How to Utilize the SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal

    by Toby Schnaars on April 26, 2017

    Did you know that SOLIDWORKS has a customer portal? Whether you’re a new user, an existing user, or just need a little help, the SOLIDWORKS customer portal is an excellent resource available to all SOLIDWORKS subscription customers.

    This blog will take you through how to use the portal, along with a step-by-step guide on how to get your questions answered before calling technical support.



      5 Best Announcements & Presentations From SOLIDWORKS World 2016

      by Stephanie Medeiros on February 19, 2016

      We had quite the schedule while visiting Dallas for SOLIDWORKS World this year. Not only did we have a customer appreciation welcome reception the first day of World, we also had nine of our own engineers presenting breakout sessions throughout the three days. But we still had time to put together a list of our favorite announcements and presentations from SOLIDWORKS World. Here are five of our favorites!

      1. SOLIDWORKS For Kids

      We were very excited to hear that kids were a big focus at this year's World. A specialized version of SOLIDWORKS will help them become interested and certified in SOLIDWORKS for STEM related careers in the future. In fact, there are already a whopping 70,000 students across the United States certified in SOLIDWORKS! Not only is this initiative sparking interest in engineering in students, it is also promoting creativity within their designs created in SOLIDWORKS. Bridging analytical and creative thinking is a huge, innovative process that we can get behind.

      2. Design = Technology with Yves Behar

      This was an enlightening presentation with design legend Yves Behar, who talked about the close relationship between good design and good technology. In his presentation, Behar said that design equals technology because it needs to be people friendly. Without the person element, technology cannot exist. This also goes hand-in-hand with teaching engineers of the new generation about good design and encouraging creativity.

      3. Xdesign

      Need a browser-based SOLIDWORKS application that can do file management, modeling, model based definition, and design guidance? Then you're going to love Xdesign. Browser elements also means working in a highly secure cloud system that can save, archive, and retrieve everything that a project team needs without having to endlessly search for it.

      4. Part Supply

      On top of Xdesign, this innovative feature will allow designers in SOLIDWORKS to easily find and copy parts from a library stored in the cloud and utilizes geometry, meta, and contextual search to help you find those parts quickly. This cuts time on searching and even indexing parts drastically, allowing for more time to be spent on the actual project.

      5. Neil Gershenfeld and bringing machines back to urban economy

      The global economy is rapidly changing, which includes the job market along with it. That means thinking of machinery and robotics in a different light that implements both automation and people. MIT rock star Neil Gershenfeld put this into simple terms that anyone could get behind, such as bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and being able to rapidly build new neighborhoods.

      Missed out on SOLIDWORKS World this year? We're hosting a live event in Wisconsin on Monday, March 7th, that will have highlights of the best announcements that came out of World. Plus, you'll get to see the most popular presentation we had at SOLIDWORKS World, hosted by the actual presenter. Sign up and reserve your spot!


      The Impact of 3D Printing in the Plastics Industry

      by Rob Stipek on February 17, 2016
      For plastics professionals, 3D printing has been a breakthrough for how plastic part design and production can now be accomplished.
      Plastic design engineers have been using 3D printing technologies such as Polyjet, to create physical

      models which have the same look and feel as the mass production part they’ve designed. By 3D printing their ideas, design teams can optimize every aspect from structural enhancements such as extra ribbing, to increasing wall thickness and visual changes. This visualization cannot be accomplished simply by looking at a model on a computer screen. Better understanding proof of concept is has been essential for keeping production goals on track.

      On the manufacturing floor, 3D printings impact has been equally important as it has been to the design team. Manufacturers are finding that by using Fused Deposition Modeling technology they are able to produce stronger parts. Jigs, fixtures, and check gauges are being created quicker and are less expensive than tools made from aluminum. Some companies, particularly in the Automotive, Aerospace, and Medical industries, are finding that by using FDM materials like Ultem or Polycarbonate that they are able to skip traditional manufacturing completely by producing their products directly from their 3D printer. This method greatly reduces the cost to produce expensive molds and if a part needs to be replaced, it can be reprinted quickly and inexpensively.
      An expanding application manufacturers are also finding to be a game changer, is using Polyjet digital materials to create molds for low volume blow or injection molding. These molds generally are a great option for parts that have a high complex design and are produced in low volumes. Some design teams that need safety or regulatory standards also like the option to use Polyjet molds because they can now have a functional prototype built with the same material as mass production parts. 



      by Rachael Hughes on February 16, 2016

      WIN A 3D MOUSE!!
      Have you ever wanted to smooooooth out your zoom and rotate movements in SOLIDWORKS?

