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A quick look out on the CAD/CAM Web Aug09

man reading
A couple of cool CAD and CAM related places on the web you might enjoy along with a cup of coffee.

Alibre 3D CAD for $99
Looking for 3D CAD? This might be the deal you have been looking for, Alibre offer there $999 for a nice discount…..$99…should be worth a look I would say.

Tony Stewart and Haas on your shop floor!
Tony Stewart who is one of American stock car series NASCAR’s superstars started his own racing company with American machine builder Haas Automation as one of the main sponsors. Haas Automation makes some very affordable CNC machinery and uses Solidworks for there machine design process.
Only in America… but if you are a serious NASCAR fan and you are the guy who pays for the machines, why not Tony Stewart on your machine

Talking about Solidworks and Haas, check out this cool rendering of a Haas rotary unit, The original Haas product. By Dorn Kennison

ToolingU Adds Robotics and Rigging Training provides online training for manufacturers. With more than 550 unique titles, they offer a full range of content to train machine operators, welders, assemblers, inspectors, and maintenance professionals. And now with Robot training you might just find the tools to attack the future with.

3D Dudes Gone 3D
If you are a Solidworks user you might come across these guys but I believe most CAD/CAM users can relate to these guys one way or another, have a laugh on Solidworks tap
3D Dudes

3Dconnextion spice up Spacepilot PRO
Enhancing its full-color LCD Workflow Assistant that delivers quick access to important commands and information without interrupting the design workflow. New driver is available here
I have to admit that I have not had a chance to test out the new driver but that a review of the new functions will come in the near future. If you are not familiar with a 3D mouse I would recommend you took a look at I know people that say that working without there 3D mouse is like sawing off there left arm. Honestly my SpaceNavigator follows me everywhere…..almost.

I hope you found some useful information in this blog post….
But if not, maybe you can at least leave with a couple of tricks to make your web browser better
Firefox tips and tricks
Internet Explorer tips and tricks

More coffee anyone?

Create the worlds strongest Robot! use Solidworks

7/12-2009~Updating this post with some cool links to see these robots in action

That is FANUC Robotics choice when designing there products, and it is hard to argue that choice when you are looking at there latest 2 products.

M-2000iA/1200 could easy be the nickname of the latest terminator, if you are in need of saving the world, or maybe just handling something really heavy on the shop floor this could become your best friend.

The World Strongest 6 axis Robot
“The M-2000iA/1200 has the highest payload and the strongest wrist compared to all other electric six-axis robots available today,” said Ian Orr, product manager, FANUC Robotics. “It can support a 1350 kg payload with a 0.6 m offset from the faceplate and full articulated motion at the wrist. One M-2000iA/1200 robot can handle a super heavy part, which previously required dual robots, conveyors, lifts and other fixed automation.”
Update : Video of M-2000iA/1200

M-1iA Just to show the diversity of FANUC Robotic product line the 2nd release is called M-1iA, a lightweight robot designed for small part handling, high-speed picking and assembly applications.
“Assembly customers require higher speeds and accuracy to meet their production goals,” said Nishant Jhaveri, product manager, FANUC Robotics America, Inc. “The M-1iA’s flexibility and speed far exceed the capabilities of other vertically-articulated or SCARA-type robots.”
Update : Video of M-1iA

Feeling the itch of learning more about robots? check out the recent theme week on When you should make room for robots

#3 RobotWorks turns SW into a Robotic remote control


Welcome to the 3rd post in our theme week about Robotics, in case you missed the previous 2 here is the links #1 When you should make room for robots and
#2 Fanuc Robotics Your Partner on the shop floor.

So yesterday was about the robot, now we are moving closer to home, we are actually going to sit down in front of our computer and click the Solidworks icon. Today it is all about RobotWorks the application that makes you Solidworks seat into a Robotic fireball, and also a Solidworks partner.

