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Wednesday, 18 April 2012 12:05

ODT Forum in Memphis Tennessee is May 2-3rd

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The ODT conference unites everyone in the orthopedic manufacturing community and this year the theme of the event is achieving both operational, and technical excellence in the field of orthopedics.

Professionals in the orthopedic manufacturing community will gather to discuss and share the advancements being made in the industry. Attendees can educate each other on the latest industry news while networking with peers and industry leaders. When asked, 92% of people who have attended this event in the past were “extremely satisfied” with their experience.

This marks the 4th year of the ODT Forum which is hosted by well known orthopedic publication, Orthopedic Design & Technology. The publication has been published for 6 years and is considered the leading publication in the industry. The objective of the event is to join all the players in the orthopedic manufacturing industry to work together with the collective goal of improving the overall industry.

The more professionals and companies in the orthopedic industry that attend the event the more valuable it will become. Able Electropolishing Vice President of Sales, Tom Glass encourages peers and affiliates to join Able Electropolishing at this important event. “Coming up next month is the ODT Forum in Memphis, Tenn., on May 2-3rd. Able Electropolishing will be participating at this important orthopedic industry event, and we encourage you to register today and come see the solutions we have to offer your company. Thanks and hope to see you at the ODT Forum!”

This year the conference is made up of several presentations, a panel discussion as well as built in opportunities for networking throughout the day. Presenters include Lee Berger, MD of Ortho-Tag, Dr. David M. Anderson of Build-to-Order Consulting, Steven Mounts of Musculoskeletal Clinical Regulatory Advisers, Scott Hay of 3D Engineering and Tim Ruffner of GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services, Inc.

The panel discussion will feature Barbara Blum Ph.D. of Wright Medical Technology, Inc and Chris Patterson of Medtronic.

Some of the ideas and topics that will be covered in these presentations include:

  • The move towards wireless and implantable technology in the medical field.
  • Ideas and tips on where to cut the cost of medical devices and where not to.
  • Ensuring proper validation.
  • Advances in technology and new techniques.

For attendees able to arrive on May 2nd, the event will kick off a day early with factory tours of Orchid Orthopedic Solutions and the Fed Ex Hub. Space is limited for these tours and registration is required.

Able Electropolishing will be attending the ODT Forum in Memphis Tennessee on May 3rd as a sponsor. Since 1954 Able Electropolishing has been providing metal finishing services from a state of the art Chicago facility. The services include passivation, electropolishing as well as other various metal finishing techniques. The company provides metal finishing services within the United States as well as overseas.

The success of the ODT Forum depends on the attendance of all players in the orthopedic manufacturing industry.

For more information, visit: www.odtforum.com or www.ableelectropolishing.com

A new 3D printing process developed at the University of Glasgow could revolutionise the way scientists, doctors and even the general public create chemical products.

Professor Lee Cronin, Gardiner Chair of Chemistry at the University, believes his research could lead to the development of home chemical fabricators which consumers could use to design and create medicine at home.

A new research paper, published in the journal Nature Chemistry, outlines how the process has been proven to work. Using a commercially-available 3D printer operated by open-source computer-aided design software, Professor Cronin and his team have built what they call ‘reactionware’, special vessels for chemical reactions which are made from a polymer gel which sets at room temperature.

By adding other chemicals to the gel deposited by the printer, the team have been able to make the vessel itself part of the reaction process. While this is common in large-scale chemical engineering, the development of reactionware makes it possible for the first time for custom vessels to be fabricated on a laboratory scale.

Professor Cronin said: “It’s long been possible to have lab materials custom-made to include windows or electrodes, for example, but it’s been expensive and time-consuming. We can fabricate these reactionware vessels using a 3D printer in a relatively short time. Even the most complicated vessels we’ve built have only taken a few hours.

“By making the vessel itself part of the reaction process, the distinction between the reactor and the reaction becomes very hazy. It’s a new way for chemists to think, and it gives us very specific control over reactions because we can continually refine the design of our vessels as required.

“For example, our initial reactionware designs allowed us to synthesize three previously unreported compounds and dictate the outcome of a fourth reaction solely by altering the chemical composition of the reactor.”

Although the technology they are developing is still at an early stage, the team, comprised of researchers from the University’s School of Chemistry and School of Physics and Astronomy, is also considering the long-term implications of developments in 3D printing technology.

Professor Cronin added: “3D printers are becoming increasingly common and affordable. It’s entirely possible that, in the future, we could see chemical engineering technology which is prohibitively expensive today filter down to laboratories and small commercial enterprises.

“Even more importantly, we could use 3D printers to revolutionise access to healthcare in the developing world, allowing diagnosis and treatment to happen in a much more efficient and economical way than is possible now.

“We could even see 3D printers reach into homes and become fabricators of domestic items, including medications. Perhaps with the introduction of carefully-controlled software ‘apps’, similar to the ones available from Apple, we could see consumers have access to a personal drug designer they could use at home to create the medication they need.”

Professor Cronin’s paper, titled ‘Integrated 3D-printed reactionware for chemical synthesis and analysis’, is published in Nature Chemistry. The research was supported by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

For more information, visit: www.gla.ac.uk

Fujitsu Laboratories Limited and Fujitsu Research and Development Center Co., Ltd. have developed a technology for retrieving partially similar models from stored 3D CAD models.

In the manufacturing industry, for example, new parts designed using CAD models are not designed from scratch. By retrieving and reusing models with similar shapes from the existing models which incorporate prior design know-how, companies are able to shorten design time. Until now, while global shape retrieval has been possible, the inability to retrieve and reuse partially similar shapes has posed a challenge. With Fujitsu Laboratory's newly developed technology, 3D CAD models are automatically segmented into distinctive part models, such as protruding parts. Even if the orientation, size or position of the segmented parts differ, as long as the shapes are similar, they are determined to be similar, and can therefore be retrieved.

Because the new technology enables retrieved part models to be reused in combination with multiple other parts, design time can be shortened by 90% compared to designing from the ground up. This, in turn, helps to reduce design costs and enhance a product's competitiveness by quickly bringing it to market.

Background

In order to quickly develop competitive products and rapidly bring them to market, companies in industries such as manufacturing need to shorten product design time by reusing existing 3D CAD models which incorporate prior design know-how, rather than designing models from the ground up. To achieve this target, technology that can efficiently retrieve reusable 3D CAD models is required.

Existing 3D CAD model retrieval technology can perform text-based retrieval using part names and other keywords, as well as global shape retrieval (Figure 1) that retrieves 3D CAD models from the global shape.

Technological Issues

As can be seen with the tab example in figure 3, there is currently a need to shorten design time by reusing 3D CAD models with partially similar shapes. At the same time, because global shape retrieval employs the global shape of each model, the inability to retrieve 3D CAD models with partially similar shapes has posed a challenge.

Newly Developed Technology

Key features of the technology are as follows:

1. Automatically segments each 3D CAD model into distinctive parts, such as protruding shapes

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a technique that analyzes the elements composing a 3D CAD model, including the positional relationship between different surfaces, and automatically segments the model into distinctive parts that are suitable for later retrieval, such as protruding shapes. Furthermore, the company has developed a technology that automatically extracts shape features, such as concave and convex surfaces, from the segmented parts, and compares them to the shape features of the search key. As a result, even if the orientation, size or position of the models is different, as long as the shapes are similar, they can be determined to be similar. As part of the system's initial pre-processing (Step 1 in Figure 2), 3D CAD models stored in the database are segmented into part models through automatic segmentation process. After the designer specifies a shape to be used as a search key, similar parts are retrieved from the segmented models using global shape retrieval technology (Step 2 in Figure 2).

2. Retrieval via interactive interface

The designer-specified search key and 3D CAD models with partially similar shapes can be viewed together in a virtual 3D space (Figure 3). In addition, the system allows for efficient retrieval through color-coded highlighting of the similar parts.

Results

This newly developed technology makes it possible to efficiently retrieve 3D CAD models containing shapes that are similar to a specified search key from a massive 3D CAD model database. With the new technology, 10,000 3D CAD models were automatically segmented into approximately 100,000 parts, and the 3D CAD models containing similar shapes to a specified search key could be retrieved in roughly three seconds, making it practical for real-world use. With the new technology, retrieved part models can be reused in combination with multiple other parts, for instance, making it possible to efficiently design new parts. As a result, the time required to design a part can be shortened by 90% compared to conventional technology. In addition, the new technology enables increased reusability of standard parts, making it possible to lower part-management costs.

Future Plans

Going forward, Fujitsu Limited will pursue the commercialization of the new technology, and plans to incorporate it into Fujitsu's PLEMIA general design information management system before the end of FY2012.

For more information, visit: jp.fujitsu.com/labs/en

Omnify Software, a leading provider of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software for electronic, medical, mechanical, and defense manufacturers, and CADD Edge, a leading re-seller of product design software, launch a seminar series to educate manufacturers on PLM technology and the value it can bring to their organization through centralized management of product data. Scheduled events will be held on Tuesday, May 1 in Farmington, CT and Wednesday, May 2 in New York City.

On February 7, 2012, Omnify Software and CADD Edge kicked off their PLM seminar series in Andover, MA featuring Barry Mendell, Engineering Services Manager for Mevion Medical, as a keynote speaker. With over 15 years of experience using various Product Lifecycle Management products, Mr. Mendell touted the benefits PLM can deliver to manufacturers of all sizes by providing a centralized and controlled location to manage all product data and documentation across the enterprise. Particular emphasis was placed on the adoption of Omnify Empower PLM at Mevion Medical in order to implement best practices early on. As a medical device manufacturer, PLM is integral to Mevion's product development operations to ensure they are delivering high quality products with processes that adhere to stringent FDA and ISO compliance guidelines.

Mr. Mendell demonstrated Mevion's use of Empower PLM for item creation, Bill of Material (BOM) and revision management with full audit trails, document management, controlled change processes, automated training management and equipment calibration, as well as a centralized quality system that is tied directly to the product record. Omnify Software and CADD Edge will host additional educational seminars on PLM and educate manufacturers on product design and development best practices.

"Joining forces with our mutual customers to educate other CADD Edge manufacturing clients is a great way to demonstrate the capabilities of the Empower PLM solution as well as the expert sales and support services CADD Edge delivers," stated David Solimini, Vice President of Sales for Omnify Software. "The February event proved to be quite successful according to attendee feedback and we look forward to working with CADD Edge on future PLM seminars."

For more information or to register, visit: www.caddedge.com/omnify-plm-executive-events-in-may

EON Reality, the world's leading interactive 3D software provider, today announced the release of the new EON Icube Mobile, a portable multi-sided immersive environment in which participants are completely surrounded by virtual imagery and sound. It offers the most user-friendly interface - from hardware setup to software deployment. This high impact 3D immersion solution benefits many different markets such as energy, aerospace, healthcare, AEC, education and entertainment.

The hardware construction truss frame is in a lightweight sturdy aluminum material that is easy to set up and it comes with a reusable shipping container for easy transport. It is a front projected system consisting of 120” Diagonal Size Screens with 4:3 aspect ratios. Ceiling height required is 9 feet (2.7 m) and display foot print required is 10 x 10 feet (3 x 3 m). The system cost starts at less than 30% compared to traditional Icube cost.

“For the first time ever we can offer a fully immersive motion tracked interactive 3D experience at about 1/3 of the cost compared to traditional Icubes while at the same time taking up roughly 1/5th of the floor space and fitting within a 9 foot ceiling height. This combination will allow full immersion to be used in areas and applications that we have never reached before,” said Mats W. Johansson, President, EON Reality, Inc.

EON Icube software utilizes high-end active stereo projectors, with stereoscopic glasses and motion tracking position trackers and allows users to be completely immersed in a virtual world. 3D objects float in space with high quality graphics and can be manipulated by users in real-time.

Motion trackers are implemented to monitor the user’s position and orientation and are used to calculate a stereoscopic perspective view. This allows the user to freely move into and around floating objects. Peripheral devices, such as wands and optional gesture gloves, are integrated into the system. EON Icube software has the ability to rapidly deploy 3D interactive virtual simulations using a series of built-in classes of objects, drivers, and a large library of 3D models, textures, and easy to use built- in functionalities.

EON Icube Mobile can be used as a single or as multi-user experiences with EON Coliseum Icube option. The remote collaboration system option is ideal for safety and technical training, architecture, and construction purposes.

For more information, visit: www.eonreality.com/products_icube_mobile.html

For Icube videos, visit: www.youtube.com/user/EonReality/videos?query=icube

Thursday, 12 April 2012 10:45

Lattice Technology Releases XVL Player v12.0

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Lattice Technology® Inc., the standard for technical communication and digital mock up software in the manufacturing enterprise, today released the latest version of XVL Player and XVL Player Pro.

The free XVL Player enables full viewing, measurement, markup, cross-section and animation playback. Lattice Technology’s XVL format is the industry’s most compressed 3D format with no loss of accuracy of the data. This lightweight footprint for 3D allows complex 3D data and assemblies to be viewed on lower-specification PCs and easily shared across a network or the internet. XVL Player enables access to the additional data, such as annotation, metadata, animations, assembly tree and more, embedded within the XVL format.

XVL Player v12.0 enables users to rapidly and easily access 3D models using Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. In addition, the new version includes new features to support the latest process animation authoring and mBom enhancements in XVL Studio.

The latest version of XVL Player is recommended for anyone needing to view XVL data and it can be downloaded free of charge at the Lattice Technology, Inc. website. XVL is used extensively at global manufactures to share information across departments, suppliers and customers.

XVL Player Pro customers with current maintenance can download the updated version free of charge.

Lattice Technology sets the standard for technical communication and digital mock up in the manufacturing enterprise. With Lattice Technology Solutions, engineers can seamlessly and accurately perform design review, design processes, simulate assembly processes, create print-ready and digital work instructions, technical illustrations and mBOMs/sBOMs direct from 3D data. Lattice's standards-based XVL (eXtensible Virtual world description Language) technology provides secure, highly accurate and compressed 3D files that can be used, shared and easily supported by partners, suppliers, and internal departments in a lightweight browser-based solution. XVL is unmatched in performance, compression and accuracy. Lattice Technology Inc. was founded in 1997 with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan and San Francisco, USA.

For more information, visit: www.lattice3d.com

A revolutionary technique being developed by scientists at Loughborough University could free architects from the restraints of current construction methods.

Architects are creating stunning buildings with intricate geometric forms, but many never progress beyond the designer’s screen because their complexity makes them too costly to construct.

A team, led by Dr Richard Buswell and Professor Simon Austin from the University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, has made dramatic progress with additive manufacturing technologies, where models created on-screen can be formed into three-dimensional components at full scale.

Conventionally, concrete is poured into temporary formwork – an efficient method of moulding if the shapes are straight, simple and the variations minimised.  Introduce curves and complexity, and the expense rapidly increases.

In the Freeform Construction project, a special type of concrete is deposited very precisely under computer control, layer by layer, from a 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) model.  Using this technology, very complex sections of buildings can be created without the high cost penalties associated with traditional methods.

Speaking about the project Dr Richard Buswell said: “Using Freeform every section of a building could be unique if necessary – produced by calling up a new design on-screen and setting the process to work.  Components could be created with ready-made internal voids and ducts for services, and with shapes that made the most of their insulating properties.  Because each piece would be tailor-made, there would be virtually no waste.  The possibilities are endless; it is a very exciting project.”

This pioneering work has been made possible by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) with significant input from industry.

The research team has now obtained technology-transfer funding from the EPSRC to commercialise the process, collaborating with Foster + Partners, Buro Happold and Hyundai Engineering & Construction.  Their expertise and advice is essential to the team’s understanding of the needs of industry, the potential of their ideas and the creation of an innovation path.

The Freeform work has generated interest worldwide and already led to exhibitions in Barcelona, New York and London.

Colin McKinnon, Innovation Director at Buro Happold, said: “Through our involvement in the project we will help the research team assess the design, manufacturing and commercial potential of this innovative technology.”