      Have you ever wanted to speed up your modeling?
      Have you ever tried a 3D mouse?
      How can YOU get in on the next drawing?  
      -Take the survey at the end of the course
      -You're entered to win a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse!
      -Every course you take this quarter, fill out the survey for an entry!
      Fisher Unitech's Training Team is giving away a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse EVERY QUARTER!  Every time you take a training course, fill out the survey at the end of the course and you'll be entered into the drawing.
      This quarter (Jan-Mar), we are giving away:
      The 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro a $299 value
      Learn more about 3D mice on their website, and check out the product guide: http://www.3dconnexion.com/

      Sign up for a Fisher Unitech training class here: https://www.fisherunitech.com/Training/Find-SolidWorks-Courses-by-Product


        Fisher Unitech 3D Printing Build Services Adding Value to Customers

        by Rob Stipek on February 11, 2016

        For the design and manufacturing industry, 3D printing has become an instrumental tool in opening new doors to how we create new products. However many have not been able to utilize 3D printing due to the initial challenges of return on investment, machine cost, or other company specific reasons. For those who need parts built quickly but can’t justify the purchase of a 3D printer, this is where Fisher Unitech’s build service team shines.

        Many current 3D printer users are finding that at certain times throughout the year their printer is overwhelmed with print jobs and can’t keep up with demand. Utilizing Fisher Unitech for a quick build that can reduce the workload on your in-house 3D printer is a common issues that we have been assisting out customers with for years. We have all the professional grade materials Stratasys offers on hand in our 3D printing centers and a professional staff who can meet the specifics of what customers need done.
        Budget Constraint:
        The investment in getting a 3D printer can be pretty substantial if your return on investment isn’t justified. The value that a build service brings to a company that only needs a handful of parts built a year can be instrumental to the quality of your project. For a design team to hold their 3D printed part in their hands and make an educated decision on whether that part is satisfactory to proceed to production or go back to your CAD and make design changes is a far greater value than looking at a design on a computer screen and trying to make the same decision. Relatively inexpensive parts can be produced in a timely fission that can be instrumental to the success of your project.
        Turn Around Time:
        Speed of production is one of the largest benefits that 3D printing brings to industries that utilize the technology. For many companies, being able to keep up with deadlines is sometimes the determining factor in evaluation the success or failure of project. The value that Fisher Unitech provides to our customers is a full line of Stratasys 3D printers in multiple locations throughout the Midwest that are run by a dedicated team to ensure deadline are met while maintaining a high level of quality.
        Expertise Build Team:
        Fisher Unitech has over 20 years of 3D printing experience. As the experts we can ensure part quality and make recommendations to customers that will help produce a great quality part.
        Extensive Material Selection:
        Customers are often looking for a specific look and feel of a part in order to do everything from functional testing to marketing focus group evaluations. As a Platinum Partner of the Stratasys, Fisher Unitech has access to the full range of Fused Deposition Modeling and Polyjet Materials. This enables us the ability to meet the needs of designers who want a part with a rubber like material for over molding, or machine floor workers looking for jigs, fixtures, and check gauges that need to be made of strong durable materials.
        Feel free to request more information on how Fisher Unitech's Build Service Team can help you.




        3D Printing’s Impact in Sports

        by Rob Stipek on February 11, 2016

        Advancements in 3D printing technology have led to new innovative ways design and manufacturing

        engineers have brought products to life. In recent years, athletic and sports industries have quickly become one of the largest adapters of 3D printing.  Utilizing the speed of part production and flexible material options, the sports industry has made great strides in improving the athlete experience.

        All major sporting goods brands have adopted 3D printing to optimize their product lines. Major benefits companies are gaining from 3D printing can be found in prototyping and functional testing.  Polyjet technology lets users modify different material colors and deromiters, allowing a range of colors and having rubber-like over molding. Athletic apparel companies, such as Nike and Adidas, are able to print prototype shoes for design focus groups allowing feedback before mass production. Due to production speed, these companies can get their sample products reviewed within days or sometimes hours, keeping product time tables on track.

        Polyjet 3D printing technology has also been used for functional testing at Trek, the world leader of bicycle manufacturing. Engineers at Trek use their CAD software to design brackets and gear parts which can be functionally tested the same day.  This technology reaps the benefit to quickly validate designs and make necessary adjustments to optimize the part for performance.

