u p F r o n t . e Z i n e
celebrating 15 years of reporting on the business of cad
Issue #647 | May 25, 2010 | English Edition
< Previous Issue | Next Issue >
Write the editor. Make him smile! | Through PayPal, consider donating $25 in support of upFront.eZine. | We're trendy. We have a Weblog. Read WorldCAD Access. | Twitter us on @ralphg.
In This Issue
1. All About HP's Strategy for 3D Printing
2. ArchiCAD 14 Solves the BIM Roundtip Problem
- Architectural BIM Engages Engineering BIM
3. And in Other News
All About HP's Strategy for 3D Printing
On 1 May, the world's largest printer manufacturer, HP, began selling its first 3D printers. The HP Designjet 3D is made by Stratasys, and it outputs 3D prototypes from layers of melted ABS plastic. Emilio Juarez is HP's worldwide 3D printing manager, and he spoke to upFront.eZine from his office in Madrid:
upFront.eZine: Why did HP launch its new 3D printer in just five European countries?
Emilio Juarez: We wanted to serve the area properly, because as a global company, we provide a uniform quality of support. This takes some time to put in place, and so not yet worldwide.
upFront.eZine: Are sales limited to HP resellers, or can others handle it as well, such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks resellers?
Mr Juarez: We went through a validation process, first with Statasys dealers, and then HP workstation and large format printing resellers. They needed to be already present in the MCAD market and have geographic coverage.
upFront.eZine: When will HP expand sales to the rest of the world?
Mr Juarez: We have not yet decided; the next step might be worldwide, or we might expand sales in 2-3 phases
upFront.eZine: I was surprised that HP did not significantly reduce the cost of 3D printers. For example, Solido cut the price of its 3D Printer to $2,950 -- although you have to buy another $10,000 worth of supplies along with it.
Mr Juarez: We have an OEM arrangement with Stratasys, and so we inherited their cost structure. We have some ideas on how to cut costs through the production setup, but so far Statasys is making the printers for us.
Our intention is to expand use of 3D printing in current markets, which are manufacturing and education segments. We are exploring how to expand to adjacent markets, such as architecture, which is currently using it in a marginal way. We are trying to understand the needs that customers have, from which we can then define future products.
upFront.eZine: The three limitations with 3D printing are price, speed, and size.
Mr Juarez: HP's 3D printer has already improved on costs. Compared to subcontracting to a service bureau, the cost reduction is up to 10x. The purchase cost ranges from e12,000 to e15,000 for a quality (ABS plastic) solution that outputs models you can actually use. Equivalent machines from competitors are e30,000 or e40,000. Yes, this is not a e2,000 3D printer, but it offers a very fast return on investment.
There are no hidden costs from the cleaning process, something that other companies do not talk about. This printer is office-safe, which effectively lowers the total cost. There is no need to make additional investments to set up an industrial environment, because cleaning is messy or toxic or annoying or complex. Other printers require additional investments to install ventilation, need specialized people, and special systems to get rid of waste.
As for speed, compared to outsourcing the model, we are shortening the time from one week to one day. You can have your design in your hands in a matter of hours, in your office.
As for size, the roughly 20x20x15cm output is sufficient for 80% of needs of parts produced in MCAD. Architecture would need larger output; the solution is either a larger printer or to partition the model, and then glue together afterwards. We are evaluating this problem to determine what comes next.
Archicad 14 Solves the BIM Roundtrip Problem
Of late, Graphisoft has been concentrating on improving collaboration in its ArchiCAD design software for architects. Last September, Release 13 emphasized intra-team collaboration using an active BIM Server. ArchiCAD-using architects connect to the server to access project drawings, see who else is online, who is working on the same project, and can collaborate in real time.
This year, Release 14 emphasizes collaboration with other key professional in the design process, specifically engineers. Requirements for the extra-team workflow tend to be different. It does not need to be live, and engineers own their own data created in software other than ArchiCAD. The solution, as Graphisoft implemented it, is for ArchiCAD to use reference models that can be viewed, changes can be tracked, and optionally accepted from programs through direct or indirect connections using the IFC and other file formats.
As anyone involved in translation knows, that IFC and other intermediary file formats maybe interpreted differently by the source and destination CAD/BIM packages. "IFC is just a technology. Everyone today is able to read/write it, but there might be differences in the various workflows," acknowledged Akos Pfemeter, director of global marketing at Graphisoft. "This mainly comes from the Architect's BIM being different from the engineer's BIM."
The solution is to address each part of the workflow to provide full workflow solutions maintaining clearly the different responsibilities of each profession, which Senior Product Manager Tibor Szolnoki proceeded to show me.
Architectural BIM Engages Engineering BIM
The 3D model created by architects is not the way structural engineers would model the same building. For example, a column in an architectural drawing is a single, multi-story element with attached cladding. In the structural engineer is interested in only in load bearing elements; the same column must be represented as a multi-part element so that each floor can be analyzed separately.
ArchiCAD 14 enables its BIM model to deal with the specific needs of structural engineers, using IFC as the communications link, because it is used worldwide, and because it preserves BIM data when exported and imported. Mr Szolnoki said that the updated Partial Structure Display command allows the architect to displays only the core of the load-bearing elements. You view the result to see if it is alright, because you might need to filter out additional elements. For instance, it is common for architect to use the Slab tool to create false ceilings. (Slabs are considered load-bearing by IFC and ArchiCAD, but ceilings are not).
The second step is to use the updated Find and Select command to select all ceilings, and then change the definition of all ceiling "slabs" to IFC non-load-bearing interior ceilings. (You can save the search criteria for the next time you need to export drawings.)
