Archive for February, 2015

The 5 Most Popular CAD-Related Blog Posts of 2014

February 3, 2015 Leave a comment

How was your 2014? Cadalyst had an awesome one! Lots of articles and posts got tons of attention from readers. CAD is a busy industry, with frequent changes and hurdles to overcome. Fortunately, a lot of progress was made over the past year, and plenty more is expected in the year to come. Here are some of your favorite CAD related blog posts from 2014.

1. Give It for Free and They Will Come


Hearing that someone likes your stuff is pretty cool!


Free stuff always generates lots of excitement, especially when it’s something really valuable. One of the top posts last year was the “Free MicroStation & CAD Tutorials at Cadalyst.” The article ran on the Infinite Skills Blog back in April of 2014, and featured a recap of lots of great information, news, resources, and downloads available at Cadalyst, including the free MicroStation, software tutorials, BIM tutorials, and AutoCAD training available. You can read the post in its entirety here.

2. Open Letters Get ‘Em Every Time

One of the popular posts that ran on Cadalyst was the “Open Letter to CAD Software Companies.” The post/letter listed a number of things that CAD workers truly wish software developers would get, such as the idea of developing software and features that the users are asking for, not just the ones that developers think look cool. The post also mentions the over use of buzzwords. Users just want developers to “get real” about things and stop trying to make everything sound so cutesy. If it works, users will like it. If it’s useless, well… The post goes on to call for more speed and utility in software applications, along with easier to use functions. It closes with a call to help users convince their boss to fork out for the products they really need in the workplace. Did developers read and take heart? Perhaps 2015 will tell.

3. Throw in Some Robots and Nature Stuff, and It’s Bound to Be a Hit

Another post that received attention explained how engineers were using nature to develop realistic and well-working robotics. Robotics got a lot of attention this year, particularly involving advancements in robots for the manufacturing sector. This blog post discussed biometric robots and how engineers modeled the robots after fish, birds, and other wildlife from the natural world. As of yet, the tuna robot featured in the post is not done testing, but initial results look promising and the mechanical fish can definitely swim.

4. Everything You Need to Know, All in a Nice Wrapper

Some of the posts that got a lot of attention on the Cadalyst website were breakdowns of other blogs. For instance, companies that roll out regular posts, such as SOLIDWORKS, sometimes get ahead of readers. If a particularly busy week comes along, or you take a week of vacation, that RSS feed gets out of control. Readers can get all the high points without having to delve into hours of reading at Cadalyst’s wrap up posts like the SOLIDWORKS monthly wrap ups.

5. Paying Tribute


All bright people have bright ideas. But not all bright people share their ideas to help others become brighter people.


Unfortunately, one of the best posts of the year was also the saddest. Long-time contributor to Cadalyst Leonid “Len” Nemirovsky lost his battle with cancer in May. Len had contributed countless use tips to the AutoCAD and AutoLISP sections of Cadalyst. At least 150 are credited to his name. His goal wasn’t to get attention, but to help others. Len left his boyhood-dream-job of teaching history to pursue a fulfilling career in CAD, and perhaps helped more people learn and grow in this field than he would have teaching.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD.

Categories: Workstations Tags:

Expert Interview with Oleg Shilovitsky Of Beyond PLM on Engineering And Manufacturing Innovations

February 2, 2015 1 comment

Engineering and ManufacturingThe CAD industry has grown a lot since 2008, and Oleg Shilovitsky has grown right alongside it.

Shilovitsky started the website Beyond PLM

as a way to keep tabs on a variety of tech fields and share that information with the world. Beginning as a blog about Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), he quickly reached the limits of that topic, and expanded to become Beyond PLM.

Shilovitsky took a moment to tell us about his website and some of the many changes he’s watched unfurl in the world of CAD workstations.

How did Beyond PLM get started? What made you decide to start the site? Who is your main audience?

I started this blog in 2008. At the time, blogging was just coming to enterprise and professional spaces such as CAD/PLM. The domain was (and still is) very competitive, and I felt that the industry was missing a place where information and opinion can be shared in a vendor-neutral way online. It took me about 6-7 months before I started to find “my voice.”

After several trials, I came to the idea to share one “discussion topic” every day. The original name of the blog was PLM Daily Think Tank (the mirror of the blog is still available online on The initial audience was mostly industry people that I knew back in 2009; I was CTO of SmarTeam, a subsidiary of Dassault System in Israel.

In time, the reading audience grew; and today, it combines industry analysts, vendors, partners and customers. I know many people that use Beyond PLM resources as references for their university study about PLM and as an idea generator. So, I have been running it daily for the last six years. It helps me to think about what I do, and I hope it brings value to my readers.

