Friday, November 30, 2012

Staples... Easy 3D printing !

Great news for 3D CAD users... very soon Staples will be providing full color and low cost 3D printing!  Yes... that's Easy 3D printing, along with their regular array of quality office products and printing services.

(c) Staples
As announced this week by Mcor Technologies, Ltd. at the Euromold 2012 conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Staples Easy 3D online service will enable anyone familiar with 3D design to create "low cost, brilliantly colored, photo-realistic 3D printed products from Staples stores" utilizing the Mcor IRIS commercial-class 3D printer.  Similar to ordering business cards, users would simply upload electronic files, and then visit their local Staples store for the pickup or have the item shipped to an address.

"Customized parts, prototypes, art objects, architectural models, medical models and 3D maps are items customers need today, in a more affordable and more accessible manner" Wouter Van Dijk, president of the Staples Printing Systems Division in Europe, said in the release.

According to Oscar Pakasi, director business development of Staples Printing Systems and responsible for developing the concept and the design of the Staples Easy 3D platform, the service will initially be available in the Netherlands and Belgium in early 2013, and will be rolled out quickly to other countries.  So while you're anxiously waiting, you can catch a glimpse of the action with this video provided by Staples Nederland.

To learn more about new Mcor printers, Design Engineering's Anthony Lockwood and Rapid Ready Technology's John Newman have published informative reviews on Mcor Technologies 300+ printer and the method of Variable Volume Deposition (VVD).  So the reviews are very relevant to the latest IRIS model.  In summary, this method of paper with a water-based adhesive yields eco-friendly models that are "remarkably resilient" with the look and feel of plastic.

So certainly some fresh, exciting and convenient technology to enhance product development!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Add a logo to a SolidWorks drawing... the smart way!

The capability to add a logo image into a SolidWorks drawing template has been around for some time, and is certainly a recommended method toward presenting a professional drawing.  However, you may want to take a few minutes to reconsider whether the standard method of inserting a logo graphics file is really the best method. 

Granted, it is relatively easy to insert a JPG or PNG file into a drawing sheet format by means of using the Insert > Picture command, but these types of graphics files do not translate very well when a SolidWorks drawing is saved into DXF or DWG format.  Oftentimes, the logo image relocates to an obviously unintended area of the drawing, and the file size becomes noticeably larger.

So what are the alternatives to inserting a logo graphics file?  Well, if a company logo utilizes a common font, then simply inserting an Annotation in the proper font should work seamlessly.  But when a company logo is unique or includes a colored graphics image then a little pre-work may be necessary.  In this scenario, you will want to use various SolidWorks Sketch and Block tools to transform the original logo image into a SolidWorks Block.

The Block can then be filled-in by applying Area Hatch/Fill, and selecting the Solid option in the Area Hatch/Fill - Properties.  You may notice that the fill color is black, and yes... as Henry Ford is credited and paraphrased as saying, "You can have any color as long as it's black."

Depending on the logo block design, you may have several regions to fill.  Therefore, just apply the Area Hatch/Fill command individually to each of the regions or areas, as desired.

Once the Block has been sized and saved in its final form, it can then be easily inserted into a drawing sheet template.  The obvious advantages will become apparent:
  • the block will translate easily when the drawing is saved into DXF or DWG format
  • the file size of SolidWorks, DXF, or DWG drawings will remain very reasonable making file management and the sharing of files much more efficient
  • the need for color toner when printing drawings will have been reduced or eliminated
So there are definite benefits by simply taking the time to convert a logo into a Block.  The result is a stable SolidWorks drawing template, far better than excitedly rushing to insert a logo image and then overlooking the ramifications of having done so.

Friday, September 14, 2012

TeamPlatform... real design collaboration

There was a time when exchanging files through email and ftp sites defined collaboration.  That no longer is the case. TeamPlatform has redefined the new norm for design collaboration with an impressively functional and secure web service! 

(c) VisPower Technology, Inc
Design firms and individuals providing CAD design services will certainly find TeamPlatform worth looking into.  Among the three web-based plans that are offered, the Personal membership is cost free thereby providing a great incentive for potential users to take that next step in genuine collaboration.  In doing so, VisPower Technology, Inc has commendably demonstrated they are sincere in encouraging interest and confidence in their service.  Two additional plans are tiered for Team and Enterprise use and both of these are reasonably priced.  All plans allow for unlimited free Guests.

