Design and Manufacturing solutions through Digital Prototyping and Interoperability

Tag Archives: 2013

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wow, this year has blasted by, it’s been a brilliant one for Design and Motion. We’ve had the pleasure of working with a few new authors who started out as guest writers, and much to our pleasure have continued to write for us becoming more permanent authors. Our post count as well as readership & subscriptions have grown well as a result. Design and Motion was also incorporated as a company this year with some exciting plans ahead, we will announce those within the first quarter of 2015. The intention of this post isn’t to gloat about our successes, but rather thank those who have contributed to it throughout the year…. I’m not going to name names. So in no specific order, thank you to:

  • Our Readers!
  • Our Writers!
  • The PR teams of the various software and hardware companies with have had the pleasure of working with this year.
  • Our advertisers.
  • The various companies and individuals who have provided us with training, design and journalism work throughout 2013.
  • The many people who give us advice when we need it.
  • All the wives of the Design & Motion men. Thank you for your love & support!

Right, I’m off to grab a beer. Enjoy the rest of your holiday come sun or snow, safe travels and all the best to all your friends and family. Oh & don’t eat & drink too much….. GRIN.

p.s: it’s Autodesk Beta season, so if you get a spare hour or so, sit down with a beer, have a play, break the software and provide the Autodesk team with some feedback. 😉


Autodesk University – The Good, the Bad, and the Meh (Part 1)

AU2013 has come and gone, what a blur. Opposed to detailing every class I attended and everything I saw I am going to summarize the experience in what I’m calling the good, the bad, and the meh

meh [mɛ/] = Indifference; to be used when one simply does not care.

AU2013 - The Good, the Bad, and the Meh

The Good

Jitterbit - On-Premise & Cloud Integration Made Easy
On-Premise & Cloud Integration Made Easy

Tuesday 8AM PL2759 Autodesk PLM 360 Connect. This class should have been called “Come see Jitterbit” as that what it was about. If you haven’t heard about Jitterbit it is a “middleware” whose sole purpose is sit between and connect different business systems…. And it does it very, very well. I was very impressed by how easy it was to build links between Salesforce and PLM360 and between PLM360 and Netsuite. They also showed a bi-directional link between Vault and PLM360 including using the Workflow system in PLM360 to manage the lifecycle of the item in Vault. Jitterbit is all wizard based that you need to know almost zero about javascript or SQL querying or any other programming language. The Jitterbit stuff is very impressive.

What’s interesting is the responses from Autodesk towards Vault and PLM360 integration. The official word is to look at Jitterbit, but if you read between the lines it seems that Autodesk is still deciding if and what to do at the lower end of the scale. I compare it to when Autodesk acquired Intent (which has become Inventor ETO), which provided high-end configuration. They then filled the lower-end of the spectrum with iLogic. if I was a betting man I’d say we either going to see a Jitterbit “Lite” or an Autodesk homegrown solution to provide a link between Vault and PLM360.

Autodesk CAM360

CAM 360…. Its heeerrrrre! Well, kind of. We got the official announcement and were told to expect beta of CAM 360 in December.  I’m going to leave the full review of CAM360 to the other Design & Motion guys but it has become very clear why Autodesk purchased HSM.

The CAM group is operating under the what they call the “95/5” rule meaning that 95% of the code base is platform independent, and 5% is platform integration. They are hoping to have the Inventor HSM CAM (not the free Express which is already out), CAM360, and HSMWorks for Solidworks all at the same level (very soon), meaning that as they roll out updates and new features it will be rolled out across all three at the same time. It will also get to the point where certain elements, like the tool library, will be stored in the cloud so that it doesn’t matter which CAM platform you are using, you’ll have access to your common elements.

The Bad

What we saw of Publisher 360. Autodesk was obviously hoping to be further along with this product as they had nothing to show. I don’t understand why they even bothered, except I guess to keep us interested on what’s upcoming. They are planning a alpha / beta testing period in January so we’ll have to wait for that.

Bigger than the disappointment of not really seeing Publisher 360 might be the plans to maintain Inventor Publisher as it is, with no plans to add any new features of significance. This product needs major enhancements or should just be killed off… but probably they are waiting for the 360 version to become established.

