Archive for October, 2008

3D Koch Snowflake

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Because of all the political advertisements, I find myself watching more and more PBS. I am a fan of NOVA, but this week’s topic was on fractals. Fractals have always struck me as boring; but compared to 30 smear campaigns they win every time.

A segment that caught my eye was about the Koch snowflake. It looks like a snowflake but has an interesting property in that it has a finite area but an infinite perimeter. Helge von Koch described this shape in a paper in 1904 –before he had a seat of SolidWorks, thus sadly his work was only in 2D.

I decided to continue the mathematician’s work in 3D. Instead of using triangles I would use tetrahedrons.

3D Koch Snowflake

3D Koch Snowflake eDrawing [Eight iterations; 4,373 tetrahedrons]

After I completed the model, I did a search for other 3D Koch Snowflakes. Turns out mine looks nothing like any others. You might be looking at the first, most accurate representation! Who are you going to believe -a guy who sat through an entire NOVA episode, or people who have devoted their entire lives to this “science”? <sigh> I guess maybe I should not say this is a 3D Koch Snowflake, but only that it was inspired by it. :(

I still think fractals are for hippies, but I thought this turned out pretty cool….and perhaps a fun challenge to you SolidWorks users out there, can you build it?

Edit: Here is the a six iteration in .stl format.3DKochSnowflake6Iterations

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Sharks, minnows and DriveWorks

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Back when I was on the swim team, we would play a game called “Sharks and Minnows”. One kid would stay in the middle of the pool – the shark. Everyone else would be on one side of the pool – the minnows. When coach blew his whistle all the minnows have to swim on the other side of the pool. Any minnow tagged by the shark becomes a shark for the next round. Thus for the second round there may be 1 or 2 more sharks than last time making it a little harder for the minnows because there were more sharks. Round 3 may start with 5 or 6 more sharks. Each round the number of sharks grew “exponentially’. The game continued until there was one lucky minnow left.

This game describes a typical successful DriveWorks implementation.  [If you are a SolidWorks user, you don’t need me to connect the dots for you. You may skip to the next paragraph. AutoCAD users: read on.] The minnows are your work tasks. The shark is DriveWorks. In a DriveWorks implementation, oftentimes it is best to start small -maybe just one of your easier, more commonly used projects. After you get that project complete, you will have more time available to you to add another project to your DriveWorks collection….and so on, and so on -it’s a snowball effect.

On the other side of the coin, I just learned of a “failed” DriveWorks implementation. The customer decided they wanted to do their entire product line at once -and for them this was a huge task. They pulled an engineer off of production and assigned him to the task of building their DriveWorks system full time. This engineer was competent, but management changed the direction they wanted to go with DriveWorks several times -often times causing a loss of work. Meanwhile, production began to fall behind. Now this company had a decision to make. Pull a second designer off of production and put him in to help with the implementation and risk losing orders or put off the DriveWorks implementation. I am sure you can guess what happened. I suppose it isn’t fair to say the implementation failed because they do have plans to try again. Hopefully they will try a more manageable approach next time.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

A Recap of the 2009 Rollout Tour

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

While Jeff has done immense justice to our bandwagon experiences the past two weeks across the Midwest, and Seth has comprehensively summarized our new functionalities with Simulation 2009, I felt compelled to throw in a few cents of my own into the mix as well. While I made sure that I was impeccably costumed (in time for Halloween!!) throughout the sessions, I spent time discussing some of the key benefits of this release with our customers.

It never ceases to amaze me as to how we can end up with a 100 enhancements in every release. Some of them are major changes, while some of them are minor tweaks to make lives easier! The “oohs” and “aahs” that we used to hear earlier in the decade are replaced with “About time!!” when we show the new tools! Does that mean we are not delivering the goods at the right time? I think it leans towards the mindset of the audience in terms of the trends in the CAD industry. 3D modeling and FEA are now the norm, and the acceptance and adaptation to the tools in these releases makes new functionality more a necessity than eye candy.

This power packed version of COSMOS saw the product name change to Simulation!! The focus in 2009 has been in terms of performance, and the addition of a few missing tools from GeoStar. My personal favorite (and of the audience in general) in this release is the separation of the pre- and post-processors from the solver. What this means to the user is that he/she can choose to start running analyses, and at the same time, start creating other SW models or even creating new studies.

The coming days and months will, no doubt, elevate emotions on the new integration between Simulation and SolidWorks. From the looks of it, the ability for the mesh and the FEA code to adapt to the geometry seems to be very promising. More on it in the coming months!! In the meantime, as Jeff pointed out, we have had a very successful trip and had a great time mingling with all of you! Please let us know if you have any comments and suggestions on the rollout as well as the 2009 product set!!

Happy Speedpaking..!!!