Xavier De Kestelier, Associate Partner, at architects Foster + Partners added: “This project gives us tremendous opportunities to see what construction technology will be like in the next five or 10 years.’’

Photo Credit: Agnese Sanvito

For more information, visit: www.lboro.ac.uk

Laser Design Inc., the leading supplier of 3D laser scanners for more than 25 years, announced the unveiling of its newest and most automated inspection-grade 3D scanning system, the SURVEYOR Auto Gage 3D. Laser Design President, C. Martin Schuster commented, "The SURVEYOR Auto Gage 3D Scanning System was developed to provide a totally automated, extremely easy to use 3D inspection-grade system for either shop floor or office environments with accuracy to 25 microns (0.001")."

Two goals are realized with the Auto Gage 3D system: Complete high-speed part inspections in minutes and minimal operator training. Schuster continued, "Geomagic software's unique level of inspection automation has enabled Laser Design to open the age of entire part 3D inspections with 'microwave oven' push-button simplicity of use." Operator input is minimal and training is fast, which means the Auto Gage 3D can be up and running in a very short timeframe. First article part inspections, incoming part inspections, and sample part inspections on the shop floor can now be performed by machine attendant-level employees.

The Auto Gage 3D Scanning System uses structured light projection technology from one scanner head to capture all viewable surfaces of small- to medium-sized objects. With a work envelope of 6" x 6" x 4" (Auto Gage 4100) or 10" x 10" x 5" (Auto Gage 6100) the automated system is versatile enough for inspection and reverse engineering applications, and speedy enough for factory-floor verification uses. Yielding premium precision, system scans are accurate to +/- 0.001" (0.025mm).

The built-in system PC provides full control for scanning and optional data processing. The system is pre-configured with one 3D scanning head. Highly automated, the Auto Gage 3D requires only minimal training to perform scans with the one-button scan operation. Most parts do not require fixturing unless they are unstable in the desired orientation.

Typically scanned objects include small- to medium-sized parts made of plastic, metal, and rubber, and cast, molded, forged, and machined parts. Parts can be inspected quickly and efficiently because setups are saved as reusable templates. Items can be inspected and re-qualified in just hours, preventing downtime and costly delays with slow manual measurement methods. Extrusion profiles can be sample inspected to ensure accuracy and uniformity. Data outputs include .STL, .OBJ, .PLY, and .ASC formats.

The digitized data can be processed further with optional meshing, surface modeling, color error mapping, and inspection software from Laser Design's solution partner, Geomagic. Fully automated inspection reports can be created and reports comparing the scan data to CAD models can be immediately viewed by the operator to make a fast Go/No Go decision of shape verification.

Laser Design, Inc. and GKS Services Corp. have been leading suppliers of ultra-precise 3D laser scanning systems, along with 3D laser scanning, dimensional inspection, CT scanning, and long-range scanning services for three decades. We help customers successfully complete their most complex inspection, analysis, and reverse engineering projects quickly, giving them a competitive advantage. GKS also offers equipment rental and expertise for customers with the occasional 3D scanning project.

For more information, visit: www.laserdesign.com/products/scanners_and_software/high_precision_scanners/surveyor_auto_gage_3d

Kemeera, Inc., a west-coast product development company and Objet Geometries reseller, today announced the launch of FATHOM, a new product development studio for design consulting, 3D printing, model making and rapid prototyping new products.

"We chose the name Fathom because with rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing technologies and 3D printing know-how, people can create anything fathomable," said co-principal Rich Stump "We are very unique in bringing all of this together and taking a design approach to the rapid prototyping industry, and we're excited to open a brand new facility to serve this industry's technology needs."

Today's leading manufacturing engineers and industrial designers use 3D printing to build prototypes early in the design process. The new Fathom product development studio encompasses the necessary elements to assist customers on all of their front end product development needs -- from design to prototyping to silicon molded parts and everything in between. With seven 3D printers, a model shop and finishing tools in the Fathom studio, Kemeera plans to leverage the most cutting edge techniques to help customers achieve their product development goals.

The 3,700 sq. ft. product development studio is located in a historical building in Oakland's Jack London Square. The building was built in 1901 and was a brass foundry with smoke stacks through the ceiling. It is one of the most prominent buildings in Jack London Square.

"We have completely designed the new Fathom space for product development and using cutting edged technology and the most creative staff to help our customers achieve their rapid product development goals," Stump added.

3D Printing Open House & Business Networking Reception
Happy Hour Wine and Cheese, Studio Tours, 3D Printing Demos and Entertainment

April 13, 2012  3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
315 Jefferson Street
Oakland, CA 94607

RSVP: Call (510) 281-9000 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information, visit: www.studiofathom.com

Monday, 09 April 2012 12:13

Restoring China’s Forbidden City

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Loughborough University designers will be using the latest 3D digital technologies to help restore ancient artefacts from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

The museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is currently undertaking major renovation work funded by the Chinese Government.  This is a huge project that involves thousands of individual historic relics.

Using conventional methods, the objects need to be measured, photographed and repaired using manual techniques – an extremely time-consuming and expensive task. However recent research at Loughborough Design School aims to speed up the project, saving time and money.

Since 2009, Loughborough Design School PhD student Fangjin Zhang and colleagues have been investigating the use of 3D printing and other digital technologies within the sculptural and archaeological restoration fields.

3D printing allows physical objects to be built directly from 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) data without the need for tooling and with minimal human intervention.  It is already widely used in manufacturing industries and for medical models.

The application of this method to archaeological artefacts requires the shape of the original objects to be ‘captured’ using laser or optical scanners, and the data to be ‘cleaned-up’ using reverse engineering techniques.  Through this process damaged areas can be digitally restored ready for the 3D printing process.  This has been possible for some time, but now Miss Zhang is developing a formalised approach tailored specifically to the restoration of historic artefacts.  The process has already been applied to a range of objects from the Forbidden City and elsewhere.

Following recent visits to the museum where Miss Zhang has been able to explain and illustrate the many uses and benefits of 3D printing, Loughborough has now been asked use this technique to repair several specific artefacts.  These include the ceiling and enclosure of a pavilion in the Emperor Chanlong Garden.

Speaking about the project Loughborough Design School’s Dr Ian Campbell, who is supervising the research, said: “We are delighted to be working with the museum, using this very modern and innovative technique to restore and safeguard some of China’s most important artefacts.  There is real scope for this technique to be used in museums across the world.”

The Director of the Ancient Architecture Department in the Palace Museum and member of the China Association for Preservation Technology of Cultural Relics, Mr Shiwei Wang added: “This is a good start, and we hope the research on these applications will continue as the prospects are very broad.”

For more information, visit: www.lboro.ac.uk

Monday, 09 April 2012 11:44

Die & Mold China 2012 Coming to Shanghai

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Die & Mold China 2012 (DMC2012) is jointly organized by the China Die and Mold Industry Association (CDMIA) and Shanghai International Exhibition Co., Ltd. (SIEC). The event will be held at Hall E1-E6 in the Shanghai New International Expo Centre from May 31st to June 3rd. This exhibition will showcase precision machines (Hall E1 & E2), local elite die and mold enterprises (Hall E3 & E4) and mold technology and forming equipment (Hall E5 & E6). And there will be a match making area in Hall E6. SWISSMEN is going to host a conference with theme of "Swiss Advanced Manufacturing and Forming Technology" during DMC2012. These concurrent conferences will push Sino-EU technical exchange to a new level.

Currently, China's manufacturing capabilities in machinery, automobile, electronics and home appliances are highly-ranked in the world. Dies and molds are required to be high quality, low price, and delivered quickly to enhance their competitiveness. Furthermore, new energy, medical equipment, aerospace, energy conservation and other strategic emerging industries are also becoming an important growth area for China's die and mold industry. Therefore, China's die and mold industry can be expect a growth rate of no less than 10% in the next 5-10 years. Meanwhile, manufacturing design, technology and information application level need to be improved as well.

China has developed the "Twelfth Five-Year Development Plan" for the die and mold industry and a "Transformation and Upgrade" program to encourage technical reform and equipment renewal. Many enterprises continue to produce trial products and high-performance molds. Therefore, it has been becoming the trend to use advanced mold technology to achieve high-performance with CNC machines and precision measuring equipment.

Global manufacturers and related industry associations in die and mold, precision machinery, software, tooling and materials industries are invited to participate in DMC2012.

For more information, visit: www.dmcexpo.com/en/Default.aspx

Penton Media's New Equipment Digest, the industry's most preferred and trusted source for product news in manufacturing, has announced the winners of its inaugural King Awards competition, which showcases the best new manufacturing products introduced during the year, and recognizes the talent and commitment of the companies involved with the development of these products. The print and digital readers of New Equipment Digest chose the gold, silver and bronze winners in 11 distinct categories in an online voting process.

According to John DiPaola, Vice President of Penton Media's Manufacturing and Supply Chain Group and Publisher of New Equipment Digest, "there was a tremendous response to this year's competition. We had 83 outstanding product nominees and more than 6,000 votes were cast for the products. The NED audience was engaged in the King Award program and the amount of product entries and votes surpassed our expectations."

The 2012 NED King Award winners, featured in the April issue, are:

Assembly/Fastening/Tools Category

    Threadlocker Tape, Henkel Corp., GOLD
    High-Speed Soldering System, Spirig Advanced Technologies Inc. (SAT), SILVER
    Cable & Pipe Clamp, Thomas & Betts Corp., BRONZE

Controls & Instruments Category

    Configurable MHI Panel, EAO Corp., GOLD
    Wi-Fi Infrared Camera, FLIR Systems, SILVER
    Wireless Articulating Videoscope, Extech Instruments, a FLIR Co., BRONZE

Electrical/Electronics Category

    AC/DC Clamp Meter, Fluke Corp., GOLD
    Push-In Luminaire Disconnect, Thomas & Betts, SILVER
    Lighted Alarm, Floyd Bell Inc., BRONZE

Facilities/Maintenance/Plant Operations Category

    De-Stratification Fans, Zoo Fans, GOLD
    Laser Alignment System, LUDECA, SILVER
    Latching Lid for Poly Drums, New Pig Corp., BRONZE

Fluid/Pneumatic Power Category

    Hydraulic Hose Monitor, Eaton Corp., GOLD
    Atomizing Spray Nozzles, EXAIR Corp., SILVER
    Intelligent Compressor Control, Kaeser Compressors, BRONZE

Material Handling Category

    Integrated Lift Truck Scale, Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc., GOLD
    Drum Containment Bag, New Pig Corp., SILVER
    Belt Conveyor, Dorner Manufacturing, BRONZE

Metalworking Category

    Cryogenic Machining, MAG IAS, LLC, GOLD
    Portable Magnetic Drill, CS Unitec, Inc., SILVER

Motion Control Category

    Joystick with Hand Grip, J.R. Merritt Controls, Inc., GOLD
    ACS Stepper/Drive/Controller, Tolomatic, SILVER
    Magnetic Encoder with Sensor, Novotechnik, BRONZE

Packaging Equipment & Supplies Category

    Triplex Steel Pail, Cleveland Steel Container, GOLD
    Paper Void Fill System, Sealed Air Protective Packaging, SILVER
    Label Printing System, K-Sun Corp., BRONZE

Process Equipment Category

    Heat Sensitive Labels, Spirig Advanced Technologies Inc. (SAT), GOLD
    Documenting Process Calibrators, Fluke Corp., SILVER

Safety Category

    Stop Switch, EAO Corp., GOLD
    HEPA Safety Monitoring Filter, Camfil Farr APC, SILVER
    Auto-Darkening Filter, Kimberly-Clark Professional, BRONZE

We are pleased to bestow these awards on significant and inventive products that enable all involved in manufacturing to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively," DiPaola further explains. "We offer our congratulations to the winning companies."

Pictures and descriptions of the winning products can be found in the April issue of New Equipment Digest and online at: www.newequipment.com/kingawardwinners

Friday, 06 April 2012 10:00

The Free Universal Construction Kit

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Ever wanted to connect your Legos and Tinkertoys together? Now you can — and much more. Announcing the Free Universal Construction Kit: a set of adapters for complete interoperability between 10 popular construction toys.

F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab are pleased to present the Free Universal Construction Kit: a matrix of nearly 80 adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten popular children’s construction toys. By allowing any piece to join to any other, the Kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems—enabling radically hybrid constructive play, the creation of previously impossible designs, and ultimately, more creative opportunities for kids. As with other grassroots interoperability remedies, the Free Universal Construction Kit implements proprietary protocols in order to provide a public service unmet—or unmeetable—by corporate interests.

The Free Universal Construction Kit offers adapters between Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles (Bristle Blocks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob. Our adapters can be downloaded from Thingiverse and other sharing sites as a set of 3D models in .STL format, suitable for reproduction by personal manufacturing devices like the Makerbot (an inexpensive, open-source 3D printer).

Our kids are already doing it! And when we were growing up, ourselves, we did it too—or we tried to, anyway. Connecting our toys together. Because: what if we want to make a construction which is half-Tinkertoys, half-K’Nex? Why shouldn’t we be able to? We dreamed about this possibility years ago, when we were small, and we knew then, as we know now, that we’d need some adapters to help. The advent of low-cost 3D printing has made such adapters possible, and with it, a vast new set of combinatorial possibilities for children’s creative construction toys.

Opening doors to new creative worlds is one major reason we created the Free Universal Construction Kit. Another is that we believe expertise shouldn’t be disposable — and that childrens’ hard-won creative fluency with their toys shouldn’t become obsolete each Christmas. By allowing different toy systems to work together, the Free Universal Construction Kit makes possible new forms of “forward compatibility”, extending the value of these systems across the life of a child. Thus, with the Kit’s adapters, playsets like Krinkles (often enjoyed by toddlers) can still retain their use-value for older children using Lego, and for even older tweens using Zome.

The Kit offers a “best of all worlds” approach to play and learning that combines the advantages of each toy system. We selected construction sets for inclusion based on their significant level of market penetration, as well as for the diversity of features they brought to the Kit’s collection. Some of the supported construction systems, for example, offer great mechanical strength, or the ability to build at large scales; others offer the means to design kinetic movements; and still others permit the creation of a wide range of crystallographic geometries and symmetries. Using these classic toys as a foundation, the Free Universal Construction Kit offers a “meta-mashup system” ideally provisioned for the creation of transgressive architecture and chimeric readymades.

Finally, in producing the Free Universal Construction Kit, we hope to demonstrate a model of reverse engineering as a civic activity: a creative process in which anyone can develop the necessary pieces to bridge the limitations presented by mass-produced commercial artifacts. We hope that the Kit will not only prompt people to create new designs, but more importantly, to reflect on our relationship with material mass-culture—and the rapidly-evolving ways in which we can better adapt it to our imaginations.

The Free Universal Construction Kit 3D models are freely available in .STL format.

For more information, visit: www.fffff.at/free-universal-construction-kit

In recent years, as diode technology has improved, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been getting increasing attention as a source of residential and commercial lighting. Small wonder, since compared to traditional incandescent lighting, these new lighting sources can provide the same amount of illumination using as little as 10 to 15% of the power.  This huge reduction in energy consumption means big savings for consumers and, perhaps more importantly, big reductions in the amount of fossil fuel used to generate that power.

None of this is news to one lighting manufacturer who has pioneered many residential and commercial LED lighting applications and has set itself the task of leading what it calls “the LED lighting revolution,” aimed at making traditional energy-intensive lighting technologies obsolete. One of its more significant initiatives in this area has been a line of LED architectural lighting products that incorporate breakthroughs in optical, electronic and mechanical design, as well as thermal management, allowing optimal distribution of light with minimal power consumption. The goal, ultimately, is to replace the miles and miles of overhead lighting in office buildings, schools, hospitals and retail structures with energy efficient LEDs.

