Archive for December, 2014

Top 3 Predictions for CAD in 2015

December 31, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s that time again — time to tuck away the stories of the past year and look forward to what’s ahead. In the world of CAD software and workstations, the big news for the coming year includes an increase in CAD demand in several industries, as well as big changes for the 3D printing market and digital jobs replacing more production jobs. Here’s a sneak peek into what the headlines of 2015 are likely to look like.


1. The 3D Printing Market is in for Big Changes



In 2015, mainstream 3D printing may expand outside the realms of plastic materials into more realistic productions made of wood and metals.


According to experts like the Garner research group and other industry leaders, 2015 is slated to be big for 3D printing. Spending on 3D printing technologies is predicted to soar by 27 percent, to reach $3.4 billion USD. The long-term predictions are even loftier, holding that by 2020, 10 percent or more of all consumer products will be available by on-demand production via 3D printers.

Garner also predicts that 217,350 3D printers will be sold during the year, with some industry gurus predicting this number will be closer to 400,000 as 3D printers for the office and home become available for under $300. If large-scale retailers like Wal-Mart or Target start shelving these machines by the next holiday season, the industry could take off even more.

Several industries are very interested in 3D printing technology — namely the tech industry, pharmaceuticals, and dentistry. Some experts believe that it won’t be long until a major company in one of these industries buys out one of the major 3D printer manufacturers to create a company that specializes in 3D printers for one of those specific industries.

2015 might also be the year that SLA technology overtakes the more mainstream FFM and FDM printers. SLA is more expensive, but yields better resolution, more accuracy, and often speedier print times. As 3D printing becomes more important to world markets, the extra price of SLA might be worth the benefits.

The final prediction is that 3D printers will be used to produce more than just plastic productions. New materials like wood and metals will be utilized to produce objects that are more realistic-looking, attractive, and versatile than plastic products.


2. The Global Market for CAD to Increase Substantially



More industries and countries will jump on board with CAD during the next year.


The civil and construction industries are booming with job opportunities for CAD specialists, and other industries, as mentioned above, also provide additional jobs. The year 2015 is likely to see this trend continue, significantly expanding the global marketplace for CAD software, workstations, and workers.


3. Production Jobs Decline as the Need for Digital Workers Explode

Garner also predicts that production jobs will decline by 50 percent, while demand for digital workers like CAD professionals will increase by more than 500 percent. Though technology has often been criticized for taking jobs away from people and giving them to robots, the simple math here proves that technology creates a demand for even more human workers than the old methods of manufacturing. The newly created positions will entail more skills and training and command higher salaries than production jobs, and are also safer, cleaner, and more desirable to many workers.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Visit Cadalyst today to see the latest news and information on CAD workstations and more.

Categories: Printers Tags: ,

Expert Interview: Collin Kobayashi on CAD and 3D Printing

December 25, 2014 Leave a comment

In many ways, we are already living in the future. As the rate of technology development continues to accelerate, ideas that were once considered far-out science fiction are becoming daily realities.

3D printing is one of those emerging fields, like something from an Isaac Asimov novel, where objects are constructed, seemingly, from thin air. This technology is innovating and forever altering the way we think about engineering and manufacturing.

Collin Kobayashi, from the Hawaiian design firm 3D Innovations, took a few moments to discuss this emerging field; the challenges that face a CAD designer when designing for 3D; and his favorite CAD workstations and software.

For those that aren’t aware, can you introduce us to 3D Innovations, as well as the world of 3D printing at large? When did you get started, and what inspired you to create a 3D printing company in the first place?

3D Innovations provides product design, prototyping, and manufacturing services, helping clients with developing ideas from concept to product.

What, in your opinion, separates 3D Innovation from the rest of the 3D printing companies out there?

Our focus is not only 3D printing, but on the entire product development process and integrating 3D printing as one solution to providing functional prototypes.

In the introductory video to 3D Innovations, you talk about 3D printing saving time and resources. Would you elaborate on this?