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Groupies in Dayton

Friday, October 17th, 2008

The “What’s New in SolidWorks 2009″ tour has concluded. I think I am going to sleep for the next five days straight.

Here are the numbers:

    • 10 – events in 11 work days
    • 7 – cold cut lunches (special props to Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati for having at least warm food)…if I ever see another turkey sandwich…
    • 2701 – total miles traveled
    • 2 – number of times pulled over for speeding
    • 57 – number of times I said “PDMWorks Enterprise” instead of its new fangled name: “SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2009″
    • 4 – total number of times Vik changed his wardrobe decisions once he knew people were paying attention (though he wore a bulky sweater today – sorry ladies)


    • 5 – total number of groupies…we may have had more, but the marshal chased away several large groups in Columbus.

My first groupies[Make sure you click on the thumb nail for this pic]

    • 2 – Number of 3DVision guys who wore ties (Seth and Robert)

SethRobert and Jordan eating lunch

  • 0 – Number of people Seth and Robert were able to convince they were the CEO of 3DVision

As far as faces behind the voices, sadly I missed a pic of Reuben Felsheim, who made a surprise visit to the Columbus rollout. I did get a pic of Brendon Breitenstein our Dimension Technician:Seth and Brendon (That’s Brendon on the left, Seth on the right) Brendon also does some SolidWorks support too, make sure you tell him I said “hi” if he gets your support call! -You’ll get extra special treatment!

Here is a final rundown of the events. Then I won’t have to think of these things until SolidWorks 2010.

Off to bed.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

What’s New Show in Indiana

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

My original intent was to blog about each of our “What’s New in SolidWorks 2009″ stops. I am going to cheat and combine the Indianapolis and Evansville shows into one blog. Mostly because they both were pretty much the same.

The shyness of engineers has often been the punchline of many jokes. This reputation was certainly held up at these two rollouts. Most of the guys there acted as if they were attending the readings of their long lost great aunt’s last will and testament -they were all hoping to get something pretty cool but didn’t want to show any reaction for fear of offending their other relatives. Come on guys! These rollouts are supposed to be fun! Give the new negative value in a sketch dimension a little cheer! The AE’s have been doing these shows for weeks it is really nice to get a little feedback from the users.

Come to these rollouts to learn and to share. Don’t underestimate the power of networking.

Vik Vedantham really dressed it up these two days – nice watch, cuff links and neatly pressed clothes. Ladies, you missed quite a show!

We had some groupies today in Indianapolis! The event was at Indiana Wesleyan University. Several college students were standing outside the room today. Some said they were admiring the huge plate of chocolate chip cookies – I think they were checking out the new 2009 features.

Off to Columbus, Ohio! This is the one I have been looking forward to. It is going to be well attended and the group is pretty close. There is always cheering for the best new features.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

A day without Vik is like a day without Simulation

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

It was the morning of the “What’s New in SolidWorks 2009″ show in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In my free copy of USA Today, I was reading about the stock market drop and feeling rather sad.

One of our Enterprise customers came in and sat next to me. They have been running Enterprise for a few weeks now and wanted to tell me how much he loved it. Before they bought Enterprise, they were replicating their design data by sharing an ftp site among their cooperate divisions. When a designer wanted to work with any files, they would copy the files from the ftp site on to their local server, modify the files then move the files back to the ftp site -overwriting the old version. Sounds good in practice except for two things:

  1. Designers wouldn’t always remember to move the files back to the ftp site, thus they would have multiple copies of the same file on several servers and it was difficult to find the latest version
  2. On occasion more than one designer would be working on the same file at a time. In this case, they suffered the old “last on in wins” syndrome. -The slower designer’s change became the one of record and the other designer’s work was lost.

Now that Enterprise is handling their replication, these problems are quickly fading away. It is nice to hear those kinds of success stories. Did it make me feel any better [because now I won’t be able to retire until I am 99 years old]? Nope. Though it is nice to hear stories of how SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is making people’s lives easier.

Vik Vedantham didn’t make the trip down. I have no idea what he was wearing. Sorry no update today.

I asked a few of the hotel maids if they would pose as groupies for a photo. They all declined. I can’t even get people to pretend to be groupies for these events.

Off to Evansville, Indiana.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

What’s New in SolidWorks 2009 in Louisville…I think

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

You know that joke where the singer in a band has the city he is in written on the back of his guitar so he doesn’t accidentally yell out: “Springfield ROCKS” when he is actually in Akron? At least I always thought it was a joke, but here we are –half way through our “What’s New” tour and I only have a faint idea where I am and where I am going.

During my presentation today I had a thought. [I’ve done the “What’s New in SolidWorks Enterprise 2009″ presentation so many times, I can now think of other things as I am talking.]

