The Business of CAD


Issue #811 |  March 18, 2014
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In This Issue


1. In 2014 SP1, SpaceClaim Preps 3D Printing, Reviews Through the Cloud

   Fixing it before 3D-printing it


2. Heard on Twitter and on the Blog

   Falling, falling, Windows marketshare falling below 90%


3. Letters to the Editor

  Put a few of these in your data center


From the Editor

There will be no upFront.eZine next week as I plan to be at Graphisoft's launch event of BIMcloud in Tokyo, Japan. Look for coverage of the event on my WorldCAD Access blog.


Nvidia's $1.9-million Settlement

If you live in Canada, and if you bought a Apple, Compaq, Dell, HP, or Sony laptop between Nov 2005 and Feb 2010 that stopped working (like my HP tx1100) or needed repairs after the end of the warrenty period, then you can get a refund of between 15% and 100% of your expenses through http://www.canadiannvidiasettlement.com. The deadline for submitting the paperwork and your receipt is April 25.


Qualifying symptoms include distorted or scrambled video; no video on the screen even when the computer is on (the problem my HP tx1100 suffered from); random characters, lines, or garbled images; intermittent video issues; or failure to detect the wireless adaptor or wireless networks. The failure was due to flaws in the nVidia chipsets used by the hardware companies.

In 2014 SP1, SpaceClaim Preps 3D Printing, Reviews Through the Cloud

SpaceClaim, earlier this month, released SpaceClaim 2014 SP1, and director of product management Justin Hendrickson tells upFront.eZine readers about it:


Normally we wouldn't have much to talk about in an SP1 [service pack 1], but this time it is different. Through it, SpaceClaim gets two significant add-ons:

STL Prep for 3D Printing

SpaceClaim resellers often sell 3D printers. There are problems that are faced with printing, because we can't just send a CAD model to a 3D printer. The problems include the following:

(*) Most 3D printers accept STL format files from CAD programs. STL is short for "stereolithography," and the format was invented in 1986 by 3D Systems. It consists of simple 3D coordinates of surface triangles. "Watertight" means that there are no gaps in the surfaces.

And then there are the problems created by 2D drawings and scan data. Well, 2D drawings cannot be printed because they are not 3D, but SpaceClaim turns 2D drawings into 3D models. Scan data almost always has holes in the model where the scanner was unable to see, and so these need to be covered over.


SpaceClaim has a lot of tools that are good for making models ready for 3D printing. The most important one is that it can combine models from a variety of CAD packages. When the source file is a mesh, then the new 3D Print Prep module cleans up meshes by removing gaps, holes, and intersecting meshes -- making them watertight.


Sometimes users may need to print something derived from a model, such as a mouth guard derived from a cast of someone's teeth. Use SpaceClaim's modeling tools to create a generic mouthguard, and then subtract the mesh (of the teeth) from the mouthguard model.


SpaceClaim's new 3D print prep module also handles these tasks: converts any model to STL or AMF [additive manufacturing format] files; previews the solid to mesh export, with adjustable settings; reduces triangles automatically.


Ralph Grabowski: Does SpaceClaim handle supports?
Supports are handled by the printer's software, since it best knows how to add supports inside the hollow model.


Ralph Grabowski: Are you using technology from Geomagic?
Although we have partnered with Geomagic, none of our clean up technology is from Geomagic.


SpaceClaim LiveReview

The second add-on provides live 3D collaboration in a different manner that's somewhat from other systems: it allows real time input from collaborators. But first, let's have a look at some of the problems with other collaboration systems:

SpaceClaim itself reads any CAD file and can edit it, which makes it better for reviews. LiveReview reviews models with multiple viewers on any OS on supported Web browsers. It also allows limited editing.


It works like this: you start LiveReview in SpaceClaim 2014 SP1, and then send emails to those you want to participate. Their emails contain a link, which they open in their Web browser. Immediately, they see the model.


Between you and the participants, LiveReview sends 3D triangle data to the LiveReview Manager servers on the cloud; this is not raster data, as some other systems use. When a participant clicks on a part, only a tiny bit of info is sent, making it useful in low bandwidth situations. (See figure 1.)


Figure 1: How the data flows during a LiveReview session


The source model remains secure, because it resides on the host machine only and not on any cloud; the cloud is only used to manage the sharing process.

All participants can navigate the model, select objects, apply markups, and initiate edits. Editing is limited to actions like moving or rotating objects; copies cannot be made. Parties have independent views. (See figure 2.)


