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Is CAD in the cloud helpful or painful?

Fusion 360 Simulation
Is new software technology helpful or painful? What does Windows 10 do that Windows XP didn’t? Any notable differences with your email? Back in the day you might have had a custom “Biiing…” for new messages; today I only check email twice daily. — Email overload — that has changed, the tool in itself, not so much.

CAD software is just another tool. Today’s CAD Developers need to look beyond the latest technology and more at how people are using it. It is not about how many new functions you can fit in there. We do not have time for the latest technology if it is not helping. More can be painful.

CAD in the cloud: is it painful or helpful? If CAD is just another tool we are using to get to the final result, there should only be one question; does it really fit?

An example: My father-in-law recently consulted me as he was looking to buy a new computer. He was debating: laptop or desktop? What would be your recommendation? He told me that he had no interest sitting anywhere else than at his desk — get a desktop —because it fits.

Should your design software be in the cloud? Where are you going to use it, where does it fit? There are benefits to the cloud, but nothing is new. We store data on the cloud and share it with others (Dropbox-style). The cloud is also really good for communication; think emails, instant messages and Facebook.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is flexible. It will run locally, and connected to the cloud; making it possible for you to get your work done anywhere. You do not want to tell your boss that a project is late because your Wi-Fi connection went down. Another problem I have had is being at a customer’s location; you cannot control their Wi-Fi and firewall nightmares.

Yes, connection to the cloud does have advantages. Fusion connects with A360. This is a cozy cloud corner, where you can store your data and quickly share, collaborate and connect with your customers and team members.

So why do I think Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is a helpful design and manufacturing package? It starts with the basis of being one solution that can do many things. Up until now, design and manufacturing users have had to jump between too many tools to get the job done. Too many tools, too many vendors, too much confusion…Painful.

Fusion is $300 a year, less than most monthly car payments. Running on your Windows or Mac. Letting you store data and collaborate on the cloud. It uses the latest in CAD. It includes Simulation tools to get you instant design feedback. And, full 3D CAM that will let you generate the NC code to make your finished product.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is not a result of developers playing with technology. It is a tool created to be helpful getting design and manufacturing to a finished product — It is the future of making things —It fits.

Podcast Episode 11 – Quick CAD Tip, 7 Skills Needed to be a top engineer & CAD News


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Quick CAD Tip, 7 skills needed to be… & CAD News!
Show notes:
CAD Tip: Start your CAD Design the right way
7 Skills Needed to Be a Top Engineer
CAD Professional’s Guide to Lightning-Fast R&D
Lawsuit Against Stratasys Claims MakerBot Knew Of Faulty Smart Extruders, Misled Investors
MakerBot opened its new, 170,000-square-foot factory
Massive Investment in GM Arlington Assembly Plant
Delcam Appoints Charles Jones as Industry Marketing Manager
BobCAD-CAM Releases v28 CAD-CAM Series
Develop3D Summer magazine
What you need to know about upgrading to Windows 10
How Fast Can A Ferrari Go On Autobahn? This Video Has The Answer

Podcast Episode 10 – Quick & Dirty Tip, A National Test for Manufacturing & CAD News


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Quick & Dirty Tip, A National Test for Manufacturing… & CAD News!

Show notes:
20 Google search tips
How good are your CAM skills? A National Test will find out
Welcome the AutodeskAEC podcast channel
Lawsuit against 3D Systems
Lawsuit against Makerbot
Makerbot at Sams Club
Autodesk’s update/upgrade to Fusion360
SolidWorks 2015 Service Pack 4.0 is available.
CAMWorks 2015 for Solid Edge ST8 is available.

Other news that did not make it:
Why the apple watch is flopping
How does a driverless car see the road
Here’s how the internet has almost run out of space
In-house manufacturing of the machined direct-drive drum pedal

3 Reasons that Autodesk has Become the Manufacturing Leader

One of the more interesting questions is; how has Autodesk developed to become the leader of manufacturing? For those unfamiliar with Autodesk, the company’s rise and current leadership developing design and engineering software has improved the technical tools and helped manufacturing.