The third step is to translate the drawing data into IFC format. There are so many options that Graphisoft has predefined output filters for several competitor software packages, as well as for local regulations. The found, for instance, that Revit Structure is very popular in USA, and that Tekla is used in many regions world wide. You can adjust the settings to make your own rules, such as which elements to export. For example, some structural design program cannot handle terrain data, so it can be filtered out.
In addition, Graphisoft wrote an add-in for Revit that helps smooth the import and interpretation of IFC data. This was necessary because for instance Revit Structure does not correctly interpret the structural grid created in ArchiCAD; the add-in restores the data.
Once in Revit, the structural engineer analyzes the design, making changes as necessary. To get the model back, ArchiCAD peruses the preceding IFC file for differences between what it originally exported and what Revit generated. The Detect IFC Model Changes command displays colors (see figure 1):
Red - deleted elements.
Green - changed elements.
Blue - new elements.
Figure 1: Structural elements imported from Revit shown in markup coloring (click for larger image).
The Mark-Up tool is used to display these changes in the ArchiCAD BIM model to decide whether to keep the changes, or not.
It would be ideal to simply import the entire Revit Structure model; Graphisoft does not recommend this, because of ownership problems: who is responsible for problematic changes? Instead, Graphisoft recommends using reference models instead, for viewing but not for editing it. A similar process is used with other design packages, including Revit MEP
I was also shown some of the improvements to the core features of ArchiCAD, but there are too many for me to relate here. I'll just mention that BIM Server now runs on 64-bit Macintosh systems which overcomes limits to memory when serving lots of users. For the rest, I'll refer you to http://www.graphisoft.com/products/archicad
ArchiCAD Release 14 runs equally well on Macintosh and Windows, and is due out in early June. http://www.archicad.com
And In Other News
Our computers are like my first car, the air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle. But water takes away three thousand times more heat than air, and so Hardcore Computer's Detonator comptuer submerges all its heat-producing components in "Core Coolant" liquid, which is 1,350 times better than air and is "clear, odorless, biodegradable and safe." Sounds just like water, but isn't, based on the poorer volumetric heat capacity ratio. http://www.hardcorecomputer.com/ProductConfigurator_productDetonator.aspx
Yes, after all these years, there still are things to improve in ACIS, and Spatial says that they optimized Release 21 to handle huge quantities of data, such as point clouds generated by metrology and reverse engineering. http://www.spatial.com
Flood waters are washing user conferences away from Nashville TN. The latest to relocate is Intergraph 2010, rescheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in bone-dry Las Vegas NV USA. http://http://www.intergraph2010.com
Battle of the Linux betas continues, with round two going to Grabert. The second beta of its Linux and Mac versions of DWG-based ARES CAD software available after signing up at http://www.graebert.com
Tekla Corporation acquired 20% of its Dutch reseller, Construsoft Groep. http://www.tekla.com
There was a time when DWG viewers were all the rage; I recall reviewing 8 or 10 or 12 of them at a time for Cadence magazine in the early 1990s. Now, Autodesk and others give away DWG viewers at no cost. Which is why it comes a surprise to me to hear of Amethyst CADwizz viewer/converter for AutoCAD 2011. It includes support for PLT and ZIP files and redlines, prints windows and to-scale, has color options in PDF export, and so on. http://www.cadwizz.com/download.htm
Down 10% were the 2009 revenues of Bentley Systems over the previous year. http://www.bentley.com/annualreport
Autodesk hasn't even started in PLM, and Siemens is already reinventing it: "New High Definition Product Lifecycle Management (HD-PLM) Technology to Permeate all of Siemens PLM Software’s Enterprise PLM Products Enabling Teams to Turn Data into Knowledge, Make Better Decisions Faster and Increase Innovation". I couldn't have said it better if I'd tried. http://www.siemens.com/plm/hdplm
42nd annual ECC Conference [Engineering & Construction Contracting] takes place Sept 1-4 in Orlando FL USA. http://www.ecc-association.org
And finally, these were some of the news items that were posted during the last week at the WorldCAD Access blog <http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
- Italian Mac site posts screen grabs, video of AutoCAD 2011 apparently running on Mac OS X
- Motley Fool criticizes Autodesk's newly expensive upgrade pricing
- ADSK Q1 up 11% over a year ago
- So, how much will CAD on the cloud cost?
- Punch Software is purchased by its distributor
- Undocumented options in AutoCAD 2011's Hatch command
v9.10.0008 - 2010-05-08 18:09
! Intuition-based attempt to fix error 10 in Win7, in presence of unopened Win7 package lying on my table.
- Comment found in the XYplorer change log by Donald Lessau.
(Thanks to reader Don Beaton.)
Thank You to Our Subscribers & Donators
These great people support upFront.eZine through their contributions of $25 (or more). Thank you, guys!
- David Moore
- Prasad Mandava of VCollabe
upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by over eight thousand subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome! Deadline for submissions is every Monday noon.
Send the message 'subscribe upfront' to email@example.com. All 600+ back issues at www.upfrontezine.com/welcome.htm.
Donations & Subscriptions
upFront.eZine is shareware. You receive this newsletter free. To support its publication, suggested one-time donations is US$25 or the equivalent in your country. If you prefer to pay an annual subscription fee of $25, you will be reminded each year around May 1.
- PayPal - send payment to the account of firstname.lastname@example.org
- Checks or money orders: 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada.
- Direct bank transfer: email for details.
Editor: Yasu Ohgushi <email@example.com>
Send both your old and new email addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send the message 'unsubscribe upfront' to email@example.com. I appreciate knowing reasons for unsubscribing.
US$340 per two weeks. Position Available ads are $320 for three weeks; Job Wanted ads by the unemployed are free. Other rates available. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- - -
Entire contents copyright ©2010 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "On your desktop every Tuesday morning" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.