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WELCOME EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Al Dean al@x3dmedia.com +44 (0)7525 701 541 Managing Editor Greg Corke greg@x3dmedia.com +44 (0)20 3355 7312 Digital Media Editor Stephen Holmes stephen@x3dmedia.com +44 (0)20 3384 5297 Consulting Editor Jessica Twentyman jtwentyman@gmail.com +44 (0)20 7913 0919 Consulting Editor Martyn Day martyn@x3dmedia.com +44 (0)7525 701 542

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H

ere we go: the last issue of DEVELOP3D before most of us disappear off on our summer holidays. That, of course, means that the beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying over the last couple of months is about to disappear quicker than our prospects of winning the World Cup. It also means that we’re a month or two away from conference season starting again, so I wonder where this autumn will take myself and the rest of the D3D team. Will we find ourselves exploring the back streets of Tokyo like we did last year or enjoying a couple of days wandering around the halls of the NEC? (If you’re going to TCT at the end of September, do swing by and say hello.) I do know we’ll be heading to Boston to get things up and running for DEVELOP3D Live on 2 October. In our September issue, we’ll have details of who’s speaking and what you can expect, but even at this early stage, I can promise you it’ll be a cracker! Keep an eye on d3dliveusa.com for more details as we announce them. In the meantime, enjoy your summer, whatever you’re doing.

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CONTENTS JULY/AUGUST 2018 ISSUE NO. 101

7

13 14 16 22 24 28 32

NEWS PTC and Ansys bring real-time simulation to Creo, entry-level workstations redefined with 6 core Intel Xeon CPU, Faro acquires Open Technologies FEATURES Comment: Mike Cane of Cambridge Design Partnership Visual Design Guide: Nissan GT-R50 concept car COVER STORY The beat goes on at Vox Amps Tune in, turn on: Building a better antenna at Optisys Event report: PTC Liveworx 2018 Dragons’ return: 3D printing for conservation at Kew Drop shot: Special effects at Machine Shop

REVIEWS 36 V-Ray for Rhino 40 Stratasys F123 Series 45 ITI CADfix 12 49 DEVELOP3D SERVICES 50 THE LAST WORD Will buildings and products designed and made today stand the test of time, asks Al Dean?

The wood used to produce this magazine comes from Forest Stewardship Council certified well-managed forests, controlled sources and/or recycled material

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NEWS

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT NEWS

PTC AND ANSYS PARTNER TO BRING REAL-TIME SIMULATION TO CREO

» PTC looks to Ansys' breakthrough GPU-driven simulation system to revolutionise how analysis is handled directly inside Creo's geometry modelling environment

A

nsys and PTC have announced a partnership to bring Ansys Discovery Live (ADL) directly into the Creo interface. The combined solution will be sold by PTC and its partners as part of the Creo price book and will bring together one of the beasts of 3D product engineering and the simulation world’s hottest new technology. If you’re not familiar with it, Ansys Discovery Live offers a new approach to simulation by taking advantage of the power of GPU computing to provide simulation results in near real time. While in its original form, perhaps the longest part of the process is importing your CAD geometry into the Discovery Live system, in this instance, it should be even more efficient. “With the combined solution, engineers will be able to see the real-time results of simulation during the modelling process, enabling them to understand design changes in their models,” said PTC CEO and president Jim Heppelmann. “This capability has the potential to dramatically improve engineering productivity and quality and the combined solution can be a differentiator in the market. Partnering with Ansys makes tremendous sense on every level.” There’s no word on how this system interacts with the tools already in Creo Simulate, but our guess is that whereas standalone Discovery Live uses a SpaceClaim-based platform to provide the geometry wrangling aspects, this uses Creo's built-in tools. There’s no sign, either, of other CAD vendors looking to integrate Discovery Live’s capabilities with their own systems – but we’d be happy to bet this isn’t the last time that we’ll see CAD and simulation come together in this kind of partnership. It’s also worth noting how this ties in with PTC’s industrial digital twin activities and enabling real-time simulation to be linked up to real-time data streams from products in the field and push warnings back to operators. This wouldn’t be possible using traditional simulation tools, given the often lengthy solve times, but with Ansys Discovery Live, it most certainly could.

“Ansys is the global leader in engineering simulation, and Discovery Live is the latest example of our innovation in action. By embedding Ansys Discovery Live into Creo, we will expand our audience to include design engineers – who will be able to design at the speed of thought,” said Ajei Gopal, president and CEO of Ansys. “The power of simulation will now readily be provided to engineers as they make thousands of decisions and model explorations, providing them with unprecedented insight into their design choices.” If you'd like to read more about other strategic moves and new partnerships unveiled by PTC at its annual Liveworx event, held in Boston in June, turn to page 24 to read Jessica Twentyman's report. ptc.com | ansys.com

Top: Ansys Discovery Live technology running directly inside PTC’s Creo Above: Real-time simulation in the context of an assembly model

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NEWS

ENTRY-LEVEL WORKSTATION REDEFINED WITH 6 CORE XEON

Faro buys Open Technologies

3

D Scanning specialist Faro has added further industrial and dental 3D scanning technologies to its portfolio, through the acquisition of Opto-Tech and its subsidiary Open Technologies. Located in Brescia, Italy, Open Technologies offers a rich portfolio of compact, 3D structured light scanning solutions, including its Cronos and Arum models for large and small parts, respectively. The company is an official partner of 3D Systems, while having also created an interesting line of its own software, including its reverse engineering toolset Optical Reveng, which offers novel realtime monitoring of scans, capturing any environmental change or movement of sensors, in order to ensure high-quality measurement. opentechnologies.it | faro.com

T

he entry-level desktop workstation is changing, thanks to the new Intel Xeon E-2100 CPU announced this month. The new 'Coffee Lake' derivative CPU features up to six cores — two more than the quad core Intel Xeon E3-1200 v6 it replaces. Four CPU cores has been the standard in entry-level workstations for over 10 years, so six cores is a big step up for design and engineering firms that use 3D CAD, but also rely on multi-threaded applications, such as rendering or simulation. Intel quotes up to 1.45x faster performance when comparing the top-end Intel Xeon E-2186G to the 2017 Intel Xeon E3-1200 v6 Processor in Cinebench, a benchmark representative of most ray trace rendering applications. Intel does not offer up any single-threaded benchmark figures, but we expect generation-ongeneration performance increases to be relatively small.

All of the major workstation manufacturers have anounced new entrylevel workstations to coincide with the launch of the E-2100. Both the Lenovo ThinkStation P330 and HP Z2 are available in three different sizes: a tower, a Small Form Factor (SFF), and a mini/tiny. Dell has two new machines, the Precision 3430 Small Form Factor Tower and the Precision 3630 Tower. All the new SFF and tower workstations have been made smaller by getting rid of the 5.25-inch optical drive bay and through increased reliance on small NVMe SSDs, instead of 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives. 64GB DDR4 memory is standard in the SFF and towers, while the HP Z2 Tiny and Lenovo P330 Mini come in at 32GB. Dell and HP have also beefed up the graphics in their tower systems, with a choice of GPUs up to the high-end Nvidia Quadro P5000. The entry-level workstation isn't that entry-level any more. intel.com

The HP Z2 family comes in three sizes: Mini, Small Form Factor (SFF) and Tower

Dell makes 1:1 connection

D

ell is going back to basics with the launch of a new 1U remote workstation that a designer or engineer can access over a 1:1 connection. The new Dell Precision 3930 Rack is designed to give firms all the benefits of having workstations in the datacenter — data security, remote access, reduced desk clutter, and so on — without getting involved in the complexities and cost of graphics virtualisation. The 1:1 connection means each rack workstation is only used by one designer at any one time. Specs include Xeon CPUs up to six cores, up to 64GB memory and up to Nvidia Quadro P6000 graphics. dell.com/workstations

Prodways acquires Stratasys subsidiary Solidscape

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rodways Group has announced that it has acquired the US 3D printer company Solidscape, which since May 2011 has been a subsidiary of Stratasys. New Hampshire, US-based Solidscape was founded in 1994 and is a manufacturer of 3D printers serving investment casting applications for highly precise metal parts, popular in the jewelry, medical, dental and industrial markets. While Stratasys paid some $38M for Solidscape back in 2011, Prodways isn't

naming the price it paid in the cash transaction. Its leadership have said, however, that they expect Solidscape to generate revenue “greater than $10 million in 2019, of which nearly 50% from sales of materials and supplies.” They suggest that Prodways own MovingLight technology, already available to the jewellery market, and Solidscape’s proprietary technologies are a good fit and will give the company a comprehensive offering in the investment casting market. prodways.com | solidscape.com

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2018 Global Altair Technology Conference announces agenda and speaker line up

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ltair has announced the initial keynote presentations and overall agenda for its 2018 Global Altair Technology Conference (ATC 2018), taking place at the Palais des Congrès d’Issy in Paris, France from 16 - 18 October. The event will feature keynotes and industry presentations by speakers from Airbus, Ferrari, Alstom, Renault, Harvard Business School, Columbia University, Zaha Hadid, BMW, Schneider Electric and many others, alongside in-depth workshops, deep technical sessions, and industry presentations on the latest technology trends, such as IoT and digital twins, e-mobility and electric vehicle design, and the impact of AI and machine learning on the future of design. The conference promises to offer great value to industry leaders, product designers, technologists and engineers.

“Curiosity stimulates creativity,” said Antonio Di Carlo, an engineer at Swiss space industry supplier RUAG Space AG and a regular attendee at the annual event. “The conference is always interesting,” he continued, “because you get a chance to see what is coming up in months and years to come, for ideas on how we can improve our processes, speed up our daily work, or simply get an idea for your next work coming from an environment which you did not think about.” altair.com

Siemens acquires Austemper for analysis

S

iemens has entered into an agreement to acquire Texas-based Austemper Design Systems, a start-up software company that offers analysis, autocorrection and simulation technology for automotive, industrial and aerospace systems. The goal is for Siemens to help its customers quickly bring to market innovations in autonomous vehicles, smart factories and smart cities – with Austemper's software adding state-of-theart safety analysis, auto-correction and fault simulation technology to address random hardware faults. “The Austemper technology, added to the Mentor IC portfolio, along with the Teamcenter portfolio and Polarion ALM software, will give customers the

ability to develop and test digital twins of their systems for the highest degrees of functional safety before manufacture and deployment,” said Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens PLM Software. Siemens gives the example of a design teams at a semiconductor and IP company using Austemper’s innovative technology to analyse the registered-transfer level (RTL) code versions of their designs for faults and vulnerabilities. The technology, according to a company spokesperson, “can automatically correct and harden vulnerable areas, subsequently performing fault simulation to ensure the design is hardened and no longer susceptible to errors”, and can do so far faster than competing solutions. siemens.com/plm | austemperdesign.com

Siemens PLM’s key UK resellers to combine

C

utting Edge Solutions and Majenta PLM, two of the UK's leading Siemens PLM channel partners, have merged to become what claims to be the largest sales, consultancy and technical support organisation for a software vendor in the UK and Ireland. Oxfordshire-based Cutting Edge Solutions, formed in 1997, is one of the longest-serving Siemens Industry Software resellers worldwide, while Bedfordshirebased Majenta PLM is one of the few

Platinum resellers in Europe and the UK’s largest. Both companies work together on organising the UK’s annual Solid Edge event, and by the admission of Majenta PLM managing director Mark Parry, this tie-up has been under discussion for several years. He described it as “the perfect scenario for both companies.” The joint company is also looking to expand its reach further with financial backing from UK-based SME investors BGF. cuttingedge.co.uk | majentaplm.com

ROUND UP From now on, subscribers to SolidProfessor’s online training and education services will be able to access the company's entire library of online training videos for CAD, CAM, BIM and engineering theory courses, for a fee of $49 per month solidprofessor.com

The release of Service Pack 1 for the Hoops Visualize 2018 software development toolkit (SDK) is the first from Tech Soft 3D to provide support for Siemens Parasolid convergent modelling, enables software vendors to efficiently support workflows that seek to leverage both geometric representations techsoft3d.com

Formlabs has updated its castable wax resin for investment casting. This wax-filled material is designed for reliable direct investment casting with zero ash content and clean burnout. Printed parts are suitable for both custom try-ons and final production formlabs.com

Xometry has released a new version of its Instant Quoting Engine, with key features revolving around its user experience and screen view. A redesigned summary view to let users quickly review their quotes is joined by a part-level modification page that captures all changes in real time xometry.com

Specialist bulk material simulation software tool Edem has been made available via the Ansys App Store, enabling a wider number of engineers to use and benefit from the integration between the two technologies edemsimulation.com

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NEWS

EDF & DS SIGN 20-YEAR DEAL FOR NUCLEAR ENGINEERING

D

assault Systèmes, French consulting firm Capgemini and energy giant EDF (Électricité de France) have announced the signing of a long-term partnership agreement around the future of EDF’s nuclear engineering and its wider ecosystem. The partnership aims to support EDF in the digitalisation of its plant engineering projects, with a view to strengthening plant performance and the overall competitiveness of nuclear power. The partners jointly describe the deal as representing “a major step in accelerating the digital transformation of the nuclear industry.” In keeping with the terms of the agreement, EDF and Dassault Systèmes are engaging in a 20-year partnership that will sustainably support industrial projects using Dassault’s 3dexperience platform. According to the press release, this “interactive and evolutive” platform will be used by nuclear businesses to access realtime project data. It will also be used to design the digital twins of nuclear plants whether they are

at the design, construction or operational phases of their lifecycles. Capgemini, teaming up with Dassault Systèmes, will provide consulting, technology and systems integration services, while together the three companies will develop and integrate digital solutions that respond to specific needs for nuclear engineering. Interestingly for those engaged in the UK power industry, the controversial Hinkley Point C project is referenced explicitly, along other future EPR projects. “EDF’s nuclear engineering function has embarked on a digital switchover process seeking to align us with best engineering practices for complex projects,” said EDF Group CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy. “This undertaking, which is key to the success of our future nuclear projects, is a concrete illustration of the EDF Group’s transformation, initiated within the scope of our CAP 2030 strategy.” He added that the support of Dassault Systèmes and Capgemini will be important in helping the energy company to “coconstruct a project engineering process.” 3ds.com | capgemini.com | edf.fr

EDF is looking to transform how its nuclear engineering projects will be managed in the future

Airshaper touts pay-per-use CFD

A

Belgian start-up is looking to enable designers of all levels to access complex CFD simulation information for their designs with the launch of a virtual wind tunnel, operated by an expert on a pay-persimulation basis. AirShaper allows users to analyse and improve the aerodynamics of a 3D model in three steps: users send the 3D model to the website; AirShaper carries out the analysis and the viewer is sent the full report. The report will list information about the air resistance of the design, 3D illustrations of the air flow, indicate problem zones and provide explanations. With prices starting at €199 for a single analysis, packages for multiple simulations are also available. Founder Wouter Remmerie is a mechanical engineer and founded AirShaper after six years of design and consultancy work in aerodynamics. airshaper.com

Sciaky teams up with CTC

S

ciaky’s EBAM technology, its scaleable additive manufacturing method for giant metal parts, is the focus of a new partnership with Concurrent Technologies Corp (CTC), with the goal of pushing the technology further into the manufacturing sector. CTC is an independent, non-profit, applied scientific research and development professional services organisation based in the US. It will offer Sciaky’s industry-leading Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) metal 3D printing technology to manufacturing clients looking to save time and costs on large metal parts. sciaky.com | ctc.com

Stratasys partners with Xaar for high speed sintering

X

aar PLC has announced that it will invest with Stratasys in a newly formed company, Xaar 3D Limited, in order to develop 3D printing solutions based on High-Speed Sintering (HSS) technologies. Best known for its digital inkjet technology, Cambridge, UK-based Xaar will hold 85% of shares in Xaar 3D. Stratasys will hold the remainder, but will also be granted the option to increase its stake in Xaar 3D to as much as 30% at a future date. The new company’s board will be chaired

by Xaar CEO Doug Edwards and is expected it will look to combine Xaar’s industrial piezo inkjet printhead expertise with the commercial and market reach of Stratasys, in order to create a broader range of production applications. Stratasys has previously mentioned that it is diversifying its portfolio of products into the 3D printed metals market with its own technology, presumably to be launched later this year. This is the last in a string of similar partnerships it has made over the last year. stratasys.com | xaar.com

10 JULY/AUGUST 2018 DEVELOP3D.COM

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COMMENT

As Cambridge Design Partnership becomes employee-owned, founding partner Mike Cane discusses the role that he believes ownership can play in encouraging innovation and motivation

A

milestone has been reached this year in the history of technology and product design firm Cambridge Design Partnership (CDP). We’ve become a fully employee-owned company as we embark on the next stage of our evolution and growth and an employee ownership trust has been set up to hold the company’s shares on behalf of our staff. We believe this is a great opportunity for CDP to accelerate its mission to become a world-leading innovator, with the company’s most important asset – our staff – at the centre of its strategy. It means we can continue to grow without the involvement of external shareholders, so that we can maintain full control over the direction of the business and our creative culture. Many successful design agencies follow the trajectory of founders building the business, followed by a transition from an owner-managed business to a more scalable, long-term business model that enables growth to continue. Management structures must evolve to successfully control a business spanning many disciplines and territories. Internal processes must change as clients and projects become larger and have more sophisticated requirements. Classic succession options are either acquisition by a larger business or some form of management buyout, funded by private equity. Yet both of these routes lead to control moving towards forces that operate purely for profit, which can lead to compromises. Creativity and innovation are complex and fragile processes. Many companies’ management strategies are systems-led, based on an assumption that management controls a stepwise, repeatable process. This can lead to unintended consequences when, for a large part of the innovation process, the value created is uncertain and lies in learning and knowledge – both intangible assets. This is where innovation management becomes challenging and it is vital that the team really understands the value that is being created, not just the numbers in the accounts at the end of the day. We believe that to create a world-leading innovation company, it should be run by practitioners who understand the value being created and can

make long-term decisions that are best for the business, that drive success and motivate staff. Employee ownership means innovation can remain at the heart of our organisation. This is because both management and staff are aligned, and everyone is passionate about innovation and design. This keeps the soul of the company intact, rather than allowing it to become diluted. CDP’s leadership team of 10 partners manages the company and our team will have an increasing say in the company’s future through an elected council.

Over the last three years, we have expanded our capabilities significantly, with a view to creating a ‘one-stop shop’ for businesses in the healthcare and consumer sectors that need to innovate and launch their next-generation products quickly. While our strength has traditionally been in technology and engineering design, we now also have strong teams working at the front end of innovation, helping clients optimise their innovation plans, as well as at the back end, where our manufacturing engineering group sets up new processes and multinational supply chains. Partnership has always been in our name – and now it takes on even greater significance. Now that we are employeeowned, every member of staff, in every interaction they have with our customers, will be fully invested in the success of their project. Working together as an employee-owned company, with our goals fully aligned, we believe CDP is creating the best environment for innovation to flourish.

Partnership has always been in our name – and now it takes on even greater significance. Every member of staff, in every interaction with our customers, will be fully invested in the success of their project

 As an employee-owned company, we join the ranks of organisations such as retailer John Lewis, which is probably the UK’s best-known employee-owned business, as well as its largest. Since CDP was founded 22 years ago by three engineers – Mike Beadman, Matt Schumann and I — it has grown to a team of around 120 scientists, engineers, researchers and designers. This team is based in Toft near Cambridge, UK, and in Palo Alto in California, US.

Mike Cane is a founding partner of CDP, with 30 years of experience in innovation and new product development www.cambridge-design.co.uk | @cdp_innovation DEVELOP3D.COM JULY/AUGUST 2018 13

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VISUAL DESIGN GUIDE NISSAN GT-R50 CONCEPT Nissan has worked with legendary design house Italdesign to develop a limited edition GT-R based supercar

HIGHPERFORMANCE HERITAGE Inside, the Nissan GT-R50 “reflects its modern, high-performance pedigree.” Two different carbon fibre finishes are extensively used across the center console, instrument panel and door linings. The seats feature black Alcantara and fine black Italian leather and gold accents echo the exterior treatment throughout the cockpit

SAMURAI STYLING Key design features include a pronounced power bulge on the hood, stretched LED headlights, a lowered roofline and prominent ‘samurai blade’ cooling outlets behind the front wheels

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A PROTOTYPE FOR GOODWOOD The first-ever collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign, the GT-R50 prototype shown at Goodwood could become the blueprint for an extremely limited run of hand-built production vehicles. The vehicle commemorates the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R, in 2019, and Italdesign, in 2018. “The Goodwood Festival of Speed is the ideal setting to showcase the Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign, which combines power and artistry to celebrate 50 years of inspiring the dreams of our customers,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design. “Just like the prototype itself, Goodwood is a celebration of design, performance, a little indulgence and a lot of love of historic and future automotive creativity. It’s the perfect setting to showcase a unique vehicle that will stir the imagination of people to dream even bigger

UPGRADED SPECIFICATION With a special power plant that boasts up to 120PS over the stock engine, as well as chassis and driveline upgrades, performance backs up the new look. Drawing on Nissan’s extensive GT3 racing experience, the NISMO organization enhanced the hand-assembled 3.8-liter V6 VR38DETT engine to produce an estimated 720PS and 780Nm of torque. A revised Bilstein suspension damping system and upgraded Brembo braking system help handle the extra power

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OPTIONS, PRICE & AVAILABILITY Depending on the reception the GT-R50 by Italdesign gets, a customer version may be created. It will be limited to no more than 50 units produced by Italdesign, with each car tailored for the customer at a price estimated to start at about €900,000 gt-r50.nissan | italdesign.it

17/07/2018 16:54


PROFILE

STAGE PRESENCE » Vox is a musical equipment manufacturer that scored a massive hit in the 1960s with its guitar amplifiers, used by bands including The Beatles. Tanya Weaver visits the company’s Milton Keynes HQ to discover how this illustrious history inspired the new Mini Superbeetle amp, completely designed and manufactured in-house

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 At a music festival like Glastonbury, I can spot a Vox amp on stage from a mile away, because even if you can’t make out the logo, you can still see the black, gold and brown Dave Clarke, Vox’s R&D manager

The classic black, gold and brown of a Vox amp is a key element in its distinctive style

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PROFILE

B

y the mid 1960s, the world was in the grip of ‘Beatlemania’. Four Liverpudlian lads were causing mass hysteria, belting out tunes like ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Ticket to Ride’, as they blazed a trail for popular music. That signature Beatles chime and ‘jangly’ sound was projected through Vox guitar amplifiers, which became almost as iconic on stage as the Fab Four. Fast forward 60 years, and a classic AC30 Vox amplifier, the model that Paul and John used, stands besides some of the brand’s newer models in a soundproof room at its Milton Keynes headquarters. The technology inside the newer products may be completely modern, but the styling is virtually the same as their predecessors, with a retro cabinet design and identical gold Vox-branded logo. “We are very proud of our heritage and one of the things that makes us completely unique is our trade dress – the gold logo against a black panel, the gold T-bar and the brown diamond grille cloth,” says Dave Clarke, R&D manager at Vox Amplification. “At a music festival like Glastonbury, I can spot a Vox amp on stage from a mile away, because even if you can’t make out the logo, you can still see the black, gold and brown.”

1 REVIVING THE BRAND

1 Designer’s ● workbench at Vox, If Vox was a superpower in guitar amplification in its where a number of 1960s heydey, by the 1970s, things had started to go awry. tests are carried out With its founders experiencing financial problems, the 2 Rear shot of the ● Mini Superbeetle, company was handed from owner to owner. That resulted showing its custom in inconsistent quality control, until it was acquired by the Celestion speaker Japanese synthesizer company Korg in 1992. Realising that the brand was hanging on by a thread, and only because people still associated it with the success of its earliest models, Korg decided to reintroduce the classic line-up, including the AC30. When Clarke joined the company in 2004 as a development engineer, his first task was to design the AC30BM, a limited-edition amp for Brian May of Queen, as 2 part of Vox’s Custom Classic series. “We did a limited edition of just 500 pieces globally of this special amplifier for Brian May. What was special about it is that it had no controls except for a single knob for volume. He told us that, ‘I plug in, I turn up and everything else is maxed out, so I only need one knob’. It looked quite funny – a huge control panel, with only one knob and two switches,” Clarke recalls. “Actually, it was a very exciting time to join the company, because it was so new and they were relaunching everything. They didn’t have a big product line-up and it was very motivating as a younger lad to join in,” he adds.

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‘‘ What

people love is having that iconic imagery of the speakers behind the band. So we thought about doing a modernday take on this huge, iconic app and making it accessible to everyone. That became the Mini Superbeetle or MSB25

On the subject of famous customers, Clarke and I are sat in what Vox refers to in-house as its ‘Artist’s Suite’. The walls are adorned with framed photographs of artists that have used the company’s amps, including The Beatles, The Kinks, Foo Fighters, U2 and The Rolling Stones. When visiting, it’s here that guitarists are brought to chat about their amp requirements. Clarke says that he tries not to get too blasé about who comes to see them, as there have been a few famous faces over the years, Edge from U2 for one. “Basically, Edge’s favourite amp from 1964 is falling apart but it has a very unique sound. I had to find out what makes it so special and having travelled to the amp to discover its secrets, Edge then asked us to make four custom amps, which I handmade myself. I’m a bit of a U2 nut, so it was a fun collaboration for sure,” he says.

TEAM PLAYERS The Vox design team in the UK is pretty small, consisting of just Clarke and his colleague Phil Scarffe, senior development engineer, who are led by managing director, Ian Doggett. Between the two of them, they design the majority of tube-based Vox products, most of which are engineered from the ground-up, including the packaging, as well as the drawings and copy for product manuals. “We are involved in the electronic design, industrial design, mechanical design, all the production drawings,

’’

designing all the silk screens, packaging artwork, the packaging itself… Everything you can imagine in the amp, we’ve either had a hand in, or have designed the whole thing. So every little detail is ours. It’s good and bad, because you can screw something up and then that’s your fault and you have to take it on the chin. But we found that for us, it’s a necessity to work this way because we are a small team and don’t have the luxury of farming stuff out to someone else. It’s busy, but I like it,” smiles Clarke.

SHRINKING THE SUPER BEATLE One of the most recent products the team has designed is the Mini Superbeetle. In fact, Clarke is not long off the plane from having launched it at Summer Namm 2018, a global music trade show held in Nashville. The original ‘Super Beatle’ amp, as the name suggests, was used by the Beatles to make them heard above the increasing size of the crowds at their concerts as their popularity soared. Designed as a classic stack set, the Vox AC100 amp featured a whopping 100 watt head that powered a separate speaker cabinet below, housing the 4x 12-inch speakers. “The Beatles wanted to plug their guitars in and didn’t really care that much how it sounded, it just needed to be loud. Now, in this day and age, no one needs a lumbering 100 watt amplifier with 4x 12-inch speakers. But what people do love is having that iconic imagery of the speakers behind the band,” says Clarke. “So we thought about doing a modern-day take on this huge iconic amp and making it accessible to everyone. That was basically the inspiration for what became nicknamed as the Mini Superbeetle or MSB25.”

SPEEDING UP THE DESIGN

3

4

The Mini Superbeetle is the first product at Vox to be designed entirely in Autodesk Fusion 360, a cloud-based platform for product development. “Although we were using Inventor in the office, I’d been using Fusion for almost three years for personal projects at home. It was great, because on an enthusiast’s license, it doesn’t cost anything, it’s super powerful and you can do fancy renderings, etcetera,” says Clarke. “I didn’t use it for work, because it was still missing a few things. But Autodesk has been nudging it in the right direction and what tipped it over for me was finally when they introduced the sheet metal environment. Even though it was in its infancy still, it was enough for me to be able to get on with what I was doing.” The hope was that Fusion would speed up the product development workflow on the MSB25. The entire product was created using Fusion, apart from the printed circuit boards (PCB) and schematics. These were handled by Clarke using Altium Designer, a PCB and electronic design automation software package.

3 Electronics schematics ●

are at the heart of every design. Altium Designer is used for this work 4 The Korg-designed ●

Nutube is key to the Mini Superbeetle’s distinctive tube sound

5

5 The EL84 power tube is ●

still used on the AC30 today, just as it was in the 1960s

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PROFILE “I had to design everything. The Bill of Materials (BOM) had to be complete, from the smallest component all the way through to the biggest one. “So for me it did speed things up, because with Fusion you work from the component level, rather than assemblies and sub assemblies and sub parts, etcetera. You have to think of the original assembly as one component and everything is a sub-component of that. This working within one environment – instead of jumping back and forth between the part and drawing environments – worked really, really well,” he says.

FUSION AIDS COLLABORATION Apart from speeding up the actual design itself, Fusion 360 also helped them collaborate more effectively with the Korg manufacturing team in Vietnam, which in turn helped hurry things along. “Key for me was being able to show them my design intent. By sharing a link to the Fusion model, which is obviously password-protected, they could always see the latest version of the design. And if there was ever any confusion, they could explore the model themselves just through a browser, without having to ask me simple questions,” says Clarke. “Time zones can also work against you sometimes, because you’re trying to collaborate with someone who is nine hours ahead of you. They’re getting ready to go home as you come in, and it can really delay things. Whereas, because they were able to access the design and investigate issues themselves, it meant that they weren’t necessarily waiting for me on an answer.” The Mini Superbeetle was also one of the first products to incorporate Nutube, a new vacuum tube developed by Korg that creates the characteristic tube sound for which Vox became known. “In the 1970s, to the demise of Vox, the decision was made to switch from vacuum valves to solid state, thinking that modern tech would replace valves. It didn’t – and as a result, the amplifiers didn’t sound as good, as there wasn’t that same rich harmonic content you get with a vacuum tube.

6

“So Nutube is a modern-day take on the vacuum tube – the first innovation in vacuum tube technology since the 1970s, pretty much. It’s perfect for getting tube tone, but without all the bad sides of vacuum tubes, in that it runs cool, it’s small and it’s low-powered,” explains Clarke.

3D PRINTER WORKHORSE Throughout its design process, Vox makes extensive use of its in-house 3D printers to quickly explore ideas for custom parts, as well as to verify the mechanical properties of a part before committing to tooling. Its main workhorse in the workshop is the Form 2 desktop 3D printer from Formlabs. “Specifically for the MSB25, I used it when designing a new custom knob, but apart from prototyping, we also find it very useful for making jigs,” describes Clarke. “One of our tests is a tilt test, so you have to make a platform for something to sit on and rather than sawing out a bit of wood and hoping that it’s about right, we can make a 3D printed plastic part and stick it onto a wooden plank and we know that it’s exactly 15 degrees, or whatever the angle needs to be.” Vox is very rigorous when it comes to testing and before the button is pressed on mass manufacture, products go through a very strict design verification process to ensure that the company delivers products of the utmost quality and robustness. Says Clarke: “We test everything to destruction and probably go over and above the tests we should do. The process to get it past our Japanese heads of quality control is very tough. I’ve been doing this job for 14 years and it’s just as tough today, but the products we end up with are incredibly robust and we find that the number of field failures are far less than they used to be in the early days.”

‘‘ People

definitely commented on the MSB25’s looks – they love the chrome stand that harks back to the original and the head that fits perfectly on the cabinet – but it’s the sound that gets them really excited

’’

SMALL BUT MIGHTY With the MSB25 being manufactured in Vietnam, Clarke is working on the packaging design and creating drawings and copy for the user manual. “Vox has a core manual department that does the layout of everything, but I have to supply all the line drawings and explain what every single control does. This is then translated into five different languages,” he explains. The Mini Superbeetle may be small, standing at just under 60cm tall and weighing in at under 9kg, but it certainly caught the attention of visitors at Summer Namm. “People definitely commented on its looks – they love the chrome stand that harks back to the original and the head that fits perfectly on the cabinet – but it’s the sound that gets them really excited,” says Clarke. “It’s the way we’ve tuned the cabinet, the custom design speaker that we had made by Celestion, the design of the circuit, the power amp, the NuTube... Everything is designed as one system to give a performance that is surprising for something so tiny. Hopefully, this excitement now translates into sales.” voxamps.com

6 The Mini ●

Superbeetle, together with a Rickenbacker guitar: all users need to achieve the classic chime of The Beatles

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PROFILE

TUNE IN TURN ON » Michael Hollenbeck, CTO of Optisys, explains how using simulation, cloud and 3D printing has enabled the start-up to drasticallyreduce the size and weight of its antennas

H

igh-frequency antennas are traditionally built by fabricating and assembling dozens to a hundred or more individual components plus hardware to provide the required radio-frequency (RF) performance and structural integrity. The RF energy propagates from component to component through interfaces, seams and discontinuities, so the RF path length must be increased to compensate for these obstructions.

1

Each component needs mounting surfaces and hardware, which add more unnecessary weight and space. In addition, part material thickness must be suitable to meet designfor-manufacturing constraints, and extra space is needed throughout for assembly clearances. At Optisys, we believe we have found a better way to handle this complex process. Using engineering simulation, cloud-based big compute and 3D printing, we achieve ordersof-magnitude reductions in antenna size and weight, while reducing development times. In particular, by leveraging electromagnetic and structural simulation tools from Ansys, running on a big compute platform from Rescale, this start-up’s engineers can take full advantage of the design freedom offered by 3D printing to meet RF performance requirements for integrated array antennas. Advances in metal 3D printing now make it possible to fabricate antennas and RF components at the scale required for wavelengths in the millimeter range. An entire antenna can be printed in one build as a single component. The elimination of interfaces, seams and discontinuities makes it possible to substantially reduce the length of the

2 RF path and the absence of mounting surfaces and hardware provides further size and weight reductions. Further reductions can be achieved by decreasing material wall thicknesses. And because assembly clearances are not required, engineers can make still further size reductions by packing features tightly into the entire 3D volume. Optisys engineers used Ansys simulation software to deliver orderof-magnitude reductions in size, weight and development time for the new 64-element X-band SATCOM integrated array antenna (XSITA). The amount of simulation required to perform such a feat is incredibly compute-intensive, and Optisys does

1 The 3D printed ●

array

2 Radiation pattern ●

for the antenna array is simulated in Ansys HFSS for different elevations and rotations 3 Ansys HFSS model ●

of radiating elements – anisotropic case

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the bulk of simulation on Rescale’s cloud platform for high-performance computing (HPC), minimising its on-premise IT footprint.

REVOLUTIONISING ANTENNA DESIGN 3D printing is revolutionising high frequency antenna design by realising levels of integration and performance far above conventional fabricated antennas. To gain the full potential benefits of 3D printing and other new manufacturing processes requires engineers to redesign antennas from scratch. This is a long and laborious task using traditional RF design methods, which involve hand-calculating an initial design, building a prototype, testing the prototype and then tuning it manually. These steps are repeated over and over until the design meets all specifications, a process that can take a year or more. To evaluate a broader range of alternative designs and iterate to an optimised design before building a prototype, Optisys uses simulation. By joining the Ansys Startup Program, Optisys gained access to Ansys’ HFSS electromagnetic simulation software and its mechanical finite element analysis software to evaluate the RF and structural performance of its design. Engineers create simulation models locally and upload them to the Rescale cloud platform where they can run Ansys software natively and access powerful high-performance computing resources without having to maintain a computing infrastructure on-premise. Rescale complies with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), so Optisys is able to use the platform even for antennas used in defense and homeland security applications. Optimising the RF design, Optisys engineers parameterised their initial concept design and used HFSS to calculate the S-parameters of each section of the antenna. They used the Ansys Optimetrics electromagnetic optimiser to evaluate multiple design variables at a time based on the S-parameter results, primarily considering how much of the RF input was transmitted, versus how much of it was reflected back. The optimiser stepped through the design space by following gradients toward an optimal design that minimised insertion losses and reflected energy. Engineers frequently generated e-field and surface current plots of the waveguide cavities for the designs generated by the optimiser, in order to visualise performance and determine which areas most needed improvement. The XSITA radiating elements consist of 64 square waveguide elements with chokes formed from the structural supports. Both left-hand circular polarisation (LHCP) and right-hand circular polarisation (RHCP) are generated, based on a classical 2-port septum design that transforms a single mode input to a circularly polarised output. The LHCP and RHCP networks were designed so that each quadrant of the full radiating element array is broken into fourelement by four-element subsets. The polariser outputs connect to a 16-to-1 corporate feed network that pulls down each quadrant into combiner networks that feed into monopulse comparators. The RHCP and LHCP outputs have separate monopulse comparators for tracking on both polarisations, resulting in eight total output ports. The monopulse comparator

3 for each polarisation is nested among the bottom sections of the corporate feed in a compact manner that adds as little extra additional volume as possible. Due to the high levels of integration, with waveguide spacing approaching 0.020 inch in multiple regions, it is necessary to route the waveguide paths with all components of the model visible, but only simulate a subset of the geometry to improve simulation speed for optimisation. HFSS makes it possible to include or exclude geometries from the simulation without removing them from the modeller window. This makes it possible for Optisys engineers to independently design the RHCP and LHCP networks, while winding them around each other to minimise 3D volume and waveguide length.

DESIGNING STRUCTURAL SUPPORT Engineers used Ansys Mechanical to analyse the lattice support structure to ensure sufficient mechanical strength to allow for reducing the thickness of the RF components to minimise the weight of the antenna. Engineers also designed a printed elevation axis that includes a rocking arm and gears and connects to an external motor. The design of the XSITA array showcases the level of integration that can be achieved with 3D printing when engineers leverage Ansys HFSS to optimise complex RF designs and the power of virtually unlimited scaling available on Rescale’s cloud HPC platform. The success of start-ups like Optisys depends on delivering innovative solutions to the market faster than better-funded organisations. Combining engineering simulation with the ability of Rescale’s big compute platform to parallelise multiple projects, meanwhile, provided Optisys with massive efficiency gains and the ability to reduce design cycles from months to weeks. The results speak for themselves. Existing antennas in this space average 50 pounds and contain more than 100 components. By contrast, the Optisys XSITA weighs a mere 8 pounds and consists of a single component. Being able to innovate in this way enables a startup like Optisys to compete in this new field of 3D printing, which is expanding exponentially and enabling unprecedented capabilities. ansys.com | optisys.tech

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EVENT REPORT

PTC - PREPARE TO CHANGE » PTC’s industrial IoT products were the undoubted stars of the show at the company’s forward-looking Liveworx event held in Boston in June, as Jessica Twentyman reports

T

he company formerly known as Parametric Technology Corporation, but which today goes by the rather simpler name of PTC, is on a transformation journey so profound and fundamental that those initials should really stand for ‘Prepare To Change’. That was the message from PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann to over 6,000 attendees at the company’s Liveworx event, held in Boston this June. The changes sweeping the company’s customer base are no less profound, he added, as machines become more connected and smart factories become the new normal. “Today it’s no longer sufficient for companies, or us as employers, to think about some future state, some Point B, as their destination, and then move methodically towards that place,” he said.

“That type of mindset allows everybody to close their mind, to build up inertia around a point-in-time understanding of the world around us. Inertia, ultimately, is your main competitor, because it’s the enemy of change. When we stand with a fixed view of the future, by the time we get there, we find that the world around us has changed in ways we never anticipated.” With his keynote off to a suitably rousing start, Heppelmann went on to describe some of the changes that PTC is making in its bid to better serve companies operating in a world increasingly characterised by technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), robotics and blockchain.

FROM PLACE TO PACE First off, the company is on the move, shifting its global headquarters from the somewhat sleepy Boston suburb

PTC Chairman and CEO Jim Heppelmann

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EVENT REPORT

‘‘ When we

stand with a fixed view of the future, by the time we get there, we find that the world around us has changed in ways we never anticipated Jim Heppelmann, PTC CEO

’’

Jim Heppelmann with his Ansys counterpart Ajei Gopal, launch Creo with added realtime simulation, courtesy of Ansys Discovery Live

of Needham to a glittering tower in the city’s Seaport district, an area making a name for itself as Boston’s ‘innovation district’. PTC will take up 250,000 square feet as the anchor tenant at 121 Seaport Boulevard. Around 1,000 PTC employees will work there in an open floorplan environment, apparently designed to drive collaboration and innovation. “No-one will have a dedicated office – not even me,” Heppelmann promised. The new premises will also be home to a new PTC customer experience centre, occupying the top floor of the building, where customers can get up close and personal with new technologies. Real estate deals aside, another big change is PTC’s recently inked partnership with factory automation specialist Rockwell Automation. Announced in the week prior to kick-off at Liveworx, this sees Rockwell invest a cool $1 billion in PTC. Rockwell chairman and CEO Blake Moret, who joined Heppelmann on stage at Liveworx, will join PTC’s board of directors. The thinking behind this tie-up is that a factory can only ever be as smart as the software that runs it, so the two companies are teaming up to push a joint vision of the smart factory to companies interested in injecting their industrial environments with hefty dose of digital. In particular, they will package up a number of their software products as a smart factory ‘bundle’ for customers. These include PTC’s industrial IoT (IIoT) products – principally, its Vuforia augmented reality (AR) tech, its Kepware integration software and its ThingWorx IoT platform – alongside Rockwell’s FactoryTalk manufacturing execution system (MES) suite and related analytics products. The key thing here is reach. According to Heppelmann, most of PTC’s smart factory sales have up until now been handled by the company’s internal direct sales group, which numbers around 330 individual sales teams. Only 25 of these teams, however, are specifically focused on factories. By contrast, Rockwell has over 1,000 sales teams working specifically with factories. In other words, it’s an opportunity to get PTC selling its IIoT-focused products – all acquired technologies – into a far broader customer base. Between them, ThingWorx, Kepware and Vuforia arrived at PTC during the past five years at a combined cost to the company of around $300 million. But they’re driving growth and Heppelmann wants to see that growth continue.

CAD AND PLM While the keynote firmly travelled an ‘Industry 4.0’ path, that is not to say that PTC’s mainstay CAD and PLM

products didn’t get a look-in. In fact, Heppelmann was joined on stage pretty early in his presentation by Ansys CEO Ajei Gopal to announce a tie-up between the two companies. This will see simulation capabilities from Ansys embedded into Creo, with the result that users can visually assess the impact of design changes as they are made. The first fruits of this partnership will support real-time structural, thermal and modal simulations in Creo, but increasingly advanced simulations are promised over time. “By embedding Ansys Discovery Live into Creo, we will expand our audience to include design engineers, who will be able to design at the speed of thought,” said Gopal. “The power of simulation will now be readily provided to engineers as they make thousands of decisions and model explorations, providing them with unprecedented insight into design choices.” Things were somewhat quieter on the PLM front, but PTC did use the event to showcase two new customer wins in this part of its business. Ceiling fan manufacturer Hunter Fan Company, based in Memphis, is expanding its PTC product portfolio to include PTC’s FlexPLM retail software, in addition to its existing use of Creo and the Windchill PLM software. This will enable the company to consolidate systems and manual activity that persist beyond the engineering bill of materials (BOM) in order to increase design accuracy and speed to market. And Japanese industrial equipment manufacturer Sinfonia Technology has selected Windchill to improve operational efficiency, time to market, quality assurance and team collaboration at its clean transport equipment factory in Toyohashi.

IIOT: STAR OF THE SHOW The stars of the Liveworx show, however, were undoubtedly the company’s IIoT products. During his keynote, Heppelmann was joined on stage by employees from defence, security and aerospace giant, BAe Systems, which has created a visual training aid using Vuforia and Microsoft’s HoloLens head-mounted display (HMD), to guide workers in manufacturing plants through the process of building a batter for a greener, electric-powered bus. In addition, attendees saw a lab technician from Sysmex America, a manufacturer of clinical laboratory equipment, being guided through the process of setting up machines for daily blood analysis via an AR headset. This example uses technology from Waypoint, a start-up recently acquired by PTC that will be integrated into the company’s Vuforia product line. The reason that IIoT was given such prominence was perfectly clear. These are the real focus for future growth at PTC, as Heppelmann made clear in a later press conference. The company’s IIoT software business is growing at around 40% annually, he said. In revenue contribution terms, that makes it already as big as the PLM business and it will overtake PLM next year, he predicted. While still not as big as the company’s CAD software business, IIoT looks set overtake CAD in 2020. Speaking as much of his own business as the companies that PTC serves, Heppelmann told attendees: “We need a mindset where clock speeds are short, innovation is continuous and where a willingness to react quickly and change frequently is viewed as a core competency.” PTC is clearly working hard to set out its stall as a software company rich in exactly that kind of competence. ptc.com

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PROFILE

HERE BE DRAGONS » The combination of SLS 3D printing and traditional techniques was the magic spell that brought dragons home to the Great Pagoda in London’s Kew Gardens. Stephen Holmes reports

T

he Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens is not percent lighter than the equivalent dragon made of wood. only a 250-year-old Royal Park landmark This weight reduction means less stress for the historic and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, building. The CAD data, meanwhile, made it possible to visited by around 1.8 million people scale the dragons and produce them in a variety of sizes, annually. It is also home to 80 dragons. ranging from 1.15m to 1.85m in length. Commissioned in 1761 in the reign of Says Craig Hatto, project director at Historic Royal King George III, the Pagoda’s dragons Palaces: “The engineering skill of 3D Systems’ team, were removed some twenty years after its opening, the opportunity to lightweight the dragon statues, and during repairs to the roof – and they did not return until the material longevity of SLS 3D printing were key very recently. considerations for this project.” Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that It was also important that 3D printing should be takes care of Kew Palace among other properties, needed used alongside traditional techniques and materials. to authentically replicate the dragons, but in a way that The dragons at the base of the pagoda, for example, are would withstand the famously inclement English weather wood-carved. Those higher up in the structure needed a and not overload the different approach. towering building. To decide on To achieve its goals, it the colouration The engineering skill of 3D Systems’ team, the of the beasts, the turned to modern 3D opportunity to lightweight the dragon statues, curation team at technology. and the material longevity of SLS 3D printing Kew painstakingly Makers of dragons researched every were key considerations for this project The On Demand aspect of each dragon’s Manufacturing team form. Very few visual at 3D Systems delivered lightweight, durable dragons, records of the original dragons exist and reference was achieved by scanning the designs of a master wood carver instead taken from descriptions in poetry that described with a Faro Design ScanArm and then using 3DS’s their colours, from a painting tracked down to a private Geomagic Design X software, Selective Laser Sintering collection and from analysis of paint fragments. (SLS) 3D printing – not to mention a great deal of The final forms were then printed on 3D Systems’ SLS sympathetic, high-quality finishing. machines in DuraForm PA, a polyamide 12 nylon material The use of CAD enabled the team to innovate while capable of giving them a look and feel comparable to their creating the dragons, including hidden features to make it original wood-carved counterparts – and making them easier to mount them in the pagoda, for example, and giving just as fearsome. (continued on page 30) them a lightweight, hollow structure that makes them 60 3dsystems.com | kew.org

‘‘ ’’

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PROFILE

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGONS 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

1 The wooden ●

sculptures are laser-scanned to high accuracy and resolution 2 The laser scan ●

data is used as the basis for all subsquent design and engineering work 3 ●

Dragon parts are built using 3D Systems' arsenal of SLS machines and Nylon powder 4 ●

The team at 3D Systems’ High Wycombe facility begin assembly of the dragons 5 3D Systems’ ●

in-house paint and finishing facilities are used and paint developed specially by the curation team is applied 6 ●

The dragons are complex assemblies, designed to maximise resistance to high winds 7 Yes, that’s real ●

gold leaf

There are 72 dragons, of varying sizes, and each one is slightly different 8

9 The dragons ●

feature all sorts of hidden functional devices to enable them to look good and stay in place 10 In-situ, the ●

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PROFILE

DROP SHOT

» Machine Shop produces unique engineering marvels to help advertisers create perfect shots. Stephen Holmes visited the company’s London headquarters and went behind the scenes on a recent project for Gatorade

A

s the London heatwave takes the thermometer inside Machine Shop’s offices past 28C, it’s ironic that we’re sat looking at one of the most refreshing advertisements of the last few years. The company’s special effects creators, prop builders and product engineers created the ‘rain projector’ in Gatorade’s Water Made Active campaign for its G Active drink. Droplets of the energy drink fall like rain, forming shapes captured by cameras, frame by frame, transforming them with stop motion flash photography into a running, jumping, kickboxing human form. The machine creating the droplets became known as the 3D Liquid Printer – eight module tanks sat suspended on a rig, firing 2,048 electronically programmed water switches, and built from over 20,000 individual parts and custommade components. Machine Shop has been splashing liquids, blowing things up and making all kinds of models and solutions for visual media since 1993, and this example is typical of the unique, one-off projects it undertakes for big-name brands. “When you see the [special effects in an] advert you think ‘Oh, that’s nice’, or you don’t even think about it,” says Patrick Thursby, project manager of Machine Shop’s Special Projects division. “You don’t see that, in order to make that ‘swirl of chocolate’ or whatever it might be on screen, you’ve got six motors above it and it’s pouring fluid down a plastic shape in order to get the shot.” For the Gatorade project, Machine Shop had to achieve the perfect shot literally thousands of times.

PROGRAMMING CHALLENGE Working with the London-based production company Unit9, a lot of concept ideas were considered in what

1 was a fairly open brief that began with solving the programming element. “They provided us with the 3D data for the figure – motion capture applied on to a 3D model – and passed us each frame as a mesh,” says Thursby. “We had to develop some software to then slice that.” With the help of specialist electronics programmer Will Gallia, the release timings of the slices were processed further, adding a further layer of complexity as the team sought to give the illusion of counteracting gravity The figures were divided evenly, layer by layer, in the software, but this left the problem of ‘spread’ to deal with. When the first drops have left the machine and are near the bottom, they’re moving faster than the last drops still at the top. The release timings of the slices were processed further, adding a further layer of complexity as the team sought to give the illusion of counteracting gravity. “At that stage, we weren’t working with models, we were just working with maths. ‘Here’s a grid of 1s and 0s’,” says Thursby. “It wasn’t until we got a 3D model and started to

1 Each individual ●

module was modelled in SolidWorks and fitted tightly into the rig to keep the falling rain droplets densely packed

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2

try and process that, that we knew it was going to work.” The physical Liquid Printer was constructed at Machine Shop’s base in West London, a looping layout of workshop spaces set up to cover all angles, from traditional model making and casting skills, to dedicated wood, metal and electrical shops. The original prototype module from the advertisement sits in the main workbench space, a room adorned with all kinds of models and sculptures from previous television, film and ad work. The most striking thing about the prototype itself is the amount of wiring involved for a project in which the main focus is liquid. Each wire connects the controlling computer boards directly to the solenoids managing the precise dropping of liquid two to three times a second from the pressurised tank above. Multiply this module by eight, and the complexity of the build becomes apparent.

The CAD model proved essential for the build, giving accurate measurements, data for CNC machining, laser cutting and weights to pre-empt the full water-filled load that would eventually be balanced on the filming rig. The finished modules are very tightly placed together – consciously designed so that when assembled the gaps between the nozzles was seamless. The joining wall for the modules, meanwhile, was designed as an I-beam with cutouts at intervals to make sure there were no gaps between the nozzles between modules. “There were loads of little details when doing it. You just couldn’t do it otherwise, which is the great thing about SolidWorks,” concludes Loible.

2 The falling droplets ●

were illuminated by flashes of light, capturing the running, jumping and kickboxing human form Image Credit: Unit9 Films

THE NEED FOR SPEED

Placement within the form became a tricky process; elements like finding the right size solenoid became vital to achieving densely packed droplets, yet doing so in such TIME PRESSURES a tight space brought uncertainty over what would happen Designed in SolidWorks, a working time constraint of with the level of magnetism. three weeks meant that the CAD model missed out a lot of “We spent three weeks with one solenoid trying different finer details, with aspects like modelling individual cables nozzle sizes, nozzle heights, different flow rates, different abandoned and accounted for by measured gaps. fluids,” recounts Thursby. “We had such little time, as I was out there building it A local supplier Machine Shop uses for a lot of fine with the guys,” explains Machine Shop project manager engineering parts was able to provide the different shaped Steve Loible, pulling up the models to his workstation nozzles – rounded edges, sloped edges, different diameters screen. “We use it to the best of our advantage, but time’s and so on. From there, it was a case of hands-on testing limited.” before delivery to the studio. The job reference number 5446 needs to be dug out Machine Shop’s location, in West London’s Park Royal, first, highlighting the pace at which Machine Shop tackles an industrial pocket of craftsmen and materials suppliers, projects: a conservative estimate puts it around 6,000 jobs helps address the urgency of its projects. As Thursby over the past 25 years, averaging four and a half different explains: “You can get pretty much everything the same day, jobs per week. which means we can work very, very quickly.” “We couldn’t do any flow calculations or anything like Speed translates into results for Machine Shop, giving the that, or routing electronics. If we’d had a year, I would’ve company the power to make it rain on command – even on modelled everything, but this was the detail I could fit in the the sunniest days. time, which was all the critical things.” machineshop.co.uk DEVELOP3D.COM JULY/AUGUST 2018 35

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REVIEWS

SOFTWARE REVIEW

1

V-Ray for Rhino 3.6

» Al Dean takes a look at the latest release of V-Ray for Rhino3D. With this product, hasthe Chaos Group created the ultimate photorealistic renderer for McNeel’s 3Dmodelling Swiss Army knife?

W

hen you talk about 3D modelling systems for product design and engineering, there are those vendors that you think of immediately – Dassault, Autodesk, Siemens, PTC et al. Then there are those that come in under the radar, but when you start to look at the numbers, you discover that they’re actually more widely sold and more widely adopted than you might expect. At the top of the list of these ‘stealth vendors’, you’ll find McNeel & Associates, with its Rhinoceros 3D application – or Rhino, as it’s more commonly known. Rhino has been widely adopted for a couple of reasons. The first is that it’s incredibly powerful, particularly if you’re dealing with complex surface modelling tasks, either creating them from scratch or repairing imported data. Secondly, it’s incredibly cost-effective, compared to similarly well-endowed toolsets. At the time of going to press, the list price is still 995 Euros – no subscription, no maintenance costs (you get all service packs for that release).

» Product: V-Ray for Rhino 3.5 » Supplier: Chaos Group Price: £220 per year chaosgroup.com

1 Alias 2019 brings ●

new sectioning tools to quick rip sections through your model as you need

The final reason for its popularity is, I suspect, the huge wealth of third-party addons for the system. Whether you’re looking for stress analysis, CAM or a niche add-on to assist in the development of boat hulls, they’re all available. One of the most popular classes of add-on is rendering and visualisation. Whether you’re using Rhino for product development, architectural design or something else, there is a huge range of options. While Rhino has its own built-in rendering tools and its own add-ons (Flamingo and more recently, McNeel has built in the open source Cycles renderer), there are a range of third-party vendors looking to add their own special brand of magic. This month, we’re going to take an indepth look at the last update to one of these – namely, V-Ray for Rhino, developed by the Hungarian team at Chaos Group. If you’ve not come across V-Ray before, it’s essentially a singular physically based rendering system that has been developed for integration in a wide spread of 3D modelling and visualisation systems. It’s currently available for 3ds max, Modo,

Maya, Cinema 4D, Form-Z, Revit, Blender and of course, Rhino. So let’s dig into what it does, how it does it and what you can produce using it. If you’ve used Rhino with plug-ins before, you’ll know that installation is pretty straightforward – open up the Rhi file and it’ll sort itself out. Then place all your files where you need them. It’s then a case of configuring V-ray how you want it – either running as default or, if you have shared resources for textures and materials (V-ray makes sharing standardised materials very easy), then you’ll need to point the various folders to where they need to go.

GETTING STARTED Getting up and running with V-ray inside Rhino is pretty straightforward. You’ll find a new menu is added to the pull-down and a small toolbar gives you access to the most common Rhino integrated commands, including light creation and depth of field focus control. It’ll also bring up the V-ray dialog window. If you’ve used V-ray for Rhino before, you’ll immediately notice that this portion

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2

The good news is that, in its last few releases, the Chaos Group has really started to improve the user experience

 of the interface has been dramatically reworked. The whole thing looks and feels much easier to use, and considering that the workflow is split across two key dialogs (the operations inside Rhino and the V-ray dialog), it all holds together nicely. As a last point, it’s worth noting that if you need to switch the renderer in Rhino, you’ll find V-ray for Rhino under the Render menu (look for Current Renderer). You’ll also need to switch your renderer viewport to use the V-ray Interactive option from the view shading controls. So, shall we explore the set-up and rendering process? Assuming that you’ve got your geometry render ready to go, then the best place to begin is with adding materials to that model.

MATERIAL CREATION Material creation is possibly the most time-consuming aspect of using V-Ray in the context of Rhino. V-Ray has special requirements when it comes to material definitions. So, while you can take any existing Rhino materials you have in place and convert them to V-Ray materials (using the included utility), the chances are that

you’re going to end up defining them from scratch in the majority of instances. The good news is that there is a wide range of options, controls and parameters to let you do that, and there are also a number of shortcuts. First, the system is supplied with a library of materials which you can use as a starting point. Most of these are more suited to an AEC workflow, rather than product design, but most of the bases are covered. Second, the web is your friend and there’s a wide range of downloadable materials for V-Ray (both free and paid) – look out for the vismat format. These can simply be opened up in V-Ray and tweaked or used directly. There’s also a newly added method of importing from a standard file format called MDL (we talked about this back in the March 2017 issue), which does much the same thing, but may give you another source of starter materials. The other option is to use Chaos’ VRScans library. In essence, VRScans are physically measured materials that Chaos makes available for download. If you’re looking for those 100% accurate materials and references, this is an excellent place to start (though editability is limited). It is worth noting that the VRScans library is a separate add-on, costing £260 per year for access to the 600 or more real world, captured materials. It’s worth noting that charge comes every year. If you stop paying, the materials are watermarked.

BUILD YOUR OWN MATERIALS If none of these options work, then you’ve got a full set of tools to dive in and build your own materials from scratch. Of course, you don’t want to do this for every project, so V-Ray makes your materials a lot more

portable – both between an individual user’s projects and between members of a design group. This means that one person who’s got all the mad materials skills on your team could generate all of its material definitions, enabling the team to standardise on them. Rather than clogging up your project with a huge library every time, the goal here is to only add those materials you might need to your V-ray project. That keeps things nice, tidy and manageable, and is particularly useful if you are working on group projects, where others might need to jump in and continue work. If there’s a downside to V-ray, it’s not to do with Chaos Group’s work, but rather some of the clunky texture mapping controls inside Rhino. You still need to use these to control your material and how it’s applied and the more complex your material, the more complex this can get – for example, if you’re running multi-layer materials or using decals heavily.

2 Using the new Light ●

instances to control two area lights at the same time. As you add more lights, this become way more useful

LIGHTING SET-UP There are two methods of working with V-Ray inside Rhino – using the existing tools in Rhino then converting the assets (lights, materials and so on) or creating them from scratch. During our tests, we found that it was much quicker and easier to define your V-Ray assets from scratch, using the V-ray native tools. This is particularly true when it comes to lights. Perhaps your starting point might be adding in a HDR image as the source of reflections, lighting and background to your scene. To do this with V-ray’s tools is pretty simple, but they’re a little hidden away – you do it using the adaptive sphere light tool. DEVELOP3D.COM JULY/AUGUST 2018 37

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SOFTWARE REVIEW

This allows you to add in a marker using either a sphere (you can see this in Figure 1) or as a point, which makes it very hard to spot in the model views. Strangely, the position you place this in makes no difference, so I’m not too sure why they’ve even bothered with the graphical widget. You then connect this widget up to your chosen HDR image and boom, the lights go on, your shadows start to resolve, and your image immediately starts to look better. Of course, alongside this, you’ve also got a range of more traditional CG lighting assets – point, spot and area lights (the area light is particularly useful for simulating bounce cards and light boxes). You’ve also got a range of IES lights, too. If you’ve not come across IES lighting definition, then you can use manufacturer-provided datasets to build a very accurate representation of a light. The combination of HDR environment lighting and manually created, tweaked and positioned lights means that you have a full set of lighting set-up description tools available at your disposal. Interestingly, there are some tools available if your scenes feature multiples of the same light

that you’d like to control easily. Using the new ‘instancing’ option, it’s now possible to have multiple lights in your scene, all controlled from one light in the V-ray dialogs. This will come in useful in many instances. In our test projects, for instance, we used a single light set-up to get the style we wanted, then instanced it across everywhere that a light was needed in the light clusters. This gave us the control we needed, from a single light and I’m sure it’ll prove particularly useful for those working in the architectural field.

THE V-RAY DIALOG & FRAME BUFFER These two components are the focal-point for everything that V-ray does. While Rhino provides the interaction with the geometry, it’s from the V-ray dialog that materials are defined and applied, lights created and controlled, and the scene defined. It’s also where you’ll find some of the more advanced options for the system. Some of these involve automation of Rhino to achieve specific rendering activities, but also to expose some of

the more powerful aspects of V-ray. For example, while it’s possible to create an infinite plane using Rhino, V-Ray adds in a command to do this explicitly and once the ground plane is in place, you can then add in the materials you want. This is also where you define the specifics of your output, both in terms of resolution, but also those ray tracing controls that can make or break a project. While V-ray for Rhino features an interactive rendering window, which is perfect for previewing your work, as you adjust and tweak your lights, materials and model, the chances are that you’ll need higher resolution output. During our tests, this was something that immediately escaped me, but eventually I tracked it down as an option hidden away in the V-ray dialog – proving, as ever, that it’s worth spending time working through the tutorials and help system. Here, under the ‘save image’ option, you’ll find a toggle for both image resolution and for image saving (which allows you to add a location). It’s also worth noting that there’s a curious

WORKFLOW: FROM RHINO TO PHOTOREAL RENDER WITH V-RAY 3.6

1 Let's kick things off with the timeless Volkswagen Type 6 ●

2 One of the first instances where a rendered model is ●

useful is using the standard Rhino viewport renders to give your graphics team a layout for image generation – a simple screenshot works as well as a full render.

3 That data can then be used as a background and ● placement dummy inside Illustrator (other vector design tools are available). Explore your decals out as a transparent 24-bit PNG file, saving you the hassle of alpha masks.

4 Using Rhino's improved decal positioning tools, you ●

5 Once your model is ready with textures in place, switch ●

6 There are a range of results display and interrogation ●

7 Now you’ve found the focal points for stress/strain, ●

8 As you start to finalise your render set-up, it’s worth ●

9 Then, when you’re ready, you can switch to a non● interactive render. This will do a complete computation of your scene at the resolution you want – or you can also batch them up to create multiples in one job.

Transporter, imported into Rhino 6 as an OBJ file, though it could just as easily have been natively modelled. The current model has no materials applied.

can then add in the decal directly onto your model. In this instance, using planar mapping makes the most sense – everything remains editable where needed.

you can use the built-in editing tools to make changes. SpaceClaim’s direct modelling tools handle these easily. If you need to make more complex edits, you can.

the ‘Current Renderer’ from the standard Rhino renderer to V-ray for Rhino. You’ll see a new toolbar, a new pull-down menu and a new option in the viewport shading mode.

switching from the viewport interact view and instead connecting the frame buffer window to your geometry view in Rhino. This gives you a large, more refined preview.

tools for each study type. In Structural studies, you can display stress/strain and highlight min/max points, sections and deformation.

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workflow in terms of how you preview your resultant imagery. In the first instance, you can have a viewport in Rhino displayed as a progressive V-ray preview. This is perfect for dialling in materials, lighting set-up and so on. An alternative is to use the V-ray buffer window. Once switched to interactive mode, this links to your chosen Rhino viewport, so geometry selections are easier during material set-up and you can take advantage of a denoiser that can strip some time out of your final renders. Together, the interactive viewport, with Rhino running as per normal and four shaded views, and the V-ray interactive frame buffer running alongside it, make for an ideal combination. Then, when you want your final image, you kick off a non-interactive render to your required resolution – or indeed, add it to a batch for processing later.

IN CONCLUSION V-ray has achieved legendary status among its many users and integrations into 3ds max, Maya and other standalone visualisation systems have long been on offer, are widely accepted and have significantly matured. The integration into Rhino differs in the sense that Rhino is not a system intended for the viz professional, but instead for designers, whether they’re working in product or architectural design. The good news is that, in its last few releases, the Chaos Group has put in a great deal of working on improving the

3 user experience. Gone are the more esoteric icons and operations that could confuse new users. These have been replaced with a clearly set-out strip of operations in a toolbar, with more advanced options neatly packaged up in the V-ray dialog. As a result, what we’ve ended up with is a set of tools that let you work with the design tool of your choosing (in this instance, Rhino) in order to create stunning imagery that might have previously required you to learn and use an entirely different set of tools. While for visualisation professionals, this option might not replace your 3ds max

plus V-ray set-up, it will certainly let you share assets between the two systems, both in terms of materials and scene data. Having a high-end rendering engine inside Rhino certainly makes a great deal of sense. After all, if you’re already using Rhino heavily in your work, you’ll be used to navigating some of its eccentricities and have probably established your own methods to achieve your goals, which work well for you. And, on the whole, V-ray extends Rhino’s well-respected usefulness significantly. The combination of these two products, in fact, is pretty damn impressive. chaosgroup.com

3 Using VRscans ●

alongside V-ray makes using pre-baked, measured materials easy-peasy

RHINO RENDERERS: WHAT OTHER OPTIONS ARE OUT THERE? Rhino has its own built in renderer, but anyone that’s tried it will know that it has its own limitations. McNeel’s decision to include the ray tracing Cycles engine from Blender came with Rhino 6, but still the system isn’t up to much. So what else is out there?

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AMD has been developing its free ProRender add-on for a number of systems for a while. This allows you to do your computation on both CPU and GPU – but obviously, using the GPU is the favoured option. Interestingly, the product isn’t restricted to AMD GPUs and will gain benefit from compute on NVIDIA boards as well, although you’ll get the best performance from one of AMD’s cards. Be careful, however, if you also have V-ray installed, as there’s current conflict between the two products. amd.com

Octane Render is a real-time renderer that Otoy bought out quite some time ago. It was a pioneer in the GPU computation of rendered scenes, so has gained a reputation as being incredibly quick, particularly when using consumer-level GPUs. At present, this is a more costly beast, but we’re hearing talk of licence changes coming with the Octane 4 release. These will presumably see a shift to a subscription-based deal, which could prove more attractive to new customers. otoy.com

Maxwell has been a wellrespected rendering solution for a good decade or more and it has found a home in quite a number of organisations, particularly those focused on industrial design. Alongside its integrations into SolidWorks, the Rhino variant works nicely with all of the controls you’d expect. It is worth noting that Maxwell only works with Rhino 5. Additionally, unlike almost every other Rhino renderer, Maxwell supports the Mac version. nextlimit.com

We hadn’t heard of this one, until we did a little digging. We were subsequently surprised to find out it was developed by an outfit call Solid Iris, but is owned by simulation masters, Altair Engineering. (The acquisition of Solid Iris by Altair dates back to 2016.) TheaRender for Rhino looks to support Rhino 5, includes all of the bells and whistles you would expect (HDR image support, physically based materials) and it takes advantage of your GPU for computation. thearender.com

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HARDWARE REVIEW

Stratasys F123 Series The FDM market has been through some serious changes over the last ten years, but some of the old guard are fighting back. Al Dean takes a look at Stratasys’ new F123 Series machines TECH SPECS » F123 Series » Proprietary filament in PLA, ABS, ASA and PC/ABS » From 254 x 254 x 254mm build volume » 1,626 x 864 x 711 mm machine dimensions » 227 kg weight » 0.13mm to 0.33mm layers » Material spool, dual extruder & heated build chamber » USB key, ethernet and wifi connectivity » Network monitoring » Automated set-up and leveling » 1 year return to base warranty Price from £15,960 stratasys.com

A

s an industry, 3D printing has seen some upheaval in recent years, as I’m sure we’re all aware. In particular, the world of filament deposition modelling – or FDM – has perhaps seen the most disruption. Where once there was just one supplier of machines that could build in a variety of materials by laying down filament, it’s now possible to throw £200 at Ebay and, within days, receive a box of bits to build your own 3D printer at a fraction of the cost. That original supplier, of course, was Stratasys, co-founded by Scott Crump, the inventor of FDM. With these facts in mind, it’s perfectly valid to ask where Stratasys goes next and how it can differentiate itself in an increasingly crowded market? At least, these are the questions we had in mind when we started to look at the company’s F123 Series. While many readers will be familiar with earlier Stratasys models, such as the Dimension and uPrint, these aren’t actively sold any more. (In fact, some of the earliest versions are reaching end of support.) So the F123 Series machines represent the new entry level for Stratasys’ FDM technology.

1

MACHINE BASICS

1 Four material bays ●

mean the machine can swap out materials when needed (Note: these machines use spools, rather than cartridges, as used to be common in higherend FDM machines) 2 The machine we ●

ran our tests on had two spools of ABS with a spool of dissolvable support material

If your experience with FDM is based on the cheaper end of the spectrum, you’ll be surprised at the size of the F123 Series machines. Irrespective of which model you go for (and we’ll cover the build size differences shortly), you’ll end up with the same size cabinet in your workshop or corner of the office. It’s roughly one metre square in floor space and just a shade over 1.5 metres tall (1,626 x 864 x 711 mm). While the top half of the machine is taken up by the build mechanism, you’ll notice the two distinctive lower drawers. The middle one is where material spools are loaded, while the bottom drawer is simply a drawer for storage (and likely where you’ll keep your accessories after set up and commissioning). Above them, you’ll find the heated build chamber. As you’d expect from advanced devices like these, the build environment is very tight controlled. The door has safety interlocks and closes with a resounding clunk. Build quality, meanwhile, speaks for itself – as we will see later on. In terms of build size, there are three sizes in the F123 Series. The entry level is the F170; it has a build size of 254 x 254

2 x 254mm (that’s 10 x 10 x 10”). The next size up is the F270, with a build size of 305 x 254 x 305mm (that’s 12 x 10 x 12”). The largest machine, the F370, comes in at 355 x 254 x 355 mm (14 x 10 x 14”). Peering inside the machine, you’ll quickly spot the build trays (which are, as with all Stratasys FDM machines, consumables) and the dual extruders, waiting to get to work. Above the build chamber, you’ll find the control panel. As we’ve come to expect, this is a touchscreen panel that guides you through set up and allows you to select jobs from the print queue. There are also two USB slots for loading up build jobs directly (rather than remotely). You’ll also find the top of the unit lifts up to give access to the extruder assemblies, so if you need to swap these out (the F123 Series machines are built for easy maintenance), this is how you’ll reach them.

On the rear of the unit, you’ll find power connectivity (single phase, of course), an Ethernet port (there’s also wireless and USB), as well as access to the adjustable feet that are used for leveling your machine when it’s first installed.

FIRST PRINT & MATERIAL OPTIONS Once you have your machine set up (which is a pretty painless process, by design) and your material loaded (the machine guides you through the process, so it’s also pretty simple), you’ll want to start a print running. The control software for Stratasys’s machines now focuses on GrabCAD Print. As 3D printer software goes, this is a delight to use – everything is clearly laid out, you can import your geometry via STL, or interestingly, from a wide range of CAD formats, allowing the system to

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‘‘ While it’s

perfectly possible to replicate the quality of parts using lowercost machines, with speed we see a marked difference

A B

C

G D

’’

H

I E

A Top access panel for extruder swap-outs ● B Control panel to set up machine, select and ●

pause print jobs

C USB slot for manually loading print jobs ●

useful in secure environments

F

D Heated build chamber and interlocked door ● E Material feed drawer ● F Storage drawer (which is surprisingly useful) ● G Feed lines from material drawer to extruders ●

at the top of the machine

H Power and ethernet connectivity ports ● I Wheels for movement and leveling feet ●

do all of your handling to achieve the best results. You can load in IGES and STEP files as well as SolidWorks, Inventor, Creo, Catia and much more. Then you start to lay out the build platform (with a very nice presentation of what the build platforms actually look like). You’ll also notice that there’s a purge tower included with each build. We have experimented with this on various machines and our conclusion is that it’s always worth including the purge tower, particularly when working with dissolvable materials. During set up, you need to select your materials and it’s perhaps worth noting here what materials are available for the F123 Series machines as it varies depending on the machine you chose. For example, both the entry-level F170 and mid-range F270 allow you to build with PLA, ABS or ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate). You might have not come across ASA before, but it’s an interesting filament material. It offers a very nice surface finish to prints, but most interestingly, it’s not only stronger in many cases than ABS, but also has better UV and chemical resistance. If you want to get into a exotic material such as PC/ABS (Polycarbonate/ABS alloy), then your only option is the F370 machine. All three machines allow you to

3 print with Stratasys’s proprietary QSR dissolvable support material, though it’s worth noting that if you use PLA (useful for its dramatically lower cost), you can only use breakaway supports, not QSR. Once your build platform is ready, you send it to queue or directly to print on the machine. Assuming that you’ve already put in a fresh build plate and the door is shut, away it goes.

In operation, the F123 Series machines are pretty quiet, compared to some of the desktop FDM machines, thanks to the robust build of the cabinet and the skills of the Stratasys engineering team. Once your part is complete, you open up the door, remove the build platform and start work on your post-processing. Thanks to the flexible, disposable build platform, removing parts is a case of

3 ●

Stratasys’s GrabCAD Print is the most up-to-date interface to the F123 Series, but the pre-existing set-up software is also available

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HARDWARE REVIEW

flexing the plate so that they pop off, ready for break out (if you’re using breakaway supports) or dissolving in your water tank.

IN CONCLUSION Stratasys has done a bang-on job with the F123 Series machines. It’s clear that the company has looked at both its legacy products and knowledge, as well as the way the market has since shifted, in order to find a fresh way to address the professional market. I emphasise professional market, because I approached this review differently to others I’ve written recently. After all, it’s very different evaluating a £15K machine aimed at companies, compared to one that costs just a fraction of that and that anyone might buy and use. The evaluation process in the former case is less a case of ‘OK, let’s see what you can do’ and more a case of, ‘OK, what makes you worth £10K more than another 3D printer?’ This is the question we really wanted to ask about the Stratasys F123 Series. In terms of answers, it quickly becomes clear that the F123 Series features some serious engineering. In these machines, you can tell a lot of thought has been expended on how the whole thing is laid out. The build chamber is at the perfect height for loading and unloading, for example. The material loading process is practically effortless. There are back-up bays on hand for lengthy print jobs – a godsend when you need consistent part production. Even the software, GrabCAD Print, is among the best we’ve seen. The ability to load CAD files and have the system handle to tesselation to suit the machine makes perfect sense.

But what about the parts that come out of these machines? I’m happy to confirm that these do not disappoint. Our set of test parts are all flawless and, while we didn’t explore the PLA material much, we got amazing parts with the surface finish you’d expect in the ABS, PC/ABS and ASA materials. (In terms of surface finish, by the way, the ASA scored particularly highly.) The QSR support material, meanwhile, means you get a high quality of finish on all sides of a part. But it’s the build speed demonstrated by the F123 machines that really interested us. While it’s perfectly possible to replicate the quality of parts using lower-cost machines (even with the addition of dissolvable supports), with speed, we see a marked difference. The smallest component we produced was built in a timespan comparable to other machines out there, coming in at just under 30 minutes at a decent resolution – although you could dial this down by bumping up the resolution and infill to draft quality. But with the larger parts, things got really interesting. As an example, the Ducati Yoke is our largest test part and it only took 12 hours. Comparing machines that can build this part flat, the Markforged Onyx One took in the region of a day to build it, while the MakerBot Replicator took 17 hours. The Ultimaker 3 took days, but that’s because it had to be tilted for build. That said, building the same part on the newer, larger Ultimaker S5 (which would allow it to be built flat) with comparable layer size and supports, took twice as long as on the F123 Series machines. I should note that all of these machines use slightly different materials and have different

build strategies, but there’s a similarity between them that makes rough comparisons valid. In terms of running costs, the Stratasys F123 machines aren’t cheap to acquire or to run. The entry level F170 is over £15,000, while the F370 come in at a shade over £33,000). Your materials will cost more than they would for a common or garden FDM machine and you will need to stock up on build plates (£99 for 16) and have a support dissolving tank to hand. But what you get in return for a more costly machine, with pricey materials and consumables, are more consistent and speedy results. There’s very little interaction required in the parts that come out of these machines. Print them, pop them off the build platform, dump them in a tank to remove the supports — job done. No weeding out of support material, no finishing because the machine cocked up and you lost edge definition on a critical part. And, of course, you get the parts more quickly. For some, the gap between a machine like the F170 at around £15,000 and a machine that costs, say £3,000 is too much. That will always be the case. For some, the idea that you can go out and buy three machines to achieve similar results is just too attractive. But if you’re looking to have a machine running for a vast proportion of the working week and have your design team doing the job of designing parts, rather than swearing at a 3D printer or spending hours pulling supports out of a prototype part, then it’s worth considering what your business could achieve with the time it gets back. It might well be worth the extra cost. stratasys.com

SMALL & INTRICATE

INTERNAL SUPPORTS

BULKY & LARGE

FORM MODEL

Test part: Timing case pinion

Test part: Rockerbox cover

Test part: Ducati yoke

Test part: Single Stanley Knife mock-up

Challenge: This small component is pretty small (it’s 20mm wide), with some features that require accuracy and must be hardwearing for light functional testing.

Challenge: This is part’s complex features need to be replicated on all sides and its internal features put support removal to the test.

Challenge: This is a big part and it fits nicely into even the smallest build volume machine in the F123 Series range without having to angle it up from the build plate.

Challenge: For a good form test, you need to be able to maintain the high quality surface finish on both sides of the finished object.

Material usage: 9.6 cm3 (Stratasys ASA for build) 2.0 cm3 (Stratasys QSR support material)

Material usage : 110.8 cm3 (Stratasys PC/ABS for build) 54.6 cm3 (Stratasys QSR support material)

Material usage: 247.5 cm3 (Stratasys ASA for build) 7.8 cm3 (Stratasys QSR support material)

Material usage: 80.5 cm3 (Stratasys ASA for build) 17.74 cm3 (Stratasys QSR support material)

Build time: 31 minutes (@0.25mm - Normal)

Build time: 5 Hours 49 minutes (@0.33mm layers)

Build time: 12 hours 30 minutes (@0.25mm layers)

Build time: 8 hours 4 minutes (@0.13mm layers)

Cost: £1.11 (ASA) + £0.23 (QSR)

Cost: £14.43 (PC/ABS) + £6.28 (QSR)

Cost: £30.73 (ASA) + £0.90(QSR)

Cost: £9.30 (ASA) + £2.04 (QSR)

Results: On the F370 (the largest machine), you could build 35 of these in a single build in 14 hours, making series production for low volumes achievable.

Results:The part came out of the machine pretty nicely and all internal faces were in good shape. The print speed was incredible. Other machines have taken days.

Results: The F123 Series machines smashed this part, taking only 12 hours to build it, with excellent surface and edge quality on the ‘support’ contact faces.

Results: The form model came out superbly when built using the combination of ASA and QSR supports, with outstanding surface finish on both sides.

42 JULY/AUGUST 2018 DEVELOP3D.COM

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SOFTWARE REVIEW

1

ITI CADfix 12

3D data translation isn’t the nightmare it once was, but there are still issues. Al Dean looks at CADfix, which aims to solve data exchange woes and has recently started to explore some remarkably advanced workflows

I

f you have spent any time using 3D CAD in the last 20 years, the name CADfix will be a familiar one. The product was initially developed to help move data between formative 3D design systems. Those of us that are long enough in the tooth to remember those days will recall that, in the early 1990s, the IGES format was dominant, but massively problematic. CADfix was conceived to sit between two systems that needed to communicate and fix any of the numerous problems that you might encounter, whether that was invalid or incompatible entities, corrupt geometry, or mismatches in tolerances and precision of CAD systems. It quickly gained market traction. In the intervening years, many of these problems have been overcome, through improvements in translation agreements at a native level (most vendors have interoperability agreements in place), through translation library providers, and by improvements to the standard formats themselves. In response, CADfix expanded its remit to focus on the transfer of data between 3D CAD systems and simulation software. In particular, it began to address the specific geometry handling that needs to happen between CAD systems and analysis

» Product: CADfix 12 » Supplier: ITI Price: On request iti-global.com

1 CADfix has had ●

geometry defeaturing and abstraction tools for many years

applications, in order to ensure an efficient meshing process, with reduced lead times and more accurate results. Whether that’s improving geometry to gain a better mesh or simplification of geometry to make the process easier, there is now a whole set of tools that look to address the needs of the advanced simulation crowd. What is clear is that while CADfix’s roots lie in dealing with a very task-specific focus, over the last 20 years, the company’s development team has constantly looked to evolve the system, to move onto new core challenges that have emerged in its customer base and to find new ways to employ its knowledge and expertise in data translation and fixing. The end result of that work is clear: CADfix at Release 12 is an admirably complete toolbox for data translation, one that can solve routine issues found in data translation, but that has also found new ways to innovate and advance the state of the art. So shall we explore what it can do? Let’s begin with the stuff it has done for years, then move onto some of the new areas that the team behind this product has explored in more recent releases.

CAD GEOMETRY FIXING CAD Geometry translation has undoubtedly become a lot easier in recent

years – but there are still issues that can throw you off course. These include problematic geometry issues, which are typically caused by poor modelling (either as a result of system-generated results or user error) or by problems in the data translation process. CADfix has had tools to address these issues for over two decades and will allow you to both identify and, of course, fix them. The system also includes a whole host of tools to help repurpose your CAD geometry for downstream applications, such as are found in manufacturing (such as mould/ die design or CAM programming) and simulation. There are tools to help with removing explicit feature types such as holes, fillets, chamfers and so on, and for removing more complex feature or face sets, with the end result being a perfectly valid set of geometry. It could be that you want to remove and cap off a set of pockets and holes that will be machined into a casting, for example, or remove all of the fillets on a cylinder head for thermal analysis. CADfix has tools that not only support you in performing these tasks manually, but also to automate such processes where appropriate. The automation side of things is key. It moves CADfix from being a point solution that solves a very specific issue, to a much DEVELOP3D.COM JULY/AUGUST 2018 45

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SOFTWARE REVIEW

2 more useful tool in migration work that can relieve the user of the burden of performing a stack of repetitive processes.

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING So far, we’ve talked about CADfix’s ability to work with CAD geometry, meaning typically analytic type geometry – the nice clean faces that you’d expect. In more recent years, the company has used its expertise with this type of geometry alongside meshbased data and started to explore the world

of additive manufacturing. The CADfix product now includes tools that not only ensure that you can preprocess your CAD geometry as you need to (perhaps using the same defeaturing tools we’ve already discussed), but also get your STL data output in the state that you require. That’s not something every vendor can guarantee. Alongside these capabilities, there are also brand new tools that address additive workflows directly. One example is newly

added support for more accurate slice data generation. One of the key differences here is that the slicing is based on curved facets, the issue being that very few CAD systems support the generation of data using this approach. CADfix does, with the end result being that the curved triangles and resulting smooth slice profiles much better represent your intent. Another area in which I see a lot of potential is the ability to generate a 3D model from slice data. Those that work

2 CADfix’s Back-to●

CAD allows you to take a prismatic, tesselated part and reconstruct it back into solid geometry

WORKFLOW: ADAPTING 3D CAD GEOMETRY TO A DEFORMED MESH USING CADFIX 12

1 Import the CAD model to be morphed ●

2 Import and match the undeformed and deformed meshes ●

3 Match the undeformed mesh to original CAD model to ●

4 Use the Find tool to check the morph ●

5 Use Fix to morph the original CAD and produce new ●

6 Export the new morphed BREP solid for use in other ●

model geometry

determine geometry parentage

design or analysis applications

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with additive will know that the form you get out of a machine isn’t always the form that you have in your CAD system. For these layer-based processes, you’ll always end up with a stairstepped end result. What CADfix allows you to do is take your CAD model, use its slicing tools to generate the slices at the size your machine builds at, and then have the system reconstruct the end result as would, ideally, appear out of the machine. This could be useful for a number of downstream process; one might be finding areas of overbuild for rest machining, for example, while another could be having a more accurate representation of your ‘as-built’ part for fluid flow analysis.

BACK TO CAD & REVERSE ENGINEERING Thus far, we’ve talked about how CADfix works with the conversion of CAD geometry to other CAD formats and to mesh-based output. But there are other new tools being introduced into CADfix that take the interoperability in opposite direction, which the team has called ‘Back-to-CAD’. In short, these tools target any process where you have a mesh-based, tessellated format and want to rebuild a more traditional CAD geometry model from it. The initial instance is where you have a meshed model of a part and need to have an analytic, b-rep style CAD model. Using the facetted model tools, the system can build you a proper NURBS or analytic-based CAD model in a few seconds. It’s truly remarkable. This, as you might expect, works best with parts with prismatic, non-organic forms, but having seen the capability at work on a number of test data files, it’s remarkable how well it works on other jobs, too. It’s also worth noting that this is also intended for mesh geometry built from CAD files (using formats like STL, JT, 3D PDF or other native meshbased formats), rather than that derived from reality-capture processes such as laser scanning or photogrammetry.

ADVANCED GEOMETRY MORPHING

IN CONCLUSION

The final area I want to look at is entirely fascinating. It centres on the use of simulation and CAD geometry. Consider how simulation is used: you start with a 3D CAD model and create a mesh for your simulation system. That mesh then has loads applied and you end up with a realistic representation of that part under those loads. Now, what happens if you want to use that deformed shape in subsequent processes? Unless the subsequent process and systems can use the same mesh, you’re effectively stuck and looking at having to rebuild a model from scratch, or making approximations based on the deformed mesh data. The new geometry morphing tool in CADfix allows you to take your original CAD model and mesh pair and use the deformed mesh as the reference to morph your CAD model to the deformed shape. The end result is a proper analytic CAD model, retaining the original face topology with morphed surfaces, that accurately represents your deformed shape – no remodelling, no conversion. The applications for this kind of capability are many and wide-ranging, but in the end, they all come down to much the same thing: the benefits of having a clean CAD model of a deformed shape available, whether that’s to assist with modelling in process deformation of a part (compensating for deformation of parts under thermal stress during manufacture) or using a part deformed under structural or thermal loading in a subsequent fluid flow simulation (think of a wing in flight or a turbine blade in operation). Of course, as with all such processes, there are some caveats, the main one being that if the simulation process adapts the mesh during the solve, it probably won’t work. That’s because the morphing operation needs to retain the exact same mesh, with node numbering and so on from the start to the end point.

I’ve always tended to think of CADfix as a tool that was developed to solve a specific set of problems, but one that gradually and quite sensibly expanded its remit as both the industry around it changed and new technologies became available. That point of view hasn’t changed at all since I last went to see the CADfix folks at their base just outside of Cambridge. Today’s CADfix is a system that covers a wide range of bases and addresses a wide spread of issues around data translation, data repurposing and adaptation of geometry. In doing so, it is able to provide a good fit with an increasingly wide range of engineering processes. That said, I can dimly recall describing CADfix as ‘the Swiss Army knife of data translation’. That was many years ago and the reality today is quite different. In fact, to repeat that trope would be to do CADfix a great disservice in terms of the advances it has made. While the Swiss Army knife undoubtedly provides a great deal of functionality, the reality is often that its various widgets, blades, screwdrivers and whatnot all tend to be a bit substandard when they are compared to standalone tools, specifically engineered to perform a given task. Instead, it’s far more accurate to think of CADfix as a set of tools that allow you to take your geometry and do what you need with it. The software can handle almost anything you can throw at it, from ensuring quality data translation through defeaturing, abstraction and automation into the realms of morphing and reverse engineering. It does all of this with a single core tenet – that the data it produces is exactly as your intended downstream process needs. So if you’re pushing the limitations of your current toolset’s data translation capabilities, and if issues frequently crop up, it’s definitely worth investigating what CADfix might be able do to help. iti-global.com

CADFIX PPS: DATA EXCHANGE FOR THE PROCESS PLANT INDUSTRY While CADfix has always been known for providing a rich set of tools to accomplish some of the more esoteric and advanced workflows involved in 3D CAD use and simulation, the team there has also recently started to explore the potential to take its knowledge, expertise and existing tools and apply them to more specific, industry-focused applications. The first is CADfix PPS, which stands for Plant and Process Simplification. As you might have guessed, the focus for CADfix PPS is taking datasets that are typical in the process plant world (which are massive) and providing a set of tools to help with simplification. Whereas CADfix has focussed on CAD repair, the focus for CADfix PPS is simplification of data. Simplification in the process plant world comes down to taking heavy engineering models, reducing the complexity of the data they contain and making it more suitable for downstream use. For example, the system can take an engineering model of some complex equipment, with a high level of detail, from a system like Inventor, which typically features 3,000 or so bodies and 140,000 faces inside a 800Mb STEP file, and reduce that down to a 29Mb STEP file with 500 bodies and 8,000 faces. That means the receiving system can get to work more efficiently and makes the data more portable, which can be important given that downstream users may be based in remote locations. CADfix PPS does this by presenting a drastically stripped back interface that gives the user access to tools to quickly remove small parts (based on size), strip out unnecessary internal detail, simplify complex parts into bounding-box style representations and more, in order to achieve the data size and complexity

3 reductions required. Interestingly, there are also new data support options and workflows around some of the foibles of data translation methods involved in the process plant industry. For example, in some user communities FBX has become a standard for moving large, complex data around, so this now supported, along with more familiar formats including DWG, Parasolid, SAT, STEP and JT files. It’s also worth noting that CADfix PPS offers the same potential for automation, so routine jobs can be automated, with more interactive sessions limited to where they’re actually needed.

3 CADfix PPS is a ●

stripped-back, ultratargeted application for the process and plant industry

DEVELOP3D.COM JULY/AUGUST 2018 47

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orld by

THE LAST WORD

A recent trip to see the restoration work on the Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens has got Al Dean thinking about how future generations will see today’s design and engineering projects. Will they be viewed as worthwhile?

D

espite what you might think, we don’t get invited to fancy press events much these days. While the golden age of CAD in the late 90s made the fancy jolly an almost weekly event, these days, we’re more likely to spend a day on an industrial park in Doncaster than eating at a fancy restaurant in the big smoke. So it was with some eagerness that I accepted 3D Systems’ invitation to visit Kew Gardens; specifically, to take a look at the work its On Demand Manufacturing team, based in High Wycombe, has undertaken in partnership with the curatorial team at Historic Royal Palaces, to restore Kew’s Great Pagoda to its 18th-century splendour. On page 28 of this issue, we look at how the two organisations worked together, not only to capture a realistic idea of how the original dragons might have looked, but also to use some of the most advanced 3D printing technology to bring these fabulous beasts back to Kew. I found the whole enterprise fascinating. For example, curators had to track down a privately owned painting that held clues to how the Pagoda and its dragons once looked. Apparently, all they had to go on was this painting, some of Sir William Chambers’ original design drawings for the Pagoda and some descriptions drawn from period poetry about Kew Gardens. Then the science kicked in. Paint samples were analysed. New dragons were crafted from African cedar, laser-scanned and redesigned, then adapted and manufactured using state-of-the-art SLS 3D printing. Now, if you visit Kew and take a walk across the park to the Pagoda, you’ll find that it’s been lovingly restored using a mix of traditional and seemingly futuristic methods, brought together with some oldschool engineering ingenuity. Originally completed in 1762, it has since given countless generations pleasure. Now, thanks to this project, many generations more will enjoy it. But, as with all such journeys and experiences, you’re often brought straight back down to earth with a thump. On my return ride to Euston to grab my train back north, I gazed out of the window

1 and saw what remains of Grenfell Tower, now covered in its white shroud. The difference couldn’t be more stark. The Great Pagoda was a vanity project for a wealthy Royal family. Grenfell was, as we’re all aware, the scene of the deadliest structural fire in the United Kingdom since the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster. Both are large structures, albeit built for very different purposes. One is a rich man’s folly, the other represented home for its hundreds of inhabitants. One was built without much regard for cost, the other was built and maintained disgustingly poorly, with corners cut on health and safety in the interests of economising. Seventy-two residents paid the price with their lives.

This contrast made me think of the things that we create today: the buildings we construct and the products we design and manufacture. How will they be percieved in 100 years or a quarter of a millenium? Will products that are manufactured today, stand the test of time? If they do, will future generations view them as a triumph of our time or will they be seen as the result of a planet’s population that is selfish, selfobsessed and has no regard for its home’s finite resources? In other words, how can we make and build for longevity? It’s a sobering thought.

1 The Great Pagoda at ●

Kew. If you’re in town, it’s worth a visit

GET IN TOUCH: Email on al@x3dmedia.com or on the twitter @alistardean — He’s a bit gutted he didn’t bump into Lucy Worsley

50 JULY/AUGUST 2018 DEVELOP3D.COM

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