Autodesk Manufacturing Leader
Most people who are in the business of manufacturing know Autodesk created the groundbreaking 2D Autocad, the first real mainstream CAD system. This started the growth and development into today’s use of 3D CAD and CAM for design and manufacturing. From here the company started to go in a new direction. Anyone who has looked at the Autodesk portfolio will see that Autodesk is focusing on providing both width and depth in a total solution of software for their customer base. Autodesk is setting the gold standard for selling and supporting the entire manufacturing and fabrication world.

There are plenty of individuals at Autodesk who have been a big part of shaping this new industry leadership. The engineers who are creating Autodesk products have switched attention to making a better solution, and CEO, Carl Bass, is the chief “user” of Autodesk products himself.
I would like to suggest that the reason the company is successful can be boiled down to three key principles that make it hard for competitors to compete with Autodesk.

1. The products that Autodesk creates are in sync with what the market needs.
So many times with other software companies, the goal is almost always based around the technology first, followed by the question, do people want to use it? Geeky engineers are dazzled by technology at their disposal and often create something because they can. However, Autodesk is taking a hard look at this. The company is creating ease of use software that can easily be implemented either as a total product solution or as bits and pieces depending on the customer’s needs. The engineers are not sitting in deep hidden caves, but are often spotted testing and making products with their creations at Autodesk’s state of the art manufacturing and fabrication place on San Francisco’s Pier9.

2. Offer great customer service and Product flexibility.
Even if you create products that are easy to use, the variety of things that people want to make creates complexity. Because of this, users may need some hand holding from time to time. Besides relying on their big partner network for support, Autodesk has created a network of support in places like social media. Listening to customer request and concerns has pushed Autodesk to be the front runner offering such things as Desktop Subscription (Pay-as-you-go). Big companies might not value this at the same level as small manufacturing companies, but that is not a coincidence as the company is just as focused on small business. If you want to be a leader, it is not just about keeping the stock market happy, but also to help and support smaller companies into growth. Autodesk does many things to push the design world in a better direction. Most notable is their decision to provide all educational institutions with all their software at no cost. This is helping to create an entire new generation of makers. But also such things as sponsoring free workshops and making software free, such as 2.5D integrated CAM that runs inside SolidWorks and Inventor with support.

3. Autodesk stays ahead of its competitors.
Every industry has their giants, but no one looks at companies such as GM or Ford for direction and innovation in the automotive industry today. They were once considered leaders and might still be giants. This should be one of the fears of Autodesk’s competitors. Those competitors are the GMs and Fords, who have spent enormous resources protecting their customer base. When you spend more time playing defense than listening to your customers, and innovate, there will be a point where customers will look elsewhere for better solutions. With Autodesk’s approach, they are building an exceptional set of tools for everyone in the manufacturing and fabrication industry.
Some of these are:

  • Trusted, high-end CAM such as Partmaker and Powermill from Delcam. HSM, the fully integrated CAM inside Inventor and SolidWorks.
  • Best in class, nesting, waterjet, laser cutting and the magic power of composite from Majestic.
  • The only released CAD in the cloud, Fusion 360, a full CAD package including CAM and 3D Print layout capabilities inside the software.

These three principles may seem a bit simplistic, but as long as they adhere to them, it is pretty likely that will Autodesk continue to grow and command a large share of the manufacturing market.

Do something to change your manufacturing company

Change
How can you become a growing manufacturing company? A necessity is you have to be engaged and ready for change. It’s not smart finding yourself in that comfortable groove and stay there. It might make your life fun and fat for awhile, but change will eventually have to happen.
What if your customers change before you? Change their products, their customer base, their ordering system, how about changing their stagnant suppliers? What is going to happen with the new generations entering the workforce? you know they are living a life with technology that changes every minute. They are not as afraid of change as you, and don’t forget they will be your customers soon.

Solution could be:
1, Wide might be better than deep. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, instead embrase that you have people working for you, not robots. Start more projects in your company. With the same staff loosen the ropes, let them be creative, chances are they are more loyal than you give them credit.

