MCAD

Go Go GADgET: Girls Take on Design Engineering and Manufacturing

When you think of summer camp, you usually think of silly songs, lots of new games and running around in the woods exploring. Except at GADgET, its 16 participants spent part of their summer learning how to use SolidWorks and visiting several manufacturing companies in the Chicago area. The program aims to provide its all-girl participants aged 12 to 16 with a window into the engineering and manufacturing world and empower them to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and manufacturing) careers.

Short for Girls Adventuring in Design, Engineering & Technology, the first GADgET camp ran in 2011, running for just one week with an initial grant from the Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs Foundation. As interest grew, so did opportunities for participants. The camp ran for two weeks in June this year. “The kids were so excited, so they learned a lot, but they wanted to do more. It was an interest by the family members and the youth [that brought the two week camp],” said Antigone Sharris, coordinator, engineering technology at Triton College and camp co-director. Continue reading

NaviSite Launches Desktop-as-a-Service Offerings

A week after OTOY announced  the launch of its app-streaming platform X.IO, NaviSite, a cloud service and product vendor, is launching Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) products, powered by NVIDIA GRID. NaviSite believes the product beings “desktop virtualization for even the most intensive graphics workloads to a broader audience of end-users using engineering, design, and multimedia applications.”

Though underlying technologies, acronyms, and definitions may be different, app streaming and DaaS are driven by the recognition that consumers are open to the idea of using remotely accessible workstations, billable for usage or time. With NVIDIA Grid, NaviSite’s DaaS offers remote desktops with GPU acceleration, a characteristic that’ll be important to CAD and design software users who rely on photorealistic visuals to evaluate product aesthetics.  Since most of the computing is done on the hosted hardware, users may interact with the remote machine from a lightweight tablet or PC, usually priced far less than a professional workstation. Continue reading

A Quick View of CadSoftTools’ ABViewer

Even though CadSoftTools calls its software ABViewer, the program is more than a file viewer. Now in its 10th release, ABViewer has a robust authoring environment (the Editor tab) with drawing tools to create detailed drawings from scratch. The crosshair mouse pointer, command line, polyline tools, layering system, and line and text property controls offer a setup that feels familiar to those accustomed to AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.

In the viewing mode (the Viewer tab), the program supports neutral formats, including STL, IGES, DWG, DXF, and PDF. With detailed DWG files and neutral 3D files, the program’s performance is quite good. The structure window (positioned on the right corner of the viewport by default) gives you a way to turn off or on certain elements and view your assembly components in isolation or together. Measurement tools allow you to select a face and get information on the region, or take your own measure between points with a virtual ruler. Different viewing options let you view the 3D model in shaded mode, wireframe mode, with smooth shading, or with hidden lines. Continue reading

Streaming Apps and Virtual Machines from SIGGRAPH 2014

 

OTOY, the Los Angeles-based company with technologies to stream games and render graphics in the cloud, has just launched an application-streaming platform, dubbed X.IO.

The announcement came from the show floor of SIGGRAPH 2014 (Aug 10-14, Vancouver, Canada), the annual conference for graphics industry veterans and pioneers. OTOY describes X.IO as “a new application virtualization service that instantaneously ports Windows desktop applications to the cloud without needing to modify any code, enabling users to access them on any Internet-connected device, regardless of form factor or platform … [It] was built from the ground up to handle the demanding nature of graphics-intensive applications, including image editing, CAD, and 3D modelling and rendering applications …”

For CAD vendors with design programs originally written for Windows-based desktops, X.IO offers a shortcut to the cloud. In a demo video, OTOY promises the vendors’ software titles could become cloud-hosted streaming applications “with no drop in performance, no major redevelopment.” The platform gives users the option to integrate their existing cloud-hosted storage (such as Dropbox or Google Drive). Continue reading

What Doesn’t Kill a Blender Makes It Stronger

If you’re a blender, you’d never want to see the inside of the testing lab in Blendtec‘s headquarter in Orem, Utah. This small room is the equivalent of The Tower of London for blenders. The products that go in don’t usually come out in one piece.

“We call [the test facility] ‘the Torture Chamber’ because we line up all of our blenders and brutally test them until they die,” said Reid Stout, a research and development engineer with Blendtec.

If you’re an automaker, conducting a destructive test on your product means crashing a fully built car rigged with dummies into a wall — a costly experiment you can’t undertake willy-nilly. If you’re an aerospace manufacturer, crash-testing a plane for every new model is certainly out of the question. (Boeing conducted one such test in 2012 with a remote-controlled 727. The rare incident was captured in a Discovery Channel documentary.)

To bypass these costly tests involving massive products (not to mention the cleanup required afterward), manufacturers now rely mostly on digital simulation and software-driven analysis to perform tests. But if you make blenders like Blendtec does, you can afford to sacrifice a few blenders every month for the good of your customers. Continue reading