It’s a bold move, but as the potential impact of products like this become increasingly clear, a growing number of companies are seeking to establish themselves as players in this arena. One company knew that in order to maintain its leadership position in this young market it had to get its new lighting product to market quickly. Essential to that aim was getting the required prototype parts, and that help came from 3-Dimensional Services of Rochester Hills, MI.

3-Dimensional Services is a firm that specializes in design, engineering and analysis, in-house tool construction, and complete build of prototype first off parts and low to medium volume production runs. It has built its success on the use of advanced process methods, its extensive array of in-house manufacturing technologies and the varied talents of its highly skilled staff. This confluence of factors enables 3-Dimensional Services to provide actual prototype parts -- not just models -- up to 70% faster than conventionally equipped prototype shops.

While the company created the lighting modules for the new product line, 3-Dimensional Services was tasked with creating the metal fixtures that would house them. “The fixtures began as low carbon steel blanks,” says Scott Duffie, senior sales engineer for 3-Dimensional Services. “First, the blanks were laser cut to near finish dimensions on one of our 5-axis lasers.”

3-Dimensional Services has no less than fifteen 5-axis lasers, so no job ever sits idle waiting for an open laser. These 5-axis lasers, the largest of which boasts a 5’ x 10’ cutting area, are generally used to process the more complex parts and contours. If 5-axis capabilities aren’t required, the company also has seven 3-axis lasers.

Three different sizes of the fixtures were needed, the largest of which measured 2' x 4', and this meant that three different forming tools were required. Fortunately, rapid tool design is a specialty of 3-Dimensional Services, thanks to its extensive design and engineering department that utilizes over 30 high-speed terminals with the leading software packages, allowing it to work from virtually any data files.
    
Three, three-piece forming tools consisting of punch, die and draw ring, were designed. Machining programs were generated from these designs and offloaded to 3-Dimensional Services’ CNC machines – the company has an array of CNC machining centers so jobs never have to wait for an available machine.  
    
Machining programs were developed from the resulting designs and the tools were cut from aluminum rather than from tool steel because the softer metal could be machined faster, but very accurately and to a high quality finish. This was important because as Duffie notes, “These parts, because of the environments they were intended for, needed to have a Class A finish, with no wrinkles, nicks or flaws.”

Next came forming on three of 3-Dimensional’s numerous presses, in this case 800 ton hydraulics, after which the parts, from 20 to 75 for each of the three sizes, were taken back to a 5-axis laser for final trimming. The parts were then transferred back to the hydraulic presses for secondary bending operations in which some of the trimmed edges were flanged or hemmed. This required three bending tools, one for each part size. These additional tools were created using the same technology, and with the same speed, as the three original forming tools.

“The parts underwent final checks, then powder coated, and shipped,” says Duffie. “All of this occurred within the three to four week time frame the customer had specified.

“Every job is important to us,” he continues. “That’s because we put our reputation on the line every time a new job, with its own new set of demands, comes into the shop. With this job, though, there was the extra satisfaction of knowing that our technology and know-was helping bring energy efficient products to market, products that can help all of us reduce our dependency on increasingly costly fossil fuels.”

The 3-Dimensional Services Group, consists of 3-Dimensional Services, Urgent Plastic Services, and Urgent Design & Manufacturing. Together they design, engineer and build functional prototype parts and low-to-medium volume production parts 50 to 70% faster than conventional prototype shops. To achieve this end they employ virtually all relevant manufacturing processes, including injection molding and casting, stamping, machining, robotic and manual welding, laser cutting and welding, waterjet, hydroforming, tube bending, vibration welding, casting and pattern fabrication, RIM tooling, rapid prototyping and assembly operations.

For more information, visit: www.3dimensional.com

Inventables, Inc. today announced the launch of Shapeoko, the world’s first CNC milling machine kit capable of creating precision parts and models from plastic, wood and metal for less than $650. Inventors and designers can use the Shapeoko, an open source, low-cost desktop computer numerical control (CNC) mill, to bring their imagination and computer designs to life.

“The laser printer enabled desktop publishing when laser printers reached the $650 price point in the 1980’s. As manufacturing tools like the Shapeoko kits become increasingly affordable, we are experiencing the beginning of the era of desktop manufacturing,” said Zach Kaplan, CEO of Inventables. “Similar to the desktop publishing revolution, we are seeing the rebirth of American manufacturing as manufacturing tools become dramatically less expensive. The combination of free, easily accessible open-source software and online storefronts like Amazon, eBay and Etsy providing a marketplace for manufactured goods is fueling this growth in manufacturing and entrepreneurism.”

Inventables offers three Shapeoko kits (Mechanical, Full and Premium), each of which requires assembly. The Mechanical kit, which costs $199, is designed for experienced CNC machine builders who will add electronics and modify the kit to get it running and suit their needs. The Full kit, which costs $649, includes everything necessary to create a working machine, including tools and electrical components. It is designed for people who are comfortable completing the build but want to source their own materials and tool bits to use with the machine.

The Premium kit includes the Full kit as well as materials and milling bits for machining parts. The Premium kit was designed for people who are comfortable rolling up their sleeves to complete the build and want all the materials and tools needed to use the machine included in one kit. This $999 kit includes markers and card stock that can replace the milling bits while operators learn how to use the CNC mill and software. This technique allows learning without the risk of injury from the high speeds of the spindle. Once comfortable, operators can replace the markers and cardstock with the set of traditional milling bits and materials included with the kit to perform CNC milling.

No machining is required with the Shapeoko kits. If you can tighten a bolt, you can assemble the Shapeoko. While assembly is very simple, machine operators must be 18 years or older, or supervised by an adult. Inventables is accepting pre-orders for the Shapeoko kits April 2-April 22, 2012 and the kits are expected to ship by June 22, 2012. Inventables will issue full refunds if less than 150 orders are placed.

The Shapeoko kits are the creation of Edward Ford, an Illinois-based inventor who builds CNC machines and spends time with open hardware and open source software projects.

Founded in 2002, Inventables’ mission is to enable an R&D lab on every desktop. Recognized as the online hardware store for DIY manufacturing, Inventables sells thousands of materials in small quantities. Small manufacturing businesses purchase raw materials and machines from Inventables’ online store daily to use in manufacturing their own products from jewelry to joysticks to sell to customers. When a material from the site is needed in a large volume, Inventables assists in making connections to the manufacturer or supplier.

For more information or to pre-order, visit: www.inventables.com/technologies/cnc-mill-kits-shapeoko



Imagine opening a gift on Christmas morning and finding a body part in the box.  This happened to CJ Howard in 2010...well, sort of.

CJ was a normal, active teenager in 2002. He liked to snowboard, run, hike, cycle, and swim. And then one day he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a form of cancer that led to part of his leg being amputated just below the knee.  He was 18 years old.

In 2008 he met Mandy Ott, a mechanical engineer working for a large aerospace company and an avid climbing enthusiast. He wasn't going to be deterred from joining her in her avocation.

Everything worked just fine, except for one thing: the prosthetic was quickly ruining the expensive climbing shoe on that foot. CJ would have the shoes resoled, but eventually would have to purchase new pairs.

Around this time, Mandy was working with Morris Technologies.  She was aware that the folks at MTI are experts in direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). A custom foot was an ideal "fit" for additive metal manufacturing. So a titanium foot was created.

CJ had taken part in the design of the foot, but by Christmas 2010, he had forgotten about it.

"I was completely shocked," says CJ. "When she handed me the box with the foot I was totally expecting to pull out a [climbing] rope, not a shiny, new climbing foot.  Definitely a one-of-a-kind gift!"

The new foot has advantages for CJ. Mandy reports that "the stiffness keeps him from slipping (unlike what he was using before), and the size helps him with crack climbing (and keeps him from getting stuck so easily)."

Other good news: CJ is nine years cancer-free April 2012.

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Morris Technologies, Inc. (MTI) has been on the cutting edge of additive manufacturing technologies since 1994.   MTI invests heavily in R&D and specializes in end-to-end product development, from engineering to prototyping to low-volume manufacturing.

For more information, visit: www.morristech.com

Innovative technology company BumpyPhoto.com launched a new patent-pending product line to turn a standard 2D photo into a full-color 3D relief sculpture. Customers can capture special memories and freeze them in time-and-space with this one-of-a-kind personalized photo art, ordered online and delivered straight to their doorstep.

More consumers are now choosing to keep digital copies of their photos and never actually purchase prints. Classic 2D photographic printing is in fact being replaced by a growing demand for high-value photo gifts, such as mugs, shirts or stylized canvases. BumpyPhoto.com takes this mass-customization trend to the next level by offering a new medium for photography. There was a time when only the rich and famous could afford to have bas-relief or cameo sculptures carved in stone and hand-painted. Now, with the advent of state-of-the-art 3D printing technologies, this art form available to everyone.

Simply upload a standard 2D digital photo of people, pets, landscapes, paintings, cartoons or any other subject and a photorealistic color depth map is reconstructed from the photo which is the basis for the 3D printing process. The sculptures can be as small as 1" and as large as 15"- or more on request.

"You can now literally touch and feel your photographic memories. It makes your photos truly sense-sational!” says John Katon, Sales Director of BumpyPhoto.com.

For more information, visit: www.bumpyphoto.com

Friday, 30 March 2012 09:45

CCE Announces Release of ConfigLink 2012

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CCE, a leading engineering software and services provider announces the release of ConfigLink 2012. ConfigLink is a design automation tool that dramatically reduces time to generate custom designs for highly configurable product families.

“Using ConfigLink, new design configurations can be created in a fraction of the time it would normally take for the engineering department to model the data.” said Vinay Wagle, CCE’s VP of Sales & Marketing. “ConfigLink typically saves 50-60% of the time required to manually model the data of the design variants.” added Vinay.

ConfigLink is uniquely designed to comprise of two modules. An Author Master module that is used by a product expert for a one-time set up of the configuration parameters, and a User module that can be used by any designer over and over again to generate variants. The results are 3D models of the new design variants, and associated 2D drawings. Separating the Author and User modules reduces cost and increases productivity as the one-time set up of the expert can be leveraged many times by non-experts.

In the current update the Author Master’s User Interface has been enhanced to simplify the process of defining configuration parameters and constraints.

ConfigLink is integrated within several major CAD systems including Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0, SolidWorks 2011, Autodesk Inventor 2011 and Solid Edge ST4 on both Windows 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

ConfigLink’s web-centric licensing mechanism and automatic software updates simplifies software deployment, maintenance and license management.

For more information, visit: www.cadcam-e.com/products/configlink

The recent release of employment data and employment projections raise important issues for the factories and workforce of the future, according to experts from The Manufacturing Leadership Council, an executive network designed to define and shape a better future for manufacturers worldwide.

"Some studies* indicate there are as many as 600,000 jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector that are currently unfilled because of a skills problem," said David R. Brousell, Vice President & Editorial Director at Manufacturing Executive, which manages the Manufacturing Leadership Council; produces the upcoming Manufacturing Leadership Summit, to be held April 29-May 2; and publishes the Manufacturing Executive Leadership Journal (MELJ).

The latest issue of MELJ features the results of an exclusive survey of manufacturing leaders, entitled "Future Factories: Flexible, Fast, and Customer-Driven." The survey details a future in which highly adaptive factories can reconfigure production lines on a dime, creating sophisticated new jobs requiring high levels of skill and technical acumen.

The problem, though, is that even as these new jobs are created, manufacturers in the U.S. are having a hard time finding qualified people to fill them. The MELJ survey, which polled more than 200 manufacturers in October 2011, reveals that finding skilled people looms as one the key challenges facing manufacturers as they attempt to plan for a more IT-intensive future.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council – consisting of more than 100 manufacturing industry leaders – is actively reaching out to policymakers to create a manufacturing strategy of the future that includes addressing the skills issue. Helping industry leaders rise to this challenge will be among the subjects discussed by attendees and keynote speakers at the 8th Annual Manufacturing Leadership Summit. Winners of the Manufacturing Leadership 100 Awards will also be honored for the innovative business strategies that keep them successful and their workers employed. All ML100 Award winners will be honored on May 2 at a gala reception during the Manufacturing Leadership Summit at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL.

*According to a Manufacturing Institute/Deloitte study, Oct. 17, 2011.

For more information, visit: www.mlsummit.com

Jobs and robotics are webinar topics addressed by Robotic Industries Association during National Robotics Week, April 7-15, 2012. Career Opportunities in Robotics is on April 10 and Fundamentals of Robotics is April 12 – both are free and start at Noon Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
 
Webinar panelists are RIA members with practical experience in the robotics industry. Speakers for the careers webinar are Diane Haig from Applied Manufacturing Technologies, Roberta Zald from IPR Robotics and Jim Devaprasad from Lake Superior State University. Adil Shafi, President of Advenovation, is the presenter for robotics fundamentals.
 
“National Robotics Week began in 2010 and is a great example of the renewed focus on manufacturing in North America,” said Jeff Burnstein, President, Robotic Industries Association. “RIA members are looking for qualified workers so this is a great opportunity to hear about the exciting and fulfilling work in robotics and advanced manufacturing.”
 
Findings from a 2011 report on how robots create jobs indicate, “One million industrial robots currently in operation have been directly responsible for the creation of close to three million jobs… A growth in robot use over the next five years will result in the creation of one million high quality jobs around the world.” (Source: International Federation of Robotics)

Career Opportunities in Robotics (April 10) is a one-hour webinar that examines career options in cutting-edge applications in industry and beyond. Engineers, faculty and others interested in engineering career development will discover exciting robotic opportunities in education and research, industry, simulation and emerging applications presented during this webinar.

Fundamentals of Robotics – Factory Solutions (April 12) is an hour-long webinar that explains different kinds of robots, their design and component makeup, basic safety considerations and integration methodologies.
 
Attendees are invited to join the webinars online during National Robotics Week. The Great Plains Robotics Alliance along with the Wichita Area Technical College has incorporated the Fundamentals of Robotics webinar into an event they are hosting at their facility (National Center for Aviation Training) and will show the webinar live in their presentation auditorium.

For more information or to register, visit: www.robotics.org/NationalRoboticsWeek

DeskArtes Expert Series 10 offers a modular software suite targeted for Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing and Simulation professionals and hobbyist alike. Free 3D model viewing and verification module is accompanied with more advanced modules allowing the repair and preparation of models for any AM process. New 64 bit implementation enables the handling of largest 3D data files with confidence.

Expert Series 10 includes View Expert, Dimensions Expert, 3Data Expert Lite, Sim Expert and 3Data Expert modules with increasing set of effective and robust tools for 3D model preparation 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing and Simulation applications.

3Data Expert is DeskArtes’ flagship solution for manufacturing engineers to efficiently create and manipulate faceted models. Continuous development on 3D repair and manipulation tools and the introduction of 64 bit solution give the users unparalleled capability to handle complex models for Additive Manufacturing processes.

Dimensions Expert and new 3Data Expert Lite modules include the most frequently needed tools for everyday data processing, like 3D model splitting, connecting and 3D Text tagging for 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

New DeskArtes Sim Expert 3D geometry processing solution is targeted to the users of Simulation software products, allowing an effective triangle count reduction as well as triangle aspect ratio improvements for faster and more accurate simulation results with metal and plastic molding simulation.

Free View Expert is a no cost solution for CAD/CAM professionals and hobbyist to check and repair 3D models for error free production with 3D Printing systems.

"DeskArtes Expert Series 64 bit implementation takes the 3D data processing to new level with practically no limit to the model complexity and data size", notes Mr. Ismo Mäkelä, CEO of DeskArtes. "Also, free View Expert product helps the beginners with 3D Printing applications to print their products in confidence".

Other DeskArtes products include Design Expert, easy-to-use free-form 3D CAD modeling and photorealistic rendering, and Industrial Design System, IDS, for professional conceptual and tableware design and visualization.

Privately owned DeskArtes Oy develops and commercializes world-class software products for Additive Manufacturing professionals, designers, engineers, model makers, marketing and others involved in new product development. Customers and distributors include major companies in Design, 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing and Simulation around the World. The company is based in Helsinki, Finland, selling its products through the Internet and authorized resellers.