Figure 2: Host's view of LiveReview in SpaceClaim (at left) and the client's view in a Web browser (at right)


At any time, a participant can freeze the view to mark it up, or discuss issues without the others watching. Snapshots can be taken to record states with markups (when marking up, the 3D view is frozen.) Because the geometry is not simply a raster image, participants can measure geometry (angles, areas, diameters).


RG: Is latency a problem?
Once the model is loaded, there is no latency [or delay]. [We tested it by Mr Hendrickson sending me a link, and I opening the model in Firefox. It did not work in my Opera Web browser. Even though we were 2,000 miles apart, the model of figure 2 experienced only a slight hesitation as I rotated and zoomed it.]


RG: How much does LiveReview cost?
LiveReview is given to all customers on subscription for six months free; we will decide later how much to charge.




Information on AMF: http://amf.wikispaces.com

What Ralph Grabowski Thinks

The consumer side of 3D printing is breathless over its future possibilities, reminding me of the early days of desktop CAD, when "the only limit is your imiagination." Later we found out that CAD is far more limited than we ever imagined. So while there is much excitment over what 3D printing can do, the lower prices and increasing quality of 3D printers, the 3D Printing Prep add-on is not for consumers, not when it costs $3,645 (that's $2,445 for SpaceClaim + $1,200 for the add-on). So this is something that is for professionals, those that buy the five- and six-figure 3D printing machines. I am surpised that SpaceClaim is charging for the add-on, rather than making it part of service pack 1.


As for the remote viewer, the technology makes a lot more sense than the the raster-pushing technology from other CAD vendors. SpaceClaim sends actual 3D triangles that can be viewed in a Web browser; no mobile app needed.



And One More Thing...

Theorem Solutions' 3D PDF Publisher and Publish 3D plugin for CATIA V5 isn't just new -- it's also the first one that lets Catia V5 output 3D interactive PDF files with 3D FTA (PMI) annotations and dimensions, MBD [model based definitions] through the Save As command, plus batch output.


This lets non-Catia users view models through free Acrobat program, although Thorem's PDF publisher is not free. Demo sample from http://www.theorem.com/dm/3dpdf-v5-stq.htm (after registration).

Heard on Twitter and On the Blog

upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine): Windows marketshare falls below 90%, first time since the mid-1990s -> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/03/15/windows_desktop_and_laptop_market_share_dips_below_90_per_cent


upFront.eZine: The What's-New for BricsCAD V14 is now 102 pages long (as of version 14.2.06, Feb 27'14) -> http://www.bricsys.com/rss/html.jsp?channel=bcad&site=1


upFront.eZine: Of course the NSA knows where that missing Malaysian jet liner ended up.


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On the Blog

Here are items that appeared on the WorldCAD Access blog recently at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:

Letters to the Editor

Re: Virtualization, and What You Can Expect from It

"Put these in the datacenter: http://www.fluidyna.com/content/fluidyna%C2%AE-typhoon."
      - William J. Munson


The editor replies: "I see that they mention Tesla, and so they are using nVidia chip sets."



"Are you back from SXSW? I heard about the big incident down there."
       - J.O.


The editor replies: "I was at SXSW just on the Friday, when the streets were already blocked off but not much of anything else going on. It was disappointing that Dell gave us these complimentary tix normally worth $500 each, but we couldn't use them because we all flew home Saturday. The accident that killed attendees was shocking. I wonder how this incident will affect next year's event; probably concrete barriers, instead of traffic diverters."

Re: Spin Doctor of the Moment

"I read 'Spin Doctor of the Moment' on my new Nokia 1520 Windows phone, and totally agree with Mr Nadella: 'This is the right move for Microsoft'."
      - Robin Capper
        New Zealand


The editor replies: "I feel the same way about my old PalmPilots. There is stuff in them that no modern phone does yet."


Re: Heard On Twitter
"Since Mr. Kurzweil will be 81 when this takes place, I predict Ray will be willing to mow lawns rather than being buried under them. He's betting that radical life extension will go hand-in-hand with the Singularity."
       - Rob Curran


The editor replies: "He is betting on the mechanistic philosophy of the brain. I am willing to bet that his Singularity won't happen in 2029."

"I read with interest the Russian-to English translation of your article that had already been through an English-to-Russian translation. It reminded me of the story about one of the first attempts at computerized translations. The real test of a translator is to do a round trip into the same translator and back.


"Apparently what they put in was 'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak'. What came back was 'The booze is okay but the meat's gone bad.' I use this as a cautionary story when talking to people about CAD (and other) file format compatibilities and translations.
      - Bill Fane


Notable Quotable

"My mind is aglow with whirling transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention."
      - Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles


upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by 11,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at editor@upfrontezine.com! Deadline for submissions is every Monday noon.


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Entire contents copyright 2014 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" 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.


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