SolidWorks + Microsoft = Robots

Posted on November 20th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

SolidWorks and Microsoft joined forces to create a new software to enable engineers to simulate robots working before they’re actually put to work.

Rather than regurgitating what I’ve read, here’s the press release from SolidWorks:

Microsoft and DS SolidWorks Enhance Robot Simulation

Robotics programmers can now use SolidWorks 3D CAD models for more powerful simulations

CONCORD, Mass., USA, Nov. 18, 2008 – Engineers now have a more accurate way to simulate robots in action before they’re put to work thanks to new software developed by Microsoft and Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. (DS SolidWorks). The new simulation capability helps companies program robots more quickly and effectively, a key advantage for robot manufacturers seeking improved efficiency.

Users of Microsoft® Robotics Developer Studio 2008 (Microsoft RDS) will be able directly incorporate 3D CAD models designed in SolidWorks® software into Microsoft’s Visual Simulation Environment (Microsoft VSE) and simulate their operation more accurately. As a result, robotics developers can correct any robotic application issues early and maximize the robots’ performance. The solution takes advantage of the fact that both applications support a common XML format, COLLADA, for rendering 3D objects and motion. A demo of the solution is available now at SolidWorks Labs, and the solution itself will be available for download from SolidWorks Labs the first week of December.

“We are excited about the results of our collaboration with DS Solidworks in support of the COLLADA format,” said Tandy Trower, general manager at Microsoft. “This software integration means faster development of detailed physics-based simulation scenarios, a significant benefit for robot and automation developers, researchers, and even hobbyists.”

A robot designer, for example, can download the free SolidWorks/Microsoft RDS integration software, export a SolidWorks robot design into Microsoft VSE, develop the robotic application, then simulate the robots’ operation prior to deployment. The integration preserves dimensions, constraints, mass properties, motors, springs, colors, textures, and more from the SolidWorks model.

“The worlds of machine design, mechatronics, and robotics are converging, and this first-of-its-kind partnership is just one way we’re supporting the convergence,” said Fielder Hiss, director of product management at DS SolidWorks, a world leader in 3D solutions. “SolidWorks software has long enabled modeling, motion, and simulation, and customers are excited that we’re extending these capabilities to robotics.”

Wanna win free software?

Posted on November 19th, 2008. Posted In Software Review

Read the press release below from Novedge…

Novedge and QuadriSpace Sponsor A New Contest for the SpaceClaiming Online Community
San Francisco, CA – November 19, 2008 – Novedge LLC, the leading online graphics and design store, today announces a new contest for the members of SpaceClaiming, the popular online community for CAD and design professionals. Sponsored by Novedge and QuadriSpace, the online competition will reward the most original photograph submitted by December 15, 2008 based on the theme “Me, My CAD, and My Computer.” Judged by Brian Roberts, President of QuadriSpace, the challenge is reserved for members of the SpaceClaiming community. According to Franco Folini, SpaceClaiming member and President of Novedge, ”Supporting SpaceClaiming is a way to thank the CAD and design professionals for the significant trust they put in Novedge in allowing us to be their supplier of the most qualified software tools.” The grand prize winner will receive a regular commercial license of QuadriSpace Document3D Suite Standard, an advanced 3D publishing tool with a commercial value of $1495. “Document3D customers are reusing 3D models to create all kinds of exciting deliverables such as 3D PDF documents, printed manuals, interactive 3D web pages, Flash animations, and technical illustrations,” said Brian Roberts, SpaceClaiming member and President of QuadriSpace. “QuadriSpace enables better deliverables, and customers using QuadriSpace report a tremendous time and money savings when compared to outdated 2D-only methods that require multiple translations, multiple applications, and manual updates to documentation."
About SpaceClaiming
SpaceClaiming (www.spaceclaiming.com) is an open, and free online user community. SpaceClaiming hosts discussions, blog posts, videos, images, and tutorials providing an ideal environment to improve CAD users’ knowledge and skills while building a valuable network of personal relationships with qualified professionals.
About Novedge
Founded in 2003, Novedge LLC (www.novedge.com), a privately held company based in San Francisco, CA, is the leading online store of design, graphics, and manufacturing software and accessories. Thanks to its extensive catalog and unique proprietary interactive technology, Novedge offers a comprehensive and unparalleled approach to researching and purchasing CAD and graphics software online.
About QuadriSpace
QuadriSpace Corporation (www.quadrispace.com) delivers premier Product Communication and Documentation solutions using its patented technology (U.S. Patent # 7,068,269). Our software solutions enhance productivity by enabling 3D CAD and associated data reuse throughout the business process. The easy-to-use suite of products minimizes the time to market and the documentation costs throughout the enterprise. QuadriSpace products serve a broad user base of engineers, manufacturing, marketing, and technical publication professionals.