        3D printing even made its way to the Super Bowl when Carolina Panther’s linebacker, Thomas Davis, broke his arm before the big game.  After Davis’ surgery, where a metal plate was to be placed in his arm, 3-D Elite and Whiteclouds designed a 3D printed custom sleeve to support his arm and help get Davis back onto the field. With the speed of 3D printing and its ability to utilize scanning technologies, a one of a kind brace was created.

        For more information on 3D Printing, be sure to check out our upcoming Fisher Unitech Webinars.


        Save Time And Money With Injection Mold 3D Printing

        by Stephanie Medeiros on February 5, 2016
        So much goes into creating an injection molded part, from the design team that creates the part in CAD to the quality engineers who have to fix issues that arise when a part is injected like short shots or warp. Due to all the bumps in the road injection molders encounter, the popularity of 3D printed injection molds is steadily growing.

        Reduction to CNC Que
        You can imagine the frustration of having to push back a job because you don’t have the bandwidth to keep up. This is why 3D printing is quickly becoming a valuable complementary tool to CNC shops. If, under the right circumstances, an injection mold that is intended for low volume production meets process conditions of the material and press clamp force, then having a 3D printer on hand can free up CNC time. This allows for a shop's CNC machines to be used for cutting larger, more expensive steel or aluminum molds which in turn allows a project to stay on schedule.

        Reduction in Mold Costs
        When you are producing large volumes of parts, then it makes sense to tool your mold out of durable materials such as aluminum or steel. However, for low volume production the cost of a mold sky rockets if you are not producing parts that can offset the cost of the mold tooling. Instead, you can 3D print the mold for about the tenth of the cost of an aluminum mold.

        Multiple Printer Applications (ROI)
        Engineering service companies and mold shops alike are finding the benefits of having a 3D printer are vast. Otentimes, print is brought in for print injection molds only but soon they become go to resources to print prototypes, jigs, fixtures, and end use parts effortlessly and for less of the normal cost.

        Speed of Printing Mold

        The time it takes to print an injection mold from a 3D printer can be done usually in less than a day. Multiple ink jet heads that cure layers of photopolymer mean the speed to build up a mold is done quickly.
        To learn more about 3D printing and how it can help your next project, please visit our 3D printers page on our website.


        Optimizing your CAD for FDM 3D Printing

        by Rob Stipek on January 20, 2016
        Whether modeling in SOLIDWORKS, Creo, NX, or any other Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, bringing your design to life is easy with a 3D Printer,  but it all starts with an STL file.  Here are some tips to consider for your next design, to get the best possible 3D Print, while reducing material waste.
        First, watch the walls. The width of thin walls should be designed as a multiple of the filament bead width, bearing in mind the number of perimeter toolpaths (aka “contours”).  For example, the standard configuration for Stratasys professional 3D printers produces one 0.5mm perimeter bead (with infill rasters in between).  Very thin walls should be either 0.5mm OR 1mm wide.  Any width in between is likely to be undersized and/or inconsistent.
        Next, mind the gaps. Most machines (or slicing software) have a minimum size for infill rasters, which might result in airgaps within thin walls.  For the example machine above, a 1.3mm wall isn’t quite wide enough to infill, so it’ll print as two thin flimsy walls side by side.  In this case, a 1mm wall would be more rigid, despite being narrower, because the two beads would be fused.
        Also be sure to remember that STL files (sometimes referred to as “Standard Tessellation Language”)

        are faceted; meaning they contain no curves!  So, when sliced into layers, every 'circle' is actually a polygon.  Thus, exterior curves will always be slightly oversized and internal curves will be slightly undersized.  The results can be improved by tweaking the STL export settings in CAD (use the “fine” resolution or better); just be consistent.  While designing, consider defining custom oversized hole standards or undersized library features, in order to get consistent fits for pins/holes.

        Last be sure to take into account orientation. Whenever possible, build cup-shaped parts open-end-up, to avoid unnecessary support.  But when that that’s not possible, consider that most machines can bridge short horizontal spans without building support underneath.  To minimize use of support material and speed up prints, stay out of the ‘support zone’ between 0° (horizontal) and 45°.  Also include chamfers or fillets to inside corners whenever possible, to reduce the length of horizontal spans (and the likelihood they will require support).  For example, a 1” diameter cup printed upside-down might result in a LOT of support material used.  But adding just a 1/8” chamfer reduces the unsupported “ceiling” to just ¾”, and might eliminate the need for support altogether.


        Simulation Tech Tip: How to Load Results Faster and Reduce File Size for Nonlinear and Transient Studies (Results Options)

        by David Roccaforte on January 8, 2016

        Here's a quick and simple tip for all multi step simulations , dynamic, non linear, drop  etc... You don't have to keep ALL the data for EVERY solution step the solver takes.  The solvers will take smaller steps for convergence purposes and a solution may have hundreds of steps. For a large model this means large files and computational overhead (aka lag switching between studies. The good news is we may not need every piece of data for post processing and we can control the data that is retained under "Result Options".