Most of our projects entail designs that are complex in shape/geometry. Because this is the case, 3D printing is more economical and quicker to produce compared to traditional prototyping methods such as subtractive manufacturing (CNC machining). In most cases, 3D printing allows us to make several iterations of the design in the same day, making design changes quickly and putting the prototype in the clients’ hands faster.

In what ways do you predict that 3D printing will revolutionize industry?

Initial 3D printers and processes were limited to various types of plastic such as ABS, nylon, and other polymers. With the introduction of metal 3D printing several years ago, it has opened up other industries and applications to adopt 3D printing as a standard, not an option. Large aerospace companies are beginning to integrate 3D printed parts into their products. Development of new materials and technology to build parts is evolving and a fast pace. These new, revolutionary developments will drive the 3D printing/additive manufacturing industry into areas that will change the market. Such industries are medical, food, and biotechnology, to name a few. By using 3D printing over conventional manufacturing methods, designs can be more complex while increasing their functionality.

You talk about rapid prototyping being one of the advantages of 3D printing. Can you give a couple of real-world examples of this, and why it’s helpful?

In most applications, having the ability to 3D print a prototype for testing form, fit, and function is extremely critical. When tolerances are not crucial, 3D printing is a far more cost-effective and efficient option than having the parts CNC machined. For one particular project, we needed to build a prototype of a miniature cooler design. This product was unique and had multiple parts with some complex features and details. It was designed to be injection molded and to have a set or several sets of these prototypes made would have cost well over $10,000 to produce. By using 3D printing to build the parts, the cost and lead time was reduced significantly, allowing the customer to receive the parts in a shorter amount of time. Because the project only required several prototypes, it wasn’t cost effective to even make “soft tooling” to produce the low amount of prototypes needed, so 3D printing really made the most sense.

To take advantage of 3D printing, you have to start with 3D models. Can you talk about some other ways that 3D CAD differs from traditional CAD drawing?

Traditional drawings, sometimes referred to in our industry as “shop drawings,” have been mostly superseded by 3D design solutions. CAD/CAM was the first set of methods to adopt this practice, translating 3D digital design data directly into the manufacturing machine’s software more efficiently than manual translation. By using a 3D digital design process, we are able to create designs and validate them with up to 95% certainty that they will work before even building a prototype. Integrating other processes such as FEA (finite-element analysis) and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tools with the digital design process will help to predict the functionality. This would not be achievable from 2D drawings, as no computational data exists. In addition to these design tools, having a 3D digital design will enable us and the client to see the product fully assembled, view it from all angles and visualize the entire design digitally.

Can you give us a walk-through of your equipment setup?

We use mobile CAD workstations (Dell Precision M6700s). This allows us to take our office wherever we need to go, be it to client sites for meetings or to offsite conferences where we have direct access to data. Most mobile CAD workstations are comparatively powerful to traditional [desktop] workstations and provide for a flexible design environment. In general, this setup works well. Some downsides to this are “tower” workstations may have more power than mobile workstations but are less accessible for offsite applications.

With tablet technology, are your engineers able to sketch ideas into the CAD program? If so, how has this affected your workflow?

Tablets are typically used for capturing ideas and client requirements when onsite. Because most 3D CAD programs require higher-end computing power, tablets aren’t used much in our design process. They do come in handy for mobile presentations where only a viewer is required to present the data. This is less graphics- and RAM-intensive and provides a method to review design data with non-CAD users.

Is business flourishing? Are people starting to catch on to the possibilities of 3D printing?

3D printing and additive manufacturing is becoming the fastest growing industry. It has expanded into areas that serve both consumer and business markets. Consumer-grade equipment is providing more accessibility to users with a low-cost entry point, making it attractive to hobbyists or home users who want to explore this industry. One of the biggest misconceptions is that all 3D printing is the same. There are many different 3D printing technologies, materials, processes, and manufacturers. Each has varying capabilities, tolerances, and surface finishes. Each type of 3D printing can be classified into three categories: idea, design, production. Each has its own capabilities and limitations. In general, there is a solution for each type of need whether you are a consumer, pro-sumer, or professional looking to utilize this technology.