For more information, visit: www.deskartes.com/products.html

EMEX 2012 is not to be missed by engineering, machinery and electronics industry professionals according to those in the know.

“The buzz this year is amazing,” says EMEX 2012 sales manager, Rob Lavender. “It’s looking like the best EMEX yet, and what I’m hearing from the 150-plus brands & exhibitors indicates it will exceed all expectations.”

One of the most exciting – and interesting – stands will be the New Zealand universities presence. Eight of the country’s leading institutions will show what the best and brightest have created, and what’s just over the horizon for the industry. They’ll also be showing that innovative engineering can have applications for business beyond the theoretical.

“Few sports would celebrate the natural environment as much as surfing but surfboard manufacture can be a toxic business,” says surfer and AUT product design graduate Michael Grobelny who has designed a strong, lightweight and eco-friendly wooden surfboard which eliminates the use of polyurethane foam, fibreglass and polyester resin. “I was inspired by the Hawaiians who invented surfing and used solid wooden surfboards, and researched different types of timber looking for something strong, light and sustainable. I settled on paulownia, a fast growing, locally available wood which is becoming popular in surfboard construction.”

In AUT’s product design workshop Michael had use of a CNC (computer numerical controlled) router which he used to shape the overall form of the surfboard and remove excess material to create an internal honeycomb structure. This buoyant body was then sealed with a bamboo veneer deck before being coated with a biodegradable varnish. The resulting board, weighing 3.3kilograms and measuring 1.9  x .5 M has the skeletal strength and high performance qualities obtained by synthetic short boards.

Michael’s wooden surfboard was a finalist in the IDEA, International Design Awards competition run by Industrial Design of America, and won the industrial design category of the Australasian Student Design Awards 2011.

First-time exhibitor Powerbox Pacific is another of those planning to make every visitor’s trip well worthwhile says general manager Alistair Jeffcoat. “Our smart solutions to power supply issues offer clients all over New Zealand a wide product range to suit any need. We specialise in AC-DC and DC–DC power supplies for a wide range of applications and sectors. Battery chargers and inverters are also no problem. Visitors will be able to examine industrial grade Din Rail PSUs with single and three phase AC inputs, chassis mount AC-DC PSUs, DC-DC converters, battery backup/DC UPS PSUs, and DC-AC inverters for remote sites.”

Rodney Oxford, managing director of Total CNC Products says visitors will see the new Vturn A26/130YCV lathe and the VC-A85 machining center at EMEX 2012. “Everyone can see first-hand why Victor-Taichung has been so successful with these new models. They are simply superb in design, quality and value! A built-in oil cooled spindle assures high consistent accuracy (high Cpk value) because of no vibration from belts and longer service life because of no belt tension involved. The new A-series range of lathes and machining centres are Victor’s biggest export machine tool to the demanding Japanese, Swiss and German markets.”

CIGWELD’s Ken Durbin says EMEX 2012 visitors will be able to check out the new and versatile Transmig Multi-process inverters. “The new range has created quite a stir. The CIGWELD Transmig Series 3-in-1 multi process welding systems are changing the game in welding. They’ve set a new standard for portable welding equipment that delivers 3-in-1 MIG, Stick and TIG capability from one integrated system. The versatility of the Transmig Multi-process inverters means that you only need one machine to complete a range of jobs. For example a metal fabricator who is using a Transmig Inverter to build a steel staircase would be able to use all three welding processes to assist in completing the one job.”

Welding is often about joining things together, but cutting materials is the other side of the engineering and manufacturing coin. Roadrunner Ltd will highlight the Omax Maxiem line of cost-efficient, industry-standard waterjet cutting technology at EMEX 2012. One of the units is the Maxiem 1530, which in order to achieve position accuracy, uses exclusive Intelli-TRAX drive technology. The drive system is fully enclosed inside coated steel covers, making the 1530 robust and well suited for harsh environments.

Eduardo Morales says EMEX 2012 visitors to the AEC Systems stand will see how the latest version of Autodesk software will help lead the way in bringing your ideas to life. “Our technical consultants team has years of experience in engineering roles and will be there to show you the latest technology in the industry. They have built their skills and experience on digital prototyping and design tools such as FEA and mechanical simulation. Come talk to us and discover the advantages.”

EMEX 2012’s Rob Lavender says that’s just a glimpse of the event. “More than 150 of the industry’s top brands will excite and thrill around 4000 visitors. There is a great programme of seminars (including a leading Economist from BNZ), great networking opportunities, and fantastic show-only promotions from Ford for EMEX 2012 – plus the chance to win a brand new Ford Transit worth more than $50,000. Visitors will be able to enter the draw on Ford’s stand in Hall 3.

Along with all the new technology on display from exhibitors, XPO will be piloting at EMEX an event smartphone app to help visitors interact with exhibitors and plan their visit.  The app is free to download prior to and at the event.

EMEX 2012 will be held May 1-3, 2012 at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland, New Zealand.

For more information, visit: www.emex.co.nz

Xcentric Mold & Engineering, Inc., a leader in custom plastic injection molding, today revealed the company’s scientific manufacturing approach. Xcentric’s proprietary Process Engine delivers quality, reliability and repeatability for companies looking to cost-effectively manufacture products in the United States.

For years, the injection molding process has served as the industry’s preferred method for manufacturing plastic parts. A wide selection of thermoplastic and thermoset materials, combined with minimal part finishing requirements, have been among the many reasons injection molding is often specified and sourced.

“Consistency is extremely important to our organization and to the quality of the final injection molded part,” said Xcentric co-founder Brendan Weaver. “We want our customers to have a ‘stress-free’ manufacturing experience, with assurance in knowing their injection molding projects will be done right, on time and on budget.”

In some manufacturing operations, specifically during the custom production of highly complex parts, adverse outcomes can occur. Stress build-up in a part, for example, can lead to warping, size variation, color mixing issues, cracking under extreme weather conditions and a variety of cosmetic issues. Xcentric’s Process Engine eliminates problems before they occur. It analyses the internal cavity pressure and identifies optimal pressure requirements necessary to fill parts free of stress during production runs.

“Our process engine is the driving force behind our molding department’s ability to make sure the part is free of stress every single time,” said Xcentric co-founder Damon Weaver. “It alerts technicians of any sudden changes that have the potential to negatively impact part production. As a result, we can guarantee our clients’ projects success every single time.”

Xcentric’s team of design and manufacturing professionals use electric presses to produce high-quality, custom plastic mold parts for defense, medical, aerospace, automotive and consumer products industries. The company’s Process Engine is the result of a growing demand for reliable manufacturing sources that can guarantee quality and avoid unnecessary expenses associated with tooling and rework; an unfortunate and common problem experienced by companies who sometimes manufacture overseas.

“Unfortunately, many U.S. companies have been forced to accept the unnecessary burden of unforeseen manufacturing costs due to the lack of process controls and quality standards at overseas manufacturing operations. Our Process Engine eliminates that,” Weaver added.

Founded in 1996, Xcentric is a leader in the plastic injection molding industry, serving the medical, consumer, automotive, aerospace and defense industries. The company’s facility houses high-performance contract manufacturing equipment, including electric molding machines that guarantee quality and 100% repeatability. Xcentric delivers a complete array of expertise ranging from part design to prototype molds to plastic injection molded parts and is ISO 9001:2008 and ITAR compliant.

For more information, visit: www.xcentricmold.com



Wednesday, 21 March 2012 10:05

3D Printing/AM China 2012

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China is growing more innovative. Research and development spending are increasing dramatically and so are patent filings. Great efforts are being made to promote enterprise-led innovation. New ideas and creative thinkings are encouraged and appreciated, reflecting the nation's commitment to build a more balanced and innovative economy.

3D printing/AM is a good solution to the products development in China. With better quality, saved time and reduced cost, a growing market for 3D printing/AM is expected. Personal and desktop printers are also taking momentum due the size of student and young population of the country.

3D PRINTING/AM CHINA 2012, the first of its kind, aims at promoting applications of 3D printing/AM. It is also a good business opportunity to meet customers.

Highlights

  • The first event of its kind in China to introduce 3D printing and AM technologies.
  • Speakers are from leading research institutes, manufacturer and university at home and overseas.
  • Demonstrate the application of 3D printing and AM in various industries including industrial design, healthcare, automobile, aerospace, jewelry, footwear, cultural relic preservation, education, arts and etc.
  • Showcase of latest 3D printing and AM equipment, software, materials and service.
  • Extensive side events such as 3D printing in middle school education, 3D printing for digital arts and 3D printing for digital implant.

Conference  Agenda

Day One, May 30
7:30-9:00  Conference delegate registration
9:00-9:40  Welcome speech
9:40-10:00  Coffee break
10:00-12:15  Keynote

  • 3D printing: an industrial revolution in the digital age
  • 2011 global 3d printing/AM market analysis
  • China’s 3d printing market and trend
  • IPR and other law issue facing 3d printing and personal factory

12:15-13:30  Lunch

13:30-16:45  3D Printing: Medical & Bioengineering

  • Case study: world first 3D printed titanium jaw transplant
  • 3D printing application in medicine: current and future
  • Manufacturing innovative medical products with AM
  • 3D technology and digital dental implant
  • Surgical guides based on 3D printing technology
  • Scaffold development using 3D printing
  • Micro manufacturing: microjet free form fabrication and new material
  • Skull defects repair using AM

16:45-17:15 Panel discussion: 3D printing technology in China

Day two, May 31
9:00-12:15 3D Printing:maximize design potential

  • 3D printing: a new impetus for industrial design
  • 3D printing technology in automobile design
  • 3D printing in fine arts
  • Application in architecture: printing real house
  • Building 3D replica of King Tut’s mummy
  • 3D office printer for professionals
  • Additive to design-thinking, designing and engineering in layers
  • 3D printing is changing jewelry design business
  • Footwear prototyping in 3D printing

12:15-13:30 Lunch

13:30-15:00 3D printing for the consumer market

  • Printing at home: the coming of personal factory
  • Personal 3d printer based on RepRap
  • Every classroom has a 3d printer
  • Online 3d printing service: a new business model
  • Free, online, user-friendly 3d modeling software

15:00-15:15 Coffee break
15:15-17:15 3D printing making end products

  • Making concept car with 3D printing/AM
  • The sintering of titanium using SLS technology
  • New technological and commercial advantages for small series production by selective laser melting
  • Powders for SLS for aerospace applications
  • Complex aerospace parts making with powder metal sintering technology
  • Making metal-steel mold based on selective laser sintering
    "

For more information, visit: www.3dpchina.com

Monday, 19 March 2012 08:00

Luxion releases KeyShot 3.1

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Luxion, the leading developer of advanced rendering and lighting technology and makers of KeyShot®, the first real time ray tracing and global illumination program, is releasing KeyShot 3.1 and with it real-time enviroment editing and features galore.

Keyshot 3.1 marks the first major update of the release that introduced a patent-pending animation system, a revamped user interface and over 600+ new materials. With this update we introduce time-saving new features and improvements including a new, unique metallic paint material, interactive HDR editing that allows real-time editing of the lighting environments, material templates that allow 3D professionals to ‘auto-paint’ their models, network rendering to queue render jobs and spread them across multiple computers and much more.

Peter Kossev of PixelMathematics had this to say about KeyShot 3.1. “It is pure pleasure to work with KeyShot. The environment editor is so well integrated and the results are simply great. This was already great product, but now is really a complete product. And together with the animation package, it is just one fantastic tool that leaves everyone else in the dust.”

Key new features include:

Metallic Paint with real flakes
The metallic paint now includes the option to render realistic metallic flakes. These can be added to the material by using the two new parameters shown in the box below. Easily control flake size and visibility with simple sliders – all in realtime..

Real-time Environment editing
This patent-pending lighting system allows users of KeyShot Pro to adjust hue, saturation or boost existing lights in your lighting environment quickly and easily within the KeyShot environment. The new HDR editor makes it possible to perform these tasks on the fly with instant feedback applied to your lighting.

Material templates
Also patent-pending, the Material template bring customizable templates that allow users to automatically assign materials to any model on import. For example, if a shiny plastic is used on several products, KeyShot can be customized to automatically assign a shiny plastic to all parts that include the name “shiny plastic.”

Animation interaction
Animations can now be multi-selected and edited in the timeline. Duplicate, shift or delete entire groups of animations in a single click. In addition, animations can be mirrored, cutting the work of an exploded view animation in half.

Certification of KeyShot with 3DConnexion devices
We are proud to announce that KeyShot 3.1 will be officially certified to work with all of 3DConnexion’s devices.

Network Rendering
Network rendering is now available with KeyShot 3 as an option at an addtional charge. This much more robust version introduces an installer, a queue with manageable jobs and the ability dynamically add or remove slaves from the network even while jobs are being processed. Animations and stills can be rendered using any of the KeyShot 3 render output modes.

Support for Autodesk Maya
KeyShot 3.1 supports files generated in Autodesk Maya 2012 or prior natively. All the user needs in order to take advantage of this functionality is have Maya installed and licensed. KeyShot will then maintain the file structure, groupings, naming and materials as preserved in the original file.

For more information, visit: www.keyshot.com/whats-new

You're invited to attend our live webinar featuring an overview of 3D print technologies, and how they decrease time to market in a dynamic workflow for today's manufacturing design.

Don't miss this free, informational webinar!

Thursday, March 29, 2012
9:30am - 10:15am

New capabilities with MasterGraphics and 3D Systems:

•    MasterGraphics / 3D Systems Overview
•    Design Project Phases and 3D Printing / Prototyping
•    3D Systems Solutions (ProJet & Zprinter Line Up)
•    Application Examples
•    How to Choose the right tool for you?
•    Q & A

To register for the webinar, visit: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/215116889

From May 8-11, 2012, innovative companies will be showcasing “more than CNC machining” at Austech 2012 in Sydney. Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the watchword for eight companies presenting the latest technology for 3D printing and digital manufacturing solutions in a dedicated additive/digital manufacturing pavilion over the four days of the show. AM, also referred to as 3D printing, is now playing an ever increasing role in a range of industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical and defence because of the many benefits it offers compared to traditional subtractive technologies. As a consequence, new machines have been introduced on both the high and low ends of the cost spectrum over the past couple of years.

These new developments have led to direct digital manufacturing (DDM) not only being used for rapid prototyping of new product designs, but increasingly for manufacturing end-user parts such as jigs, fixtures and other tools used in production and assembly processes. It is also being used to create custom components as well as medical and dental parts because DDM processes are faster, more affordable alternatives to manufacturing such parts via machining or injection moulding.

“Additive manufacturing is an emerging trend, which is rapidly gaining acceptance within the manufacturing community,” comments Joel Brown from Solidtec Solutions. “Events like Austech help to educate the broader market ensuring the technology is propagated at a more rapid rate. The 3D CAD market acts as an enabling technology to accelerate adoption of technologies like additive manufacturing as companies which adopt 3D CAD for design are able to leverage 3D data in all aspects of their business.”

One of the many reasons why manufacturers should follow the AM developments is speed: AM processes require no tooling and have a digital foundation. There are virtually no delays in moving from a robust digital design to the manufacturing process. There is direct, uninterrupted progression from concept to part.

“Austech having a dedicated pavilion showcasing AM/3D Printing is an excellent medium for potential customers to see first-hand how companies are now actively saving time and money while accelerating the product to market timetables,” says Bruce Jackson from 3D Printing Systems Australia. “The costs for 3D printing systems are getting lower and it is now an affordable desktop addition to any product design department.”

Tasman Machinery Managing Director Dermid McKinley thinks that the market is in a point of transition, where early adopting Australian manufacturers are beginning to understand and invest in AM technologies. “Where previously AM was very much aimed at the prototyping and design sectors, we now have customers running their machines on a 24/7 basis, looking for maximum capacity utilisation and expecting service and support levels of our traditional manufacturing customers. This is quite a turnaround from the previous view of AM technologies.”

