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Autodesk and Local Motors Collaborate on First Spark 3D Platform Implementation

Press Release Issued by Autodesk

Deal marks Autodesk’s first industrial application of its open 3D printing platform to solve challenges in large format 3D printing

SAN FRANCISCO–Earlier this year, Autodesk announced plans to introduce Spark, a new open platform for 3D printing, aimed at making it simpler and more reliable to print 3D models and easier to control how that model is printed. Now, Autodesk is collaborating with Local Motors, the leader in open-source hardware innovation, to utilize the Spark platform as Local Motors continues to develop the Strati, the world’s first 3D printed car.

“The Spark platform is set to accelerate manufacturing innovation,” said Alex Fiechter, head of community management for Local Motors. “From capturing our ideas more accurately to guiding Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) and simplifying the creation of machine code, Spark will help us to turn digital models into an actual physical production parts far faster than was previously possible.”

The recently unveiled Strati is being developed by Local Motors team at the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), one of the nation’s leading innovation centers around additive manufacturing. The Strati vehicle design was chosen from entries submitted by Local Motors’ global co-creation community and as the project progresses Local Motors plans to use the Spark platform, which will make it the first large-scale industrial application of Spark.

Local Motors Strati Raw - Dean Fehribach

 Image courtesy of Dean Fehribach

Local Motors

Autodesk and Local Motors collaborate on first industrial application of Spark, the open 3D printing platform to solve challenges in large format 3D printing

“Local Motors recognizes the capabilities of the Spark platform for industrial manufacturing projects,” said Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Autodesk. “This collaboration is a natural fit to push the boundaries of large format 3D printing to fundamentally change how things are designed and made.”

ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated created a BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) machine similar to a fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer by taking a 6.5′ x 13′ foot bed laser cutter adding custom hardware to transform it into a massive 3D printer. Spark will help connect automobile digital design information to the 3D printer in a streamlined way for easier visualization and optimization of 3D prints.

ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated BAAM - Local Motors
According to Local Motors, the Strati simplifies the automotive assembly process and is a result of leveraging the contributions of community, advanced manufacturing tools, and software, like the Spark platform. This could bring many advantages, including reduction in the number of parts in a vehicle’s Bill of Materials (BOM) from 25,000 components to less than 50. The on-demand nature of 3D printing means that automotive manufacturers can change aspects of their design – or even come up with an entirely new one – with little or no additional cost in tooling or time.

Local Motors Strati Raw - Autodesk Spark
About Autodesk

Autodesk helps people imagine, design and create a better world. Everyone – from design professionals, engineers and architects to digital artists, students and hobbyists – uses Autodesk software to unlock their creativity and solve important challenges. For more information visit autodesk.com or follow @autodesk.

About Local Motors

From bytes-to-bits, the Local Motors platform empowers anyone to design, build, and sell the world’s coolest machines. The platform combines global co-creation and local micro-manufacturing to bring hardware innovations to market at unprecedented speed. The Company stewards a global co-creation community made up of enthusiasts, hobbyist innovators and professionals that come together to solve complex mechanical problems. The Company operates a growing global network of micro-factories, each operating as a nexus for next generation product development, where innovators create amazing products and consumers come to marvel and shop.

Images courtesy of and Learn more at localmotors.com.

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless Review

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless Female hand

Around a month after 3Dconnexion announced their latest product, I received a test unit of the new 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless. I’ve only ever owned and used the entry level 3Dconnexion devices in the past and always thought the professional series, although nice to have, really were a little bit over the top. Admittedly, if I’d had some spare cash lying about or I could have written off the purchase cost against my business taxes, I probably would have at least purchased the SpaceMouse Pro. I am a tech geek after all. With that in mind, I was keen to see how this shiny new toy? shaped up over the next couple of months. I decided on roughly two months, since that was the stated battery life. So how does it stack up?