SolidWorks Success Stories

Posted on November 18th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

A couple of years ago, I visited SolidWorks headquarters in Concord, MA. I’d just started writing this blog and went to meet with some of the people who worked with Partner companies. One of the things that stands out from that visit was a hallway filled with stuff that had been designed in SolidWorks. At the time, I’d only seen SolidWorks used in equipment design. Boy, I had no idea.

If you meander on over here, to the SolidWorks Success Stories page, you’ll see that the sky is the limit. From Binney & Smith, the makers of

to hand held GPS

to the Mars Rover

to giant mining shovels

There’s virtually nothing that can’t be designed in SolidWorks. I know of people that have designed their deck with it. A company in Washington designs these gorgeous yachts. "Bone Crusher",

from the film "The Transformers" was designed in SolidWorks. Matt, of Dezignstuff, is recreating a Ford Model A roadster. Let your imagination run rampant and design to your heart’s, or boss’, content!

*Update: The picture above is of ‘Cougar’, not ‘Bonecrusher’. Thomas Jackson from Force Protection, manufacturer of both, emailed me and informed me of my error. Yes, ‘Cougar’ is designed in SolidWorks, too.*

SolidWorks and Architecture

Posted on November 14th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I’ve talk, briefly, about the project I’m working on in past posts. I don’t know how much detail I actually got into (and I’m too lazy to go and look), but I wanted to talk about the architectural aspect of it. Yes, I’m using SolidWorks for architectural "stuff". It’s been interesting to say the least. It’d been 13+ years since I’ve looked at an architectural drawing (I used to build houses), and I’d forgotten what the typical architecture symbols looked like. Symbols that aren’t in SolidWorks. Symbols that I get to create as blocks and then insert into the drawings. But, SolidWorks is a mechanical CAD software, not architecture software, so it’s to be expected.

One has to wonder, though. SolidWorks has been around for, what, 13 years, and no one else has brought up the fact that creating architectural drawings is a PITA? I know I’m not the first one to do this, right? Inserting the symbols isn’t too much of a pain, save for one small detail: the number of drawings that are going to end up being produced. Last estimation was ~500. Thankfully, that’s a lot less than the 1200 I was originally told. Anyway you cut it, that’s a lot of time consuming work. Take sectioning for example. I create the section, then have to overlay the architectural section symbol, then manually input the section letter and sheet number that contains the section view. Easy enough, I suppose, until you start moving the section lines. Then you have to move the symbol block. Then the text. I hope I’m missing something here and that there is a way to lock it all together so it moves together (anyone, Beuller?).

SolidWorks, however, is doing the job. The project managers are able to see, quickly and easily, where there might be interference issues, poor utilization of space or any other "opportunities". Over the course of the project, the naysayers have become proponents and that’s always a good thing for a SolidWorks addict like me.

Thankfully, I’m meeting with some of the awesome peeps at SolidWorks next Monday (God, I can’t wait to go home again!). A couple of the tech support guys in the AM to go over some of the crashing issues I’ve had, then some of the API/Drawing gurus in the afternoon to look into getting some automation going.

Bear in mind (Matt, this is directed at you) that I’m NOT whining. I love the fact that I’m getting to use SolidWorks for something that it wasn’t intended for. The customer, thusfar, is duly impressed with everything we’ve generated and loves being able to see his place in 3D, right down to the broom in the corner. It’s an awesome experience. One that I hope to be able to do again. 

A Greener Recipe for Clean Drinking Water

Trojan Technologies uses SolidWorks 3D CAD and Simulation Software to Develop Disinfection Systems Based on UV Light

CONCORD, Mass., USA, Nov. 10, 2008 – Which would you prefer in your drinking water: bleach or light?

