Thursday, September 3, 2015

Solidworks and Stratasys Combine to Create Fisher Unitech Lamp Post

Fisher Unitech participates in many different design and manufacturing trade shows throughout the
year. Needless to say to stand out to attendees we needed to do something that sets us apart from other participants, and our 3D printed lamp post helps us do just that. By utilizing both Solidworks for that CAD design along with Polyjet and FDM 3D printing technologies, Fisher Unitech was able to create a differentiating marketing piece that showcases multiple engineering technologies.

The lamp post which is about 8 feet tall was designed by Fisher Unitech 3D Printing Application Engineer Adam Kneller, who was given the task of designing something that would make attendees at a trade show stop and ask questions. To design the lamp post Adam started with a general design inside of Solidworks. The build had 3 major components the base, the post, and the lamp top. As Adam is an expert in 3D printing, he was able to design the lamp post, utilizing self-supporting angles, so that it would be best suited for the 3D printer by reducing not only support material required but also shortening build time.

Once the design had gone through about 5 hours of iterations and subtle adjustments, it was time to send the design to the printers. The lamp post, which was made up of 12 Fused Deposition Modeling Parts and 4 Polyjet Parts was printed in the Fisher Unitech Troy, MI office using our Objet 500 Connex 3 and Fortus 450 machine using ABS-M30 material. These machines were used based on build size and color availability, particularly the Connex 3 technology allows us to blend polyjet materials to get vivid or clear colors.


Once these parts were printed it was simple to assemble the tongue and grove joint design of the post sections, add some wiring for the light, and plug in the post. Fisher Unitech unveiled this project at the Big M in Detroit last June and those in attendance were blow away by the detail of the post, most not even realizing it was a 3D printed part. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fisher Unitech Expands 3D Printing to West Virginia

FISHER/UNITECH announced today its recent authorization to expand its 3D printing sales territory into West Virginia. The company, an engineering solutions provider and Stratasys partner for nearly 18 years, supplies both Polyjet and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) professional 3D printers to design and manufacturing industries. For the past several years, FISHER/UNITECH has been one of the world’s top resellers for Stratasys Corporation.

 “West Virginia is an exciting new frontier for us!  This is an area with high industry growth in both aerospace and automotive.” Says Fisher Unitech 3D Printing Services Manager Nick Licari. “We hope to partner with these companies to use our experience with additive manufacturing to help expedite this growth.”

FISHER/UNITECH has four 3D printing centers and fourteen local offices to support benchmarks, part- building services, and advanced training throughout the Midwest.  Each center is equipped with systems for both 3D Printing and 3D Production manufacturing applications, with the ability to print parts using all available Stratasys materials.  FISHER/UNITECH has increased its commitment to 3D printing in recent years with an expanded sales, service, and support team that focuses solely on Stratasys solutions.  Each of the company's 14 offices house equipment for localized printing, demonstrations, and training.  FISHER/UNITECH is now proud to offer these same services and solutions throughout West Virginia.

3D Printing has become a necessary component of the overall product development lifecycle. Design and manufacturing teams can test form, fit, and function, while accelerating time to market. 3D Printing enhances collaboration between different departments and allows for better communication.  In recent years, 3D Production has become what the manufacturing and design industry would call a disruptive technology, changing the way traditional manufacturing is done. Across the board, all manufacturing industries are utilizing 3D printing to produce high quality parts in a more time and cost- effective manner, in comparison to traditional processes.
Click here to learn more about 3D Printing 




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3D Printing Creating a Better Shoe

To build a great quality product, you have to understand your customer's needs, innovate, design, test, and design again before having a product that is ready for market. These challenges are no different for the shoe industry, so it's not too hard to find the impact 3D printing is having on the advancement of shoe technology.

Massive shoe companies such as Nike and Adidas are utilizing 3D printing in ways that help them better understand their customers, get products to market faster, and improve on functional design. Adidas has been using 3D printing for years to address challenges for shortening production and development time, which in turn has sped up their time to market for new products. According to Adidas, the ability to print models made from multiple PolyJet 3D printing materials enables them the ability to do functional testing in the early stages of the design and development. This generates time savings and a competitive edge. Prior to 3D printing, Adidas prototypes were made by hand and took a long time to create. With 3D printing, designs can be knocked out in a matter of hours.