My ideal situation? The existing Inventor Publisher product is included in the Design Suite and a workflow is created to use it as the Inventor IPN environment. Inventor Assemblies are “pushed” into Publisher to create the exploded views and then “pulled” back into the Inventor Drawing environment to generate the drawing views. Its win-win… Inventor Publisher gets a new life, Inventor users get a better exploded view generator

The Meh

The keynote address: It wasn’t bad, just not overly compelling; it was just meh. A couple notes for now until I can watch it again

  • Penn & Teller were awesome
  • Jeff Kolwaski (Autodesk CTO) was great, as always. He talked about looking outside instead of inside. He focused on four main topics: insight, tools, people, and work. The one statement that Jeff quoted that really stuck with me was from Alvin Toffler The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
  • Carl Bass highlighted a few customer successes, the ones that stood out to me were: Denver Airport, Orphanage Guitar, Aston Martin, Biolite, and Bot & Dolly

You can watch the recorded keynote here

I’ll be back again with my thoughts on the last day of AU and will expand on some of the things I learned and saw.I’ll look back at my predictions and see how I did


Twas the Night Before Autodesk University

Twas the night before Vegas, when all through the land

Not a mouse was stirring, not even a digitizer or Leap Motion that I control with my hand..

The tablets (and other smart devices) were charging by the chimney with care,

In hopes that Autodesk University soon would be there.

The students were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Lynn Allen danced in their heads.

And with Inventor and Revit on their laptop, and Autodesk 360 ready to take a lap,

they all settled their brains for a long Fall nap.


When out on twitter there arose such a clatter,

They sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.

Away to their phones they flew like a flash,

Tore open the app and flipped through with such sass.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen Tweets

Gave the luster of mid-day to make them seen sweet.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature tweet, and eight tiny retweets.

With such a description, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment there is no time for sleep.

More rapid than eagles the courses, they came,

There are too many classes to pick from and I know them all by name!

AU Logo

So AU is upon us and I am still tweaking my schedule, why do all the good classes or the ones that I’m most interested in always seem to fall on the same time slot? Argggghhhhh!

Other than my classes (of course) here are a couple I’m really looking forward too.

Classes, Classes, and more Classes

PL1749Looking into the Crystal Ball: The Future of PDM at Autodesk”. I usually have a good idea of what’s going on in the data-management world but this year I don’t know… and actually I hope I don’t know until this class as I like the excitement of the reveal of new things.

MA3501“Introduction to Computer-Aided Machining (CAM)“. I haven’t seriously looked at CAM since my tech-school days, so I’m ready for this refresher and re-introduction.

MA2330 – “Creating Interactive 3D Documentation with Autodesk® Publisher 360“. Inventor Publisher really became a “dead” product after it was introduced with so much hype. I’ve got one seat ready to be dusted off and have something done with it… just hope their is an easy migration path to 360

What we will see from Autodesk

I talked last time about some (hopeful) acquisitions outside of this what do I think we’ll see from Autodesk? I think two things will be front-and-center: the Cloud and 3D Printing. How could it not be?

With the release of HSM Express and the pending acquisition of Delcam, Autodesk is about ready to explode into the CAM market. With the commercialization of 3D Printing and the industry move to additive manufacturing, this is a huge market that not only Autodesk will be diving into head first. CAM 360 will be presented as the first CAM in the cloud.

“the Cloud”… its been the message for at least 3-years. Now with the traditional desktop products (like Inventor and Revit) working in a browser what is holding everyone back? What are we going to see? Additional 360 products and services: CAM 360, Publisher 360, Showcase 360(?), and probably some type of drafting and detailing engine for Fusion 360. I would also imagine better integration between Vault and PLM 360. What if there was a Vault 360? (Gasp!). And what about Design Review?

I’m hoping to see how long time traditional desktop users will gain access to the newer Cloud initiatives. Will there be a Navisworks / Mockup 360 bundle? Will there be a migration path for existing Inventor Publisher users to Publisher 360? (I really hope so).

What about Suite users? Is there really enough differentiation between the “flavours” of the Suites? For example the difference between PDS Premium and Ultimate is Alias Design and a bump from Navisworks Simulate to Manage. If I was a betting man I’d be betting that the “Ultimate” is going to get more stuff added, in the form of Cloud Services.