For more updates, follow 3D Innovations on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedinYouTube, and Vimeo.


Categories: Printers Tags: ,

MakerBot Desktop 3.4 Released

December 19, 2014 1 comment

The fifth generation of MakerBot Replicator 3D Pprinters is now more functional, convenient, and accurate thanks to the new software and firmware packages released just last month. This desktop software package was developed in response to customer feedback. MakerBot is still working on some additional features, but didn’t want to hold up the release date for those items.

Currently, MakerBot Desktop is compatible with Mac OS, Windows 7, and Windows 8. A version compatible with Windows 8.1 is nearing the final stages of development. When upgrading to version 3.4, it’s important to also upgrade the printer firmware to version 1.5. Here are the most notable changes you’ll want to take advantage of.

Improvements to the MakerBot Print Functions

MakerBot has made improvements to enhance print quality while reducing print time. The new desktop software improves how the three gantry motors work together during the print process for better speed, acceleration, and handling of curves and edges.

Developers also improved how the printers calibrate the z-axis offset. Using the Device Preferences panel, you can now adjust where the build plate is in relation to the Smart Extruder. This improves the print quality of rafts and initial layers. According to MakerBot, some issues like clicking during printing can mean that the build plate is too close to or too far away from the Smart Extruder. Adjusting the z-axis can often eliminate this problem.

Improvements in Networking Capabilities

Corporations have complained about the non-trivial process for using MakerBot software over sizeable networks. Desktop 3.4 solves many of these issues by allowing for assignment of static IP addresses. This makes it much easier for companies depending on larger networks to set up and use the MakerBot software.

Another convenience feature is that MakerBot has eliminated the need to manually confirm jobs on the printer. It works as long as the computer and printer are sharing the same Wi-Fi network. This feature will be especially useful for workers who aren’t working in the same room as the printer resides.

New Features for the Onboard Camera

The onboard camera, designed for print monitoring and easy sharing to MakerBot Thingiverse and social networks, can now be used for more useful tasks, including the ability to verify that the build plate is clean before printing. Version 3.4 also allows users to share an object via Thingiverse while it’s still sitting on the build plate.

MakerBot Desktop
Version 3.4 also allows for more precise printing.

Tips for Improving the Performance of Your MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer

Upon releasing MakerBot Desktop 3.4, developers issued some helpful tips to help users make the most out of their Replicator 3D printers.

  • First, make sure to keep the software and firmware updated regularly, as developers are constantly tweaking the product for better functionality and easier use. However, it is recommended that you do not upgrade to firmware version 1.5 until you’ve upgraded the computer to Desktop 3.4. MakerBot is working on an Auto Update feature for version 3.4, but it is not yet ready for release.
  • If you want to achieve a more accurate starting point for the z-axis, try the updated Assisted Leveling procedure. This cuts down the process for finding the z-axis starting point to two steps, and achieves greater accuracy.

Visit more information about 3D printing and other CAD-related software and hardware technologies.

Categories: Printers Tags: ,

Siemens Releases Tecnomatix 12

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Siemens PLM Software just released its latest edition of Tecnomatix. Version 12 offers some updates and enhancements to make plant production planning easier, more efficient, and more cost-effective. While new innovations in plant automation put more production work in the hands of robots, it takes skill and training to operate these systems — opening up more jobs in manufacturing that pay higher wages, involve less manual labor, and are safer and easier for people. Here are the most notable improvements in Technomatix 12.

Web-Based App for Plant-Specific Production Planning

Siemens PLM is touting this version as “Easy Plan,” and advancements allow factory floor production planners to run and analyze “what if” scenarios. These scenarios let planners know if a process is feasible and how it will help meet performance goals. It identifies what processes add or do not add value and which procedures maximize efficiency. This feature allows for the creation of more detailed processes specific to that particular plant, and balances the resources available. This leads to better management of production forecasts and allows for numerous production configurations.

