Thought of the day

Unless you work at Dyson, don’t make the choice for new engineering software in a vacuum. Ask what needs, issues and questions the end users may have. If all you’re looking at is the cost savings of the different software licenses and accompanying server hardware you are not getting the full picture of true cost of ownership.

You may also want to consider the following before making your decision:

  • Training costs.
  • Costs to update any related company procedures or documentation.
  • Time and cost associated with the loss of productivity during the learning curve.
  • Actual productivity gains as a whole. Saving $100 in one area of an application only to spend $10 in 10 other areas isn’t really saving anything.

What do you have to say about it? I would love to hear from you. Post a comment or find me on Twitter or Facebook.




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DEVELOP3D Live 2015

For those of you who are reading this and also live on this side of the Atlantic in the good ole’ USA you’re probably like me and don’t give much though to what is going on abroad. We spend our 40 hour+ week, 8 hours a day with our nose to the grindstone creating CAD models, making drawings or making widgets on our 3D printers. Every November we pack up our bags and head to Las Vegas for the CAD nerd mecca we call Autodesk University. Autodesk crams in a weeks worth of classes, fancy presentations and so much information it leaves our head spinning well into January. By springtime we’re already thinking about the next trip to Vegas and starting to plan ahead for it.

Well, why wait until November to absorb all that CAD nerd goodness when DEVELOP3D Live is right around the corner in March. Whoa you say… what is this DEVELOP3D Live I speak of? This year It’s March 26, 2015 in Warwick, England. Now before you stop reading and flip back to the YouTube video of the guy talking like Karl from Slingblade at a Starbucks drive-thru just because I said it was in England… hear me out.

The one day conference is free and with a round trip airline ticket costing around $1,500, it’s quite a reasonable jaunt across the ocean to take in how the other half does things with a nice vacation in the folds as well.

DEVELOP3D LIVE 2015 will feature four conference streams, covering all bases of product development technology – from 3D modelling, design visualisation and simulation to 3D printing, manufacturing and workstations.

The conference also hosts a packed product showcase full of over 60 exhibitors such as AMD, Autodesk, Delcam, Dell, FlowHD, HP, Luxion, Siemens PLM and Solidworks.

This year DEVELOP3D Live will have an abundance of impressive speakers such as Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk. Jon Hirschtick, CEO of OnShape and founder of Solidworks. Kevin Schneider, Sr. Product Line Manager for Emerging Products and Technology at Autodesk, and many others.

I have attended all d3d events for the past three years. I find it one of the best independent events in the industry.

– Kevin Schneik, Director of Product Management For Fusion 360 at Autodesk. (@schneik80)

What else do you need to know? Ask them yourself on Twitter at @DEVELOP3DLive. Remember… registration is free.

Not convinced yet? (Gosh, you’re a hard sell.) Check out some of the videos from past DEVELOP3D Live events. I’ll even save you a click… you can watch one right here. Enjoy!

If Carl Bass isn’t enough to convince you… then watch Al Dean, Editor-in-Chief of DEVELOP3D Magazine convince you.


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Free Autodesk Software for Education

Today at Autodesk University’s keynote address, it was announced that Autodesk will be giving away all of its software for free to teachers, students and now educational institutions themselves.

Autodesk is committed to invest in the next generation and to help them on their journey to imagine, design, and create a better world. Students, educators, and academic institutions worldwide have free* access to Autodesk software—the same tools used by millions in industry today. We’re enabling future makers, engineers, and designers to move their ideas into reality, and helping to prepare students for jobs with free software. We can’t wait to see how they solve real-world design challenges.

What does this mean? This means that the clunky but cheap CAD software you learned how to design with back in school that you found out later in the real world is a not used at all is now a thing of the past. There now is no reason your school can’t be outfitted with the latest and greatest Autodesk software for absolutely no cost. This applies to any educational institution world wide.

This is an obvious win for schools, teachers and students but it’s also a smart move for Autodesk. Small schools with tight budgets can now be equipped with some of the best design software in the industry. Developing countries looking to populate minds with bright ideas can do so without resorting to software piracy.

This shift in thinking is also quite refreshing from the perspective of turning away from the corporate drive for instant gratification and focus on quarterly profit margins with an increased importance on long term business sustainability. When other CAD applications are the preferred software over an Autodesk product, this is sometimes just a result of an “it’s always been that way” attitude and not necessarily because one software is better than the other. With Autodesk products being free and in the hands of students, those students eventually get unleashed into the real world and can influence which products may be used at their company or even what gets used at their very own startup. It just makes good business sense to form that special bond between man and software, early.

Now the task lies on the educational institutions of the world to capitalize on this benefit and empower their students to use some really great tools. Time to put away the shareware CAD you’re all using to teach with now.



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Don’t take Inventor for granted

If you are on Twitter you may recognize the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems referring to frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries, typically used to make light of trivial inconveniences.

If you are an Autodesk Inventor user, you may be able to identify with this similar hashtag… #FirstWorldCADProblems. I thought I might have been the 1st to use the hashtag, but apparently not.

What I’m really referring to are the features within Inventor that make your life easy and that you may take for granted. This came up to light today when a friend of mine emailed me his latest PTC Creo gripe. He’s trying to change the bill of materials (parts list) on a drawing for a glue item to “A/R” meaning “as required”.

His email to me:

Trying to change a bom from qty 1 to a/r for glue. I have not fixed it yet but found this link and read it shaking my head soo much my neck hurts.
As i remember… Inventor you click the bom and type A/R right?

This is giving me grey hair.

So I click on the link and read this “fantastically easy way” to customize an item quantity in a bill of materials:


Thanks for the link. I’ve read through it, and I now have a BOM that properly reflects what I want! AR shown in the BOM’s quantity column for my bulk item.

I may have overstated some details for doing this…

The way I put AR in the quantity column is to change the report symbol in the repeat region for the column from rpt.qty to rpt.rel.User Defined, then enter “quantity” (without quotation marks) in the Symbol Text window that pops up.

Then enter/create a repeat region relation in the Relations editor pop up window for the repeat region (mouse picks: Repeat Region, Relations, select/digitize BOM repeat region):


IF asm_mbr_type == “BULK ITEM”

quantity = “AR”


quantity = rpt_qty


After hitting the OK button on the Relations editor window to close it, toggle the Switch Symbols button. If all goes well, AR will now be in the quantity column for the Bulk Item(s) in your assembly.

You need to use the Bulk Item template by creating a part within the assembly and selecting the Bulk Item template.

Thanks again!


After reading all that, all I can say is “what in the what???” Marty sure does know his stuff when it comes to PTC Creo.

Although, not as ideal as one would really want… in Inventor you can simply edit a drawing parts list qty field by typing in “A/R” over the default quantity value. Now if you could do this sort of thing within the assembly model and add bulk items like glue, my life really would be much easier than it is now and I could go on living in peace an harmony.

So with that… if you have any first world CAD problems you want to share, please Tweet with the hashtag #FirstWorldCADProblems or use it on Facebook or Google+. You can also post a comment to this blog post.

Also, if you have a better way to handle bulk items in Inventor… please let me know. I’m “starving” for more information and am desperate for help! *snicker*




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