Vendor neutrality is one of the fundamental principles in my blogging. The second one is probably to write short articles that you can read in 5 minutes. The last one is to answer all comments posted on the blog and social networks and respect other people’s opinions.

For people who don’t know, what is PLM software? What are its merits? Any down sides?

PLM stands for “Product Lifecycle Management.” It is a combination of business strategy, software and technologies that used to design and manage information and processes about product development, engineering and manufacturing.

What makes the site “beyond PLM”?

Back in 2010, I felt that the blog went much beyond my original idea of a “PLM discussion topic every day.” So, I decided to change the name to “Beyond PLM,” which in my view better reflected the wider scope of topics covered in blog articles.

Do you have any experience with CAD workstations, and if so, which ones have you used?

I have a background in engineering; and back in 1989/90, I was using AutoCAD, CADKEY and DataCAD for development of engineering applications. I started with AutoCAD 9 many years ago. As a software developer, I was dealing with different CAD software like AutoCAD, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Inventor, CATIA, Pro-E. Most of the time, I was a software engineer and product developer, not a professional engineer.

What are some reasons a CAD engineer might want to consider integrating a workstation into their workflow?

I guess nobody is designing anything with draft tables these days. CAD workstations are an essential tool for every engineer these days.

You wrote a post recently about the manufacturing BOM dilemma. Can you briefly describe this dilemma, and how does it affect a CAD engineer?

This is a very good question, since it demonstrates a significant change that is happening these days in the industry. Traditionally, engineers would make a design and then hand it over (essentially engineering BOM documenting CAD design) to manufacturing.

Manufacturing engineers prepared Manufacturing BOM, which was a foundation for material order and manufacturing process planning. In such ways, designers and manufacturing are working in silos, which prevents the creation of a product with optimal manufacturability.

Modern manufacturing requires better collaboration between engineering and manufacturing. Sometimes, small design changes can lead to significant improvements in manufacturability of products and product cost. Traditional EBOM handover does very little to support collaboration between engineering and manufacturing departments. MBOM (Manufacturing BOM) is a key element to enable this collaboration. The core problem and dilemma is ownership conflict between engineering (PLM) and manufacturing (ERP), which leads to a lot of organizational discussion about how to manage both engineering and manufacturing BOMs.

You’ve also written about the difference between mobile and social PLM, noting that the hype around mobile seemed to be dwindling. In your opinion and experience, why is this? What are some things that CAD engineers can do to better integrate mobile into their workflow?

I’d like to discuss social and mobile separately.

Social: Vendors are trying to copycat Facebook. But adoption of such “enterprise social tools” is not good. The fundamental reason why people are using Facebook is different from why people would like to use social systems at work. I think the latter has not been discovered yet. You can read some of my additional thoughts about social here.

Mobile: The interest in mobile technologies is huge. But thus far, most vendors have practiced so-called “mobile too”. It means replicating existing products into mobile devices. This is the wrong approach. We need to enable new workflows that will be amplified by the power of mobile devices. Some of my thoughts on mobile devices can be found in this article on the innovation continuum.

What kind of resources can a firm expect to save by running at peak efficiency? Why is this important right now?

The modern manufacturing environment is very connected and interdependent. Manufacturing firms are running into complexity of products and complexity of manufacturing processes. Distribution, global environment, competition and cost pressure are the main reasons why companies want to operate at peak efficiency. Most of the processes are optimized in silos. To leapfrog, companies need to design better collaboration and overall process efficiency.

What are some of the opportunities that remote access to a workstation open up?

Distributed environment is a reality of every manufacturing company today, from a small hardware startup of 5-7 people up to large aero/auto OEM. To work remotely and collaborate is the only option.

Beyond PLM posts news, info, and updates on the expanding field of CAD software every day. You’re bound to see and hear a lot. What are a few of the most exciting innovations in the world of engineering software, and how can an engineer or a firm best take advantage of them?

Cloud, mobile and new data management are the top three technology and trends that are leading to a lot of new innovative development. Unfortunately, engineering and manufacturing is a very conservative place. Innovation in PLM is competing with the “status quo” and existing software. The cost of replacement is a significant factor. But we will see lots of new tech in enterprise software in the coming 5-7 years, including CAD/PLM.

For more updates from Beyond PLM, like them on Facebook, connect with them on LinkedIn, and follow them on Twitter.

Categories: Workstations Tags: ,

Expert Interview with Ian Nichols on CAD

February 1, 2015 1 comment

CADAutodesk Revit is a powerful design suite specifically created to take advantage of Building Information Modeling (BIM), a new way of documenting projects with revolutionary implications in several industries.

