Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Value of Engineering...

Over the years I have heard engineering referred to as the necessary evil many times. I don't know all of the reasons it is referred to that way but the main one I can think of is the cost of engineering. But think of this. Let's say you are designing a product that will marketed and sold to potentially millions. Let's say it is some electronic device that all the kids will want. :-)

Now that we have the situation set up lets think about this, let's say because we designed this thing as quick as possible to save on engineering costs we have one of two things happen. First we made a bad design decision that didn't get caught until production (Very Costly). Second is we didn't take the time to route electrical wires, or possibly think of the best way to machine the enclosure for whatever this device is, resulting in wasted material. The wasted material might even be more costly than the first scenario of a design flaw that didn't get caught until production.

The reason I use these examples is if we were to take a little more time up front in the engineering stages we could save so much money either in mistakes that get caught during engineering or in material costs. Let's use Autodesk Inventor Professional as an example for the wire routing. Here is a tool that the engineers can use after they have made the mechanical design of their new product that all the kids want. They can then pick the start and end of the wire and group wires together for the harness. Let's say they are only able to save a couple of inches of wire in the design. Assuming there are maybe 12 wires that is 24 inches of wire in total. Lets make an assumption that the wire is only $.03 per foot. They would save 6 cents per unit, if you are talking millions of units it is a $60,000 savings per million units. That is a lot of money and in some cases that might be a persons salary for the entire year however it was only a hour or two of extra work.

What about all the other opportunities to save a few bucks by better engineering. Think about it, Yeah we can get carried away in engineering but if we can quantify the savings on the back end it is totally worth it. We end up with a better product and save money. The product also has lest waste which then makes it potentially better for the environment.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours. email me at [email protected]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 12th day of CAD...

On the 11th Day of CAD I give to you..... Free Autodesk Inventor 2009 (LT).

So far most of my 12 days of CAD have been on AutoCAD and AutoCAD based vertical products such as AutoCAD Electrical. Today I give to you the world of 3D. How can I do that, well I can't take credit for giving you 3D, or giving you Autodesk Inventor either. However I can guide you in the right direction. A while back Autodesk introduced Inventor LT Technology Preview. (I think it was Release 2008). What this means for us is we can download Autodesk Inventor LT for FREE and use it. Here is a brief list of what it does not contain compared to Inventor Suite 2009:

  • 3D Assembly Modeling
  • Sheet Metal Design
  • Content Center
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • Autodesk Vault
  • Customization and Third Party Add In Compatibility
  • Click Here to see Product Comparison (Autodesk Inventor LT Preview, Autodesk Inventor Suite, Autodesk Inventor Professional)

Some might say that the 3D assembly design and Sheet metal might be a show stopper for them. My thought is, come on guys it's a free product "preview". There has to be some limitations. The nice thing is you can get a feel for the part modeling before purchasing the product.

Here is information about the preview:

There is so much more information available on Autodesk Labs including System req's, links to forums etc..

Note: On the Autodesk Labs page, it states that "Once activated, Autodesk Inventor LT Technology Preview 2009 will run until May 1, 2009. Which still gives us just over 5 months to play with the software for free.

One other thing to note is that in the FAQ it states that Autodesk Inventor LT is not available for purchase. However it does state in there about "Should it become available for purchase".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the 5th day of CAD

On the 5th day of CAD I give to you...  an Autodesk Inventor Tip.

Many of you probably already know this tip however it is such an important tip it is worth mentioning again. Project your Origin, then Constrain to it.

In Autodesk Inventor when modeling parts you start with a sketch, that is the foundation for the 3D component you are modeling. In my example I will use a simple block as the example. In our design we have a symetrical part that we will want to cut out the same notch on both sides. Having said that I want to say it is not only important to Project your Origin and Constrain to it, it is just as important to think about the intent of your design. For example, we have a symetrical part we are modeling, why would I want to have to create a workplane in the center of my part to use as a mirror plane for the notch when I could just use some of the Origin work features. Here are the basic steps in a Video.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the 3rd day of CAD...

On the 3rd Day of CAD I give to you...

When you have multiple documents open in AutoCAD, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical, Inventor or any MDI CAD application use the Control + Tab key to cycle through the open documents.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rules Based Design for Autodesk Inventor

While I was "stationed" at Autodesk University I had an opportunity to go see some old friends in the exhibit hall where I came across this cool tool for Autodesk Inventor. iLogic from Logimetrix Inc, allows designers / engineers to enter rules into their design. For example let's say I had a model of a Parker Cylinder, something we all use quite often I am sure, I could enter the rules for that design into iLogic. Let's just say these rules are the same rules that would be needed to build one of the part numbers so things like series, stroke, etc.... I can now have anyone in my organization utilize this one model for any of that family of cylinders and always have the correct ordering information. I can also ensure that they don't accidentally make design mistakes due to forgetting to interpret one of the rules based on the manufacturers website.

I found this tool to be very useful within the first 20 seconds of talking with Dave from Logimetrix. Dave is the Director of Development and was able to easily articulate the purpose of this software. The great thing I found about this add in was the flexibility to build rules into anything I can think of to design. You have access to all of Inventor's API's as well as some built in iLogic tools to help with this rules based design. A rule doesn't have to be a design rule either, it could be something as simple as show a dialog box. Autodesk has another product called Inventor Professional Automation which allows you to do a lot of the same things, but this one seems to be easier to use. It also seems that it is much easier to create your own dialogs to use in your rules based designs. One last thing about this product versus the Inventor Automation product (I am not an Inventor Automation Expert) is it seems that with Inventor Automation you change a bunch of values in your "worksheet" then apply those changes to your model. After applying those changes to your model, Inventor Automation then modifies parameters in your model giving you the end result. With this iLogic tool it seems as when you change a value in your worksheet it updates the model almost instantly.

Don't take my word for it, go check it out at www.logimetrixinc.com. Let me know your thoughts and maybe we can all learn a little something along the way.

Thanks again to Dave from Logimetrix Inc for getting me hooked on this product. :-)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

What CAD problems do you encounter???

Over the years I have spent a lot of time with AutoCAD Electrical, Inventor, AutoCAD and many other applications. During this time I have learned that all companies have some type of pain points they wish they could get past. Unfortunatley some of the companies don't even realize that there are better ways to do things.

Here is what I am proposing: I would love to hear what types of things you think you are taking too much time on in AutoCAD, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical or Inventor. I will try to take your pain point's and come up with some tools in the software that you are using, that you could use. Email me at [email protected] with any of your ideas.

I am not promissing that I will be able to solve all of your problems or even any of your problems. :-) I will see what I can do to help you out though.

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

Friday, July 18, 2008

iCheck for Inventor gets certified

Hot of the press ..... INCAT iCHECK is now officially certified as an Autodesk Partner application for Autodesk Inventor 2009.

Watch cool videos of iCHECK checks Here
Learn more about iCHECK and download a trial Here
Drop in some comments on the blog or email me if you have questions or feedback @ [email protected]