A brief review of just some of the notable features of TeamPlatform include:
  • A dashboard, interface, file sharing and management that reveals a refreshing and clean sensibility
  • Superb viewers for both 2D and 3D, along with intuitive markup capability
  • Version control with history, task and workspace management that speaks 'this is real collaboration'
  • Many of the file management features are made with the Solidworks user in mind
  • Mobile compatibility that ensures the benefits of TeamPlatform will extend well beyond the desk   
Sure, bouncing project files back and forth by email can be exciting, especially so when you're not sure which version you may be looking at!  But for any who want to collaborate in the truest sense of the word, TeamPlatform has just what real design collaborators are looking for!

In an upcoming post we will look at the potential of using TeamPlatform as a longterm CAD vault.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Use More Monitor... with Less Mouse Motion

Among the variety of SolidWorks tips that are regularly shared among users, a recent post on the official SolidWorks Blog entitled Stop Mousing Around! is genuinely worthy of recognition and appreciation.  In this post Matthew Lorono (Definition Product Manager at SolidWorks Corp.) shared an overlooked but incredibly effectual feature in Windows that involves... are you ready for this... Mouse Properties.  So why should something so seemingly basic as Mouse Properties garner such attention?

Well, over the years CAD users have embraced the benefits of increased monitor size.  Today many are likewise expanding those benefits by increasing the number of monitors.  Overlooked however, is that many have also steadily increased their mouse (wrist) movements to accommodate these larger spans... unnecessarily.
To facilitate adjusting your mouse, Mouse Properties can be accessed in Windows by selecting:
Start > Control Panel > Mouse > Pointer Options.  The Pointer Options page contains a Motion slide bar that ranges from Slow to Fast.  To reduce the amount of wrist motion required to move the mouse pointer, simply increase the speed of the mouse pointer.  It may take only a few iterations before finding a personal setting that yields an agreeable balance between motion and speed.

Yes, this is one of those rare tips that produces immediate and lasting improvement for essentially any CAD user.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

SolidWorks Appearances - Get Real with Pantone Colors

It is one thing to develop an impressive SolidWorks model or assembly, but how much greater an impression a design takes on when it is visually rendered!  As many have found, SolidWorks Appearances is a valuable property that can quickly enhance the visual presentation of models and assemblies when you don't have a pressing need to go full-blown with PhotoWorks or PhotoView 360.  In particular, the use of Color Swatches in the Appearance properties allows for conveniently assigning colors at the part or assembly levels, using either the RGB or HSV color model systems.

(c) Pantone, LLC
Now if you have performed work in the consumer products industry, you have probably gained an awareness that many companies use design language that references the Pantone Color Matching System (PMS).  This is because Pantone has established itself worldwide as a leading color system standard.  A drawback for a SolidWorks user who is trying to use color swatches however, is that to determine the RGB of a Pantone requires that you have access to a Pantone Color Guide. These various Pantone Color Guides provide a direct correlation between a specified Pantone and RGB / HTML / CMYK color models.  The difficulty is that the Color Guides are expensive and who really wants to spend a lot for something that is ... well, for appearances only!  So is there another way to determine the Pantone to RGB correlation?

Yes, the Pantone site has an excellent page that while primarily designed for cross referencing Pantones, also provides the associated RGB values as shown in the image.  It just takes a few easy steps to find...
  1. On the Pantone homepage, go to menu item "helpCENTER" and select "Color Cross-Reference" from the drop-down list
  2. On the "myPANTONE x-Ref" section
    • Select your known Pantone Color Guide
    • Select your known Pantone Color
    • Select an X-Ref Pantone Guide (any choice will do)
  3. Click the ZOOM icon located between the color swatches
  4. A new overlay window will open displaying a larger comparison image, and here you will see the RGB, HTML, and CMYK of the Pantone color
So, a very convenient and no-cost method to derive the RGB values of any known Pantone color.  The specified RGB values can now be easily applied to your SolidWorks Color Swatch pallet for creating visually appealing appearances that conform to your clients Pantone color standards!

Monday, April 16, 2012

SolidWorks World 2012 Presentations now online

The SolidWorks World 2012 Presentations are now available online.  Held in San Diego, California USA during February 12-15, SolidWorks World once again contained a meaningful array of topics relevant to beginner, intermediate or advanced users.

