Wednesday, October 29, 2014

3D Printing a Hit at American Manufacturing Trade Show

The Advanced Manufacturing Trade Show (AMTS) gives those in attendance the opportunity to learn about the latest cutting-edge technologies being used in the manufacturing industry, and this year's show in Dayton, Ohio was no exception. With many different vendors exhibiting at AMTS, there was no question that one of the most interesting technologies showcased this year was additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing allows companies the ability to 3D print parts in a fast and cost effective manner.

Having been a a leading reseller of Stratasys 3D printers for over 15 years, we found that the buzz over additive manufacturing was at the forefront of AMTS as our booth was very well attended. Attendees who met with us at the show ranged from part designers to manufacturers, all of whom recognize the need to utilize 3D printing in everything from concept modeling all the way to functional prototypes. Our booth gave participants a great opportunity to witness 3D printing on both PolyJet and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) machines in action, along with being able to touch and feel the 3D printed parts the machines had created. 

AMTS also featured a presentation by our own Vice President of Rapid Technology Solutions Joe Rocca and Statasys Territory Manager Michael Wegman. Rocca and Wegman discussed the wide range of benefits that Stratasys additive manufacturing brings to the industry and how 3D printing is being used by the manufacturing industry to optimize better products.

Highlights of the presentation included Rocca giving a breakdown of the history and current state of Stratasys additive manufacturing. Also, Wegman enlightened those in attendance on some of the new developments users can expect from Stratasys in the future along with how the company plans on growing in a way that keeps the needs of their customers in mind. "This year’s show was great for us" said Rocca. "It was very well attended and we were able to get a lot of great exposure for the Stratasys product line FISHER/UNITECH offers."

Friday, October 24, 2014

SIMULATION TECH TIP: Meshing with Solid Elements in SOLIDWORKS Simulation

Figure 1: SOLIDWORKS Simulation Tetrahedron Mesh on a Part
Meshing is one of the most recognizable tools that we use in simulation. We often look at components that have been meshed and see a map of triangles (tetrahedron elements) that are used to provide us with analytical results. But, what exactly is a "mesh?" Specifically in SOLIDWORKS Simulation, what does the mesh consist of? How is it used to provide us with all of these simulation results we see? I want to give a brief overview of the anatomy of the mesh, how it calculates results, and explain the pros and cons of the different element types.

Figure 2: Solid Elements in SOLIDWORKS Simulation


The mesh is broken down into two main areas: elements and nodes. The element is the overall "triangular" shape that you see throughout the model in Figure 1. Nodes are a part of the element, and is best shown by Figure 2, where nodes are called out by the red points. Figure 2 shows the two types of solid elements we can use in SOLIDWORKS Simulation. The left part of the image shows the draft quality mesh, which is a 4-node tet (tetrahedron) element. The right of the image shows our higher order 10-node tet element. When we run a finite element analysis, we are essentially calculating deflections for the nodes in our elements. Overall, the goal is to typically calculate stress and strain values, which is a derivative of the displacement. The following equation is run by the computer to calculate deflection values:


Figure 3: Finite Element Stiffness Equation


Figure 3 shows the equation that is used to calculate the deflections in our FEA models. "K" is the stiffness matrix, "U" is the displacement, and "F" is force. When we rearrange the equation, we set the output to be the deflection, "U," where "U" is a function of the stiffness. The stiffness is what makes all the difference between the draft quality element and the default, higher-order element type. Due to the lack of nodes for the draft quality element (4-node tet), the overall stiffness of that element is amplified, and less likely to give more accurate results relative to the higher-order element for stress values. If you are running a final analysis, always use the higher-order elements. However, draft quality elements do help out if you want to run a quick analysis to ensure that you have working FEA model. Due to the smaller number of nodes, there is less calculation and therefore you receive results much faster. Once you've run a "draft" run with draft quality elements, go over to the property manager and uncheck the box for draft quality elements.



For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Meshing Tips and Tools for Better Results (Part 2)

Part 1 - Part 2

Since I am always being asked what makes a good mesh, I decided once again to blog about a list I put together a while ago. This was a general list, in no particular order, of things you can do, things you can use, and things you can look for in creating a mesh. And knowing you have a good mesh, you can feel better about the results you are getting. This is part 2 in the series and will discuss a couple of advanced options.

Node Plot vs. Element Plot
Have you ever wondered what those advanced options are for in your Stress Plot Property Manager? There are two advanced options that we find when we are creating or editing the definition of a stress plot. You can see them below, labeled Node Values and Element Values, and they provide some pretty different-looking results.




