Posts Tagged ‘3D’

AU 2014: A Wrap-Up

January 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Autodesk University (AU) 2014 was held in Las Vegas, December 2-4, at the conference center of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Featuring 793 classes, 822 speakers, and 183 exhibitors, AU 2014 offered seminars, training sessions, and activities for several key industries, including architecture, infrastructure, automotive manufacturing, education, construction, and reality computing. Here is a wrap-up of this year’s Autodesk University, along with the key takeaways of the event.


Autodesk is Now Free to Educators and Students



Schools and students can now get Autodesk products for free, meaning the workers of tomorrow will graduate with brand loyalty to AD’s products.


Autodesk earns around $2 million USD on education licensing each year, but is now making their products free to all schools, teachers, and students, according to Autodesk president and CEO Carl Bass. While the gesture does have a philanthropic result, it’s not entirely generosity driving this decision. If a large majority of students receive their CAD training on Autodesk products, there will be a larger market for the products in the future due to simple brand loyalty. This educational initiative is offered to schools around the world.


Autodesk Now Offers Open Source 3D Printers and Software



Autodesk looks to solidify their place in the market with open source printers and software.


Autodesk is also attempting to dominate the market via open source code software and printers. This initiative began with the Spark Investment Fund, which offered $150 million USD to entrepreneurs, new companies, and researchers who were pushing 3D printing technology to its outer limits. Later, Autodesk furthered this program by announcing Spark, its first open source 3D printing software.

At AU 2014, Autodesk unveiled the Ember 3D printer, an open source printer for which Autodesk is offering the design specs to anyone who wishes to develop a new 3D printer based on Autodesk’s designs. Bass announced that this initiative was intended to show how integrated hardware and software could benefit the 3D printing process. Currently, as many as 75 percent of all 3D printed designs are failures. With open source code hardware and software, Autodesk hopes that new ways of doing things can be developed to improve the success rate of 3D printed products.


The Cloud is Becoming More Crucial to the 3D Printing Industry

Autodesk was the first 3D software company to offer cloud-based support. Now, Autodesk is improving their cloud offerings, hoping that the move away from expensive perpetual licensing opens the doors to 3D printing for smaller companies, startups, and those without the resources to support hefty licensing fees.


Generative Design is Now Becoming Available to Smaller Companies

Generative design is the concept of beginning with an intention for the design and exploring numerous solutions through a series of “generations” until the design is perfected. While generative design isn’t new to the industry, it’s usually been the property of those working for governments or large enterprises with access to sizeable databases or research institutes. Now that more cloud resources are available to designers along with HPC (high performance computer) centers, Autodesk hopes that the concept of generative design can be employed by smaller companies and startups to advance the industry as a whole. When designers no longer have to start from scratch with each design, 3D printing designs can improve more and improve faster.

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 up-to-date news and information on 3D printing, CAD for manufacturing, and more.

Categories: Printers, Workstations Tags: , ,

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: ,

Create 3D Models with MAP-21 Requirements Using Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler

November 20, 2012 1 comment

Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler, part of the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite, Premium and Ultimate editions, is civil infrastructure software developed to:

  • Enable planners, engineers, and designers to model existing infrastructure and import detailed models in order to create realistic 3D models of the environment;
  • Sketch early-stage designs directly into 3D models;
  • Create and manage multiple alternatives;
  • Communicate visually rich infrastructure proposals; and generate preliminary design models which can be used to create submittal documentation in civil engineering software, such as AutoCAD Civil 3D.

In the following post we’ll describe how to use existing information to create compelling 3D design visualizations with MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) requirements in mind.

If you are installing Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler for the first time, review the hardware requirements to ensure your hardware will run the software efficiently. (For more advice on the best hardware configuration for Autodesk software, review our series on AutoCAD 2013. Much of the same advice applies to other Autodesk products.)

Once installed, to create a realistic 3D model using Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler:

  1. Start Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler and click new from the start page.
    Start Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler and click new from the start page.
  2. Choose a directory and name for your project.  If you know the extents of your project you can also enter them in here.
    Choose a directory and name for your project.
  3. With the project started, data is imported and used as the basis for your 3D model. Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler allows you to combine 3D and 2D data in order to create a full 3D scene.  For this post, we will use a terrain model (DEM) as our base 3D layer, and all of the other contextual data, like imagery, roads, and buildings come in 2D formats.  Click on ‘Data Sources’ from the ribbon; on the ‘add file data sources’ dropdown, select ‘Raster’.  After import this data source shows up in the ‘Data Sources’ panel.  Double-clicking the data source allows you to modify the viewing properties of this data source.  Click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button at the bottom of the configuration window to generate a 3D visualization in Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler.
    Click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button at the bottom of the configuration window to generate a 3D visualization in Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler.
  4. Add imagery using the same procedure.
    Add imagery using the same procedure.
  5. Use the same process to add roads, but use SHP as the Source Type.  In this example, roads are stored in a 2D Shapefile.  After import, double-click on the newly imported data source to configure it.  Select ‘Roads’ as the ‘Type’ in the dropdown list.  With ‘Roads’ selected you can now configure the roads style and other properties based on the metadata that comes with the Shapefile.  For instance, you can choose a style rule to match the 3D road style (striping, sidewalks, median, number of lanes, etc.) based on existing metadata.  Click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button on again to generate the 3D visualization.
    Use the same process to add roads, but use SHP as the Source Type.
    Select ‘Roads’ as the ‘Type’ in the dropdown list.
  6. Lastly, we’ll add buildings to our scenes using the same procedure outlined in step 5.  Select ‘Buildings’ as the ‘Type’ in the dropdown list.  Since the buildings in this case are 2D footprints, we’ll select an attribute with a Z-value (elevation or height) from the ‘roof height’ dropdown.  Once again click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button.
    Since the buildings in this case are 2D footprints, we’ll select an attribute with a Z-value (elevation or height) from the ‘roof height’ dropdown.

Voila! You have just created a 3D model using Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler.  You can use this model to sketch preliminary designs of new infrastructure which includes roads, railways, city furniture, water areas, and even buildings.  You can also exchange information with Civil 3D – using the IMX file type – to maintain consistent data and context as the project is further developed.  This 3D model-based approach enables you to deliver on MAP-21 requirements for 3D modeling and visualization, on infrastructure projects of varying scales.

This 3D model-based approach enables you to deliver onMAP-21 requirements for 3D modeling and visualization, on infrastructure projects of varying scales.

Author: Justin Lokitz, Senior Product Manager, Autodesk.

Q&A with CADspeed: Hardware Upgrade for 3D Modeling

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: Q&A with CADspeed answers CAD hardware questions from our readers.


I am the CAD manager for a design group of eight.  We are looking into upgrading our computers to be able to accommodate our 3D modeling needs.  We primarily use AutoCAD and CADWorx for piping and vessel design.  We do not use surfaces or rendering.  My question is, what CPU/GPU combination should I be looking into for high performance orbit/zoom/pan/refresh? Our price point is below $2000 and we would like to get a comparable laptop as well.

Answer from CADspeed Blogger, Alex Herrera:

In general, I’d start with a CPU and GPU of relatively equal footing (i.e. both entry class, both mid-range, etc.) Then, if a lot of time is spent navigating/viewing a static model in real time with good render quality, then you’ll want to look for a higher-end GPU. If more time is spent creating models or rendering with final-frame or publish quality, then focusing on a higher-end CPU would be more appropriate.

Read more on hardware configurations for 3D CAD.

Have a question about your CAD hardware? We’ll try to find the answer. Contact CADspeed.