Stated Benefits

  • Complete Wireless Freedom — Real-time 2.4 GHz wireless connection and a two-month battery life. When it does need recharging, for uninterrupted productivity simply connect one of the supplied USB cables.
  • Professional Performance — SpaceMouse Pro Wireless automatically recognizes your application environment and based on your personal configuration, maps commands to its four Function Keys.
  • View Your Work From Every Angle  Detect errors, explore alternatives, and present your work more effectively for review with SpaceMouse Pro Wireless’s 6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys.
  • Minimize Hand Movements —Conveniently positioned keyboard modifiers provide quick and easy access to Control, Shift, Alt and Esc functions, reducing the time you spend moving your hand to the keyboard.
  • World-Class Ergonomics And Build Quality  Full sized, soft-coated hand rest for maximum comfort.15 tactile, fully programmable buttons.
  • Flexible Connectivity  With a choice of two USB cables, either plug the USB receiver directly into your workstation or use the included Twin-port USB Hub.
  • The 3Dconnexion Experience – 3DxWare® 10 allows you to customize and optimize your SpaceMouse Pro Wireless for peak performance. Easily tailor settings and buttons to your application and needs.

Connectivity

The wireless benefits are clear, if needed I can re-position the device anyway on my desk unconstrained. I have enough cables kicking around my desk as it is, so this was a welcome addition. As it was with the SpaceMouse Wireless when it landed on my desk. I did find it curious that 3Dconnexion provided the Twin-port USB Hub, they mentioned it would come in handy during meetings in the board room where the PC being used for the presentation maybe be stashed away somewhere. The 1.5 meter cable would to expose the USB receiver in those instances. I honestly have never had any issues with connectivity, although to my surprise a couple of CADPRO’s clients have suffered some issues. They were each solved by moving the USB receiver away from the metallic casing of their workstations. I’ve since heard of people having connectivity issues with 2.4 GHz wireless keyboards and mice as well, again extending the receiver away from the case solved the problem. I’ll chalk that up as a win for 3Dconnexion.

3Dconnexion USB-Hub Right-Iso_Receiver

But, there is a less obvious, albeit inconvenient benefit, of 3Dconnexion providing this Twin-port USB Hub. I now have access to two 3Dconnexion space mice, this puppy and the SpaceMouse Wireless I received last year. While I’m at my primary desk I now use the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless exclusively, but with the SpaceMouse Wireless hard sided Carry Case, I’m able to safely cart that about with me on my travels each week. So what’s the inconvenient benefit? 3Dconnexion haven’t managed to unify their USB receivers yet, and although there are a decent number of USB ports on my HP ZBook 15 mobile workstation, they aren’t in abundance and certainly not enough to justify taking up two slots for 3Dconnexion. I need to keep one USB port spare so I can plug in devices Ad-Hoc. This is where the Twin-port USB Hub comes in handy for me. I have both receivers plugged into that, then it plugs into the slot which used to be exclusively occupied by the SpaceMouse Wireless receiver. A bit of a pain yes, but all I have to do is hide it around the back et voila, no big deal. Of course, 3Dconnexion’s well established attention to detail dictates they wouldn’t be happy about this either, I’m sure they have their reasons and I have no doubt they are working to rectify the situation in the not too distant future.

Alright, enough of the moaning. There are two great things I have discovered about using a Professional 3Dconnexion device. They are both the reason why the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless has earnt it’s permanent space on my desk, it’s not small, so it does need a right to be there.

6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys

SpaceMouse Wireless 6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys

This collection of buttons were the ones I was most eager to get my thumb on. While the Autodesk view cube is pretty handy, there are times I find it fiddly to get to the view I need. I’ve been using SolidWorks a bit as well recently as a result of supporting Autodesk’s CAM product in Australia and New Zealand. So this has been my savior, because, well, the SolidWorks view cube sucks in comparison to Autodesk’s. However, it wasn’t any of the four peripheral buttons in this set that I have found the most useful. It’s the Axial Rotation lock button which sits proud, all important like, just above all those around it. That self confidence justifies this little buttons power… I’ve often found myself having to go back to my keyboard, or regress to the orbit command just so I can rotate and pan my 3D view or 2D sketch without tumbling the view away from the orthogonal elevations. It really does break your train of thought, you don’t realize quite how much, until you are able to tap that button and nudge the puck to pan around the sketch you’re trying to manipulate.