In SolidWorks Enterprise 2009, they introduced a way that you can see the BOM tables in your drawing and assembly files within the Enterprise interface. The good thing with this ability is that you can see the BOM in your file without having to open it. Additionally, if you spend a lot of time making your BOMs the way you want them in your drawings (and assemblies) you should be able to take advantage of this work in Enterprise.

The more I think of this feature the less I like it.

First, our goal should be to not use these BOMs in the files in the first place. Why “spend time” goofing with these BOM tables in your files when you get a calculated BOM from Enterprise with no effort at all?

Okay, okay, I hear you arguing that you need to have the BOMs on the drawings for the poor guy assembling this file who apparently doesn’t have any electricity and thus has no access to Enterprise. Fine, fine, keep your old 1870’s technology, but let me give you a warning: The new BOM tables as shown in Enterprise can be wrong! Consider this scenario:

  1. Check in a drawing of an assembly that contains a BOM table, but leave the assembly checked out
  2.  Modify the assembly in a way that the BOM would change.

Now, if you open the drawing in SolidWorks, the BOM would be correct – because the BOM table rebuilds as soon as it loads. However the BOM table in Enterprise is still what the BOM table looked like when the drawing was checked in. [Also be aware if you open this drawing in eDrawings, the BOM table is dirty as well.]

Sure there are work-a-rounds -or this problem could be alleviated with user training, but IMHO, the risk to benefit ratio of this new ability is pretty high.

At today’s “What’s New” in Louisville, Vik Vedantham was wearing charcoal gray slacks with his blue 3DVision shirt. For those of you have been asking…I have no idea if that is his real hair.

No groupies at today’s event.

Off to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

SolidWorks in the Commonwealth

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Today the “What’s New in SolidWorks 2009″ party arrived in Lexington.

Yesterday I asked a customer if I would see him today at this rollout. He stated that his company is still using SolidWorks 2007 and his IS department has no short term plans to upgrade to 2009.

[My first reaction was anger. I hate it when IS departments determine what is best for other departments. Their job is supposed to support the company, but so often the tail wags the dog. <sigh> this is a blog for another day] I counted to ten. I admit I do see this customer’s point. However I contend it is still important to come see what is new in the software so you can plan; and look for a valuable new feature that would make the return on investment worth going to the CEO and tattling on the IS guys for not doing their job.

One other [perhaps more professional] reason: Any time you can watch a guy who is really good with SolidWorks (as an example Randy Simmons; who did the rollout today) you need to take some time to watch. There are so many things in SolidWorks, you always pick up something new. Here is an example: Randy was showing the new 2009 ability to put custom properties into equations. His example was he was taking the part’s mass and multiplying it by a constant “$/pound”. Thus the cost of the part updates automatically through equations. Several people in the room did not know that SolidWorks could automatically tell you what the weight of a part is….and has been able to do this since the beginning. They had been doing this by hand! You may have already known this, but think of the time these guys saved just with a little aside like that. I know that everyone in the room picked up a little tip today – something to make them a better SolidWorks user than their competition.

Vik Vedantham was wearing gray slacks with his “peach” 3DVision shirt –overall a great ensemble.

Vik doing the show

It is now Wednesday and still no groupies. Is it possible they don’t follow engineering functions?

Off to Louisville Kentucky.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

The What’s New caravan arrives in Cleveland

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

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So today for the third stop on the tour, we are in Solon.

For those of you who like to put a face with the name, Robert Warren, our three time Top Gun support guy, made a guest appearance.

Robert and Jordan eating lunch That is Robert on the left, Jordan Tadic on the right. Suppose Robert’s Grandfather is walking around mumbling -trying to figure out where his favorite tie went?

Vik Vedantham was wearing gray slacks with his orange 3DVision shirt. He mixed things up a bit by wearing black shoes instead of the brown ones he wore Friday –overall a great ensemble.

I thought I saw our first groupies…but turns out it was just the line waiting to get into the women’s locker room.

Off to Lexington Kentucky.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

SolidWorks in Toledo

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Toledo. Home of Tony Packos, the Mud Hens, Jamie Farr, and the second stop on 3DVision’s What’s New in SolidWorks 2009 tour.

I have been looking forward to this day for a while. This is the first time I have gotten to see our new applications engineer, Jordan Tadic in action. It appears he is as good as advertised. He had good pace and really was able to show the cool new features well. The people of Northern Ohio have it pretty good.

It always interests me how different groups have personalities. I had very few questions in Cincy, but almost 15 minutes worth of questions here in Toledo….from many people too, not just one guy hogging up all the time. Several people were very interested in Enterprise’s new ability to confirm state changes with password verification.

As a change of pace, Balaji Chandrasekaran from SolidWorks showed the new features of Cosmos. Check out Seth’s post that he did earlier today.

There were no groupies; perhaps the word out on the street isn’t out yet?

See ya in Cleveland.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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