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

Listen to the Podcast!
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

CAD Tip: Start your CAD Design the right way

For some reason we have no patience with getting lines and arcs created on our CAD system. Many times resulting in going down the wrong path with our design. Resulting in recreating way to many things. This week’s tip is to slow down and maybe make sure you think through a few questions before drawing your first lines.

YouTube Link

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.

Quick Inventor Tip: Direct editing

A quick Inventor tip that may possible be helpful kick starting your 3D day.


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

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

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

Autodesk University
Inventor HSM Pro

Manufacturing News
Lenovo Thinkpad W550
Mastercam X8
Delcam Partmaker 2015

What’s New from HSMWorks 2015

It’s that time again! SolidWorks released 2015, and HSMWorks is assuring that your best integrated CAM option fits right in with its 2015 release.

HSMWorks 2015

HSMWorks has always stood out as a company that did not follow every other CAM lead. The fact is that though HSMWorks does release a major version every year, they also stuff new features in the Service Packs as they become available. This means that HSMWorks users actually get goodies all year round. It is also worth noting that this is the 3rd major release since Autodesk acquired HSMWorks back in 2012.

So besides being able to run inside the latest SolidWorks 2015 release, here are my 3 favorite highlights for HSMWorks 2015.

High-end Roughing Strategy
If you have not had a chance to see Adaptive Roughing in action, you really owe yourself an opportunity to take it for a spin. The 2D Adaptive roughing strategy is available with the free downloadable HSMXpress version, and both the 2D and 3D versions have gotten some nice, new, shiny functions.
Roughing strategies have been becoming really popular, of course, because of cycle times, but also because they have significantly increased tool life with better toolpath algorithms.
In this version, the users have better control with a “Stay-down level” tab, taper helical ramps and a support function to avoid chatter and reduce tool wear.

More CPU Power
I love technology!
In this version, you get support for the latest Intel Xeon Processors, configurable up to 36 total processor cores in one system. (Everyone who wants one of those, raise their hand!)
There is a lot of software that can only use one core of your system. It’s like a bottleneck; all the data has to swim down this one core no matter how many you have on your system. HSMWorks is different: you can actually have the system processing toolpath on a roughing strategy while you are modifying or applying the finishing toolpath. The end result is less time wasted waiting on the computer.

Better visual performance for Simulation
I hope CAM developers never feel they are done with the simulation aspect of their software. This is the last step before code gets posted and if you have ever been the one who has to press the green button on a CNC machine, you know those machines move fast and do exactly what you tell them to do. Simulation is critical!
In this version, you get faster results in “Fast 3D Mode”, a favorite if you are doing those big toolpath calculations for molds and other complicated surface stuff. Also, the “Simulate” function that is available in HSMXpress has improved toolpath position and visualization.

I think this is a great release with many more enhancements than mentioned here. The developing team is focused on making a great quality product that will strengthen users in manufacturing.
If you want to see more about this release check out for links to download both the free HSMXpress 2015 and 30 day trial for HSMWorks 2015.

Check out this video from Autodesk CAM’s Youtube channel.

Let the SpaceMouse navigate your 3D creation

A beautiful well designed productivity tool from 3DConnexion.

Personal Experience…
About 5 years ago I found myself as a 9 hour a day CAD/CAM jockey with only minutes through the day allocated for lunch and bathroom breaks. Sounds familiar?.
At the end of each day I found my right hand hurting and getting numb from performing the daily tasks of mouse clicking edges, faces, rotate and other SolidWorks related commands through a day of cool CAD files.
I knew I had to do something, this was my carrier and with 30+ years left in the working arena this could not be ignored. To my relief the help was just around the corner. With a $100 out of pocket I received an awesome new CAD friend Named SpaceNavigator from 3DConnexion.

Check out the new SpaceMouse from 3DConnexion.

When I 1st read about the 3D mouse being wireless I really thought no big deal, but after taking the new SpaceMouse for a test run I realized that I am a laptop guy that takes my CAD machine around with me daily. Then the price difference of $30 +/- seems well worth not having to plug and unplug since these devices seem to hang around your desk for awhile. On top of that the programmable buttons now have a “SolidWorks Mouse Gesture” like thing. This takes your two buttons and like quadruple them. Cooler than cool.