2, Being present in the moment. Get engaged with teenagers. Hook up with the local BOCES or high-schools, trust that by you sharing your knowledge, you will learn something too.

3, Change shouldn’t be made for the change’s sake. Change should happen because you care enough to make a difference. For your company, your employee’s, co-workers and the world.

Most organizations go too slow. don’t just work, work to make a difference, that’s what matters.
You have an option to reshuffle the deck. Make your work important and make it matter.

The Advantage of creating a powerful design, engineering and/or manufacturing team

The Advantage
“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”~Jim Rohn

If you are a leader; it’s your responsibility to help get the best out of your team. If you aren’t a leader, but consider yourself a team player; it’s your responsibility to help get the best out of your team. The end goal is the same, so stop looking at someone else to pick up the slack. You are in the driver seat, and you can be the driving force for how your team success.

Imagine two teams.

The first is full of team members who are open with one another, passionately debate important issues, and commit to clear decisions even if they highly disagree. They call each other out when needed, always trying to help each other out, and focus their attention and energy on the good for the organization.

The second is a random group of people who are guarded and less then honest with one another. They hold back during difficult conversations, and hesitate to call one another on unproductive behaviors. Often they pursue their own agendas rather than those of the greater organisation.

The question: What kind of advantage would the first team have over the second, and how much time and energy would it be worth investing to make this advantage a reality?

It doesn’t matter if you are part of a design team surrounded by the latest hip furniture, colors and Macintosh, or if this is a shop floor, blue collar, CNC cutting oil crew.
Building a great team takes the same steps.

Collectively Responsible
When being part of a team it is normal that not everyone is at the same level. Some have more experience because they have done the job longer, some of the team members might even get paid more, but it is important that everyone understand that everyone do carry part of the load. If you do not bring something to the team, even just an opinion, you might not belong there.

Common Objective
It’s not only important to get the team together, it is also important to get everyone looking in the same direction. Your help to the team can be as simple as asking “What is the end goal look like? What should be considered? And what is the steps to get there?”. That question can help the team figuring out how to make the next design project come within budget, or lead the next shipment of parts being delivered on time.

Building trust
Don’t you hate sitting in a room where you feel someone has their own agenda? It’s important to understand that when trust is questioned, vulnerability is many times the factor. The absolute first step is to put yourself in their shoe’s. If you were that person, would you have concerns? For a team to build trust it is essential that the team gets to a point where things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I’m confused,” and even “I’m sorry,” can be said. Consider it might be in your best interest to lead in this category.

Achieving commitment
As a team leader it is pretty clear that one of your objective is to get commitment from your team. But, even just as a team member it’s critical that you not only are open to give your commitment, but also seek commitment from others. Sometimes when tasks are at hand that you do not want to do, remembering your commitment to be committed to the team might be the signal to role up your sleeves and get things done.

Conclusion
There can be no question of the advantage of a strong team, but creating such a team is like a marriage, it takes constant effort from everyone involved. If there is a starting point, I would recommend the 6 critical questions from Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Advantage”.
1. Why do we exist?
2. How do we behave?
3. What do we do?
4. How will we succeed?
5. What is most important, right now?
6. Who must do what?

I challenge you, I challenge myself, let’s take “the advantage” and make better teams!