We all know we can never compete against the mass production of low cost economies, but Australia can certainly compete in manufacturing markets where complexity and sophistication of design is necessary. In almost all manufacturing environments, product designs are dictated by the constraints in the ability to manufacture parts.  Product features are compromised. Multiple parts are used when a single part would suffice. AM eliminates many of those manufacturing constraints and makes mass customisation possible.

Thanks to the technology’s freedom in terms of shape and design, it enables customised, optimum products to be created. By virtue of the geometric freedom provided, and the high elasticity of the material involved, moreover, it is possible to manufacture snap-fit connections, complicated form-locking elements, spring-force connections and geometries like leaf springs or helical springs. This means fewer parts have to be mounted or connected with tools.

As a consequence, more and more businesses bring this technology in-house that previously was mainly provided through service bureaus. According to Camplex Managing Director Fred Carlstrom, machine prices for smaller machines start from around $10,000 which is quite affordable but you still pay up to a $1,000,000 for a large SLA (Stereo-Lithography) machine.

“Metal sintering, laser or electron beam, is also generating a lot of interest because the technology unlocks all design constraints,” he adds. “With additive manufacturing you can pretty much design and manufacture any design without having to consider how it is going to manufactured or consider what tooling to use because there is no tooling required.”

However, AM does not aim at replacing conventional machining processes. The technologies will co-exist and complement each other to optimum effect. As part of the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion, exhibitors will help interested visitors to find the right approach to define the correct application categories and to replace existing conventional technologies only where commercial and technical advantages are to be gained.

“The focus on AM and rapid prototyping at Austech is timely and appropriate,” concludes Anna Elliott, Marketing Manager at Memko. “In the rapidly evolving market, low volume and customised manufacturing will play an ever increasing role for Australian customers and it is important to have a platform for showcasing and promoting the diverse solutions available today.”

For more information, visit: www.austechexpo.com.au

Britain’s biggest manufacturing technology exhibition - MACH 2012 - hits Birmingham next month and takes place against a backdrop of significant investment and strong growth in the sector.

Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) statistics indicated a 68% increase in orders for 2011 compared to 2010.  It therefore comes as little surprise that the numbers of people expected to attend MACH 2012 are well ahead of the figures for 2010; pre-registrations have increased by more than 25%.

Furthermore, some 20% more exhibition space has already been allocated and the number of exhibitors is likely to reach almost 500 organisations in total.

Graham Dewhurst, Director-General of the MTA, said “With well over 450 exhibitors and over 5,000 tonnes of working machinery in operation, MACH 2012 presents an unrivalled opportunity to see the very best of British, European and Global Manufacturing Technology under one roof.”

Dewhurst added, “We anticipate well over 20,000 visitors to MACH 2012, including, buyers, suppliers, researchers, policy makers and over 1,500 teenagers who have pre-registered their attendance to find out what a career in the industry has to offer.

The fact we now have 25% more visitors registered than at the corresponding time in 2010 demonstrates a real commitment to – and confidence in - the sector.”

MACH 2012, owned and operated by the MTA, is open to all, free to attend and takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from the 16th until the 20th April 2012.

For more information, visit: www.machexhibition.com

Thursday, 15 March 2012 09:10

3 New SLS Materials at Laser Prototypes

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Following the recent expansion of SLS production capabilities, Laser Prototypes are pleased to announce the addition of three functional new materials to their SLS range.

PrimeCast 101 - combines high accuracy, fine surface quality and good strength making it ideally suited for the production of casting patterns. A low melting point and minimum ash residue have proven popular for use in the production of lost patterns for investment castings.

PrimePart FR - Ideally suited to the electronic, aerospace and automotive industries. Primepart FR is flame retardant offers high temperature resistance with a melting point of 176 degrees C.

Alumide - Metallic in appearance and offering exceptional surface finishing properties. Alumide has high strength and high heat capacity and is suitable for the production of tools for wind tunnel testing. High stiffness and part quality make Alumide popular for small series production of tools and fixtures.

Speaking on the recent expansion of SLS capabilities at Laser Prototypes, Sales Director, Campbell Evans stated "We have noticed an increased level of interest in SLS for production over the past year, in order to keep pace with this growing demand we felt the addition of the Formiga Machine was the next logical step as it allowed us to increase not only our production capacity but also our SLS materials range"

For more information, visit: www.laserproto.com

Hagerman & Company, Inc., one of America’s largest value-added resellers of Autodesk software, will present a free webcast entitled Autodesk Vault Professional 2012 on March 23 at 1:00 pm CT.

The one-hour webcast demonstrates how workgroups can reduce time organizing files, avoid costly mistakes, and more efficiently release and revise designs using Autodesk Vault Professional, part of the Autodesk Solution for Digital Prototyping.

Users will also learn how Vault Professional enables workgroups to securely manage and track their digital prototypes, find and reuse data more effectively, manage and design revisions and control access to data.

The webcast will be led by Matt Lane, Hagerman & Company Director of Consulting Services who said, “Anyone who is interested in becoming more organized and efficient will want to take a look at what these products offer”, said Lane. “The Vault products will help keep team members at all of your locations and partner organizations on the same page.”

Registration for the March 23 webcast is now open. An on-demand recording of the webcast will also be made available on the Hagerman & Company website.

For more information or to register, visit: www.hagerman.com/upcoming_events/web_Vault_Pro_2012.asp

The 13th China Shenzhen International Machinery Manufacturing Industry Exhibition (SIMM) will begin on March 28th, 2012.  SIMM was the first exhibition approved and recommended by UFI in South China in 2002. SIMM features a display area of 110,000 sq. meters with over 1100 exhibitors showing the latest machinery technology, service and supplies. With over 100,000 anticipated industry attendees, SIMM has become the most influential and largest professional exhibition in South China's equipment manufacturing industry.

SIMM has four thematic exhibiting sections displaying; metalworking machines, molds & products, cutting & tools, and equipment replacement parts. This year we are proud to announce that The German Coil Equipment Exhibition will be introduced to the 13th SIMM for the first time. Following are the details of the thematic exhibiting sections.

The Metalworking Machine Exhibition Section is the largest and most influential one in South China. Exhibits include metal-cutting machine tools, forming machine tools, special working machine tools, inspection & measuring equipments, NC systems, digital display devices and automatism equipments. Top-level international manufacturers such as Mazak, MORI SEIKI, Okuma, HAAS, HURCO, Hardinge, ZEISS, Trumpf, Bystronic, GF Agiecharmilles, SODICK, Mitsubishi all will have exciting new exhibitions with SIMM. The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) from United States have also partnered with SIMM to organize a large group of companies from the United States to exhibit for the first time at SIMM.

With the rapid change of the global economy, the equipment manufacturing industry has become both larger scale as well as more technologically demanding, and having the technological advantage in molding has become essential for the competitive success of companies worldwide. The 13th SIMM's Molds Exhibition Section offers exhibitions by world leaders in various plastic mold and stamping mold manufacturers, precision part manufacturers for the auto, domestic appliances & electronic products, office & telecommunication devices and medical appliances industries, as well by manufacturers of precision mold parts and die carriers. Shenzhen offers the most sophisticated as well as the most technologically advanced mold manufacturers worldwide and this expertise will be on display at SIMM. All exhibitors are certified to produce molds at HASCO and/or DME standards at a competitive price and have extensive international experience manufacturing molds and parts for multi-national corporations in Japan, South Korea, Europe and America.

South China is the largest market for cutting and tools products in the world and the SIMM Cutting & Tools Exhibition Section offers a unique opportunity to reach customers in China. The highlights of this section of SIMM include special non-standard cutters, forming cutters, hardware tools specially designed to the various demands of different manufacturers combined with the developing manufacturing industry. The Cutting & Tools Exhibition Section is uniquely classified by professional exhibits giving attendees the ability to quickly find the specialized exhibits which best fit their needs and makes SIMM stand out in China. SIMM 2012 offers exhibits by hundreds of domestically and overseas well-known cutter, tool, alloy material brands like Sandvik, Kenna Universal, Secotools, ISCAR, OSG, YAMAWA, HAIMER, DIJET, Parlec, KYOCERA, YG, TaeguTec, CB-CERATIZIT, Alloytool, Stanley, MST and other domestic and international companies.

Shenzhen is at the heart of the World Manufacturing Center and its companies' demand for more fast-speed automatism, accurate and sophisticated manufacturing equipment, production processing, packing & transportation, and management systems is ever-increasing and the need to replace and upgrade current technologies is ever-growing to radically transform the traditional technologies of equipment manufacturing and product processing into new more efficient and advanced systems.

The Equipment Spare Parts Exhibition Section offers a great variety of exhibits on numerical control systems, mechanical transmission/drive sets, run sensors and actuators, electric motors, inductance and its accessories, hydraulic pressure and pneumatic components, among many others.

Shenzhen is located at the tip of the Pearl River Delta and adjacent to Hong Kong. Whether in terms of economy or geography, Shenzhen is the greatest hub and bridge connecting the inland and the outside world and offers unique opportunities to connect with the largest manufacturing centers in the world. It is the only Chinese city that has a sea, air, and land port for shipping domestically as well as internationally.

For more information, visit: www.simmexpo.com

Sensable announced today that it has shipped a major new version of its Freeform™ 3D Design for Manufacture solution for product designers who create organic, highly sculptural goods, from jewelry to toys to medical implants – and need to manufacture them efficiently. Freeform Version 12 adds over 50 new features and enhancements to the company’s proven Freeform 3D modeling platform, which is highly valued by many of the world’s top designers in industries where organic, sculptural forms are needed. Its ability to work across many geometries, including voxels, mesh, polygons and NURBS, and prepare objects for manufacturing, is unique in the industry, allowing users to quickly prototype, iterate and then cost-effectively achieve production-ready models.

"Freeform version 12 has put the fun back into the process of developing new product designs, with new and enhanced features that allow creativity to flow more freely,” said George Sivy, owner of Ghost Studio, a product design firm in Longmont, Colorado. "Fast and effortless is the best way that I can describe these new capabilities. In Freeform, I can model a concept in 15 minutes compared to the hours that it would take in other 3D modeling packages. We are constantly being asked to produce intricate models and figures, and new Freeform features such as the new "Bend & Twist Tool" and the "Pivot Tool" provide us with unrivaled speed and flexibility in experimenting with different poses. Because my models often start as scans, or imports from other modeling programs, Freeform’s ability to use these new tools in a variety of different geometry formats saves significant amounts of time."

“Being able to easily add artistic flair to a mechanical design and have it be machine ready is a great benefit of using Freeform in our workflow,” said Ryan Buckalew, manager of prototyping at Beme International, maker of stylish, yet affordable drapery hardware. “With Project Patch to Clay in Freeform version 12, there is now a greater ability to cleanly surface the elements sculpted in Freeform and stitch them into solid assemblies for manufacturing.“

Highlights of the new Freeform Version 12 release include:

  • Expanded modeling and prep for manufacturing capabilities, across multiple geometries. Workflows today are more complex, requiring numerous model types – for example, scans are output as polygons, engineering files as NURBS, and sculpting models as voxels and polygons. Conversion between formats is often required at different points in a workflow because of limitations of various CAD software packages. This can result in a loss of design details, such as subtle curves, and more importantly in today’s competitive market — time.

Freeform is unique in its ability to model in polygons, voxels, and NURBS surfaces and solids, allowing the designer to retain original design integrity. With Freeform, users can break up polygon models for articulation, interactively optimize mold pull direction, fix moldability problems and develop complex parting surfaces in the geometry that best suits the project. Enhancements in Freeform version 12 expand Freeform’s interoperability, including:

  • Support for Booleans between CAD surfaces/solids, meshes and/or voxels or across any combination of these – saving time while keeping the integrity of the design. For example, users can import a polygon model of a toy into Freeform without the need to convert it into voxels. Once in Freeform, users can “carve up” the toy to indicate articulation points, such as the arm and leg joints – then add further engineering design and export the model as a polygon file -- all while keeping the perfectly sharp edges essential for mold tools.

  • New Mesh tools such as Mesh Division, Mesh Smooth, Mesh Booleans, to allow modeling in the designer’s native format, which protects against potential loss of data as well as the pervasive “gotchas” that can occur when converting between formats. Mesh Division allows a toy designer, for example, to take an animated character model that is highly faceted, and in 1 or 2 clicks create a model that removes the facets and can be used for production.

Streamlining the conversion steps between representational types. Freeform tools allow users to quickly change between formats, enabling flexible workflows using the best format for the task at hand, with such enhancements as:

  • Project patch to clay – a one button, fast and easy command for converting low level relief sculptures in NURBS surfaces. Ideal for incorporating sculptural detail into CAD models for further detailing, or for downstream machining where only NURBS surfaces are supported.

  • Improvements in autosurfacing, - autosurfacing usually means many hundreds of patches to adequately capture detail and this can dramatically slow down downstream CAD/CAM applications. The new improvements dramatically reduce the number of patches required by adding t-joints and further control parameters.

New features and enhancements for traditional sculpting workflows such as faster and more flexible deformation and roughing out tools, include:

  • Curve Spheres – replicating the sculptor’s real world armature, this allows designers and sculptors to quickly create volumetric models controlled by an underling curve skeleton. Allowing quick volume studies, fast re-posing and base model generation.

  • Bend and Twist - allows designers more flexibility to dynamically pose figures by recreating the natural bend and twist of human joints. Extreme deformations like corkscrewing can be achieved, without damaging the model typically associated with such operations.

  • Pose – ideal for action toy designers, medical modelers and anyone creating articulated joints in their designs. Allows for fast and easy joint definition and re-posing to aesthetically test range of movement.

  • Hot Wax Tool – replicating more subtle sculpting procedures, this allows sculptors to gain a finer control over their modeling as well as combining multiples tools into one for a faster, more natural workflow.

  • Interactively optimized mold pull directions – ideal for turning complex organic models into fully drafted, production ready designs. This new tool allows designers to interactively change the pull direction with real time draft analysis to find the optimal pull direction before the task of removing undercuts has begun.

“With Version 12, we’ve added an incredible list of new features and capabilities, building on Freeform’s already extensive 3D modeling tools. We are especially proud of the enhanced interoperability capabilities,” said Joan Lockhart, vice president of sales and marketing at Sensable. “Freeform is the only organic CAD software that supports manufacturing-ready designs across so many types of CAD models – meshes, NURBS, voxels, and polygons . Other software may make a great looking model, but Freeform lets you rest assured it can be manufactured to the highest quality standards, efficiently.”

Founded in 1993, Sensable remains the leading developer of touch-enabled solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually “feel” it. With 44 patents granted and over 10,000 systems installed worldwide, Sensable helps people innovate with human touch solutions. The company markets and sells a suite of 3D organic design solutions that includes its flagship product, Freeform; and the Phantom® and Omni™ lines of haptic devices, used in surgical simulation and planning, stroke rehabilitation, medical training, and a range of research and robotic applications.

For more information, visit: www.sensable.com/products-freeform-systems.htm







Monday, 12 March 2012 11:25

3D-Printer with Nano-Precision

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Printing three dimensional objects with incredibly fine details is now possible using “two-photon lithography”. With this technology, tiny structures on a nanometer scale can be fabricated. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now made a major breakthrough in speeding up this printing technique: The high-precision-3D-printer at TU Vienna is orders of magnitude faster than similar devices (see video). This opens up completely new areas of application, such as in medicine.

Setting a New World Record

The 3D printer uses a liquid resin, which is hardened at precisely the correct spots by a focused laser beam. The focal point of the laser beam is guided through the resin by movable mirrors and leaves behind a polymerized line of solid polymer, just a few hundred nanometers wide. This high resolution enables the creation of intricately structured sculptures as tiny as a grain of sand. “Until now, this technique used to be quite slow”, says Professor Jürgen Stampfl from the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at the TU Vienna. “The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second – our device can do five meters in one second.” In two-photon lithography, this is a world record.

