AU 2010 Manufacturing Keynote: Digital Prototyping—It’s Not Just Pretty Pictures
Robert “Buzz” Kross, Autodesk Sr. Vice President of Manufacturing, opened the annual manufacturing keynote with a sincere appreciation of what customers do with Autodesk® products. He emphasized that digital prototyping isn’t just for pretty 3-D pictures anymore. Customers now use Autodesk software tools to do conceptual design, sophisticated simulation, and stress and failure analysis, greatly reducing the need for expensive physical prototyping or even more expensive post-development rework.
Manufacturing Community Award
Before the stories started, Kross paused to give out the annual Manufacturing Community Award. This year’s prize was awarded to Dr. J.D. Mather of the Pennsylvania College of Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Mather is much appreciated in the community for his stellar tutorials and willingness to help others. The award is determined by community votes through social media.
Meeting the Need for Innovation
Scott Reese, Sr. Director of the Autodesk Simulation Team talked about how customers use Autodesk software to meet the need for innovation, using the examples of innovative designs for more recyclable laptops, rollercoasters, a paper production machine, a wearable motorcycle, and even a comfortable-looking dentist chair. Scott went on to introduce three customers to tell their stories.
Solving Big Problems
Itamco’s Joel Heidig explained how his company used digital prototyping to solve a big problem. Really big. Itamco, an Indiana manufacturing company, had to figure out how to install into its manufacturing plant a five-ton machine that had arrived from Germany in several huge crates. As Joel put it, “The cost to mess up was enormous.” Using Autodesk Navisworks®, they simulated a virtual factory, including the pad that had to be built, the 40-ton crane needed to assemble the machine, and the high-voltage wiring it required. The simulation enabled them to understand and mitigate constraints before a single crate was pried open.
Staying Safe while Meeting Cost Constraints
Balzer Pacific of Portland, Oregon, faced a different problem—staying competitive in a tough economy without compromising safety and quality. Mechanical engineer Andrew Sears described two projects where Autodesk Algor® saved the day. Their original bid to design and build a giant rock crusher was rejected as too costly due to the rising price of steel. By simulating the project, they realized that they could make a crusher with less steel that could still withstand having four-foot-wide boulders dropped on it.
They also used Algor to simulate a self-loading barge assembly, including a crane and several hoppers. Algor enabled them to simulate the design’s structural response to stress and proved that the project could be built with thinner steel and still be safe.
Zero to Wow in a Nanosecond
OK, that’s Pi Mobility’s tagline, but it’s irresistible. Marcus Hays, PiMobility CEO and founder, brought in the cool factor with the Pi Cycle, a revolutionary electric (Wi-Fi-enabled!) bike that features a stunning arch design. By using Autodesk Inventor®, Pi Mobility was able to do the kind of prototyping that would have been out of reach for a small startup if they had to rely on physical modeling. Inventor showed that making just a half-inch change to the arched tube allowed a different battery form factor and significantly reduced material and manufacturing costs. An Autodesk Clean Tech partner, Pi Mobility is doing its part to reduce energy consumption and pollution—and looking extremely cool while doing so.
Rob Chohee, Autodesk Manufacturing Evangelist, wrapped up the session with his popular annual review of some of the newest technology. “The world is understood at discontinuous levels of abstraction,” he said, by way of explaining why a myriad of tools is available. While a stair is a stair, architects, engineers, and contractors all view it from different perspectives and all need tools that are different, but work together.
For example, Rob talked about creating a concept when inspiration strikes using Autodesk Sketchbook® Pro (one of Oprah’s favorite programs!) on the iPad®, then taking that drawing to Autodesk Alias® to turn the sketch into curves, then into Inventor to start making it a reality. Ease of use is also key to new technology. Autodesk is simplifying interfaces by putting tools at the point of focus, using gestures, and repurposing commands that traditionally serial into a single dynamic command.
By partnering with companies such as Granta Design Autodesk enhances customer access to new market opportunities. Inventor users can select eco-friendly materials from Granta Design’s materials database to provide their customers with sustainable building designs.
Autodesk is making new connections between drawing and technical publications software that enable engineering drawings to be repurposed as documentation, and with delivery to mobile devices, companies can eliminate the treeware (paper) and keep documentation in the cloud. Autodesk also believes the cloud is important for driving massive simulation. By using the computing power available in the cloud, users can simulate many configurations in parallel—instead of waiting for one desktop computer to do the job.