I am a big fan of these devices. They are very well built and the design is pleasant for the eyes, which should be important when located on a designers desk.

4 Things you need to know about SolidWorks Rx

  1. It can quickly determine if you are having a graphics card issues
  2. It is simply the best way to get the right graphics driver for SolidWorks
  3. It is a great way to assure your computer is a lean mean CAD machine
  4. It can provide the right info to solve possible problems you might experiencing

It has been almost 10 years since one of the main CAD influencers, Greg Jankowski from SolidWorks, wrote this intro for the Rx tool on The power of this tool is awesome. Here is 4 reasons why…
Where to start…

Simply hit your Windows start button and type “rx”, then it will appear at the top of the list…click it!

Starting SolidWorks in OpenGL mode will take you graphics card out commission. Result= If you still see weird graphics issues, it ain’t your graphics cards fault, so blame something else.

Second tab “Diagnostic” gives you a quick link to get your latest certified graphics card driver (Need internet connection, and a supported graphics card) Note: A Nvidia Quadro K2000 or similar should be plenty for most SolidWorks users.

Would Jeff Gordon or Kimi Raikkonen’s pit crew ever send them on the track without having checked the oil level and tire pressure? Well, I like to believe we are just as professional as they are. Don’t forget “CheckDisk” and “Defrag”, and with the enhanced options when hitting “Start Maintenance” such as schedule it to run at your convenience, there is no excuse not to keep that CAD machine in good shape my friend 🙂

If it is time to call a friend, and things are just not working right with SolidWorks. Your reseller will hug you when you let them know you can forward them a SolidWorks Rx Capture. This data holds no personal information, but gives them most of all the data they could ever ask for in regards your system set up. On top of that, if the reseller has to escalate things to SolidWorks, they will be just as thrilled to receive this.
It is a cool tool! You are cool!! You need to use it!!!

3 Quick reasons to upgrade to SolidWorks 2014

In the need for an short elevator pitch to convince management why upgrading to SolidWorks 2014 is going to make you more productive?

If you are anything like me, you would prepare a 6 hours powerpoint presentation going through every detail of the 196 page What’s New pdf. Unfortunately I am pretty confident that management does not see the same fun in this.

One could imagine that a short video covering Part, Assembly and Drawings could do the trick. If not…well, then you might have to torture them with the 6 hours powerpoint presentation 🙂
SolidWorks 2014 is a great release. It has run very stable through beta into full release, and with all the great new enhancements it is defiantly a tool that is going to make you and your team more productive.

eDrawings…3 New features that could be game changers

Last week I was going back and forward with a colleague of mine debating which SolidWorks model we should use for an upcoming project. As I was traveling and therefore out of the office, eDrawings turned out to be the perfect collaborating tool. 🙂
I think that many of us “old time” 3D CAD user are taking this collaboration tool for given and maybe even forgotten about it a little bit, but lately they have made some great enhancements that we can not afford going unnoticed.

1.eDrawings Argumented Reality…
This really works! Being able to use your tablets or smart phone’s camera to place your 3D design in your current environment is not just cool looking, but great as a sales tool or to present to the customer how things really is going to look like in its real life setting.
See SolidWorks Blog Post

2.eDrawings on iPhone and Android devices…
Being fully supported and reasonably priced I think eDrawings have found a new comfortable home on your favorite mobile device. Awesome!
Check out the SolidWorks Link

3.Bring Markups back from eDrawings into SolidWorks…
This is one of my favorites! We can now bring markups back into our favorite design software, SolidWorks, and there by eliminating those scary brake downs in communication that no ones likes.
1)In eDrawings…Create your eDrawing Markup’s

2)In eDrawings…File->Save Markup

3)In SolidWorks Drawings…Insert->eDrawing Markup File…

4)Result…The markup right there inside SolidWorks, no confusion

I think eDrawings has upped the standard. Making sure that collaboration is their game!!