That’s the easy choice made every day by residential, commercial, and municipal customers of Trojan Technologies, a Canadian company whose systems disinfect drinking water with ultraviolet light. More than 60 designers and engineers at Trojan use SolidWorks® 3D CAD software and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software from Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. (DS SolidWorks) to custom-design and configure systems for each client.

“We’re not adding anything to the water, we’re just shining light through it to alter the DNA structure of harmful microorganisms like E.coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium, effectively destroying the reproductive systems in the cells,” said Jason Cerny, one of the company’s senior mechanical designers. “SolidWorks and SolidWorks Flow Simulation software are important tools in this endeavor, letting us create better systems faster in more competitively sized packages. We no longer have to leave extensive room for error and build projects a little larger than they need to be. We’ve also dramatically reduced the number of prototypes we need to build – prototypes that can exceed $50,000 for municipal systems – as well as the errors that can crop up in projects designed in 2D.”

Based in London, Ontario, Trojan Technologies used SolidWorks to design and build the largest UV disinfection system in the world, made up of 56 water disinfection units, for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The facility is capable of treating up to 2.2 billion gallons of water each day.

Trojan claims the largest installed base of UV systems in operation on the planet. UV rays penetrate bacteria and viruses, destroying their ability to function and reproduce. The process is simple but effective, destroying harmful microorganisms without adding chemicals or changing the water’s taste or odor.

Trojan has used SolidWorks for a decade and, according to Cerny, now needs to build only one-third of the costly prototypes it once did. He credits the effectiveness of SolidWorks Flow Simulation software and the accuracy of 3D CAD for the improvement. Trojan has recently begun using SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software to accelerate design by working efficiently around the clock, with the implementation of an offshore engineering team in Bangalore, India.

“Safe, clean drinking water is one of the most important things in the world,” said Efrat Ravid, director of marketing and alliances for Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. “It’s reassuring to know that Trojan is driving the technology forward and using SolidWorks software to do that.”

Trojan relies on authorized SolidWorks reseller Javelin Technologies for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.

About Trojan

Trojan designs, manufactures, and sells UV systems for municipal wastewater and drinking water facilities, the residential market, and also designs and installs treatment technology for the environmental contaminant and micropollutant destruction market. With over 5,300 municipal facilities in more than 78 countries using its technology, Trojan has the largest installed base of UV systems in the world. Headquartered in London, Ontario, Canada, the company also has offices in the U.K., China, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and the US. For more information, visit http://www.trojanuv.com/.

About Javelin Technologies

Javelin Technologies is Canada’s premier 3D design, analysis, design automation, and data management value-added reseller (VAR). Javelin is a fully authorized and certified SolidWorks training and support organization. In addition to SolidWorks 3D design products, Javelin is a licensed reseller of the SolidWorks Simulation validation suite of software, SolidWorks PDM data management products, and a number of other tools to help your business become more efficient and profitable. For more information, visit http://www.javelin-tech.com/.

About Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.
Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., a Dassault Systèmes S.A. (Nasdaq: DASTY, Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) brand, develops and markets software for design, analysis, and product data management. It is the leading supplier of 3D CAD technology, providing intuitive, high-performing software that helps product design teams develop great products. For the latest news, information, or a live online demonstration, visit the company’s Web site (http://www.solidworks.com/) or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).

About Dassault Systèmes   

As a world leader in 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, Dassault Systèmes brings value to more than 100,000 customers in 80 countries. A pioneer in the 3D software market since 1981, Dassault Systèmes develops and markets PLM application software and services that support industrial processes and provide a 3D vision of the entire lifecycle of products from conception to maintenance to recycling. The Dassault Systèmes portfolio consists of CATIA for designing the virtual product – SolidWorks for 3D mechanical design – DELMIA for virtual production – SIMULIA for virtual testing – ENOVIA for global collaborative lifecycle management, and 3DVIA for online 3D lifelike experiences.  Dassault Systèmes is listed on the Nasdaq (DASTY) and Euronext Paris (#13065, DSY.PA) stock exchanges. For more information, visit http://www.3ds.com.

Just Getting Started with SolidWorks?