This amazing progress was made possible by combining several new ideas. “It was crucial to improve the control mechanism of the mirrors”, says Jan Torgersen (TU Vienna). The mirrors are continuously in motion during the printing process. The acceleration and deceleration-periods have to be tuned very precisely to achieve high-resolution results at a record-breaking speed.

Photoactive Molecules Harden the Resin

3D-printing is not all about mechanics – chemists had a crucial role to play in this project too. “The resin contains molecules, which are activated by the laser light. They induce a chain reaction in other components of the resin, so-called monomers, and turn them into a solid”, says Jan Torgersen. These initiator molecules are only activated if they absorb two photons of the laser beam at once – and this only happens in the very center of the laser beam, where the intensity is highest. In contrast to conventional 3D-printing techniques, solid material can be created anywhere within the liquid resin rather than on top of the previously created layer only. Therefore, the working surface does not have to be specially prepared before the next layer can be produced (see Video), which saves a lot of time. A team of chemists led by Professor Robert Liska (TU Vienna) developed the suitable initiators for this special resin.

Researchers all over the world are working on 3D printers today – at universities as well as in industry. “Our competitive edge here at the Vienna University of Technology comes from the fact that we have experts from very different fields, working on different parts of the problem, at one single university”, Jürgen Stampfl emphasizes. In materials science, process engineering or the optimization of light sources, there are experts working together and coming up with mutually stimulating ideas.

Because of the dramatically increased speed, much larger objects can now be created in a given period of time. This makes two-photon-lithography an interesting technique for industry. At the TU Vienna, scientists are now developing bio-compatible resins for medical applications. They can be used to create scaffolds to which living cells can attach themselves facilitating the systematic creation of biological tissues. The 3d printer could also be used to create tailor made construction parts for biomedical technology or nanotechnology.

For more information, visit: www.tuwien.ac.at

Whether it's a flame design on a video game console or a wood grain look for a laptop, sometimes a product or prototype just needs some pizzazz to capture people's attention. Companies like Realize Inc. help companies create such engaging products through custom finishing services that result in unique eye-catching designs.

"We have been looking for ways to make our models look more production-like to meet the demands of some of our clients," said Realize President Todd Reese. "With RealCool, we can accomplish this and so much more. The process allows for an almost endless combination of visually stunning aesthetics that can be applied to nearly any surface."

Realize recently expanded its custom finishing services with the introduction of its RealCool finishing process, which involves applying patterns to three-dimensional rapid prototypes or existing products. RealCool can be used to enhance Stereolithography (SLA) models and cast urethane models, as well as other plastics, metal, wood and glass.

RealCool finishing can allow an ordinary plastic prototype model to be completely transformed into a part that looks like a real production piece. Realize has already had opportunities with many types of existing products such as video game consoles, sports equipment, laptop computers, smartphone cases and much more from clients just wanting a unique and custom appearance on their personal gear. Customers can choose from hundreds of patterns such as carbon fiber, metal, wood and camouflage.

"We've heard a lot of 'Wow!' in response to the projects we've done to date, including a miniature wood-grain table, a camouflaged projectile, a brushed metal bicycle component, and even a few tricked out phone cases for some local school children," Reese said. "We are really excited by the possibilities the RealCool process brings to the table, plus we can provide the customized, low quantity option that is often hard to find."

Founded in 1999, Indiana-based Realize creates customized rapid prototypes of products for clients in numerous industries, including biomedical, aerospace and electronics. Services include Stereolithography, RTV molding and Cast Urethane Models, and Custom Finishing and Painting.

For more information, visit: www.realizeinc.com

For over a decade, Nikon Metrology pioneered laser scanning and gradually sharpened the capabilities of this non-contact measuring technology. Nikon’s superior optics combined with innovative 3D laser scanning technology resulted in this new, groundbreaking Nikon scanner. The LC15Dx digital laser scanner is a new milestone, as it brings laser scanning in the accuracy range of tactile inspection. The LC15Dx is a viable alternative to a tactile probe for an increasing number of high precision CMM applications; including molds, small turbine blades, medical devices and other complex geometry.

Closing the gap with tactile probe accuracy

Following an intense R&D phase involving engineering from Nikon Japan, the LC15Dx is the first CMM laser scanner to benefit from a high quality Nikon lens and receive the Nikon branding. “The LC15Dx is a significant breakthrough product, our customers can now realize the measurement possibilities and productivity gains they have been asking for.  This  further bolsters our position as industry innovator and market lead for metrology grade laser scanners.”commented Kenji Yoshikawa, chairman and CEO of Nikon Metrology.

LC15Dx accuracy comes close to the accuracy expected when using a CMM and tactile probe. Thanks to new solid state laser scanner technology, an innovative calibration method and high quality Nikon lens, the LC15Dx achieves a probing  accuracy of 2.5µm (0.0001in) multi-stylus test accuracy of 6µm (0.00024in) in tests comparable to EN/10360-2 and -5. A unique thermal stabilizer inside the scanner body eliminates the uncertainty and delay caused when the laser scanner is used before it has reached operating temperature. Probe tip compensation errors are also eliminated by using non-contact triangulation between the laser source, workpiece and CCD sensor to measure the surface of the workpiece directly.

Versatile scanning without the hassle

The LC15Dx provides significant benefits for a wide variety of high precision parts and geometry, including small details, semi-rigid parts and the more demanding materials. A greater range and mix of surface materials, finishes, colors and transitions can be measured more efficiently without user interaction, manual tuning and part spraying. Nikons unique third-generation Enhanced Scanner Performance (ESP3) technology maintains accuracy, speed and data quality by intelligently adapting the laser settings for each measured point in real-time. Unwanted reflections are neutralized by an advanced software filter while changes in ambient light are absorbed by a high grade daylight filter.

Better insights, earlier

Manufacturers gain a full appreciation of the dimensional quality of their products without compromising on cycle times. As the LC15Dx passes over the workpiece mounted on a CMM, a laser line is projected onto the surface. The line measures 70,000 points per second at intervals of 22µm (0.0008in). As the entire part is checked to the design intent CAD model, any areas of concern are immediately highlighted using color mapping. Further investigation and analysis is possible using fly-outs, sections and a library of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T).

Multi-sensor applications , ready to retrofit to your CMM

In situations where a single sensor technology is insufficient for measuring all the features, the LC15Dx can be combined with a tactile probe and change rack to create a versatile fully automated multi-sensor CMM. Depending on the application both technologies can be used independently or together within the same inspection program.

The LC15Dx is available with any Nikon Metrology CMM and can be retrofitted to existing CMMs fitted with CMM controllers from Aberlink, Deva, Coord3, Dukin, LK, Hexagon DEA, Hexagon Brown & Sharpe, Hexagon Sheffield, Mitutoyo, Mora, Renishaw, Wenzel, Werth, Zeiss and probe heads Renishaw PH10M, PH10MQ, PHS and Hexagon CW43.

For more information, visit: www.nikonmetrology.com/en_US/Products/Laser-Scanning/CMM-scanning/LC15Dx-laser-scanner

Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Industry Automation Division and a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, today announced the release of Fibersim™ software version 2012. Fibersim helps reduce risk throughout the aerospace, automotive and wind energy industries by optimizing the design and manufacture of innovative, durable and lightweight composite structures. It is developed by Vistagy, which was acquired by Siemens on December 7, 2011, and is now a business segment within Siemens PLM Software.

Fibersim 2012 reduces uncertainty in the performance of composite parts by defining, communicating, and validating desired fiber orientations throughout the product development process, ensuring that they meet specifications. By eliminating design interpretation errors, this new release significantly reduces the risk of producing over-engineered parts that not only behave unpredictably, but are also heavier and more costly than necessary.

Fibersim is the world’s leading software for composites engineering, enabling premier organizations in aerospace, automotive, wind energy, and other industries to successfully address challenges throughout the entire engineering process—from supporting conceptual design, defining detailed laminates, simulating ply layup and generating manufacturing data feeds to verifying quality. Fibersim is fully integrated into industry-leading, 3D commercial CAD systems.

“Inaccuracy in fiber orientation, from the design through the manufacturing phases of composite parts, leads to sub-optimal design,” said Guy Lambert, director, Experimental, Design, Material and Process, Bombardier Aerospace, which standardized on Fibersim software for all composites design-to-manufacturing processes in 2009. “It is critical to have confidence in the way manufactured composite parts will perform. Otherwise, engineers will need to account for the fiber orientation variability, which generates parts that end up weighing and costing more. By providing the ability to define, communicate, and validate desired fiber orientations from the beginning to the end of the development process, Fibersim provides engineers with the best opportunity to optimize parts.”

Specific benefits of Fibersim 2012 include:

Increasing opportunities for optimizing designs
Fibersim 2012 increases confidence in the way manufactured composite parts perform by providing a new Spine-Based Rosette, enabling desired fiber orientations to be defined along a path that can then be communicated and validated throughout the development cycle. Maintaining desired fiber orientations in manufactured parts—whether an airframe stringer, an automotive C frame, or a 60-meter wind turbine blade—is critical to optimizing weight and performance.

Accurately simulating how composite materials conform to complex shapes
Fibersim 2010 introduced new advanced material and process simulations for multilayered materials, including non-crimp fabric and ply forming simulations. Fibersim 2012 builds on these capabilities to simulate a greater number of materials and manufacturing processes used with the first-ever Spine-Based Simulation for parts produced using steered fiber methods. Steering fibers along the path of an aerostructure stringer, an automotive B pillar or a scribed line on a wind turbine blade mold will cause localized buckling and deformation. By identifying these issues early in the design cycle, key decisions can be made to ensure expected part strength is achieved in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Efficiently communicating a complete part definition between design and analysis
The new versionintroduces a breakthrough in the exchange of Multi-axial Material and Core data to allow for efficient communication of two critical design components between analysts and designers throughout the iterative development cycle. Accurate analysis of part stiffness and strength necessitates the inclusion of multi-axial and core materials commonplace in aerospace, automotive, and wind energy designs.

Simplifying composite part development and documentation
Fibersim 2012 simplifies composite development with new, intuitive tools for design and documentation for engineers with different levels of composites experience. The most challenging and time-consuming design task is capturing drop-off specifications for regions of varying thickness. Fibersim 2012 introduces a new Stagger Editor, a visual drag and drop method for easily capturing those specifications. Large aerospace panels, such as wings, stabilizers or empennage, have a significant number of different drop-off profiles. The Stagger Editor makes it easy to develop the profiles and reduce design errors.

Fibersim can be used independently or as a key component of the Aerosuite™ portfolio of software and services, which provides a comprehensive solution spanning preliminary design to quality assurance that enables aircraft designers and manufacturers to engineer optimized parts and assemblies in less time at lower cost. Aerosuite also includes Syncrofit™ software for designing and manufacturing complex assemblies and large aerostructures, Quality Planning Environment™ software for developing plans to assess aerostructure quality and Vistagy professional services for the aerospace industry.

“The innovations in the latest version of Fibersim are born from our conviction that the most effective way to address composite engineering and manufacturing challenges is to develop industry-specific solutions,” said Leigh Hudson, director of product and market strategy for Fibersim. “Fibersim 2012 provides end-to-end solutions for developing and optimizing composite part types that are common to aerospace, automotive, wind energy and other industries, enabling our users to develop robust products on schedule and on budget and, ultimately, to meet their goals.”

For more information, visit: www.vistagy.com/products/fibersim-2012.aspx

ROB|ARCH has been initiated by the Association for Robots in Architecture as a new conference series on the use of robotic fabrication in architecture, art, and design, closely linking industry with cutting-edge research institutions.

For the first time, ROB|ARCH 2012 will bring together international university partners who will open their robotic research labs to a creative use and present an insight in their applied robotic research at various locations throughout Europe. While the international workshops will be distributed at university partners, the following conference will take place in Vienna, a city well known for its living quality, but also a hotspot for technology and innovation.

The internationally renowned publishing house Springer Wien/New York will publish and market the proceedings of the conference worldwide with the following topics:

-design to robotic fabrication
-rapid prototyping with industrial robots
-mass customisation
-robots beyond industrial uses
-robotic aesthetics
-customized robotics
-digital and physical robotic interfaces

Schedule:

13.12.2012

Free sponsor “pre-workshops” for ABB Robot Studio and Grasshopper

14.12. – 16.12.2012

Conference workshops:

  • Rotterdam: 2x ABB IRB6400 by TU Delft and University of Michigan/Jelle Feringa & Wes McGee
  • Stuttgart: KUKA KR125/2 by University Stuttgart / Achim Menges & Tobias Schwinn
  • Graz: ABB IRB6600 by TU Graz / Andreas Trummer
  • Zurich: KUKA KR150 by ETH Zurich and ROB Technologies / Gramazio & Kohler
  • Vienna: 2x KUKA LWR by TU Vienna / Marcus Vincze et al.
  • Vienna: ABB IRB120 by HAL /  Thibault Schwartz

17.12.-18.12.2012

Conference sessions at TU Vienna

Paper Submission:

We invite authors to submit papers with original research relating to the use of robots in architecture, art, and design. An international scientific committee consisting of researchers and practising architects will evaluate the papers and provide feedback to the authors. The selected papers are published in the Springer proceedings and presented at the conference in Vienna.

Electronic Submission of Abstracts 04.06.2012
Electronic Submission of Full Papers 16.07.2012
Author notification 10.09. 2012
Final Paper due 01.10.2012

Information and Contact

For more information, visit: www.robarch2012.org

BOXX Technologies, the leading innovator of high-performance workstations and rendering systems, today announced the introduction of the 3DBOXX 8920 workstation which delivers an 80% application performance increase over its predecessor, the 3DBOXX 8520. The latest addition to their heralded 3DBOXX 8500/8900 workstation line, 8920 features dual, eight-core Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 series processors, along with a host of other technology upgrades that boost overall performance for VFX artists, animators, designers, engineers, and other creative professionals.

"Our BOXX is better than their box," said Shoaib Mohammad, BOXX VP of Marketing and Business Development, in response to being asked what's separates the workstation manufacturer from its competitors. "At BOXX, we understand the applications our customers employ to create, test, and modify their ideas. And we create optimized configurations using the latest Intel® Xeon® processors in order to provide the best possible user experience when dealing with complex simulations, rendering, and ray tracing applications."

The 3DBOXX 8920 features up to 16 cores (32 threads) of high-powered, multitasking performance for 3D design, animation, rendering, visualization, VFX compositing, and more. Designed to accommodate multi-threading, multiple applications, and complex production pipelines, the new 8920 has also expanded to include additional memory and up to three NVIDIA GPUs. The result is faster performance for both CPU- and GPU-based rendering, simulation, and ray tracing tasks.

"We are very enthusiastic about BOXX's new 3BOXX 8920 and its use of the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family," said Joe Curley, General Manager of Intel's Professional Workstation Group. "This processor was designed to solve big problems fast -- delivering the most compute capacity and bandwidth of any Intel® dual processor-based workstation. The Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family is capable of powering complete design suites from ISV's like Autodesk and SolidWorks. That means users can now seamlessly combine creation with analysis, simulation and ray tracing. We think with solutions like the 3BBOXX 8920 based on our Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family, users can potentially ask more 'what ifs?' with their design and make adjustments that may lead to optimal designs rather than just good ones."

For more information, visit: www.boxxtech.com/products/3DBOXX/8920.asp?prodid=8920

Morris Technologies, Inc. (MTI), the global leader of additive metal manufacturing, is proud to announce the availability of Stainless 17-4 PH for DMLS.

Stainless 17-4 PH has been in development at MTI since March 2011 and was released with full heat treatment properties in October 2011. This material is precipitation hardened and heat treated to exceed the minimum requirement of the AMS standards. It is comparable to typical commercial wrought properties. MTI offers multiple heat treatment options, ranging from H900 to H1150, yielding a range of material properties tailored to engineering applications.

The introduction of 17-4 PH is the latest addition to the 11 other alloys Morris Technologies offers for producing metal parts using additive manufacturing. A material property data sheet for 17-4 PH is located on the Morris Technologies website.