Nike has started to take functional testing using 3D printing to the race track. Working with Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson and his Performance team, Nike started printing and testing football cleats like the Vapor Laser Talon. The ability to create a shoe that improves an athlete's speed and traction can be the difference between a wide receiver catching up to an over thrown pass or a linebacker tracking down a running back. 

"Nike's new 3D printed plate is contoured to allow football athletes to maintain their drive position longer and more efficiently, helping them accelerate faster through the critical first 10 yards of a 40 yard sprint," said Johnson. "Translated to the game of football, mastering the Zero Step can mean the difference between a defensive lineman sacking the quarterback or getting blocked." 3D printing technology is allowing Nike to design cleat plates in ways that previously were not possible with traditional manufacturing.

Recently Wiivv Wearables Inc. received a substantial investment from Evonik Industries to start producing 3D printed insoles. Wivv aims to start producing insoles that are specific to a customer's anatomy by utilizing electric sensors to map out a customer's foot. "Wiivv's business is an ideal match for Evonik," said Dr. Bernhard Mohr, head of Venture Capital at Evonik. "Through our investment in Wiivv, we're supporting the market launch of one of the first individualized mass-produced articles to be manufactured by 3-D printing. This also gives Evonik access to the highly innovative growth market for wearables," added Mohr.

There is no question that in the future, the shoes we wear out on the town or in the gym will see improvements in comfort, style, and functionality with the innovation 3D printing allows.


Click Here to learn more about 3D printing at our website.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Look at SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer

Design Intent, Design Intent, Design Intent! Whether you are a power user of SOLIDWORKS or have recently taken an Essentials course, you know how important it is to model defining the design intent of your part or assembly. We all know it builds intelligence into our model, making design changes quick and easy. To take advantage of the parametric modeling functionality that SOLIDWORKS offers us, we need to know the design intent of the part that we are designing.


conceptual designer.PNGWhat if the design intent is not known yet? During the conceptual stage of the design process, the design intent may not be known, and the parametric modeling functionality that builds intelligence into our design may be a hindrance. At this stage in the design process, the need is to get the ideas down on paper… like a napkin sketch! However, more than a napkin sketch, we want to capture the ideas with a trackable history, be able to share the ideas with necessary involved parties, and maybe even analyze the movement of mechanisms.


SOLIDWORKS has answered this need with a new product, SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer, built on the new 3DExperience Platform.


Conceptual Designer is a new cloud-based modeling software that allows a concept to be developed in a single modeling environment using direct editing techniques. These two aspects make Conceptual Designer very different than the desktop SOLIDWORKS. It also allows the conceptual process to happen fluidly without worrying about design intent in this early stage of product design. You can even take a look at how moving mechanisms might interact, and perform a motion analysis on the concept design. Below are images of a mechanism I developed. I have added some static images as well as a video analyzing the movement.


position 2.PNGconceptual designer 1.PNG motion study.PNG



Single Modeling Environment:
There are no parts or assemblies in Conceptual Designer. There is one modeling environment where the ideas are to be sketched out. Think about if you were sketching the idea you are trying to capture on a piece of paper. You are quickly drawing the outline of the part or components and how they might interact together. All of this is done on one piece of paper, or one environment. Now instead of a napkin sketch, you are doing a similar process using Conceptual Designer. One modeling environment, quickly sketching the outlines of the different components and analyzing how they might interact together, without having to create different parts and an assembly.


Direct Editing
Direct Editing is the opposite practice of parametric modeling. Parametric modeling in SOLIDWORKS allows you to define design intent by relating different features or geometry to each other using sketch relations, dimensions, and equations. Using direct editing techniques allows a user to easily manipulate different geometry without worrying about the design intent. A user can push and pull on the geometry to adjust the size and shape. This allows for quick changes of the geometry without worrying about features and parent/child relationships.


Even though the purpose of Conceptual Designer is different than SOLIDWORKS desktop, the sketch tools are very similar to what we already know how to use.


sketch.PNG


Once you have a concept created, you can share that data using the 3DExperience Platform. In my next blog post, I will explore the 3DExperience Platform, and how you can share the data you created using Conceptual Designer.


fnished.PNG

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What sets a Professional 3D Printer Apart From a Hobby 3D Printer?

