When Desktop Engineering was launched in 1995, the engineering world was going through a major change. Technology had advanced to a point where design engineers could make use of real, full-blown computer aided design software on their own personal workstations. It marked a period of renewed design creativity with worldwide implications and technological advances that started a cycle of improvements that drove design innovation to new heights and made complex simulations possible on desktop computers.
Yet the wall standing between mechanical design and the manufacture of that design persisted. The old saw about how once the design was passed to the manufacturing team everything about it changed continued to hold true. This process was at times adversarial and at best annoying. Back and forth the design would go, eating up the schedule. Finally, the quality assurance engineer would spend even more time making sure the manufactured prototypes were going to perform as promised. It was a costly process.
Thankfully, over the course of the last decade or so, we witnessed most of these roadblocks removed by efficiencies in the process. Finally the wall crumbled, enabling design and manufacturing to work together, trimming time to market.
Today, another change is taking place. Some call it mechatronics, others co-design. It doesn’t matter what you call it, the design engineering team is moving forward because technology is enabling better design tools. Another wall that exists between mechanical and electronic design is quickly moving in the direction of the Berlin Wall of 1989. The further forward in the design process the integration of the mechanical and electrical occurs, the more advanced the manufacturing process becomes and better products are produced.
Design engineering teams are now empowered to include electronic systems in their designs and simulate them at the beginning of the process. With new software they can be assured their simulations are accurate and that the integration remains seamless through to the finished product. This enables the design engineer to work directly with the electronic component manufacturer on component design when off-the-shelf devices just won’t work.
To keep you up to date on such developments, DE is adding another content silo to go along with the MCAD, PLM, simulation and analysis, rapid technology, and HPC and engineering IT subject areas we regularly cover for you. We are calling it Mechatronics, Embedded Systems, and Sensors. Under this heading we will be covering embedded systems, sensors, microcontrollers, MEMS, FPGA’s, software tools, and other components and devices.
You can find Tom Kevan’s first report on page 5. It looks into the incorporation of Labview with SolidWorks 2010. I think it’s a must-read and hope you find it worthwhile.
As always, we at DE aim to provide you with only the information designers and engineers need to make their jobs easier. We have followed every development that affects your day-to-day job to keep you informed and better prepared. As we expand into coverage of mechatronics, embedded systems, and sensors, we promise to continue that task and cover only those components and systems that you need to know about and that are targeted to the up-front design process.
As we expand into this area we would like to hear from you. Tell us what your needs are and please let us know what you think of this new content. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Robbins is the CEO of Level 5 Communications and executive editor of DE. Send comments about this subject to DE-Editors@deskeng.com.