Morris Technologies employs a Research & Development team focused on additive metal equipment, process, and alloy development. This enables MTI to develop materials and introduce them to the market in a timely manner.

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Morris Technologies, Inc. (MTI) has been on the cutting edge of manufacturing technologies since 1994.  MTI's heavy investment in research and development has enabled them to evolve into the global leader in additive-metal manufacturing processes and advance technologies by offering new materials and developing new hardware.  MTI also specializes in end-to-end product development, from engineering to prototyping to low-volume manufacturing.

For more information, visit: www.morristech.com

Friday, 02 March 2012 11:16

Luxology’s modo 601 Now Available

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Luxology® LLC today announced the immediate availability of modo® 601, a landmark release of its award-winning, artist-friendly 3D content creation software. modo 601 includes character animation, built-in dynamics, volumetric rendering, and enhanced retopology modeling tools along with a host of other new capabilities. modo is now a full pipeline solution for professionals working in media and entertainment, advertising, engineering and architectural design visualization.

“modo 601 is our most significant release ever,” said Brad Peebler, president and co-founder of Luxology. “With new feature and workflow enhancements, modo now offers an end-to-end production solution that is both powerful and highly usable by artists and designers.”
modo 601’s new feature and workflow improvements include:

Character Animation: modo offers a range of character animation functionality from easy-to-use posing tools to the creation of fully articulated character rigs that can be manipulated through a full-body inverse kinematics solver and a general purpose system of layered deformers.

Dynamics: Rigid and soft body dynamics, based on Version 2.79 of the Bullet Physics engine, are now a standard part of modo and provide realistic simulations of mechanical and organic motion.

Retopology Modeling: Focused tools and a new dedicated retopology modeling layout simplify the rapid creation of clean models on top of imported geometry.

Rendering and Shading: New photorealistic rendering capabilities include volumetric rendering, render booleans, hair and skin shaders, and rounded edge control for hard surface models. Cel, contour and halftone shaders offer enhanced non-photorealistic rendering opportunities.

3D Paint: The multi-purpose paint system in modo 601 is extended to paint, scale, erase and smooth vertex (weight) maps on meshes.

Rendering Workflow: The Preview Renderer can now be used for final image production as it will progressively render an image to the desired resolution at full quality. A comprehensive render pass system, plus new interactive image processing and comparison tools, speed image refinement.

Modeling: modo’s Pixar Subdivision surface modeling now includes the ability to crease individual vertices and control display resolution while rendering at full quality. Soft and lazy selection options enable rapid, yet precise isolation of model components while modeling.

“Throughout my 18 years in the 3D business, I've never seen a 3D software application become so powerful, so fast,” said Dan Ablan, President - AGA Digital Studios, Inc. “The additions to modo 601 are mind blowing, and the render boolean function, blobs, and new deformer tools are absolutely invaluable!”

"This is character animation done right,” said Greg Brown, beta tester and Sr. CGI Artist at Alter. “We've all been holding our breath for this one and it was definitely worth the wait.”

modo is an innovative 3D modeling, painting and rendering software designed to accelerate the creation of world-class designs and ultra high-quality renderings. modo’s modern workflow and advanced toolset easily deliver enhanced productivity for professionals working in design visualization, conceptual modeling, package design, and graphic arts. A favorite tool among designers and artists, modo’s flexible feature set is ideal for modeling and visualization on the PC and Mac.

For more information, visit: www.luxology.com/modo/601/tour/index.aspx

Friday, 02 March 2012 09:55

Startup Weekend Bay Area “Maker” Event

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As innovation around 3D printing technology continues to be a focus for both entrepreneurs and enterprise alike, Startup Weekend Bay Area (powered by the Kauffman Foundation) has announced the first of its kind “Maker” event where local area enthusiasts will collaborate to build products and gadgets using sensors, 3D printers, laser cutters, and 3D modeling.

The 54-hour “crash course in entrepreneurship” weekend will be hosted by Autodesk and TechShop, and will take place at the TechShop space: 926 Howard Street, San Francisco, California 94103, from Friday, March 2, 2012 to Sunday, March 4, 2012. Sponsors for the weekend event include: Inventables, Jameco, SparkFun and Maker Shed who all provided components, kits or other materials for the maker teams to work with.

“Over the past several years technology innovation has been focused on software, cloud, and mobile, which are non-tangible products and services,” said Ahmed Siddiqui, Startup Weekend Bay Area organizer. “With the popularity of Kickstarter, and the funding available to physical technology-related products, entrepreneurs now have the tools, resources and incentive to pursue these types of projects.”

"We are thrilled to be hosting the first Startup Weekend focused specifically on making physical objects," remarked Jim Newton, Founder of TechShop. "We feel there’s no more appropriate place than TechShop for this event to be taking place. Our mission is to engage, encourage and empower people by providing the tools of the next Industrial Revolution for anyone to build their dreams."

Added Samir Hanna, Vice President, Consumer Products, Autodesk: “The Maker revolution is in motion and Autodesk is thrilled to be partnering with TechShop and Startup Weekend to strengthen the movement through the first event geared towards making physical objects. Our mission is to unlock the creativity in everyone and bring 3D to the masses, and Startup Weekend provides the perfect opportunity for us to reach the community with this vision.”

Startup Weekend Bay Area, “SWBAY”, is an intense 54-hour event, which focuses on building a web or mobile application that could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. The weekend brings together developers, designers and entrepreneurs to build applications and develop a commercial case around them. With access to Silicon Valley’s best and brightest innovators, SWBAY offers a unique opportunity to connect and learn from leaders in the tech industry and provides an experiential education process for event participants.
 
For more information, visit: bayarea.startupweekend.org or www.startupweekend.org

Tecplot, Inc. released the 2012 version of Tecplot® Chorus™, the company’s simulation analytics tool. This latest release offers improved data loader support, case management, and advance data extraction features.

“When we released Tecplot Chorus in the fall of last year, it had been developed in close collaboration with a core group of customers from world renowned aerospace organizations in the government and private sectors” said Mike Peery, Tecplot, Inc. chairman. "This time is no different: the enhancements released today are the direct result of customer input.”

Tecplot Chorus enables engineers to manage CFD projects by bringing together results from simulation cases, derived quantities, and plot images in a single environment. An engineer using Tecplot Chorus can evaluate overall system performance and visually compare tens, hundreds, or thousands of simulation cases without writing scripts. It also allows them to analyze a single parameter over the entire project both visually and quantitatively. This gives engineers the ability to make decisions faster and with more confidence. Tecplot Chorus changes the post processing paradigm by pre-computing the plots, making downstream analysis faster. Currently, CFD engineers use a time-consuming combination of scripting and manual steps to do that work.

Enhancements in the 2012 version of Tecplot Chorus include:

  • Improved project setup and data loaders. Tecplot Chorus now opens data files in CGNS, Fluent, and PLOT3D formats directly in Tecplot 360 and can be configured to use other Tecplot 360 loaders. Users can also associate multiple data files with a given tag per case and can be opened in Tecplot 360 from Tecplot Chorus.

  • Case and data management. When appending data to a project, it is now possible to update existing cases or add duplicate case records in situations where the independent variables match. Users can now show and hide filters, and easily reset them to their defaults, using the Manage Filters dialog.

  • Plot and data extractions. Tecplot 360 macros can be specified when loading data or generating plot images or data; the macro runs after each case’s data is loaded and can be used in combination with a style template. Users can now designate selected cases as active or inactive and filter cases on this attribute using the variable case status.

  • Reporting. Plot Images viewed in Tecplot Chorus may now be copied to the clipboard. Multiple selected plot images may be exported to a folder in one operation. Exported plot images may include labels.

Tecplot Chorus is available on 64-bit versions of Windows 7, Vista, and XP, 64-bit Linux platforms, and can easily interface with SQL databases stored locally or on a server. In addition, the company offers engineering consulting services to help with deployment preconditioning the metadata.

For more information, visit: www.tecplot.com/chorus

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Charter High School hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony today celebrating the opening of its nearly $1 million cutting-edge science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classroom.

The event marks a special donation from Robert H. Graebe, an East St. Louis native, and his wife, Norma J. Graebe, who live in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The gift made the new state-of-the art facility—named the William Frederick Graebe Sr. STEM Learning Center—a reality.

The Learning Center features the latest technology, including a 70-inch multi-touch SMART interactive LCD board, 3D scanning and printing, and HD teleconferencing capabilities. It also includes a fabrication laboratory that allows users to design and create prototypes with moving parts that can be tested.

“This Center will provide the next generation of professionals with access to competency in the STEM disciplines, which are so critical for obtaining gainful employment in the global economy,” said SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift.

The ribbon cutting ceremony, which was sponsored by the Chancellor, the SIUE Office of the Provost, the SIUE Foundation and the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School, took place in Building B of the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus.

"The STEM Learning Center will ensure that our students are stronger in math, science and technology,” said Dr. Venessa Brown, SIUE associate provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and executive director of the East St. Louis Center. “This is their key to academic access and success.”

The gift is part of Defining Excellence: The Campaign for SIUE . The new center will be a “model, high-technology STEM classroom” to provide students access to the latest technology, equipment and curricula, and will support teachers in providing students with hands-on, “minds-on” science learning, said Sharon Locke, director of the Center for STEM Research, Education, and Outreach in the SIUE Graduate School.

Locke said the Learning Center, which is part of the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School, also will be used as a training facility for teachers throughout the region. “The Center will be designed to promote 21st Century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork and technology literacy,” Locke said, adding it should draw regional and national interest.

She also added that SIUE faculty, students in STEM disciplines and teacher candidates will work with the Charter School to support high quality STEM education and study the use of technology in the classroom and its broader impact.

“The investment goes far beyond the technology and equipment that will be put in place—it is also a commitment to the teachers who will teach the students,” Locke said. “Strong STEM education is one of the foundations for a vibrant regional economy.”

SIUE has existing programs in STEM in East St. Louis, such as the Upward Bound Math & Science program, which provides enrichment in science and mathematics for high school students from East St. Louis and nearby cities. Upward Bound includes a residential program at SIUE in the summer and Saturday programs during the school year.

The new Learning Center is part of SIUE’s strong commitment to STEM education in the greater St. Louis region. The University’s STEM initiatives provide students with a strong foundation to succeed in college.

SIUE’s Center for STEM Research, Education, and Outreach is a collaborative enterprise among several SIUE academic units: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Schools of Education, and Engineering, as well as local community colleges and school districts, regional offices of education, and the community at large. The Center’s mission is to develop, strengthen, and promote STEM research, education, and outreach in the region. The aim of the Center is to further enhance the teaching and learning of STEM education in pre-service and in-service teachers, and serve as a stimulus and resource for outreach activities.

SIUE offers all the benefits and resources of a large university and the personal attention of a small, private college. Our emphasis on undergraduate education, complemented by faculty research, creates practical applications for student learning. Located in the second most populated area of the state, this Illinois university draws students from all 102 Illinois counties, 46 states and 48 nations.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012 11:30

3D Printed Robotic Dinosaurs at Drexel University

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Researchers at Drexel University are bringing the latest technological advancements in 3-D printing to the study of ancient life. Using scale models of real fossils, for the first time, they will be able to test hypotheses about how dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals moved and lived in their environments.

“Technology in paleontology hasn't changed in about 150 years,” said Drexel paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn't changed -- until right now.”

3-D Printing Technology in Paleontology

Lacovara has begun creating 3-D scans of giant dinosaur bones and other fossils in his lab. The 3-D scan puts a virtual image in a digital workspace that researchers can manipulate and analyze. To bring these scans to life, Lacovara is also teaming up with mechanical engineer Dr. James Tangorra, an assistant professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, to use 3-D printing technology to create and test scale models of fossil bones.

A 3-D printer is a technology for rapid prototyping and manufacturing objects based on a digital design. Common models work by repeatedly extruding extremely thin layers of a resin or other material, building up strata to create a physical object.

“It’s kind of like Star Trek technology, where you can press a button and the object pops out,” Lacovara said. A six-inch model of a dinosaur bone can be printed in a few hours using current technology.

Using 3-D printing can aid paleontology in several ways:

  • To create exact-size replicas for museum display, without the limitation on the number of copies made and materials and storage hassles of traditional casting methods.
  • To create small-scale models for educational use.
  • To create small-scale models for modeling and testing hypotheses about the mechanics of how long-extinct animals moved and behaved.

This biologically-derived modeling to test possible movements of extinct species is the major focus of Lacovara and Tangorra’s collaboration.

Robotic Models to Test Mechanics of Dinosaur Movement

“We don’t know a lot about the way dinosaurs move,” Lacovara said. “How did they stand? How did they ambulate? Did they run or trot? How did they reproduce? It’s all a bit mysterious,” especially when it comes to the largest dinosaurs. Paleontologists’ current methods of understanding such mechanics rely heavily on guesswork and common sense about what types of movements seem possible. With new technology, researchers can begin testing their predictions for the first time.

Lacovara has been part of scientific teams unearthing some of the largest known giant sauropod dinosaur specimens, including the new species Paralititan stromeri found in Egypt in 2000, which is the second-most-massive known dinosaur species and a new giant from Patagonia. Such giant sauropod dinosaurs could reach weights of 60 to 80 tons, which is 12 to 14 times heavier than a large modern elephant.

When working with enormous dinosaur fossils, Lacovara said, it’s simply physically impossible to manipulate the bones to test theories about mechanics and movement. That’s why scaled-down replicas that preserve the exact shape and proportion of the bones can help. Researchers can also digitally reshape the models to correct for changes that may have occurred over millions of years of fossilization and compression.

Lacovara and Tangorra will work together to create robotic models of giant sauropod dinosaurs, attaching artificial muscles and tendons to perform comprehensive tests of how the animal’s body could have handled physical stresses of the environment.

This work is similar to Tangorra’s ongoing work modeling and manufacturing robotic fish. “We extract features from biological species and create software-based or robotic testing systems. It’s easier to test a biorobotic system than a biological system,” Tangorra said. This work relies on studies of the fish’s movements, biomechanics and fluid mechanics to ensure that the robot reflects the biological system. Tangorra noted that because the dinosaur species they are modeling are extinct, any robotic reconstructions will be more speculative.

Lacovara predicts that they will have a working robotic dinosaur limb constructed by the end of 2012. A complete robotic dinosaur replica will take one to two years to create.

“A Virtual Zoo of Cretaceous New Jersey”

In addition to constructing models of giant dinosaurs, the researchers will make 3-D models of some fossils found closer to home. A fossil dig site in Gloucester County, N.J., has yielded a large number of marine animal fossils from the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Lacovara and his students and collaborators from other institutions continue to excavate the site. Now they will begin producing 3-D models of the turtles, crocodilians, fish and other animals found at that site, for what Lacovara called “a virtual zoo of Cretaceous New Jersey.” A sample of their first reconstruction, of an ancient New Jersey crocodile, can be seen here: www.drexel.edu/now/features/archive/2011/November/Evan-Boucher-Dream-Job

See A Giant Dinosaur Bone and its 3-D Model in Philadelphia

A cast of the giant, 5.5-foot-long humerus bone of the Paralititan dinosaur is on display alongside a 1/10 scale 3-D printed model at the Franklin Institute as part of the Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs exhibit. The Franklin and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University are offering a “Giant Dinosaur Deal” combination ticket, available at the box offices of both museums through March 18, 2012.

Saelig Company, Inc. announces the availability of the Replicator™, an affordable, personal 3D printer offering 1- or 2-color “printing” of solid objects. The Replicator runs open-source 3D-printing code and is compact enough to fit on a desktop. Ready within minutes to start printing right out of the box, The Replicator fabricator turns raw feedstock, such ABS or PLA, into instant prototypes as large as a loaf of bread.