More Advancements in Robot Coordination

Tecnomatix 12 provides new simulation solutions to coordinate dual arm robots and groups of independent robots and other devices. More tasks can be automated to improve quality and efficiency. It allows for easier synchronization of independent robots and helps plants develop processes to improve quality and lower prices to remain competitive. These features are especially useful for manufacturing high tech electronics, packaging materials, and other products where quality and price are a constant balancing act. New features also make robots safer for working near their human coworkers.

Tecnomatix 12
Independent robots and devices work in concert for seamless production.


Improved Plant Simulation Optimized for the Industry

Tecnomatix 12 gives users the power to build models of discrete manufacturing systems within a 3D simulated environment. This allows production planners to run experiments to identify the processes, settings, and parameters that allow for optimal performance. The user interface is also modernized and features capabilities to model and simulate continuous processes involving fluids and recipes. This feature lowers operating costs and reduces the amount of capital investment needed to improve operations. It also helps find ways to improve the efficiency of production, lower energy usage, and reduce the impact plant operations have on the environment — such as lowering emissions. Plus, the optimization feature helps identify and eliminate bottlenecks in production and assists in lowering the WIP (Work In Progress) inventory.

Enhancements to PLM-MES Solutions

Product lifecycle management (PLM) and manufacturing execution systems (MES) enhancements in Tecnomatix 12 makes model-based executions in real life closer to the simulated version via a validation procedure. This improves efficiency while allowing the manufacturing process to be more agile. Plants can manage changes, improve their visibility into processes, maintain hard wiring compliance, and improve designs easier and with greater accuracy.

Solutions Using Big Data

Tecnomatix 12 uses big data to identify quality trends so that the production planner and quality control can fix these issues quickly and prevent repeats of the errors in the future. This feature takes data gleaned from a number of connected measurement devices located within the production lines and generates reports on the information. This feature is also scalable, meaning it can be used across devices within the facility, across different facilities, and even across products from different suppliers.

For more information about software and hardware technologies for manufacturing, visit

Categories: Workstations Tags:

Getting the Best Desktop Virtualization Experience for CAD

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Desktop virtualization technology has advanced greatly in recent years and is beginning to offer the robust performance, superior graphics, and quick response times required by users of CAD and other compute-intensive applications. On top of those benefits, virtualization brings other benefits to the CAD user. For instance, virtualization allows remote workers to do their jobs anywhere while maintaining a high level of security for the data stored back on site. It is also perfect for remote file viewing and collaboration, as the speed issue isn’t as bothersome as it is during the actual work process. With the right tools, you can create a virtualized CAD experience that is as good as a desktop CAD workstation. Here’s how.

Invest in the Right Hardware

The first component of a solid virtualization experience is the server that houses the information and processing power utilized by the virtual desktops. RAM is the single most important factor, because without adequate RAM, the other components of the virtualization experience won’t perform as well as possible. And it’s cheaper in the long run to fork out generously for ample RAM to begin with than to try to tack on more later, so invest in as much as the budget allows.

Redundant racks are also a good investment. In order to support remote workers through virtualization, it’s crucial to have backup servers in place in case one of the servers goes down. Though modern servers are more reliable than those made several years ago, hardware malfunction is still a part of life.

Invest in a Good Connection

Network connection is like a bridge. You can’t get to New York from Jersey if the George Washington Bridge is out — and your virtualized desktop can’t perform beautifully if it can’t cross your network connection with some zing. 10G-PON is ideal, but costly. Invest in the best quality connectivity you can afford so that your virtualized machines can get the most good out of all that robust infrastructure you built back onsite.

Choose the Right Uses for Desktop Virtualization

With the right equipment, remote workers should get as good an experience as workers using desktop CAD workstations. But if budget limitations reduce the amount of RAM you can purchase or prohibit the use of a speedy network connection, virtualized machines can still offer benefits, such as remote viewing and long-distance collaboration on projects.

For more information about CAD software and hardware technologies, visit

Are You Getting All the Good from Autodesk Screencast?