Above is a screen shot of RobotWorks simulating polishing a jet plane window with double curvature going in overlapping #8 motion, try to do that without the right software, dude!. Check out the 44sec video here on youtube

It is not really a very hard picture to imagine, you have just designed your new fixtures and loaded in your Robot template, a couple of mouse clicks and Robotworks is fired up inside your Solidworks interface and you are now programing the twist and turns for your robot. Sweetness!

So how does it work?
RobotWorks uses the user-selected faces and edges to create the points for the robot path. Saved tools and robot parameters let you easily define the environment and will help to create the path very quickly. The motion on screen shows the user when a path needs to be altered due to collision or reach problems. RobotWorks provides the user with handy tools to adjust and correct the path with only a few mouse clicks. Because of the integration of RobotWorks into SolidWorks the robot path becomes part of the cell design. This way, any changes to the robot cell, i.e. collision, will immediately update the models and drawings – ready to be manufactured!
RobotWorks also can easily handle the tough job of moving parts. The more complex the part and path, the more benefit the user will get by using RobotWorks.

It is clear that if your company already are using Solidworks it would make sense to consider at least a demo of Robotworks, but how do you connect the two applications, it seems like there could be a distance from the design room to the actual shop floor, or is it just us people who make it that way?
developer of RobotWorks, Mr. Nathan Naveh of Compucraft, Ltd. had this to say.

*RobotWorks extends the power of the mechanical engineer into MANUFACTURING, offering the same person not just to design parts but to verify they can be manufactured. And he does that inside his design environment SolidWorks, practically making the parts BETTER and CHEAPER in the same process.

So where to start?
Kevin Nelson from Blue Technik, the Robotworks reseller for America put things in perspective when I asked him what a robot rookie company should take into consideration before purchasing expensive robots and software.

*Just purchasing a robot usually is not the solution to the problem. A robot is only one part of a larger well-designed system of equipment, processes, and personnel that is useful in solving a problem. Similar admonitions hold for robotic OLP software. Purchasing robotic OLP software won’t cure a company’s lack of knowledgeable and talented personnel. It may augment ignorance, but won’t be a purchased substitute for intelligence and learning and “3D-Think”.


Service and support
As with the robot, support and service offered is high on my radar. A small company can not live with long lasting down time either from mechanical or software related issues. Kevin Nelson followed up with these words:

*If the customer purchases the Support License, then they are entitled to email support and software upgrades. I also publish web-based video tutorials that my customers have found to be extremely useful. Occasionally we will augment this level of support for challenging situations with telephone support and web-based desktop sharing sessions

following this link Blue Technik learning center you will find the big amount of free video tutorials Blue Technik offers.

So if you are at a point where you feel that robotics for sure could have a application in your shop, and you want it to do more than have it sitting on the shop floor looking pretty, I would say Robotworks is a pretty good candidate for you robotic software solution, designed to work with the six most popular six-axis arms used for path applications on the market today: KUKA, ABB, Motoman, Staubli, Kawasaki, and of course Fanuc.
I will like to thank Kevin Nelson from Blue Technik and Nathan Naveh of Compucraft, Ltd. for answering my questions.

Tomorrow we are going to shine the light on another robotic software, the other side of, yep you guessed it, Mastercam also have a little robot kicking, like Robotworks for Solidworks there is RobotMaster for Mastercam.

#2 Fanuc Robotics Your Partner on the shop floor

Did you read the 1st post of the robotic theme week? if not here it is #1 When you should make room for robots

When introducing robotics into your shop your goal is to take full advantage of automation and the repeatability these things can provide. Lets be honest, we want this thing to run “lights out” every day, 7 days a week if possible. To do the job right the most important thing is of course the robot itself.
Fanuc Robotics is one of the heavyweights that should be among the top on your list of when consider a brand. With over 200,000 installed robots worldwide you know that this is a well established company. The world of robotics is not a field where you foul around, and a lot of the big companies have already done the ground work for you by showing you what brand they use.