Node Values                                                         Element Values

The stress plot that displays Nodal Values appears smooth, while the stress plot that displays Element Values appears rough. To understand these different appearances, let's explain the differences between nodal and element stresses.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Migration from Windows to Enterprise PDM Part 2: Fix Those References

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Many companies have several projects stored in their Windows file system prior to an Enterprise Product Data Manager (EPDM) implementation. While it is ideal to leave older projects within the old filing system, it is sometimes important to integrate them into the new PDM system for future use. This is the second of a three part blog series entitled Migration from Windows to Enterprise PDM.

It is recommended that you implement in a test vault prior to executing on your production vault. Some instructions are intended for migrating large amounts of data at once. If you are only moving a few documents into the vault, it is still applicable but some steps may not be necessary.

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When migrating from Windows, some files may be missing references, contain cyclic references, point to duplicate files, or point to locations outside of the vault. Don't worry! They can be fixed!

Update References Wizard

A little known, but extremely useful, part of Enterprise PDM is the Update References Wizard. It will allow you to redirect, replace, add, or repair references. The tool can be accessed by selecting the parent file in Windows Explorer and selecting Tools > Update References. The sections below will explain how each tool works.

TIP: It is important to fix warnings BEFORE checking in for the first time. If you ignore the warnings and check it in, the Update References Wizard will NOT show them.


Redirecting References

This tool is useful when you have the warning File Not Found or if you just want to redirect a reference to another file of the same name.

  1. Choose the reference you wish to redirect and press Find Files.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Meshing Tips and Tools for Better Results (Part 1)

Since I am always being asked "what makes a good mesh?" I decided once again to blog about a list I put together a while ago. This was a general list, in no particular order, of things you can do, things you can use, and things you can look for, in creating a mesh.  And knowing you have a good mesh, you can feel better about the results you are getting. This is part 1 in the series, and will discuss spotty results and number of elements.

Spotty Results
The first thing you can do, and definitely the easiest, is to do a visual inspection of the results and ask yourself “Do they look spotty?” In the simple L-Bracket below, you can see how inconsistent the results are in the area of the fillet where we are seeing our high stresses. This erratic behavior across the length of the fillet is a good indication that your mesh is too coarse. Simply refine (make your mesh smaller) and rerun.


Below, you will see the same L-Bracket with a better mesh showing more uniform results across the length of the fillet.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Migration from Windows to Enterprise PDM - Part 1: High Performance Migration

Many companies have several projects stored in their Windows file system prior to an Enterprise Product Data Manager (EPDM) implementation. While it is ideal to leave older projects within the old filing system, it is sometimes important to integrate them into the new PDM system for future use. This is the first of a three part blog series entitled Migration from Windows to Enterprise PDM.
It is recommended that you implement in a test vault prior to executing on your production vault. Some instructions are intended for migrating large amounts of data at once. If you are only moving a few documents into the vault, it is still applicable but some steps may not be necessary.

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Prepare the Source Data


  1. If possible, update all the files to the latest version supported by your EPDM version. This especially applies to CAD files for which EPDM has plugins (SOLIDWORKS, AutoCAD, Inventor). SOLIDWORKS Task Scheduler can bulk upgrade SOLIDWORKS files. AutoCAD has a similar utility. Outdated versions of CAD files can have trouble successfully migrating into an Enterprise PDM vault. They can also be the source of performance issues in SOLIDWORKS as well as Enterprise PDM.
  2. Ensure against excessively long filepaths or invalid characters. Windows can handle up to 255 characters for a full file path, but it is recommended to keep it well below that.


    Prepare the Vault

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    SOLIDWORKS 2015 FEATURE: What products are you entitled to?

    Today while doing some research for a presentation, I stumbled across one of the new features of SOLIDWORKS 2015 that was not highlighted in the "What's New in SOLIDWORKS 2015" presentations.

    Each year, SOLIDWORKS introduces a plethora of new features, some of which are highlighted, while others quietly sneak in the back door unnoticed. I found one of the latter today on the task pane within the SOLIDWORKS user interface.

    Click the "My Products" Link in the Task Pane under SOLIDWORKS Tools and SOLIDWORKS will display a list of products that your license entitles you to.

    If you would like to see more new features in SOLIDWORKS 2015, please register for one of our DESIGN EXCELLENCE FORUMS near your local office.

    In addition to the What's New Presentation in the morning, there are technical tracks in the afternoon, two of which I will be presenting:
    "25 Things you Didn't Know SOLIDWORKS Could Do" and "A First Look at SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual."