It will also be interesting to see how they will “spin” the death of the upgrade

Twitter here we come!

Other things I’m looking forward to? Meeting and putting faces to all my “twitter friends” that I’ve made over the past year. If we meet and I’m not sure who you are introduce yourself by twitter handle (ha!).

My suggestions for first comers?

There are dozens of articles, blog posts, and tweets with suggestions for first-times to AU. They are all great but really you only need to know two things to make it the best experience:

  1. Meet with and talk with as MANY people as you can. Autodesk people, vendors, resellers, and of course other AU’ers. Even if they are in different industry segments everyone is always so willing to talk. My wife refers to it as “Geek Talk” and how I must be in “Geek Heaven” for a whole week. I had some phenomenal conversations with some Architectural folks last year regarding CAD Management, Project Management, and their use of the Cloud. It didn’t matter that I was of a Manufacturing background, we found the common ground and found a lot to share and discuss.
  2. Drink as much water as possible! I can’t stress this enough… my first year I ended up with one of the worst headaches of my life all because I went like 12-hours without water. Your first thought will be for coffee (morning) and beer (evening) but try to fit in a couple glasses of water, trust me.

So, if you’re going to AU hunt me down, and lets talk. If you are not going to AU make sure to check out the live and online sessions. Last and not least check back here as we will all be doing AU wrap-ups and reviews during and after the event.

What’s everyone else looking forward to?


Autodesk University is almost upon us

Autodesk University Logo. All image rights are Autodesk's

Two weeks left til the spectacle that is Autodesk University, and I’m honestly starting to get a bit excited. Things are a bit different this year for me (2nd time teaching, 3rd time going) as I’m getting in mid-morning of the Monday, so I’m able to participate in many of the Monday activities. Past years I got in late Monday and it seems I missed quite a bit.

What’s happened already?

Autodesk has made acquisitions since the last AU including Firehole Composites, TinkerCAD, and most recently Graitec (structural fabrication and detailing technology) in October and the intent to acquire Delcam, I’m not in the Architechtural space but Graitec seems a “nice” addition but not ground shaking like the Delcam news. Although I think this will be like the HSM acquistion in that we really won’t learn much about Autodesk’s intent with Delcam for some time. Oh I’m sure there will be portfolio simplification and hopefully some tools making its way into Inventor Pro, but we probably won’t know much more until the spring… I don’t think the deal is even official yet. However, Delcam should be front and center with HSM and the other CAM suppliers.

With two weeks left Autodesk must have an acquisition or two left in them?. Maybe they cough up $4-Billion for SnapChat? remember SocialCAM? you never know (I’m just joking, they won’t buy SnapChat)

So what are some possibilities? Jitterbit is a real possibility. But lets go bold (“go big or go home“)… what if they bought Netsuite? That would be making a bold statement in the PLM-ERP market. If you were to make a wish for Autodesk to buy, who would it be?

This year

I’m doing the certification this year… there I said it, now I have to follow through. Last year I just didn’t find the time, and its free, this year I’m making the time to at least take the 50-multiple question one for both Inventor and AutoCAD.

I hope the keynote this year is better, not that last year’s was a disaster it just wasn’t as inspiring as two years ago.

Two years ago I went with the mission to see and learn as much about Data Management I could and came a way with a good feeling of validation, that yes we were on the right track, that yes we were doing the things we should be doing, and picked up a few tips and tricks on the way. Last year was all about PLM360 and although we’re not on it yet, I got a really clear picture of what it is and what it isn’t. This year? not sure yet. I’ve got a little bit of CAM, a little bit of Technical Illustration, a couple classes of my own to teach, resulting in a real grab bag of stuff.

I want to talk CAM, I want to talk PLM, I want to talk PDM, and I want to talk Technical Illustration. My goal is to get as much information about these subjects as possible. Not the salesy stuff, you can get that anywhere. I want to get the real stuff… what people are doing, how they are using it. So if you are in Vegas this year and are involved in any of these areas look me up and lets talk.

Two weeks to go, and I’m making a list (of classes), and checking it twice!






