January 27th, 2012
Additive Manufacturing, or AM, was originally developed as an alternative to traditional machining, or subtractive manufacturing. There are numerous benefits to this method, even though some companies have been slower to adopt AM. Let’s take a look at just a few of the reasons that AM can not only assist your company in improving the manufacturing process, but how it can also end up saving you money both in the short and long term.
1. Simplified process. You only need three components to get AM up and running: a CAD model, materials and energy. This translates into much less time from project inception to completion and removes the numerous steps that are necessary for subtractive manufacturing.
2. Ideal for lower volume manufacturing. Thanks to adaptability and ease of implementation, smaller firms are finding that AM helps them get off the ground running in a lot less time, and with a lot smaller budget. Instead of developing complex machining techniques, AM can be used to quickly jumpstart the process. This is enabling smaller companies to compete on an even level with larger competitors.
3. Change is easy. With subtractive machinery, a small change may necessitate replacing an entire machine. With AM, you can simply update the CAD drawing, switch out a tool and get right back to work. This means less downtime, less overall expense and a quicker path to profits.
If you’re on the fence as to whether or not AM is right for your firm, it’s best to start small. Pick one area in your company that definitely needs improvement and implement AM there. Watch for your cost savings and track the time from start to finish on your project. Chances are, you’re going to find the process smoother, the costs lower and the overall finished product well worth the effort. Companies on tighter budgets can begin adopting AM by upgrading their equipment as necessary and gradually transitioning over to an entirely AM process.
January 20th, 2012
Yes, there’s an app for that, even in the engineering world. Whether you’re looking for a way to increase productivity or creativity, you’ll find plenty of iPad apps designed to assist you. Let’s take a look at five of the most outstanding apps on the market right now.
1. AutoDesk CAD WS – Not only can you use this app to view CAD drawings across a variety of different devices, this app will also let you annotate and change the drawings on the fly, wherever you are. If you have a WiFi only iPad and happen to be out of a connection area, you can save a local copy and update it when you get back into an area with service. We like the quick rendering and easy-to-use interface. With all this power, it’s hard to believe this app is completely free.
2. Engineering Unit Conversion – While this tool may look simple on the surface, it’s truly a handy little app to have running around. Need to convert density or conductivity? This app will have you covered. It earns extra stars simply because it’s easy and fast to use and answers an oft-overlooked need. This app is priced at just .99.
3. Siemens Sirius eAssistance Doc Finder – If you’ve ever been in the position of needing access to docs on a component, this app makes it truly quick to find what you’re looking for. While the downside is that its only Siemens specific, if your firm utilizes this brand, you’ll find this app a valuable resource that gets its fair share of use. This app is also free.
4. GaugeFinder – Another little app that does one thing and does it very well. No more guesswork on wire gauge. Pop open the app and you’ll be able to look up the type of wire you’re working with and get specs for a variety of different wire types, tubing and more. With its free price tag, it’s hard to pass this one up.
5. PowerOne Financial Calculator – If you remember the old RPN calculators from Hewlett Packard, you will truly love this app. Although it’s not free, priced at 4.99, it is incredibly useful and well worth the money. Calculate everything from microns to fathoms right on your iPad.
The engineering development community has been hard at work creating real-world apps that answer today’s most common needs. We look forward to their continued development and to their making our lives even easier.
January 13th, 2012
Until recently, silicon was the only game in town when it came to manufacturing chips. Although numerous advances had been made, further miniaturization was nearly impossible due to the limitations of this material. Chips were stuck at a thickness of 2 nanometers and with concerns over oxidation, simply couldn’t be made any smaller.
A new material called molybdenite is revolutionizing the chip industry. This naturally occurring mineral can be used to create a chip that is a mere 3 atoms thick per layer. This spells big progress for an industry that is concerned with making things smaller and smaller. With molybdenite, the possibilities appear to be nearly endless.
Molybdenite is manufactured from molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and this material is considered to be abundant and easy to find, unlike silicon which must be manufactured and is more expensive to use. Cost savings, when coupled with the other benefits of chips made from this material, will likely have a heavy influence when it comes to adopting molybdenite on a large scale.
Molybdenite stacks up against silicon when it comes to speed as well. They can be turned off and back on in much less time and have the ability to go into stand-by mode, a feature not available with regular silicon chips. This in turn translates into a more efficient chip.
The future is bright for this new material. Thanks to its flexibility, designers are beginning to contemplate its use for new flexible electronic devices that can be worn next to the skin. The next few years will truly be the turning point for molybdenite as developers see just how far it can go, and whether or not it can leave silicon in the dust.
January 6th, 2012
Computer Aided Design, or CAD, has revolutionized the design industry. It can take designs to an entirely new level, while making it easier and faster for designers to come up with a stellar finished product.
There are numerous benefits to using CAD, such as:
1. Speeding up the entire process. Projects that used to take a designer weeks or months to complete can now be accomplished in a matter of days or even hours. This translates into moving into production in much less time, which in turn means a faster path to profits.
2. A more intuitive design process. Instead of getting bogged down with tiny details and laborious small changes, designers can automate much of the process. This allows them to focus on the bigger picture.
3. Higher product quality. CAD design enables designers to spot potential flaws, and assists in creating prototypes and designs that are real-world ready.
The next issue facing companies seeking CAD designers is finding the right people who know how to truly harness the power of this tool. No two designers are created equal and while it is easy to claim that they have CAD skills, these skill-sets can differ greatly.
Discovering which potential hires have the right skill-set is a vital step of the hiring process. You simply cannot take someone at their word, or even by their samples. The only true way to narrow down the talent pool is to conduct CAD based testing.
This provides companies with real-world results that highlight which designer will be the most useful to the company. Instead of relying on a resume, you can get an actual look at who has the most talent and who is capable of utilizing this tool to the utmost. This in turn will lead to faster turn-around times, higher profits and a better design process.