Keyboard Modifiers

The next major realization I had with the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless was the collection of four buttons on the left side of the device. The Keyboard modifiers. Honestly, I haven’t used 3 of them all that much… yet. SpaceMouse Pro Wireless Keyboard Modifier ButtonsI’m sure I will get to using those more as time goes by and my hand relaxes into using it more naturally. But it’s the very real benefit of using the CTRL modifier button with Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks when orbiting around your model and selecting multiple and possibly random objects. In the past I would orbit my model, then move my hand to press the CTRL key on my keyboard, left click on my mouse to add that object to my selection set, theeeen back to my 3D mouse… urgh. It’s hard to read, let alone do. The crazy thing is I thought it was acceptable until I’ve experienced this first hand in a few different situations. Not only is it more productive (the most important part after all), but I can now create way cooler tutorial videos for Inventor, Inventor HSM and HSMWorks. I only have to pause orbiting momentarily now, just enough time to position and click my mouse, then immediately start orbiting onto the next object. I love it, and so will you, if you get to sit down and use it this way for an hour or so.

Battery Life

I’ve had this productive belle sitting on my desk now, for just over two months. I think I’ve turned it OFF a few times overnight. I didn’t put it on charge as soon as I received it and started using it immediately. I’m NOT designing 8 hours a day, but I’m in and out of Inventor and SolidWorks a number of times a day and generally that means I’ll have a fiddle and poke. So in all reality, I’m not using it anywhere near as much as a full time drafter should be. I’ve charged it twice. So my particular version isn’t really meeting the numbers stated by 3Dconnexion, but it has been on, albeit inactive, 24/7 for most of that time. In all reality, I still think that is quite impressive and it seems to recharge pretty damn fast. It just hasn’t bothered me in the slightest.

Final Words

Once again 3Dconnexion have turned out a fine product. The versatility of having a wireless device is a no brainer, you can move around the office with it far more easily, either collaborating with colleagues or presenting in the boardroom. The SpaceMouse Pro wasn’t a broken product, it’s proven and well designed, there really wasn’t a need to deviate too far from that. So would I pay for one out of my own pocket now? Yes! The prices have come down for these devices compared to a few years ago and I think once you have spent a little time with one, most people will realize a ROI pretty quickly. If not it simply makes using CAD more fun and precise. For those bouncing between multiple CAD products, the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless means they can force a consistent navigation and interaction experience across all the applications, when the standard user interface methods are completely different from one another. That’s a huge boost and has certainly proven useful for me now, switching between Inventor and SolidWorks so often.

It still surprises me that most CAD users still have no idea these things exist! Virtually every time I go to see a customer, one or more of their staff will be immediately intrigued by my SpaceMouse Wireless when I pull it out of my laptop bag and place it next to my workstation with a satisfying thud. We need to find ways to get the word out there further and get more CAD users buying and making use of these wonderful tools.

An Electrifying Threesome – AutoCAD Electrical 2015, Office & Access 2010

Office 2010 32 bit AutoCAD Electrical 64 bit not supported

Microsoft Office 2010 is supported they say, 64 or 32 bit they say… hmm I say. What am I banging on about you say? Well, if you have a 64 bit Operating System installed, which is highly likely if you are running Windows 7 or 8.1. Then when you install the Autodesk Product Design Suite, AutoCAD Electrical or any other Autodesk product that installs the Microsoft Access 2010 Runtime, it will install the 64 bit version of both the CAD applications and the Access Runtime. HOWEVER, if you already have the 32 bit version of Office 2010 installed, then the install will fail. OR if you try to install Office 2010 32 bit AFTER you have install the Autodesk software, then the Office installation will fail.