How can I create CNC cut files using Autodesk Inventor?

Autodesk University 2013 CNC CAM Cut Files

A couple of years ago I wrote a few posts detailing ways to generate CNC cut files using Autodesk Inventor. If you haven’t read them already, here they are:

Part 1 Flat Pattern Export

Part 2 Export Face/Sketch As

Part 3 Create a Drawing

There was meant to be a 4th part to the series. I never got around to writing it for various different reasons, for which I can’t really go into on here. But now the time has come for me to get it off my chest. As it turns out it’s for the better, although I should have pulled finger and wrote this blog post about 8 weeks ago. I’ll be speaking at Autodesk University this year, with my good friend & co-worker, Gavin Bath. We’ve got some great tips & quality little work flows, we can’t reveal everything in all it’s glory for IP reasons, but hopefully we will be able to plant some inspirational seeds. 60 minutes is all we have to put across as many different ways of producing CNC / CAM ready cut files and geometry as we can fit in.

We will use Gecko Racing as the backbone of our class, ultimately resulting in some CNC derived Self-Replication. So if you are attending Autodesk University this year, and you haven’t signed up to our class already, then please review what you are doing between 1pm & 2pm on Wednesday December 4th, it will be great to see you there. If you have any requests or questions about the content in the handout, please comment below.

This class is now live on the Autodesk University website

All the class materials are now available on the AU website for your perusal.

Autodesk announce intent to acquire Delcam!


I’m staggered & insanely excited to read that Autodesk have just announced their intent to acquire the highly innovative & leading provider of CAM software, Delcam. Combining HSMWorks‘ technology with respect to scalable processing of toolpath generation, as well as their approach to post processors, with the extremely efficient toolpathing strategies produced by Delcam will be a killer combination. FeatureCAM – Delcam HyperMill’s automated baby brother – is also highly respected in the CAM industry. I could easily see feature recognition & automation technology within FeatureCAM doing some incredible stuff with products like Inventor ETO within semi-custom production companies.

“Today we are taking an important step on our path toward delivering a better manufacturing experience,” said Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO. “Together Autodesk and Delcam will help further the development and implementation of technology for digital manufacturing.”

I have no doubt the acquisition is as much about the CAM software as it is about the industrial measurement solutions Delcam have developed over the years. Taking a look at Delcam PowerINSPECT you realise Autodesk have closed the loop, they can now supply reality capture, tools to clean up & refine the resulting data, then engineer that data, machine it, then verify the end product meets the original intent. This certainly is a big deal for the future of digital manufacturing. Lovely Jubbly.

So, I thought I’d better take a quick look at Delcam PowerSHAPE, Delcam’s CAD solution…. that has changed heaps from what I remember when I last looked at it in 2007. Delcam have combined solid modelling, with surfacing & triangulate meshes. So there’s a solution for using STL models, combined with NURBS models to create tooling. Roll in a dash of Autodesk’s recent meshing forays or even just Fusion 360 T-Splines and you start to have an extremely exciting/insane line up of manufacturing tools.

“I am very excited by the opportunities from combining Delcam with Autodesk to create a compelling platform from which to service both companies’ manufacturing clients,” said Clive Martell, Delcam CEO. “The offer is at a level which recognizes the potential of Delcam and provides an attractive opportunity for shareholders to realize value for their current holdings in cash, while at the same time opening up new opportunities for our staff and partners operating within the wider platform of the Autodesk group.”

If I were working at Delcam I’d be pretty damn excited to get access to the resources Autodesk are currently committing to digital manufacturing. I look forward to reading more details about their plans, but also getting to work with the software in due course. In the meantime check out DelcamTV to see some of the badass stuff this company do. All going well the deal is expected to close in Autodesk’s first quarter of fiscal 2015.

Al Dean's opinion of Autodesk's Delcam Announcement

Bloody good on Carl n his crew. Now please dig up a solid slice of nesting software & make sure you grab Vericut before someone else does. I’m seriously loving this manufacturing centered phase Autodesk is going through.

Oh look that’s another free Solidworks CAM solution nabbed by Autodesk. hehe.

What does everyone think? Where does your imagination take you? Make sure you let us know by commenting below.


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