Ian Nichols, the author of the Revit Zone, is passionate about this new software and its abilities. The Revit Zone is where he shares that passion and years of knowledge and experience. He also shares extensive knowledge of BIM at the website BIM Scape.

He took a moment to tell us about Revit, Building Information Modeling, and their potential with CAD Workstations.

Can you introduce us to Revit Zone? Where are you based? When did you get started? What differentiates you from other CAD sites out there?

I started the Revit Zone website way back in 2007. The idea was to share my enthusiasm and knowledge of Autodesk Revit with fellow professionals and students alike. At that time, there were very few websites and blogs dedicated to Revit. It just seemed a good idea to me to share my experience of learning and using the software.

Who are your main clientele, and what do they stand to learn at Revit Zone?

Many different design professionals visit Revit Zone. These include architects, tecnhologists, MEP engineers, surveyors, contractors and some clients too! Over the last few years, I’ve started to see a lot of students visiting the site as Revit becomes the standard software tool to learn within universities and colleges.

The description of Revit Zone states simply, “passionate about Autodesk Revit.” What is about that software that you are so passionate about?

When I discovered Revit way back in 2004, it totally revolutionied the way I worked as an architect. It liberated me from the process of “drawing” and allowed me to start “modelling” my designs. This meant I could spend much more of my time thinking about the scheme itself rather than worrying about how I was going to put it down on paper. For me, this way of working just ‘clicked’ and seemed very natural and intuitive. Obviously, the software has come a long way in those 10 years, but the fundamental principles of what makes it so good were there right from the start. This passion eventually led me to start my own BIM conpany, BIMscape Ltd.

In the introduction to your website, you said that it quickly became apparent for you that BIM was the way forward for CAD software. For people that don’t know, can you briefly explain what BIM is and why you feel like it’s so useful?

BIM is an acronym for “Building Information Modelling”. In essence, it’s all about building a virtual model of the design, authored by various members of the design team. The virtual model can then be analyzed, integrated and tested in a vast variety of ways (coordination, aesthetics, cost, buildability, etc) before it ever gets to site. Consequently, the entire Project Team can be a lot more confident about what is required, how it will perform, what it will look like, and how much it will cost to build, run and maintain; all before the first brick is laid. This is a quantum leap forward from the days of drawing lines on tracing paper by hand!

Do you use CAD Workstations in the office, and if so, which ones?

I personally use a Dell M3800 Mobile Workstation. It’s a fantastic mixture of power and portability.

What are the advantages for an engineer using a CAD workstation?

CAD workstations are configured for the job at hand. CAD and BIM software are evolving all the time. These packages can be very demanding on hardware, particularly when they are handling a large design proposal. It makes sense to have the right tool for the job.

A recent study by David S. Cohn Consulting showed that a software and hardware upgrade resulted in productivity nearly doubling. Why is an efficient workflow and setup so essential for maximum productivity, and what are some things that people can do, to optimize their own setup?

Software and training for CAD and BIM platforms can be very expensive. So it is short-sighted to cut corners on the hardware. Repeated crashes and data loss for an inadequately-spec’ed workstation can result in many hours lost or even deadlines missed. It is always wise to refer to the software vendor’s recommendation with regard to the specification of hardware required to practically run the platform.

If people are thinking of getting a CAD workstation for the first time, what are some specs that you recommend? How much RAM should they be looking for? What kind of processor? What are some things people should consider when looking to upgrade their setup?

For Autodesk Revit, an i7 Quad Core processor is ideal. I would suggest 16GB of RAM for the production and manipulation of average size models. A workstation-grade graphics card is also highly recommended.

You talk a lot about architectural design at Revit Zone, but CAD software can be used for a lot of different engineering situations. Have you worked in industries outside of architecture, and if so, which ones? What are some specific challenges that face engineers working in other fields? What are some ways that Autodesk Revit is good for those challenges?

Autodesk Revit is focused on building design. Its tools facilitate the production of architectural components. In addition, it can also produce components related to mechanical, electrical and plumbing disciplines. These disciplines all share the same common set of issues; i.e., coordination, cost, maintenance and (in some cases) aesthetics.

Why is it important for an engineer or a firm to be as efficient as possible in this day and age? How much time and money stand to be saved by running at maximum efficiency?

The world of work is a very competitive place now. Software tools like Autodesk Revit allow designs to be conceived, developed, analyzed and built very quickly. This in turn raises client expectations and quickly sets the standard. Anyone not adapting, evolving and utilizing these state-of-the-art tools is (in my opinion) will very likely fall by the wayside.

For more updates from the Revit Zone, follow them on Twitter.