing – that last statement isn’t entirely true.  In fact, there’s several Customers that use them and another user right here at CADD Edge.

So, armed with the knowledge that some of you out there are already doing this and with some jabber … errr … encouragement about how this will work fine and “boot camp” and “VMWare” (I’m thinking Die Hard here – “Come out to the coast, we’ll have a few laughs”), I said, “yes”.

So please, send in those cards and letters – I want your questions and comments.  I’ll throw questions I can’t answer to the few trailblazers that have gone before me.

To begin, I had to set up the Mac to get some part of my day back to “normal”.  I don’t want to go completely back to normal – that defeats the purpose.  The goal is to get better.  I needed Microsoft Office to get email and get the administrative portions of my day underway.  I decided against trying to change to a strictly Apple product for email and text and spreadsheets for two reasons.  First, there’s Office for Mac.  Second, I’m focused on SolidWorks on a Mac, not clerical functions.

Downloading and installing Office for Mac and connecting Outlook to our corporate email system was a breeze.  I’ll admit, it probably helped that I have a Mac for personal use – have since the old PowerPC days.  Safari doesn’t confuse me and the toolbars at the top of the screen are familiar.

The first snag I hit was adding local folders to store Outlook email.  I keep every email I receive or send; some for longer than others.  To clear up the ol’ Exchange server, I got in the habit of creating folders on my local machine for everything except the inbox.  Outlook allows you to do that, but not the same way and you are c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y out of control of the folders.  I found the folders and they are in a database with filenames that scream “don’t mess with me or I’ll break!” ; not one pst file in sight.  I came up with a work-around, but that is a work in progress.

Next I realized that my Mac doesn’t have a “backspace” key.  “Delete” removes everything in front of the cursor, but you have to press “fn” and the “delete” key to get a Del operation.  I also have a magic mouse and a trackpad.  They only have one button, so I had to learn how to click+drag to highlight stuff, especially since I don’t have backspace.  That’s annoying now, but I bet I don’t even think about it in a month.

So now I can email and use Office, it’s time to get SolidWorks going.    I installed SolidWorks and EPDM 2013 sp2 and called it a day.

That's all for now.  I'll post more later.


Upgrading SNL

Posted by Keith Vittitoe on Tue, Apr 09, 2013 @ 08:04 AM

Problems with upgrading are common, but often for reasons you might not consider.  If you were around years ago, gimme a call and we can play “topper” reliving the bad ol’ days of upgrading.  But today, from our side of the phone and email inbox, it’s much better.  SolidWorks has focused on the upgrade process and I think it has paid off.  One Application Engineer recently commented that we rarely get SolidWorks questions anymore - it’s always installation inquiries and Windows errors.

Most of the time when there is an issue during an upgrade, it is caused by permissions or by missing a step.  The permissions issue is tough to predict and won’t be solved in a blog post.  I’ll just explain that if IT installs SolidWorks using their login on your machine, SolidWorks may not work for you.  If IT uses a domain admin, the opportunities multiply.

Missing a step is easy when upgrading SolidNetWork License Manager (“SNL” – now you know what the cool kids call it).  The steps to upgrade the SNL are:

  1. Transfer the license
  2. Uninstall
  3. Reinstall
  4. Activate (during the installation)
  5. Enjoy

Basically, the pop-up dialog to “activate now” is missed or never shows up during the installation.  Until the SNL is activated, it won’t work.  One reason the activation request never pops up during installation is the license isn’t transferred back to the SolidWorks server on that interweb thing before the upgrade – step 1 above.  Please note, we get many calls from Customers that skip step 1, especially companies that use virtual machines.  It pays to transfer the license before upgrading.

If the license isn't transferred and the SNL isn't uninstalled, SolidWorks will still do what we ask – upgrade to 20XX.  The SNL won’t ask to activate.  If you find yourself in this spot, just activate it manually by selecting “Modify” on the Server Administration tab and punch the radio button for Activate/Reactivate.

That brings up another point – one activation per SNL license.  That’s usually not a surprise since all SolidWorks software has one production activation per license.  But since this is a server application, and since we are engineers or otherwise technically inclined, many of us are the “belt AND suspenders” type.  We want a test environment to make sure this upgrade goes smoothly.  So, “no”, you can’t do that.  There isn’t a “temporary” license or a super-secret second activation – hunt through the forums and surf all you want.  What you can do is upgrade the SNL to 20XX and leave the Clients at the older version.  The SNL is just passing out licenses, it doesn’t care which version of SolidWorks is requesting it.  That way, if you have an issue, it’s just the SNL and not all of the Clients, as well.

Finally, the best tip is to call your Reseller before upgrading and ask for guidance.  If they’re like us, they have plenty of tips ready to go.


Avoiding Activation Errors When Upgrading Your SolidWorks SNL

Posted by Gabe Enright on Wed, Jan 04, 2012 @ 11:01 AM

We know when companies start upgrading to a new release because we get a flurry of cases helping them straighten out their SNL (SolidWorks Network License) activations.  We are always happy to help but there are ways to avoid needing to call us.  Especially if you are doing this during off hours when we CADD Edge is not open.  Here are the two ways:

  1. Work directly on the physical machine when installing updating and activating your SNL License Manager.  Don't use RDP (remote desktop connection)
  2. If you have already used RDP to install or this is your only option.  Make sure you transfer your SNL activation back to the server prior to upgrading your SNL.  In fact SolidWorks reccomends transfering the license prior to upgrading between releases whether you are using RDP or not.

The details of why you should avoid using RDP are explained on the Javelin Technologies blog.


Introduction to SolidWorks Simulation

Posted by Gabe Enright on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 @ 14:12 PM

SolidWorks has great tools for analyzing your designs.  SolidWorks Simulation has tools for doing Stress Analysis, Thermal, Vibration, and many more.  What the different capabilities are and how you can get them is often confusing for many people.  Jay recorded a video blog entry going over the different analysis types and what version of Simulation or SolidWorks you need to be able to perform that type of analysis. 

We've been generating a lot of video content lately for Simulation so there is now a Simulation Playlist over on our YouTube channel where you can access all of them from one location.




CADD Edge User Group News

Posted by Jess Levasseur on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 @ 14:08 PM

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We announced back in May that the CADD Edge user group would be returning to the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in October.  I have had few details to share since then but I can assure you a lot has been going on in the background.  The AEs are hard at work preparing their workshops and our marketing group is taking care of the logistics.  If you've attended in the past you know what a great event it is.  However, this year we are trying to make it even better with, more sessions and some additional twists on our old format.

I'm glad to share that this morning the pre-registration page went live.  Pre-registering will save you $50 dollars on the registration fee and guarantee you are kept up to date on all the details as they are made available.

Also keep watching the blog.  Many of the presenters will be sharing content from their presentations.  They may also be looking for some guidance from on the direction to take their presentation.  What could be better than attending a  presentation custom tailored by you? 

Pre-register today and we'll see you in October. 



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