December 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Some CAD processes require a long, long list of instructions to explain, whereas a short video can make the steps clear and easy to replicate. This is a nifty feature of Autodesk Screencast, a free app that captures your screen output, commentary, keystrokes, and menu selections in a video you can share on the cloud.

How many times have you seen a presentation and the presenter kept clicking and clicking away, but you had no idea if they were left clicking or right clicking or hitting keys on the keyboard? With Screencast, you’ll never have this problem again — and the uses are limitless.

Explore the Many Possible Uses of Screencast

Before going into the technical details, let’s explore why Screencast is so useful. Screencast is an easy, no-hassle way to collaborate with other workers, even if they are located geographically far from where you are. With this tool, you can bring all the workers on a project together, so that each member of the team is wholly on board with what’s being done. But collaboration isn’t the only use for Screencast. It’s also useful for helping walk clients through complex CAD processes that you can’t seem to fully communicate via a phone call or email.

Screencast is also useful for training new workers and getting them on board with the projects you’re working on. In addition, it can be a powerful tool for documenting problems — such as a technical issue that is difficult to explain, but easy to showcase in a brief video of the problem as it happens. These are just a few of the uses CAD professionals have for Screencast.

A Screencast video shared by Donnie Gladfelter on his CAD Geek blog shows how the tool captures mouse clicks and other key information to explain a quick task in AutoCAD Civil 3D. A step-by-step process that would have taken quite a while to explain in writing took only 51 seconds to demonstrate using Screencast — and was likely more helpful in the end.

Play With the Default Settings

The default settings of Screencast are pretty smart. It uses a screen resolution of 1280×800, but this is easily changed in the settings if you are enlarging a window during a presentation. Try the default resolution and see how that shows up on your Screencast video. If necessary, change the resolution to accommodate your particular screen.

By default, the recordings are captured at an aspect ratio of 16:10, which works for the majority of videos. But you can also play around with this to see if it works best for your purposes. If you change this ratio and it isn’t working, you can reapply the default ratio by clicking the red capture rectangle while you’re recording.

Choose How to Publish Your Screencast

There are three different ways to give others access to the Screencast videos you create: Public, Unlisted, and Private. The Public setting allows anyone to see your video, which is great for promotional purposes or to establish a database of instructional videos for the public. The Unlisted setting is the most commonly used. It allows anyone who has the link to access the video, but it isn’t searchable. People have to know it’s there and access it via the link to get to your Screencast. Finally, the Private setting is available, which gives access to users or groups of users that you designate. This setting is ideal for collaborating and training purposes where a small set of people need access to the Screencast.

Autodesk Screencast lets you record video audio audio for any type of desktop software application, SaaS, or web browser. The Screencast Timeline (with commands, dialog boxes, and menus) is available on Autodesk Fusion 360, AutoCAD, Revit, Inventor, and their verticals.

For more information about CAD software and hardware technologies, visit

Categories: Dell Workstations

Hardware Closeup: Lenovo Thinkstation P-Series

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Lenovo, one of the world’s top consumer PC manufacturers, is a contender in the professional workstation market as well, and making gains every year. Earlier this year, Lenovo introduced a new family of workstations — the P-Series — which offers features that CAD users need to check out.

The ThinkStation P-300 Entry-Level Workstation

The hallmarks of the P-Series are flexibility, sleek design (both in terms of looks and functionality), easy maintenance without the use of tools, and an advanced cooling system like no other. The P-300 features 2-D and 3-D capabilities, as well as a single processor (the Xenon E3-1200 or the Core i7, i5, or i3), and up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory. As base-level workstations go, the P-300 is quiet, and with superior expansion capabilities, is slated to give its owners a long life of service. You can get tools and tips for optimizing your CAD workstation at Cadalyst.