So again the question where do you start?
If you are a small shop buying your equipment up to this point, it might just been a path of necessity from a costumer demand, but making the jump to use robotics is about changing a mindset, about taking your shop to the next level. With 33 different robot categories and with some of them containing up to 9 different types you mouth quickly gets dry trying to figure out what you need and how to single out possible candidates for your specific job.

When I asked Cathy Powell from Fanuc Robotics this questions her answer made me realize that as a costumer there is no reason to panic, because there is people out there that can explain and make you understand what fit your situation best.

* As the field of robotics rapidly advances, some manufacturers may not be aware of the value provided by robotics. The following list explains several reasons for companies to consider robots for their manufacturing operations:

1.Loosely located parts can be handled: An increasing number of systems are using 2D vision as an alternative to expensive fixtures. Some robot controllers even have vision systems as a standard option without the need for an external PC.

2.Large parts can be handled: The maximum payload that a robot can handle continues to rise with some robots able to handle over 1300 kg!

3.Large work envelopes are no problem: For many years robots have been placed on linear slides to increase the working range. Now robots can be placed on overhead rails that only require columns every 10 meters. This allows the plant work area to remain largely open while still allowing rail travel of up to 70 meters.

4.ROI measures need to be updated: Many plants still use a “double standard” for capital equipment ROI. Certain capital, like machine tools, use “useful life” calculations while automation and robots still use short paybacks, like one year. This results in the under-utilization of a very reliable piece of equipment with a life of 7 to 10 years, and the flexibility to be re-applied.

5.Bin picking is now possible: The use of 3D vision allows robots to pick parts directly from a bin, particularly parts that have some rough orientation, such as being stacked.

8.Higher cycle times are possible: Each new robot and controller design results in products that have higher speeds. When making expansion plans, check on the cycle times possible with the newest generation of robots.

9.Robots can compete with fixed automation: Robots have the payload and speed to compete with fixed automation and offer two key advantages. The first is increased reliability, which results in higher plant yields. The second is flexibility to handle future products, which protects your investment.

10.Benefits exceed labor savings: While first time robot users typically justify an application on labor savings, there are the added savings of increased productivity and improved quality.

11.Assembly tasks can be performed: The use of six degrees of freedom force sensors means that robots can perform assembly tasks with larger 3D parts that were not previously possible.

Don’t you feel better now? yeah I know……… is not confusion circulation in you brain right now, but ideas about how you can use this technology.

Now if you made it this far in this article I know that back in your head the $ is spinning, and of course you get what you pay for. Robotic Automation cost money but remember this is a serious industry, companies like Fanuc Robotics will work close with you to streamline and customize to your specific needs. Even the government is willing to do there part Stimulus save on robots in 2009

As a shop floor supervisor one of my big personal concerns are service. You are picturing this thing running like a race car, doing what ever magic it can do, but you also know that at a point the darn thing need maintenance or even a wrench to it, and my machining centers always breaks Friday at 5pm, you know what I talk about!
Again, choosing a well established company like Fanuc gives you a advantage, they got people and when I directed my concern torch Cathy Powell from Fanuc Robotics, she once more made my pulse drop under 120.

FANUC Robotics Support Staff:

* The FANUC Robotics Technical Support Group is available 24/7/365. Our average years of true FANUC Robotics experience is 18.8 years amongst the 12 staffed specialists. So, all customers are serviced by a highly qualified specialist with many years of advanced technical knowledge and experience with every phone call. Along with the years of experience, management carefully reviews the different skill sets of each specialist and compares that to the types of technical calls coming in. We coordinate staffing and training based on the types of technical calls we receive. We have automated call routing to the most skilled Technical Support Specialist based on the customer’s robot type and application use. All specialists are trained and qualified to answer all basic questions across all robot platforms. However, we have dedicated “All Stars” for each robot product type & product application. The “All Stars” are the go-to specialists amongst the group for advanced questions.