Autodesk adds 5-Axis CAM into Inventor

Autodesk creates a Powerful CAD/CAM Bundle

5-AXIS INVENTOR HSM PRO

Inventor HSM Pro 2015

Many will agree that Inventor is super easy to use when it comes to 3D CAD. Many will also agree that CAD software is a decade ahead of most CAM software when it comes to power and user friendliness.
Autodesk is changing that by streamlining the workflow, giving the CNC programmer more control, and more power by utilizing latest technology, such as 64-bit multi-core machining strategies that significantly reduces toolpath calculations and in the end, the ease of use by bringing the machining power into Inventor.
With the release of Inventor HSM Pro, Autodesk is creating a true integrated design-to-manufacturing powerhouse. It is a package of powerful CAD and CAM. With this CAD/CAM bundle, you get a full license of Autodesk Inventor Professional and HSM’s 2.5D, Advanced 3D and 5-Axis Machining operations. One could argue that this is the best CAD/CAM package when it comes to price, workflow , ease-of-use, and making sure to shorten the time from the idea to the finished part.
Inventor HSM Pro Adaptive Milling
More details on CAD…
So what do you really get? besides all the powerful 3D CAD tools in a standard seat of Inventor, the Professional version includes Electrical system design/tube and pipe runs, Validate performance with simulation & FEA and Mold, and tool and die functions. This gives you a high end CAD packages that will not only let you create machinable parts faster, but also the power to create and design  all the reliable work holding and fixturing you as a CNC Programmer need.
More detail on CAM…
On the CAM side you will get 5-Axis Swarf and 5-Axis Contour. This is sitting on top of standard Inventor HSM that already have 5-Axis tilt build into its 3D toolpaths. All-in-all you get everything from 2.5D to Advanced 3D and all the way to 5 Axis milling toolpaths including the awesome Adaptive Clearing for roughing. All the toolpaths are placed right on the CAD model and are fully associative. Changes in the design are automatically reflected in the toolpath.

If you want more information and catch a trial of Inventor HSM Pro 2015, click here cam.autodesk.com

Check out this video

Link

Podcast Episode 3 – What happened at Autodesk University and Manufacturing News You Want to Know About


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What happened at Autodesk University and Manufacturing News You Want to Know About!

Show Notes:
Need to do some quick annotations, try Skitch
1

Autodesk University
Education
A360
Subscription
Inventor HSM Pro

Manufacturing News
Lenovo Thinkpad W550
Mastercam X8
Delcam Partmaker 2015

Manufacturing is taking 3D Printing to the next level

3DPrinter Manaufacturing
3D printing has been around for a long time, but not until recently has this technology reached a level where traditional manufacturing facilities are taking it seriously.

The process called “Additive Manufacturing” builds layer by layer and has been seen only as a pure prototyping process until recently. With new materials, better accuracy, various sized platforms and reasonable pricing, it has come to a point where everyone can participate.
We are not talking about the hobbyist level, though we probably have to thank them for helping push the technology.  They are also, unfortunately, the ones who created a false impression that this is merely a fancy hot glue gun that makes toys.

Autodesk 3D PrintingOn the other end of the spectrum, you have Autodesk announcing that they are investing $100 million in 3D Printing companies over the next several years. They are also developing their own 3D Printer and 3D Printer software which is open source for everyone to tinker with. (More to come in another blog post about this.)





But what about manufacturing…
Yes: what about manufacturing? Is it just prototyping and a lot of hype? The answer is no, and actually, in a way, you might see “Good old American” manufacturing waking up to glory. This is just the beginning and it is super exciting because as consumers are being more demanding, designers and engineers are looking at manufacturing for help.
Here is an example:
A company is looking for a lot of 100 molded plastic parts. Traditionally you might decide that an aluminum mold would be preferred. The cost of material is not going to set you back too much, and it should hit your doorstep within a few days if you live in United States.
3D Print Mold
If you are productive, you might have spent those couple days gathering your tooling, and even started the process of programming the job in your favorite CAM program. You could, of course, also have chosen to use a 3D Printer, and have what you see in the picture above for less than $500, before the chunk of raw aluminum even gets delivered. This takes what traditional manufacturing might consider a 5 to 7 day turnaround down to 2 days, letting you keep your CNC machine cranking real parts, thus giving you an extra 3 to 5 days to work on a new project or, if you’re lucky, to work on your back-swing.

It is getting local…
This is really what excites me: you do not need to travel to some showroom or university to see this in action; local machine shops already have this technology.
One example is Staub Inc., located less than 20 minutes from me in the outskirts of “blue collar” Buffalo, New York. Mr. Tony Staub started as many manufacturing facilities around the country did: in a garage. And when he outgrew that, he moved into a Super Duper grocery store location. Over the last 20 years, Staub Inc. has built a high precision machine shop using the latest technology within traditional CNC machining. Adding an Additive Department is not about looking far into the future.  It is about offering the latest technology to existing and new customers, while finding use for, and exploring, this great resource.

