Quickies: CFD, chocolate, collaborating & manufacturing — oh my!

news headlinesSome headlines to get your week going, if you had yesterday off for the MLK remembrance. Of course, if you’re somewhere else in the world, you’re already well into your week, but let’s get you caught up anyway:

I’ve written a lot about the Internet of Things, most recently when Google acquired Nest, the home thermostat/smoke detector maker. At the time, the Financial Times quoted Nest as saying that they would not aggregate home data with whatever else Google might learn about our habits online. According to Ars Technica, on Monday Nest CEO Tony Fadell qualified that earlier statement, saying that future privacy policy changes will fall under Google’s opt-in policies. Ars Technica raises some interesting questions about how it will affect current and future Nest customers.

I’m a big fan of Labs, teams within some software developers that work with users define and refine potential products. Not all ideas from the Labs turn into released offerings, but those that do are generally high quality and ready for prime time. Last week, Autodesk pushed Project Falcon out of the nest as Autodesk Flow Design, software to simulate (you guessed it) airflow around objects in a virtual wind tunnel. According to Autodesk, “Users without [a] simulation background can begin seeing and understanding airflow behavior around their model within seconds of starting the application.” If it truly is that easy, Inventor and Revit users will be able to assess the impact of their design decisions (from within their apps; others will use a standalone interface) as they refine their models. More info and cool images here.

In an interesting juxtaposition, John Chawner of Pointwise recently wrote about a survey which found that “58% of engineers aren’t prepared for running CFD. Keeping in mind the difference between understanding fluid dynamics and running a CFD code, and acknowledging that CFD codes are getting easier to run every day the data indicates that engineers still find CFD daunting. The core question is “Why?” ” He’s absolutely right — and I have to add, “Still?” Educators are teaching analysis-based design (or at least exposing students to the concept) and codes are more accessible than ever with trial downloads, open source and Labs-like efforts. Too, the Interwebs are awash in tutorials … If anything, more people should be gaining familiarity and comfort with CFD. Why are we still so tentative? And if 40% of engineers feel unqualified to run CFD, how many designers are ready for Project Falcon?

Switching gears …

We’ve all been watching SpaceClaim to see what the company, most known for direct modeling software, would do next. They didn’t disappoint, announcing Connect, a live 3D-collaboration utility. It works the way you do: in the middle of something, need to chat, send an email, resolve the problem. With Connect, you start a shared session, which generates an email link that you send to your collaborator(s). They click on the link and and enter your SpaceClaim session. There’s more in a YouTube video, here. I am told the company is looking for more Beta testers; if you want to get involved, go here.

Chocolate? Yes, please. 3D Systems made a boatload of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show (here they are), but one caught my eye more than the rest: the company is partnering with Hershey’s chocolates to use 3D printing to create edible stuff — like chocolates. William Papa, Vice President and Chief Research and Development Officer, The Hershey Company is quoted in the release as saying, “whether it’s creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future.” A whole new form of candy? Oooh.

Seriously, though, 3D Systems last year bought a company that 3D printed sugar-based things like sculptures and cake toppers. Why not chocolate? The world may not need more candy, but it sure is a great way to capture people’s imaginations around 3D printing.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about a resurgence in manufacturing and about what’s happening here in America. On Friday, Helmuth Ludwig, CEO Siemens Industry Sector U.S. (and former guy-in-charge at Siemens PLM Software) shared with the media his reasons for optimism about the “manufacturing renaissance.” In a nutshell: traditional manufacturing must adopt technology –for planning, design, simulation, etc.– that makes it possible to meet the rapid changes in customer demand. The US can nurture its manufacturing industry by fostering a culture of innovation with education and a favorable tax environment, and by keeping the universities and national labs humming to feed future innovation cycles. You can read the entire article here.

Moving on to Europe, on Monday PLM consultancies Kalypso and DataSquare announced that they are merging to “to serve the growing demand for PLM in Europe with a deeper set of PLM consulting and implementation services”. DataSquare will operate as a subsidiary of Kalypso.

Finally, I’ve started a series of posts over at the PTC Creo website. We’re not going to be promoting anything specifically PTC-related; rather, we’ll be answering some of the questions I get most frequently when I talk to CAD users and managers. Today, we’re talking about whether you need a new CAD system and the pros and cons of switching. In a couple of weeks, we’ll go into more details on how modern “CAD” systems offer so much more than what you may think. Head on over for a look.

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2 Responses to Quickies: CFD, chocolate, collaborating & manufacturing — oh my!

  1. John says:

    I shouldn’t read any blog that quotes me. But…

    There’s another study that I’ll write about later that sings a similar song. CFD *is* difficult but maybe we’ve been repeating that mantra for too long without thinking about it.

  2. Thanks for being a fan of Autodesk Labs.