There is no question that 3D printing has been gaining enormous amounts of traction in pop culture and the mainstream media. According to a recent Wohlers Report on 3D printing revenue growth, 3D printing sales could grow to $21 billion by 2020. What may not be as well-known by 3D printing enthusiasts, however, is what differentiates a professional 3D printer from a hobbyist 3D printer. Companies like GE, Ford, Boeing, and Microsoft are usually using different printers than students working in design classes at local high schools. The needs and requirements of the design and manufacturing industry require professional printers to be bigger, faster, and have more precision and reliability than personal machines currently offer.

A hobbyist 3D printer, such as a MakerBot, is great for home users, students just learning about 3D printing, and sometimes users who are just looking to dip a toe into the waters. These machines' price points can range from $1,375 for the Replicator Mini to $6,499 for the Replicator Z18 and use Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) to layer plastic repeatedly to create a part. Hobbyist printers are limited in features such as build size, material options, resolution or precision, and heat controls. However, the needs of students and 3D printing enthusiasts may not be as particular as those of manufacturing professionals. What makes a MakerBot type of 3D printer great for students and home users is a more accessible starting price point that will still provide the user with a quality printed part and a fairly intuitive interface.

Professional 3D printers, on the other hand, bring a far wider range of features that manufacturers and designers not only want but need in order to create accurate prototypes or parts that will be brought to market. There are many different 3D printing technologies available, but the main features that set professional printers apart from their smaller counterparts include things like accuracy, repeatability, soluble supports, material options, warp reduction, and safety. 

For example, a Stratasys Fortus450mc printer uses the same basic FDM technologies as the Makerbot, but comes at a far higher price range. However, Fortus users get features including (but not limited to) a heated build chamber to reduce warping, a wide range of common industry compatible materials, higher resolution capabilities, and a build tray that is well over double the size of a MakerBot's. For a company like John Deere, printing a large tractor part that their design team is working on and quickly validating its shape, size, and functionality is crucial to making sure projects stay on time and budget. This kind of work simply can't be done on a hobbyist printer.

Are you trying to decide between a personal and professional 3D printer? Ask yourself what your particular needs are and what kind of return you're looking to get out of your 3D printer. Both hobbyist and professional printers are valuable tools, but they do have very different capabilities.

If you could use a hand deciding which 3D printer is your best fit, our team is always available. Contact us by clicking here and one of our team members will help you out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fisher Unitech to Host 3D Printing Workshops Throughout the Midwest

Want to come inside and cool off while learning about 3D printing? We will be hosting a series of professional 3D printing workshops throughout the Midwest this summer. Our hopes are to educate participants to the value 3D printing adds to the design and manufacturing industries and encourage discussion about specific questions attendees may have.

This event will showcase both Stratasys PolyJet and FDM 3D printing capabilities. Our machines will be up and running so participants can better understand how these printers work, and we will have a wide array of example parts on hand to show the many different applications 3D printing is being used for. We understand that no two manufacturing issues are exactly the same, so we will have our sales and applications engineers on hand and ready to discuss with you any specific questions you and your company may have.

ITINERARY
These workshops run from 10:30am to 1:00pm local time

- Welcome/Overview for the Day
- 3D Printing Technology and Applications Overview
   Detailing the differences between PolyJet and FDM technologies
- Lunch
- Example Part Discussion
   Time to view sample parts, check out machines, and talk with experts about 3D solving your current design problems
- Q&A Wrap Up


Monday, July 20, 2015

Fisher Unitech Now Offering the Makerbot 3D Printer Series

Fisher Unitech, LLC, a leading reseller of 3D printing and engineering software and services, recently announced its expansion into the hobbyist 3D printing market with the addition of Makerbot to its product portfolio. Fisher Unitech has been one of the top Stratasys professional 3D printing resellers in the world for over 18 years, and the addition of Makerbot greatly expands the types of individuals they are able to assist.

"We are excited to start offering MakerBot printers," said Nick Licari, 3D Printing Services Manager at Fisher Unitech. "The addition of the MakerBot line really completes the range of 3D printing products we can provide and opens up an avenue for us to help those looking to break into 3D printing without breaking the bank."

MakerBot 3D printers are desktop accessible printers that utilize Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology to extrude plastic that builds layers upon layers of material until a part is complete. The MakerBot printer line provides excellent portability and is easy to use. For those reasons, these printers have been widely adopted in smaller office settings, in the classroom, and in consumers' homes. Fisher Unitech will be offering the MakerBot 3D printers themselves as well as the PLA filament that they utilize.