ThinkStation P-500 Mainstream Workstation

The P-500 is designed with CAD, CAM, and BIM professionals in mind. It features an Intel Xeon processor, the buyer’s choice of the E5-1600 V3 or the E5-2600 V3. It offers up to 256 GB of DDR4 memory, and up to 11 storage devices (eight internal, two external, and one M.2). The P-500 is one of the quietest workstations in its class, and offers one of the most innovative features of the P-Series: the tri-channel cooling system with air baffles. This cooling system is capable of directing cooling air to the components where it’s needed, and directing the air out of the machine without encountering any of the other components.

The ThinkStation P-700 High-End Workstation

Designed for high-end CAE, graphic design, and animation, the P-700 features the buyer’s choice of one or two CPUs, either the Intel Xeon E5-1600 V3 or the E5-2600 V3 processor. It offers up to 384 GB of DDR4 memory, and holds as many as 12 storage devices (eight internal, two external, and two M.2). Hallmarks of the P-700 include the ability to highly customize the machine according to the user’s preferences and needs. It is verified to industry standards and certified to work on key ISV applications. The P-700 also supports Thunderbolt 2.

The ThinkStation P-900 Ultrahigh-End Workstation

Lenovo’s crown jewel in the P-Series is the P-900, which is designed for CAE and design visualization professionals. It offers two Intel Xeon E5-2600 V3 processors, and up to 512 GB of DDR4. The P-900 accommodates up to 14 storage devices (eight internal, two external, and four M.2), and offers speed and performance that’s hard to top. This machine is ideal for CAD, CAM, and CAE professionals who need a machine to grow with their business, as well as those who simply can’t afford the downtime associated with a standard PC.  The customizability and accessibility of the P-900 means the workstation can be configured and reconfigured at will, components changed out or replaced, and upgraded without needing specialized tools or even an extreme amount of hardware savvy.

For much more information about workstations for CAD and related applications, visit the new Workstation Resource Center on

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Product Closeup: AMD FirePro W8100 Workstation Graphics Card

December 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Once again, the innovations developed for gaming prove applicable and useful to the business sector. AMD has used its gaming technology to offer a faster, more powerful graphics card developed for professionals in industries like CAD, engineering, video production, and animation. The AMD FirePro W8100 is designed for workstations, touting at least twice the memory and higher performance than previous-generation models.

The FirePro W8100 is based on the Hawaii GPU architecture, borrowing the GCN (Graphics Core Network) architecture of high-performance gaming technology used with Mantle. GCN eliminates bottlenecks that slow gaming activities, such as API overhead and inefficient multi-threading. AMD has promised that Mantle (its version of Microsoft’s Directx) will be available in workstation graphics before long, though no exact date has been released.

The FirePro W8100 is marketed to the professional graphics sector, as well as CAD, engineering, and media professionals. AMD’s senior product manager for professional graphics, Glen Matthews, touts the FirePro W8100 as a CAD tool to boost productivity by helping professionals work faster and better meet deadlines. AMD calls the new graphics card a “high-volume specialist card.”

FirePro W8100 Features

The FirePro W8100 features 2560 GCN screen processors, AMD’s second generation technology. In testing, it zoomed away at 824 MHz, and showcased memory capabilities of 8 GB of 512-bit GDDR5. It supports as many as four high-res 4K displays with DisplayPort 1.2 output. Matthews said that the FirePro W8100 was designed to address the growing demands for OpenCL language. Several industries are adopting OpenCL to add value for end users.In single process mode, the card is capable of better than four teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second). In dual precision mode, it offers up to two teraflops. It comes standard with OpenCL version 2.0.

According to test results released by AMD, the FirePro W8100 proved to be five times faster than the Nvidia K5000 under LuxMark version 2.0 OpenCL and 38 times faster using SiSoftware Sandra. However, it’s worth pointing out that the Nvidia technology AMD tested against was released in 2012.

FirePro W8100 Pricing

The FirePro W8100 was announced at a competitive price of $2,499, but is available in online stores for less than half that price, with some vendors selling it for just a tick over $1,000.

Are you interested in more new CAD tools like the new AMD professional graphics card? Visit Cadalyst for up-to-date, relevant industry information today.

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