Posted on November 11th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

You’re new to SolidWorks, you’ve gone through the tutorials and, maybe, some training at your VAR. Yet you still feel that you need more practice. Look around your office (cubicle?) and find something there to reverse engineer. That mouse that you’re using, that’d be a good one to model. How about your phone? Got a powerstrip nearby?

My point is this, becoming proficient with SolidWorks is all about practice and learning from your mistakes or the mistakes of others. You can read all the how-to books you want, watch all the videos on YouTube or read user blogs, but until you start pushing yourself, you’re not going to become proficient. Be careful, too, about getting stuck in a rut. If the company you’re with only produces "blocky" stuff, play around with surfacing on the side and vice versa. You don’t create any sheetmetal parts there? You might need to at your next position. When all is said and done, it’s about having a well-rounded skill set so that you can be more attractive to more potential employers. It’s especially true in today’s economy.

Remember, SolidWorks license agreement allows for 20% home useage. If your boss, or IT department, allows it, install SolidWorks at home and start looking around for things to model up.

SolidProfessor – My Final Thoughts

Posted on November 7th, 2008. Posted In Software Review

I can say without a doubt that I wish I’d had SolidProfessor when I first started using SolidWorks way back when. They’ve done an excellent job of breaking down lessons into easy to understand parts, without making it seem like you’re being talked down to. I like, too, that the dialogue isn’t monotone. When you’re staring at a monitor, watching a lesson, the last thing you need is the teacher from "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" talking to you. You’ll find your face lying in a puddle of your own drool all too quickly.

I’d say that SolidProfessor is worth every penny you, or your company, may spend on it. Depending on your ability to absorb information, I suspect you’d have a very short ROI timeline.

Honestly, just once I wish I’d get to review a partner product that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It goes against my nature to always be so happy with things. Ugh, maybe 18 years in the politically correct area that is Seattle is starting to rub off on me. Thank God I’ll be heading back east in a couple of weeks for Thanksgiving…

Backwards Compatibility

Posted on November 7th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I heard a rumor, from a reliable source, that SolidWorks is investigating backwards compatibility. Would that help you in your job? If so, how?

Also heard that SolidWorks R&D is hard at work on some super-secret stuff. One can hope that it’s less "flashy" stuff and more stability kind of stuff.

Hot off the presses…well, warm at least:

Fremont, Calif. – Nov. 6, 2008 – 3Dconnexion, a Logitech company, today announced its line of 3D mice are supported by SolidWorks® 2009, the newest version of the widely used 3D CAD software. 3Dconnexion 3D mice complement the dramatic speed and efficiency gains provided in SolidWorks 2009, offering CAD professionals more intuitive navigation and control for enhanced design performance.

“The new software enhancements inherent in SolidWorks 2009 directly parallel the benefits of working with 3Dconnexion’s 3D mice,” said Dieter Neujahr, president of 3Dconnexion. “SolidWorks 2009 offers new levels of productivity and design quality with faster speeds and enhancements that allow users to focus less on the application and more on their designs. These enhancements, coupled with the proven productivity and design performance benefits of our 3D mice, are poised to have a tremendous impact on the product-development process, allowing today’s CAD-intensive organizations to develop higher-quality products faster and more efficiently.”

“3Dconnexion did a great job of looking within SolidWorks 2009 to see where a 3D mouse will help the software work more effectively for the user,” said Nick Iwaskow, Manager of Alliances at Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. “More than ever, our customers are looking for the productivity gain that 3Dconnexion 3D mice provide.” 

3Dconnexion’s 3D mice provide an intuitive and comfortable design experience with increased productivity, which is essential to design engineers who spend hours on end navigating sophisticated and complex applications. Unlike traditional mice confined to motion on one flat plane, 3Dconnexion 3D mice enable design engineers to move in all three dimensions simultaneously, using six degrees of freedom. By gently lifting, pressing and turning the controller cap, SolidWorks users can easily pan, zoom and rotate without stopping to select commands.

3Dconnexion 3D mice integrate seamlessly into the SolidWorks design workflow, offering advanced navigation and design benefits that support new features in SolidWorks 2009, including:

·         Large Assemblies – In very large, complex assemblies, SolidWorks users can manipulate a sub-assembly independently using 3Dconnexion 3D mice to pan, zoom and rotate 3D objects. Six degrees of freedom allow design engineers to better view and manipulate large designs, making it easier to detect design flaws.