The Makerbots being offered can be found on Fisher Unitech's website at www.funtech.com/e-Store/MakerBot.

About Fisher Unitech (www.funtech.com)
Fisher Unitech, established in 1993, provides advanced technology solutions to discrete manufacturing companies. The company's mission is to help companies manufacture innovations that will change the world. The technology applications offered focus on design, engineering, 3D Printing and additive manufacturing. Professional services are offered for design automation and data management which provides customers with a full service, one-stop source for complex PLM systems. The company offers advanced web-based delivery of education programs with its interactive, instructor-led 3DU. Please visit the company's website at (http://www.funtech.com) or call 800-816-8314.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Model Visualization - Part 4: Stereoscopic 3D, Augmented Reality, and The Future

If you missed the first three parts of this series, they can be found here:
Part 1: Orientation
Part 2: Perspective
Part 3: Camera

For the visualization of models, we've covered Orientation, Perspective, and SOLIDWORKS' Camera tools. After perspective and camera trickery, we start to get into newer technologies for visualization.

Leading the way for viewing technology in SOLIDWORKS is the viewer: eDrawings. eDrawings supports both Stereoscopic 3D viewing of models and Augmented Reality.

To utilize the stereoscopic 3D features in eDrawings, you must have a 3D monitor, 3D glasses (they usually come with the monitor), and a supported graphics card.

To find supported graphics cards, go to http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.html and look for graphics cards with the icon to the right next to them.

eDrawings supports both passive and active stereoscopic 3D. This just depends on the hardware you are using along with eDrawings.

Before opening a file, go to Tools > Options and turn on "3D Stereo Viewing." This is also the location where you can tweak the stereo separation (How far the left eye images and the right eye images are from each other).


(Click to Enlarge)

Early in 2013, SOLIDWORKS updated their mobile eDrawings application with the ability to use QR codes for augmented reality (iOS only). Augmented reality is the process of superimposing additional data into a user's view of the world. Usually an accelerometer or gyroscope is needed, as well as a camera, to get this effect. Luckily most smartphones and tables have all of these in one compact device.

Here's a quick tutorial to show you how to view your CAD models in a live, real world environment.




Now, let's look forward. If you've checked out new technology like Microsoft's Hololens, you saw how far design and our design tools can go. I have been semi-obsessed with this idea since seeing 2008's Iron Man, where Tony Stark interacts with repulsor design before a prototype is ever made.

(Click to Enlarge)

What tools and technologies do you think we'll be using to design in 3, 5, 10 years?

I hope you have enjoyed this four part blog on how we view the models we create and you are excited about how technology will change the way we design and the tools we use to do so.


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, July 7, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Wave Washers Using Equation Driven Curves in 3D

How model a Spring Washer using an Equation Driven 3D Curve

If you've ever tried to model a Spring Washer (aka Wave Washer) and thought, "There has to be an easier way!" then here is a technique you might enjoy. SOLIDWORKS has the capability to create a 3D Sketch that is controlled by an equation, and with the proper inputs, you can use that sketch entity to model a wave washer similar to the images you see to the right.

The basic idea is a loft between two equation driven curves. To add some more detail to that, we start as a surface loft because we have open profiles, Thicken to make it a solid, then mirror to create the full shape.

The feature tree will look like this:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

We're Giving Away a 3Dconnexion 3D Mouse EVERY QUARTER

Have you ever wanted to smooooooth out your zoom and rotate movements in SOLIDWORKS?
Have you ever wanted to speed up your modeling?
Have you ever tried a 3D mouse?


Now's your chance!  

-Take the survey at the end of the course
-You're entered to win a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse!

Fisher Unitech's Training Team is giving away a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse EVERY QUARTER!  Every time you take a training course, fill out the survey at the end of the course and you'll be entered into the drawing.

This quarter (Jul-Sep), we are giving away:
The 3Dconnexion SpacePilot Pro - a $399 value


Learn more about 3D mice on our website, check out the product guide, and follow the 3Dconnexion link on our page for more info:  http://www.funtech.com/Products/3Dconnexion

Sign up for a Fisher Unitech training class here: http://www.funtech.com/Training/Find-SolidWorks-Courses-by-Product