The Replicator is a precision-made parts fabricator, built with linear ball bearings and precision-ground 8 mm shafts, ideal for personalized manufacturing or prototyping, providing a new way to fabricate designs and variants quickly as large as 225 x145 x150 mm (8.9” x 5.7” x 5.9”). The Replicator is available with single or dual extruders, facilitating simultaneous two-color printing.   

The Replicator features a 4x20 character LCD panel and multi-directional control pad. The LCD screen provides build data as well as monitoring information, and full machine control is possible without the use of a computer. Using an SD Card slot or USB connection, model designs can be loaded and built directly from control pad commands. Professional engineers can now quickly fabricate solid objects using tools like AutoCAD and Solidworks producing STL or gcode files.  ReplicatorG software provided (Linux, Windows, and OSX compatible) enables rapid prototype production. Layer thickness may be selected from 0.2-0.3mm with the stock 0.4 mm nozzle, and parts are built at a speed of 40 mm/s, with positioning precision of 2.5 micron (Z axis) and 11 micron (XY axes).

Sized for almost any desktop (320 x 467 x 381 mm; 12.6” x 18.4” x 15”) The Replicator weighs 26/29lbs (single/dual). Made by Makerbot Industries.

For more information, visit: www.saelig.com/category/RO.htm

Tuesday, 14 February 2012 09:57

Instructables Make It Real Challenge

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This is your chance to win an Objet 3D Printer with a 6 month supply of 3D printing materials.  Ten first prize winners will receive an Up! 3D Printer.  Twenty runners-up will receive free 3D printing services.

To enter, post an Instructable that shows how to turn a virtual item into a tangible object. Examples include: 3D printed objects, laser-cut files, and even printed decals using an inkjet printer. So long as something in your project was designed using a computer and turned into a physical object, you are eligible to enter.

If you need software to help generate design files for your project check out all of the free software packages on 123D.

Anyone who shares the digital files that they create (using any software) in the 123D Gallery and posts a link to it in their Instructable will receive a free thank you gift from 123D (see details here) and then be eligible to win the special 123D Judges Prize.

One Grand Prize Winner will receive an Objet30 Desktop 3D Printer Bundle and a 6-month supply of build material for the printer. Winner will also receive an Instructables Prize Pack.

Ten First Prize winners will receive an Up! 3D Printer, and one 3D print of a print-ready 3D model of your choice within a 6" x 6" x 6" boundary (worth up to $1000).  Winners will also will receive an Instructables Prize Pack.

Judges Prize is eligible to those who share the digital files that they create (using any software) in the 123D Gallery. One winner will receive an Up! 3D Printer, and one 3D print of a print-ready 3D model of your choice within a 6" x 6" x 6" boundary (worth up to $1000). Winners will also receive an Instructables Prize Pack

Twenty Runner Up prize winners will receive one 3D print of a print-ready 3D model of your choice within a 6" x 6" x 6" boundary (worth up to $1000). Winners will also receive an Instructables Prize Pack.

Multiple entries are accepted, but each entrant can only win one prize. Contest is open to entries from US, Canada [excluding Quebec], UK and Australia. Contest closes for entries at 11:59pm PT, April 30, 2012.

For more information, visit: www.instructables.com/contest/makeitreal

ReverseEngineering.com announces the demonstration of their newest product, MESH SURFACE, to be shown at SolidWorks World 2012 in San Diego, California, at the San Diego Convention Center, February 12 through February 15, 2012 in Booth #404.

ReverseEngineering.com, a Certified SolidWorks Gold Partner reverse engineering plug-in, now supports non-contact measurement capabilities for Point Cloud to Mesh Surface for SolidWorks.

ReverseEngineering.com provides an easy to learn four-step workflow, for mesh surface creation:

1-Set Alignment, 2-Laser Scan, 3-Process Point Cloud, 4-Create Surface Mesh.

  •     Optimized dialog boxes allow for quick processing of large point clouds for profile extraction and surface mesh visualization.

  •     Process millions of points in seconds for parametric modeling in SolidWorks, while working direct in both SolidWorks Standard and SolidWorks Premium allowing for STL support.

  •     Transform and reduce large point clouds for SolidWorks to work with even after the data capture device is disconnected.

  •     Simplify the extraction of geometric entities on digitized models, accelerating the development of parametric wireframe, surface and solid models in SolidWorks.

ReverseEngineering.com 2012 has the ability to integrate with devices such as Faro EDGE , Romer Absolute , Microscribe, 3D Creator, Baces 3D, 3D Scanners, white light 3D digitizers, Faro and Leica laser trackers although the new Mesh Surface is not device or CAD reliant.

Established in 1996, ReverseEngineering.com is an industry leader in supplying indigenous bridging software for Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) systems, portable coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and other scanning devices.

ReverseEngineering.com software seamlessly bridges native CAD integration with 3D engineering applications, such as reverse engineering, inspection, and measurement.

Based out of La Jolla, CA, ReverseEngineering.com has dedicated to developing unprecedented CAD-integrated 3D reverse engineering solutions. The continuous growth of the product line is primarily attributed to user input and has led to the addition of new features that improve 3D digitizing processes.

For more information, visit: www.ReverseEngineering.com

Friday, 10 February 2012 11:25

Haas Automation Produces 125,000th CNC Machine

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In 1988, Haas Automation, Inc., America’s leading machine tool builder, achieved an industry milestone by introducing the first American-built vertical machining center (VMC) to sell for less than $50,000 – a price unheard of at the time. The Haas VF-1 quickly became the industry benchmark for affordable CNC technology.

Haas Automation is pleased to announce the company’s latest milestone: the production of the 125,000th Haas CNC machine tool. Machine number 125,000 – a 2012 VF-1 vertical machining center – came off the line January 26, and is bound for a customer in the Philippines.

The VF-1 is a fitting model for the 125,000th machine, as it is the model that began the Haas legacy nearly 25 years ago. A simple comparison of that first VF-1 to the modern version of the same machine proves how far Haas has come, and how much value a Haas machine provides.

When Haas introduced the VF-1 in 1988 at IMTS in Chicago, the suggested retail price was $49,900. Adjusting for inflation, that’s equivalent to about $94,880 in 2011 dollars.* The machine featured 20" x 16" x 20" travels, a 7.5-hp (peak) spindle motor, speeds to 5000 rpm, brush-style servomotors on all axes, 480-ipm rapids, a 16-tool ATC, and the Haas CNC control, which featured a whopping 128 K of program memory, and a maximum processing speed of 20 blocks per second. Additional options were essentially non-existent.

Today’s VF-1 is easily 10 times the machine as its 1988 namesake, yet its base price is only $45,995, or about $24,190 in 1988 dollars. The VF-1 still has travels of 20" x 16" x 20", but now features a 30-hp (peak) spindle with a high-performance vector drive, speeds to 8100 rpm standard, brushless servos on all axes, 1000-ipm rapids, a 20-tool ATC, and the Haas control, which now features 1 MB of program memory (8 times the 1988 figure) and provides processing speeds up to 1000 blocks per second (or 50 times faster than in 1988). And that’s the base model machine. A wide selection of high-productivity options is available to boost performance – and value – even further.

Haas Automation currently manufactures a complete line of CNC vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers, CNC lathes and rotary products. The company also builds a variety of specialty machines, including 5-axis machining centers, mold making machining centers, toolroom machines, and gantry routers.

All Haas products are built in the company’s 1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Southern California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets (HFOs) that provide the industry’s best sales, service and support.

*U.S. dollar equivalents calculated using inflation conversion factors published January 19, 2012, by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more information, visit: www.haascnc.com

Friday, 10 February 2012 13:10

Protecting Your Guitar from Wear

Written by

This article covers my concept and design process for creating a sound-hole guard for my acoustic guitar. The idea was to protect my guitar from damage and wear after long and repeated use of a pick while strumming.

Some time ago I decided to replace the pick guard on my vintage Guild acoustic guitar. I play it all the time, and it holds a lot of sentimental value for me. It was my very first guitar. I purchased it new back in 1982 in Northern California. After nearly 30 years of use, some minor maintenance and repairs were in order, including replacing the original pick guard. I removed the old pick guard, cut out a new pattern matching the old guard (using new acrylic plastic) and applied the new one on to my guitar. That’s when I decided something needed to be done in order to prevent any further damage to the lower portion of the sound-hole. I noticed over many years using a pick while that this area had eroded away considerably. Bare wood from the soundboard was now exposed and continuing to grow in length downward from the sound-hole edges. Depending on the guitar manufacturer, there is usually a gap between the edge of the sound-hole and the beginning of the pick guard, which runs concentric to the sound hole. Regardless, the edge of the sound-hole and soundboard on acoustic guitars are exposed and unprotected from damage, something where even moderate use can have long-term affects.

My initial concept was to develop a flat pattern that could be laid onto the soundboard with an overlapping piece that bent around to the back of the sound-hole. The development piece would have to have a pressure sensitive adhesive in order to adhere in place. I used a .020 thick piece of Mylar for the original pattern, but soon afterward came up with another concept that would act as a more permanent and stronger solution. That fix turned out amazingly well and is still on my guitar.

I designed a flat pattern out of .125 thick piece of polycarbonate, heat formed it around a fixture that duplicated the sound-hole/soundboard dimensions. This design acts as a clip that fits over the lower half of the sound-hole. I attached the prototype piece onto my guitar with some silicon rubber adhesive in order for it to stay in place. Although this prototype proved to prevent any further damage to the area, I felt I needed to refine the design by reducing the wall thickness (the prototype appeared to be too bulky) and to simplify the fit by eliminating the use of an adhesive.

Then I picked up a seat of SolidWorks so I could properly build and design 3D solid models. This was something I had been putting off and had wanted to do for quite a while. My guitar project prompted me to take some action. After familiarizing myself with the software, I decided to tackle the sound-hole guard project. My first design incorporated negative draft on the two walls to act as a clip to squeeze onto the soundboard. I also designed three concentric ridge features on the inner wall to act as teeth to bite onto the soundboard, preventing movement and eliminating the need for the adhesive.

After converting to my first .stl file, I was ready to shop for a prototype service that would build the part. I was a little disappointed in discovering the pricing structures I was looking at, as my part did not seem very intricate or big. Searching further, I found ZoomRP who’s pricing seemed reasonable. Plus they offered very fast turn-around times, and their on-line quoting system was convenient and almost immediate, within seconds after submitting the .stl file. I decided to go with the Poly Jet HD Blue process, which advertised the highest resolution, highest accuracy, and was specific to smaller prototypes.

When I received my first part, I was completely impressed by the accuracy and quality of the surface finish and to the details of the very small teeth on the inner wall. My part would allow me to test for fit and function on my guitar. The only problem I experienced was an interference issue, which I overlooked in the design process. The inside edge of the outer wall of the part was catching on the edge of the pick guard. This prevented it to seat properly. The dimension of the outer wall of the part was too close to the location of the edge of the pick guard. So I went back to solving this issue on SolidWorks.

I also felt it necessary to play around with wall thickness and draft. Thickness of .100 still seemed too thick and the fit also seemed too tight on the guitar. I did extend the front wall to fit over the pick guard and added a small radius extending the entire inner edge.

A couple of designs later I was finally able to fine tune all design concerns including the right amount of draft, wall thickness, overall length, and front wall length, (final part: pic-4, front view and back view). I now feel very comfortable that this piece will fit and offer protection on all acoustic guitars that have round sound-holes.

I now have a provisional patent, and plan to go forward with obtaining a final patent. I am sure my sound-hole guard product will catch on and appeal to all levels of musicians who can appreciate the need to protect their investment, whether sentimental or financial.

For information, visit: www.Strumhard.com or www.ZoomRP.com

Following several years of declines, manufacturing employment in Illinois rose a half percent over the past twelve months according to Manufacturers' News, Inc. MNI reports Illinois gained 3,496 industrial jobs between November 2010 and November 2011, the first time in over a decade that the 100-year-old company recorded a gain in manufacturing employment for the state.

Manufacturers' News reports Illinois is now home to 19,111 manufacturers employing 817,063 workers.

"We're finally starting to see positive numbers for Illinois," says Tom Dubin, President of the Evanston, IL-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. "Despite a high corporate tax rate, Illinois still boasts an educated workforce, easy access to capital, and a central location within the Midwest to do business. It's unlikely that manufacturing employment will ever return to the levels of ten years ago, but it's nice to see the uptick."

Bright spots for the state included Chrysler's recent announcement that it planned to hire 1,800 workers for its Belvidere assembly facility; the opening of a new Boeing plant in Mascoutah; the planned expansions of Caterpillar's facilities in Decatur and East Peoria; and Ford's plans to expand its Chicago-area plants. Excel Foundry & Machines recently announced the company would expand its Pekin factory; Continental Tire and Magnum Steel Works both plan expansions in Mount Vernon; and Italian pasta maker Pastificio will open a production facility in Bartlett.

MNI reports industrial machinery and equipment remains Illinois' largest industrial sector by employment with 129,114 jobs, up 871 jobs or a half percent. Second-ranked fabricated metals accounts for 94,089 jobs, with no significant change reported over the past twelve months, while third-ranked food products manufacturing accounts for 91,615 industrial jobs, down 1.6%.   

Industrial sectors that gained jobs over the year included transportation equipment, up 5.2%; instruments/related products, up 2.4%; rubber/plastics, up 1% and electronics, up a half percent. Losses were seen in lumber/wood, down 4.8%; printing/publishing, down 4.6%; furniture/fixtures, down 4.5%; stone/clay/glass, down 4.1%; paper products, down 4% and chemicals, down 1.9%.

Manufacturing locations closing down included Quad/Graphics' Mt. Morris site; the Chicago Sun-Times printing plant on Chicago's south side; Protein Solutions' meatpacking plant in Chicago; Honeywell's Safety Products establishment in Rock Island; Dehler Manufacturing's facility in Chicago; National Envelope's Elk Grove Village site; and Lifetime Doors, Inc.'s location in Watseka.

Manufacturers' News reports Northeast Illinois accounts for 70% of the state's industrial employment, with 568,929 jobs, up 2,047 jobs or less than one percent over the year. Cook County accounts for 301,209 of these jobs, down 1.4% over the past twelve months. The manufacturing employment picture improved significantly for some of the collar counties, with jobs in the region posting a net 3.1% gain. Industrial jobs were up 4.7% in DuPage County; rose 3.7% in Lake County; and increased 5% in Kane County. Will County saw no significant change in industrial employment, while McHenry County saw a 3.7% decline.

Northwest Illinois accounts for 71,735 jobs, down 1.4% over the past twelve months. East Central Illinois is home to 56,507 jobs, up 1.5%, while West Central Illinois accounts for 55,660 industrial jobs, with no significant change reported over the year. Employment in Southwest Illinois increased 3% and now accounts for 35,912 jobs, while industrial jobs in Southeast Illinois were also up 3% with the region currently home to 28,320 jobs.

MNI's city data shows manufacturing employment in Chicago was virtually unchanged over the year, with the city now home to 106,980 industrial jobs, down 932 jobs or less than one percent. Elk Grove Village accounts for the second most industrial employment in Illinois with 20,333 jobs, down 1.8% over the year. Third-ranked Rockford accounts for 19,291 jobs, with no significant change reported over the past twelve months, while Decatur is home to 11,358, virtually unchanged from a year ago. Fifth-ranked Elgin is home to 11,259 industrial workers, up 5.4%.

Detailed profiles of Illinois' 19,111 manufacturers can be found in the 2012 Illinois Manufacturers Directory, available in print for $209, or available online through MNI's subscription-based service at www.ezselect.com. Users may generate custom profiles of manufacturers using a variety of criteria, including area or zip code, county, SIC, sales volume, number of employees, and more. Each profile provides up to 30 facts, including vital contact information (phone, web, e-mail), 60,913 executives by name and title, product(s) manufactured, annual sales, and number of employees. MNI also maintains IndustryNet.com, an industrial search engine designed specifically for locating manufacturers and suppliers nationwide, and has recently launched an expansion and relocation guide for manufacturers.

For more information, visit: www.manufacturersnews.com

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