    The SOLIDWORKS session is designed to showcase features in SOLIDWORKS that will increase your daily productivity and recap some of the top enhancements of 2014. The SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual presentation will be first look at the 3DExperience Platform showcasing the abilities of SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual.

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    I'm Coming to a City Near you in October - Simulation @ Design Excellence Forum

    It's that time of year to learn about what's new in SOLIDWORKS 2015. FISHER/UNITECH has taken rollout events to the next level with our "Design Excellence Forum;" in addition to what's new, there are educational seminars and plenty of time to visit one-on-one. That's my favorite part of these events: getting to meet our users! With events being held close to all of our local offices, you can easily find a Design Excellence Forum near you.

    There will be three Simulation-specific seminars that prospective and/or seasoned Simulation users will find value in attending. We will be covering a broad range of simulation tools, from SimXpress to plastics Injection molding simulation and CFD.



    At 1:00 pm local time: 
    ROOM A: "Keeping Real World Simulation Simple"

    At 2:00 pm local time: 
    ROOM C: "10 Things You Should Know When Engineering Plastic Parts"

    At 3:00 pm local time:
    ROOM C: "SOLIDWORKS Simulation: Going Beyond Linear Static FEA"

    I'm looking forward to meeting everyone at the Design Excellence Forum! Click the image below to find out local dates and times and to secure a spot.  If you would like to meet up personally, feel free to send me an email directly at droccaforte@funtech.com.


    Friday, September 26, 2014

    SOLIDWORKS Executives Added to Second Annual Design Excellence Forum

    SOLIDWORKS Leaders Join FISHER/UNITECH as Keynote Speakers at Design Excellence Forum

    FISHER/UNITECH, a leading provider of SOLIDWORKS® 3D design software and Stratasys 3D Printers, just announced SOLIDWORKS executives will kick off the second annual Design Excellence Forum – a provocative event scheduled in 11 cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast.   Ken Clayton, VP Worldwide Sales; Paul Adams, VP of Technical Sales; Paul Giaconia, VP of Corporate Accounts; Gary Krauter, Territory Sales Senior Manager; Kurtis Anliker, Director of Technical Sales; and Mark Martel, Area Technical Director will be the keynote speakers featured at some of these events.

    This year's Design Excellence Forum will offer several seminars showing how to leverage today's most innovative technologies to achieve excellence in design and manufacturing.  The Forum promises to cover many stellar topics: 3D mechanical CAD enhancements; conceptual design with cloud-based collaboration; unified electronic design; improved simulation techniques; advanced 3D printing for product development; data management; and the latest for technical communication.  This event also features a reveal of the new SOLIDWORKS 2015 software. This roadshow will begin on October 1st in Kansas and travel throughout the Midwest and East Coast during the month of October. 

    "We truly appreciate the great partnership that we have with SOLIDWORKS as demonstrated by these keynote speakers. Our Design Excellence Forum will give end-users and executives alike a viewpoint of how today's most innovative technologies are being used by manufacturers to compete in the global economy," said Charlie Hess, CEO at FISHER/UNITECH.

    This forum offers management the opportunity to stay involved and up to speed on the latest and greatest manufacturing and product design technologies in the industry.

    Executives are invited to discover methods of optimizing design for additive manufacturing, improving product development efficiency through data management, leveraging electronic design automation, and learning how design validation improves product quality.  These solutions are sure to expedite manufacturing processes and make companies highly competitive.  SOLIDWORKS users can expect to be exposed to rich content that will enhance productivity and grow their skillset.  Lastly, SOLIDWORKS executives will be available onsite to discuss the future of Dassault Systemes.  

    The Design Excellence Forum is completely complimentary and all are welcomed to attend.  Registration is required. For more information on the agenda, locations and dates please visit http://www.funtech.com/Events/Design-Excellence-Forum.  This event is sponsored by HP, Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS, and Stratasys. 

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    So You're Planning Your 2015 Enterprise PDM Upgrade...

    You'll love the new features in Enterprise PDM 2015.  Here are some important things that we know so far.

    There are some important changes for Enterprise PDM now that its licenses will be served by the SolidNetWork License (SNL) Manager software in 2015.

    We don't have all of the answers quite yet, but here are some things to get the wheels turning, and we'll be sure to post again just as soon as sp0 is finalized.

    First thing: You'll need your serial number now. It's that 16 or 24 digit number that you received the day your license purchase went through, however many years ago, and that you could not ever find within the Enterprise or SQL interface after that.


    Here's what you do:



    Which will result in: