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Friday, November 21, 2008

How it's Made...

One of my favorite things to do is spend time with my 4 and a half year old twin boys. Not suprisingly they are full of energy and rarley sit down to do watch anything on TV unless they don't feel good. However one thing the three of us can do together that doesn't involve running around playing power rangers or whichever cartoon character they have just seen is watching the Discovery Channels How It's Made tv show.

My son Hunter (older by 2 minutes than Zachary) loves learning about how anything and I mean anything works. He will watch papa working on the lawn mower, watch me on the computer, anything that involes learning what makes something work, he is normally right there involved in. So it finally hit me about 6 months to 1 year ago that one of my favorite tv shows might also be one of his. So I turned on the discovery channel instead of the Disney Channel, and low and behold they both sat down next to me on the couch and had ton's of questions.

I think the first thing we watched was How It's Made (Episode 4) where they made hearing aids, 3-D puzzles, rubber mats and toilets. Of course the 3D puzzles were the favorite of that episode, but they did enjoy the toilet making and got a big laugh out of it when they went to the bathroom before bed that night. They couldn't stop laughing for whatever reason.

Some of my favorite how it's made shows included the making of:

  • Rolls Royce (this was great, very well crafted vehicle and I now want to own one. Then again, I guess I have better things to spend $300,000 on, probably engineering school for at least 2 of my 3 kids.)
  • Springs (I come from a background of machine design where I used springs all the time in my designs. It was very cool to see the automated process of making a spring. I remember back in high school one of our machine shop exercises was to make a padlock and it involved making a spring manually. Much easier with the automated way.
  • Hellicopters (I think I blogged about heli's once before, that I have been into RC helli's for some time and always crash mine. Learning about how they are made and some of the technology behind it was amazing.
  • Billiard Tables (When I was growing up I spent a lot of time at the bowling alley while my parents were on a bowling league. It got very boring to watch them bowl so I played pool. I wasn't a pro but it was a lot of fun and when I got older I looked into buying one for my basement. For a nice one they can be $5,000 +, I have seen some upwards of $15,000. Again, better things to spend my money on. However at least by watching how it's made I understand a little more why they are so expensive.

By far, the Discovery channel is my favorite channel to watch and How It's Made is one of my favorite show's to watch.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Engineer To Order (ETO)

In these tough economic times it is more important now than ever to streamline the design process wherever possible.  I had the opportunity last week to see a presentation on Autodesk Inventor Automation Professional 2009 which helps to combine your "Engineering Rules" and 3D Inventor models into a very powerful Engineer to Order design tool.

Basically you use Inventor Automation to capture all of your design rules for a given product line such as a series of conveyors. Maybe one of the rules would be every 10 feet of conveyor there needs to be a motor, etc... Then after you have all of your design rules in place you can modify the front end GUI to get accurate configurations of these designs.

Using the GUI, your sales team, proposal engineers or anyone else in your organization can create accurate quotes on the fly in front of the customer with 3D models, and 2D documentation. This can also provide BOM information that will allow you to provide accurate pricing much earlier in the project.  Having the ability to do this will allow a company to bid jobs more accuratley and have more profitable business.

Autodesk Inventor Automation Professional 2009

Changes to my site...

You may have noticed a new look to my site. I have decided to try and combine many of my thoughts and sites into one location. I have recently went through and did an overhaul on my site to combine like categories, add new ones and update the look of the site. This is all in an effort to post more often to one location about many topics.

Keep checking back for more Mechanical Thinking.

Falling back in love with AutoCAD

As many of you already know I have recently changed jobs and I now focus mainly on working with AutoCAD for the design tool. Over the past few weeks I have started to dig back in and refresh my memory on all the killer things you can do with AutoCAD.

So I spend my days now learning more about my company, the processes that make them up and trying to help improve on anything I can. Much of my time has been upgrading from 2005 to 2009 AutoCAD where I am going through old code and making sure menu's, code and processes work in 2009 software. It has been quite a bit of fun and I am looking forward to improving on some features in the near future after the upgrade is complete.