Service Locations:

* The FANUC Robotics Service Group is also available 24/7/365. We dispatch the nearest engineer based on product knowledge and troubleshooting skills. We have19 FRA Servicing Engineers with an average of 10+ years experience. We also have 50+ Service Installation Engineers located across the U.S. All Service Engineers can login remotely to assist Technical Support questions when not dispatched. Service utilizes a web-based scheduling system called Workforce Manager to track service calls, engineer progress and, most importantly, availability for the next customer service request. On a continuous basis, management tracks service requests by geographic location to ensure all areas of the U.S. are serviced in a timely and economical manner. There are 13 remote service engineers spread across the U.S. and they are strategically located in the densest areas of our customer base and previous service requests. We also have 16 Servicing Integrator partners with at least 3 qualified service engineers that are certified by FANUC to perform robot service work.
So its installed, now what?
It has been bolted to the floor or hanging from the ceiling, now we need some movement.
Small shops can have a very hard time justifying sending one of there key team members away on a expensive training trip across country, but luckily Fanuc Robotic is a company with the desire to be part of the modern world and they offer online training. Now the operator can do the training when it best suits the company, and when questioning Cathy Powell about there training program and the difficulty creating something like that, you kinda get the idea the efforts Fanuc Robotics have made.
Fanuc Robotics America has invested a vast amount of hours into developing our eLearn offerings to provide the best possible web based learning experience. Customer feedback about their experience taking our eLearn training indicates that these courses to be a valuable learning tool. We have trained over 1,650 students since beginning the program. Each course contains interactive features developed with the use of our sophisticated 3D offline robot simulation software. This allows us to provide highly technical training to customers that are unable to attend a live class. Courses are self paced and modular in design to allow our customers to be trained at their own convenience. Our customers have found this training to be a great learning tool

My conclusion is that Fanuc Robotic seems like everything you could wish for in regards to shopping for Robots, a company with good solid customer service and know how that would be beneficial to any new robot buyer.
I would like to thank Cathy Powell of Fanuc Robotics for her assistance and patience answering my questions.

Tomorrow we are going to cut that Solidworks screen open and drag RobotWorks out in the light. Hope you are in for the ride.

Tomoeeow is now, RobotWorks, Solidworks and Robots

#1 When you should make room for robots

With a new Star Trek movie out and a lot of talk about “cloud” computing you got to feel that the future is chasing you down a dark alley in a way like only the new Terminator can. The future is about new things, so that is what we also are going to do on
We welcome you to Theme Week!
So hold on to your socks, for the next 4 days you are going to get a doze of robots attacking you from different sides.

We have all seen the the symphony of industrial robots welding cars on TV, a musical that lately have become very silent.
Saying the phrase “mama and papa shop”, and then throw in the word Robots and some people will lift an eye brow.
There was a time when that kinda shops where for making custom garden gates and welding up exhaust pipes, but more and more of those types of shops turned into high tech manufacturing facilities using the same machines and software as big league companies like Boeing and Ford Motor company.

Should mama and papa consider robots as there next step on the ladder? the answer is absolutely not to eliminate jobs necessarily, but to increase work flow in a high tech world.

So where do you start?
The following 3 days on are dedicated in the name of Robotics, and each day will introduce a kick of robot power.

Fanuc Robotics
A leading supplier of robotic automation with over 200,000 robots installed worldwide, oh and yes they use Solidworks!

Stuffed right inside your Solidworks screen, making your favorite design software into a robot controlling device.

To load or handle the product after you programed your CNC monster, no worries with this program Mastercam made full circle.

So when to consider these monsters?
From machining, welding, deburing, moving, loading/unloading, painting, scanning, assembling, anything that have the task of repeatability in it would most likely possible with Robotic power.
Does it sound like something very complicated and expensive adventure, well for a little inspiration check out Fanuc Robotics, Robotworks, RobotMaster. Hey evenebay or maybe read a couple of topics on Robot-Forum and then of course subscribe to this pages RSS feed and follow a long for the theme week on Robots on

So make sure you set that alarm clock for tomorrow, because you will get your cup of coffee served with a bright crunchy piece off yellow Fanuc robot.

If you are awake now click #2 Fanuc Robotics Your Partner on the shop floor