Conclusion…
Manufacturing is taking 3D Printing inside the shop, and I guarantee you, my friend, THERE is where 3D Printing will reveal its true potential.  I love it!

Why CNC Operators are like Fighter Pilots!

Fighter pilot
So you might not get the regular CNC junkie to drop down and give you 20, but besides physical shape, I dare to say that a day in the shoes of a machinist can be just about as exciting.

First off it is noisy; some places you might even have to operate half in the dark, and night vision is not standard gear in most shops. Then there is the equipment: if you don’t think that the thrill of a F-15 compares*, you have never pressed the green cycle- start button on a multi-axis machining center that rapids at 1200 inches per minute and does Tool-to-Tool change in under 3 seconds. It can be scary, but awesome!

Tom Cruise made it look easy in Top Gun, but besides reflective sunglasses and leather jackets, there are rules and best practices in preparing for a dogfight.
Top Gun Logo

Have you ever seen a pilot take a walk around and inspect the outside of an airplane? or how about the notorious checklist performed between pilot and co-pilot? Flaps, check – fuel, check – landing gear, check. It must make them almost roll their eyes of boredom every time. But would you ever take off in a plane where you knew they hadn’t done that test?
Here is the lesson we can learn from fighter pilots: Just like we are expecting the best performance from pilots and their dedication to do the checklist prior to takeoff, we should do the same before hitting the green cycle-start button on our CNC machines.

CNC Operators Pre-flight check list.
Take the time to walk around the machine to assure that all safety equipment such as guards are intact and doors are closed. This might also be a good time to make sure there are no oil spills on the floor or objects blocking the path around the machine.
What about maintenance? Coolant and way-oil levels should be topped off if needed.

Just like pilots, follow the checklist in the same order every time, and you will most likely have a safe landing in the end.
With the machine powered up, we can prepare for operation.

  1. Always start with the tooling. Why? because if you always start at the same beginning, and follow the checklist, chances are you will not forget an item that will cause a crash. We do not have any parachute for this trip. Gather all the tooling needed for the job prior to installing in the machine, and take the time to inspect it carefully. A magnifying glass might be a handy tool to inspect cutting flutes on endmills.
  2. Insert tooling into clean tool holders, and input measurements into tool length and tool diameter offset pages in the machine control. Remember to stay focused; this is not the time to dance to the latest iTunes or eat a sandwich. It is many times at this early stage where people get distracted and insert a value in the wrong column.
  3. Work holding. Indicate and secure vise or fixture…”Check!”.
  4. Insert stock into vise or fixture. Make sure everything is wiped clean of dirt and chips, and then pay extra attention that everything is secured and located against stops. We do not want to see anything come flying out of here.
  5. Work offset is important. G54-G55 is standard, but if you did not write the g-code, or did not double check the code, this could be a mission-critical error. Now go ahead and pick up the part. Double check, and then check again before saying “Check!”.
  6. Now you can go ahead and load the program into the control. Here is an important step many people decide to skip. Most controls have a graphic simulation option, and though it is not as pretty as in your CAM system, it is not a waste of your time. At least make sure you have an updated setup sheet, and an idea about what this program is about to do. If in doubt, I order you do the next step.
  7. This step is up to the guy who is hitting the green button. If there is a crash, you can assure that the boss will ask if this step was done. You can a) dry-run the program safe above the part, or b) use single-block command and reduced rapids.

Take a step back. One deep breath. Circle back to the beginning and run through the checklist one more time in your head. Did you remember everything?


Now tighten that seat belt, put on those cool reflective sunglasses, and press that green cycle-start button for blast off!



I challenge you…
I challenge you to print this article (including the cool images) and hang it at the machine or leave it in the break room. If your CNC Superstar does not know how to stay focused and follow a checklist, he is not Top Gun.



*Honestly, I cannot compare, but if someone can arrange for me to get a trip in a F-15, I’m in.