Office 2013 32 bit 64 bit installation error

Here’s the thing, Microsoft are very clear about wanting people to install the 32 bit version of Office. The 64 bit version is only intended for developers to use. There are far too many conflicts between Office 64 bit and other applications which rely on Office components. SO, the only way you can use Office 2010 with 2015 Autodesk products which have an Access 2010 Runtime prerequisite, is to install the 64 bit version of Office and risk all the issues that come with it. I’m not a database guy, so I can only assume the AutoCAD electrical development team have been forced into using the 64 bit version with 64 bit AutoCAD and the 32 bit version with 32 bit AutoCAD.

OK, so what about Office 2013? That is fine for now, you can happily install 32 & 64 bit versions of Office as long as they are different releases. I’m running Office 2013 32 bit, and AutoCAD Electrical installed Access 2010 Runtime 64 bit on my laptop. So I have two requests of Autodesk:

  1. Please don’t produce 2016 products requiring Access 2013!
  2. Please update your System Requirements for any CAD products requiring Access 2010 Runtime, that also includes the Suites System Requirements.

Design and Motion Cools Off For ALS

Yup, everyone is doing it. All in the name of ALS. I just hope everyone doing it is donating as well. Design and Motion donated to Lynne Grainger to help fund her treatments, we decided to directly help a friend of a friend. So thanks to Sean Dotson for bringing Lynne to our attention and Jay Tedeschi’s ‘attempt’ resulting in myself getting nominated, so I thought it was only fair I got the Design and Motion Ice Bucket Challenge rolling. So here they are in order of appearance:

So there you go, Sean gets nominated for a second go, James Herzing and Buzz Kross are also named by John. Epic, I can’t wait to see the last two. I have to say John really looked like he enjoyed that! So are there are outstanding nominees? Why yes there are… Joey Foster, Hans Grootegoed and Kevin Ellingson are all current stragglers. Come on guys, make it happen.

If you would like to donate towards Lynne Graingers care as well, then swing on over to her gofundme page and enter your digits. Thanks for being good sports guys… special mention to Mike for doing it while on holiday, while at what looks like a campsite.

AutoCAD’s Vault Browser

AutoCADs Vault XRef Palette

I’ve been surprised to learn over the last 6 to 9 months that a large number of AutoCAD users who work with Vault on a daily basis, don’t realize AutoCAD’s External References palette double’s up as a Vault browser. As it happens it’s pretty close to the one found in Autodesk Inventor. This is true across all flavours of AutoCAD, including Mechanical, Architecture, Civil 3D and Plant 3D. I suppose there are a lot of AutoCAD users who don’t even go near the Xref Palette. I’m not sure why I was surprised about that, because since I’ve been a heavy Inventor user for 10 years, my AutoCAD use hasn’t demanded their use. The same will be true for thousands of other AutoCAD users world wide. So, as I will demonstrate in the following video, every Vault user, who also uses AutoCAD on a daily or even weekly basis should dock and auto hide their External References palette and take advantage. Oh, but please be aware, overlayed file references ONLY show up in the Xref palette for the drawing they are referenced in. Which is all good until you need to find a broken reference when checking the dataset into Vault.

 

Design & Motion are Between The Lines

Keeping Up Appearances with Autodesk InventorJust a quick post to let our readers know we have a Guest Post on Shaan Hurley’s legendary Autodesk Blog Between The Lines. Given the historical significance of Between The Lines with respect to CAD blogging, I’m pretty stoked to have finally got some work up there. Keeping Up Appearances with Autodesk Inventor shows Inventor power users how to ‘window select’ multiple faces, so they can apply appearance overrides in one hit. So please go take a look and hopefully you lot can put it to good use.