(C) DS SolidWorks
The searchable main Categories include:
  • CAD Administration
  • Customer Success
  • Data Management
  • Design Automation
  • Design Communication
  • Design Validation
  • Education
  • Modeling Essentials
  • Productivity Tools
These online presentations provide an excellent no-cost opportunity to build or enhance your SolidWorks CAD skills throughout the year.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

SolidWorks V6... Someday... Maybe?

The software capability needs among SolidWorks users are as varied as the users themselves, and over the years many of us have grown and developed our CAD skills alongside the development of the software.  If 2011 Dassault Systemes license growth is any indication, then it is still very apparent that SolidWorks continues to provide a valuable CAD package that delivers on a broad range of MCAD applications.

That said, speculation remains as to the direction the software is going.  From the record of SolidWorks World 2012, we should expect a typical release to 2013 and anticipate a next generation option of choice sometime in the future.  Some are relieved.  Others are disappointed, as many have eagerly anticipated the SolidWorks V6 platform as an alternative choice.

Software as a service (SaaS) has been around for a while now, and there are a variety of CAD developers that have tested the waters.  SolidWorks itself has n!Fuze and has no doubt learned much from the foray, but the question still remains... will we ever see SolidWorks V6?   Someday... maybe.  Patience and propriety is not a quality of all, but it does have merits when executing a successful product launch.  Perhaps that is what we are experiencing with regards to SolidWorks V6, where getting it right the first time would be critical to its acceptance and success.

There are certainly many who for very understandable reasons simply could not operate their CAD services without the current on-site software license arrangement.  For such ones, file and software security is mission critical.  For others, CAD files are developed, delivered, and they move on to the next client assignment.  For these, paying for CAD software as a service would be most convenient and cost effective, including the additional benefit of access to the current SolidWorks release every time you went online, free of any need to manage upgrades or service pack releases!

Some years ago the thought of banking and purchasing goods online was just an idea.  When it became a reality, people were legitimately concerned and skeptical about security and accessibility.  After all, very few things are as important as one's personal finances.  In response, the banking industry has shown it is possible to successfully and securely provide transactions involving proprietary information online.  The same skepticism is apparent regarding the SolidWorks V6 platform.  It shouldn't be surprising to know that during the recent SolidWorks World 2012 conference, it was shared that the company is working out how to best bring this option to fruition.  What would be surprising however, is if SolidWorks failed to develop a successful SAS choice... someday... maybe?

Friday, February 10, 2012

How to Start a CAD Business?

Interest in 'How to Start a CAD Business' is among the variety of subjects regularly searched and viewed on this blog. Therefore to assist further in this regard, please find a brief review and links to four earlier and popular posts that may help in providing direction and encouragement toward starting a CAD business.  We hope you find the information beneficial toward developing your interest, your approach and your potential as a CAD entrepreneur!

First, Are You Considering Starting a CAD Business? discusses three specific options you have for working in the field of CAD.  This post was the very first for this blog and lays the groundwork for considering which direction you might choose to utilize your CAD skills and interest.

Second, Basic Steps to Starting a CAD Business presents four facets that would be essential for establishing a CAD business.  Because any business venture requires a measure of investment of some sort, the information is written from the perspective of starting lean and building later as opportunity affords.

Third, Starting a CAD Business... Surprisingly Easy! provides the elementary requirements to make a CAD business a reality.  Many may be surprised to find that starting a CAD business is not as daunting as they might have thought!

Fourth, Go For It! ...Ways to Generate CAD Business Opportunities encourages an awareness of potential opportunities for CAD work.  While certainly not an inclusive list of ideas, it does bring to attention the two primary types of opportunity that exist.

As many have found, working with SolidWorks can be both enjoyable and rewarding.  It is an incredible 3D CAD software package with some of the finest features and user interface found in the industry.  To grow from a SolidWorks CAD user to a SolidWorks CAD entrepreneur can be a worthwhile endeavor, but as with any secular venture it is important to weigh the cost, as it were.  The reality is that not all business ventures will turn out successful.  However, sincere desire and effort with integrity may well provide the impetus and foundation needed toward starting a CAD business.

With that in mind, please take the time to review the variety of additional posts found throughout our blog archive.  As you will find, the effort behind each is to share topics relevant and practical to fellow SolidWorks CAD entrepreneurs, or those considering to be!