·         SpeedPak Technology – 3Dconnexion 3D mice enable users to intuitively navigate the simplified version of a complex assembly by seamlessly zooming in to view or manipulate a specific area of the design, then zooming out to view the assembly as a whole for significant design performance enhancement.

·         Simulation Sensors – If a design flaw is detected with the simulation sensors, 3Dconnexion 3D mice can be used to navigate quickly and easily to the specific design location and allow design engineers to view the design from multiple angles, helping to correctly identify the error and make the modification.

In addition to enhancing the design experience, 3Dconnexion’s 3D mice help improve the quality of designs by aiding in the detection of design flaws. 3Dconnexion’s SpaceNavigator™, SpaceNavigator™ for Notebooks, SpaceExplorer™ and SpacePilot™ are virtual extensions of design engineers working in SolidWorks 2009, making otherwise complex movements simple. For expanded control benefits, the SpaceExplorer and SpacePilot 3D mice also feature programmable buttons that allow users to execute frequently used commands with one-click access for key functions and keyboard modifiers. In the latest version of the software, the result is more time spent on the design and less time navigating the application. 

3Dconnexion’s advanced and affordable 3D mice are supported by more than 130 of today’s leading and powerful 3D applications. For a complete list of applications supported by 3Dconnexion, visit: www.3dconnexion.com/solutions/cad/all_sup_app.php. In addition, please visit www.3dconnexion.com/solidworks_demo for a video demonstration of 3Dconnexion 3D mice in SolidWorks software.

Pricing and Availability

SolidWorks 2009 supports 3Dconnexion’s 3D mice on Windows® 2000, XP and Vista®. SpaceNavigator™ Personal Edition (MSRP $59), SpaceNavigator Standard Edition (MSRP $99), SpaceNavigator for Notebooks (MSRP $129), SpaceExplorer™ (MSRP $299), and SpacePilot™ (MSRP $399) are available from professional CAD resellers and major online resellers including Amazon, Buy.com, CDW, Dell, and PC Mall. For a complete list of resellers or to buy directly, visit www.3Dconnexion.com.

About 3Dconnexion, a Logitech Company
3Dconnexion, a wholly owned subsidiary of Logitech (SIX: LOGN) (Nasdaq: LOGI), is the leading provider of 3D mice for 3D design and visualization. 3Dconnexion devices support today’s most popular and powerful 3D applications by offering users a more intuitive and natural way to interact with computer-generated 3D content. 3Dconnexion’s award-winning 3D mice serve a wide variety of industries and are used by 3D designers, animators and artists worldwide. 3Dconnexion is headquartered in Fremont, Calif., with European headquarters in Seefeld, Germany and offices worldwide. For more information, visit www.3Dconnexion.com.

Thoughts on SWW

Posted on November 4th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

As I sit here at the Tri-Cities airport in Pasco, Washington, waiting to fly back to Seattle for the most expensive breakfast in my life, I find my mind wandering to SolidWorks Worlds gone by while looking forward to SWW ’09.
My first one was in 2006 in Las Vegas. Not only was it my first trip to SolidWorks World, but it was also my first time in Vegas. Talk about sensory overload! That one trip did it for me, I was hooked. As soon as I got home, I was looking forward to SWW in New Orleans.
SWW ’07 was a wholly new experience as I attended as a member of the press. While still being able to attend breakout sessions, I also got to attend “press only” events. I got to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, all while learning more about my bread and butter, SolidWorks.
SolidWorks World ’08, in San Diego, found me attending as an AE for a reseller. Once again, I was able to experience a whole diifferent side to SWW, while still being able to learn and catch up with old friends. I also had the honor of being a member of the “Stump the Chumps” session. What a blast that was!
Fast forward to February ’09, and you’ll find me at SWW in Orlando. This year, it looks like I’ll be going as a small business owner. While I doubt that will garner me any of the perks I experienced as a member of the press, or as an AE, it will be another take on it all. I am, however, holding out hope that “Stump the Chumps II” will be approved. Keep your fingers crossed!
If you’re at SWW, and you actually read the drivel I write, come up and say hi. It’s always great to meet other users.

**Update: Unfortunately, “Stump the Chumps II” didn’t make the cut. We’ll have to get our proposal in earlier next year.**

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