        For example:

        I had a nonlinear dynamic study that was about 200K degrees of freedom in size and it took 50 steps to solve.  The time to switch studies varied quite a bit depending on how much data I chose to retain.

        Save data for all steps  = over a minute
        Save every 2 steps load time = 7 seconds
        Save every 5 steps = 2 seconds

        Who wants to wait to review a study ?  When you look at the size of the results file it start to become understandable why there is a lag.

        If you have nonlinear or dynamic runs that take forever to load and you don't need to review every time step at every location you can modify the "Result Options".

        1. Right mouse button on "Result Options"  and choose Define/Edit:

        2. Decide if stresses are important, for example in a dynamic simulation we might only want to compare displacements and accelerations. If they are not needed for the study un-check the box.

        3. Check "Solution Steps":  Then define how often to save data.  In the above dialog if the solver takes 1000 steps to complete the problem we will save every tenth step.  You can also specify multiple "Sets" saving multiple increment values during different parts of the simulation (see the video).

        4. Lastly, choose how to handle sensor specific data.  Do we want to retain  all, none or specific sensors.  If you are not familiar with sensors check them out they are quite useful to define specific simulation quantities or locations to save data.

        After you click "ok" , this setting will apply to the next time you run the study.  You will benefit by using up less disk space and being able to move between studies faster.
        For a video example on a nonlinear seat spring model take a look here: Narrated Results


        Join Us In Dallas For SOLIDWORKS World 2016!

        by Stephanie Medeiros on January 7, 2016

        Right off the bat in the new year we have been keeping busy at Fisher Unitech, because we're gearing up for SOLIDWORKS World in Dallas, Texas. We're beyond excited because nine of our engineers were accepted as guest speakers at the event and we will be hosting a welcome reception mixer for customers, fans, and anyone interested in SOLIDWORKS.

        The welcome reception will be kicking off at Bob's Steak & Chop House in the Omni Dallas Hotel on Monday, February 1st, starting at 5:30 PM. This is an annual event we have been hosting at SOLIDWORKS World for the last five or so years and are looking forward to another amazing year at World!

        If you'd like to RSVP, all you have to do is fill out the form on this page and you're all set.

        Can't make it to the welcome reception? We also have nine speakers at SOLIDWORKS World, all with great presentations you don't want to miss out on.

        Here is the full list of speakers:

        Get A Move On: Marketing Quality Animation Skills, Jay Pinheiro

        Build Your Entire System In SOLIDWORKS -- PCB, Electrical & Mechanical, David Hofer

        Leveraging Reporting In EPDM, Lindsay Early

        Save Yourself! (The Perils of Saving Over a Network), Dan Erickson

        Basic File Management Without a PDM System, Rachel Buhl

        Sheet Metal: Everything You Wanted To Know & More, Cami Florence

        Design Automation With The Configuration Publisher, Rodney Harper

        SOLIDWORKS And 3D Printers, Nady Osmat

        Getting Started With Design Tables, Katie Huffman

        Here's to a great 2016 and hopefully we see you in Dallas!


        MakerBot Introduces New Smart Extruder

        by Rob Stipek on January 6, 2016
        MakerBot has seen some bumps in the road recently regarding the effectiveness and quality of their first generation Smart Extruder. On a Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printer, an extruder is a part used to dispense plastic filaments that build a part layer by layer. Generally the extruder has to heat up to a certain temperature to melt a spool of plastic then pushes the melted plastic out through the extruder tip.
        With the release of the latest version Smart Extruder, MakerBot hopes to deliver the hobbyist 3D printing community an easy way to swap out an old, worn out extruder for a brand new one. The thought behind these Smart Extruders is that over time extruders become clogged or  wear out, so rather than having to order new parts to fix your extruder, the Smart Extruders enables users a quick and easy way to simply install a brand new one. This, as you can imagine, saves time and is extremely convenient if you are in the middle of a build.

        The previous version of the Smart Extruder had trouble giving users the promised life span and reliability. MakerBot says the new version promises to deliver extruders that have life spans lasting over 700, while some tested extruders have gone over 1200 hours. The new Smart Extruders will also have the updated software that Makerbot released last fall which helps increase print speed. Along with new software, there are new sensors that detect when more plastic filament is needed to complete a print. The new Smart Extruder will be available to the MakerBot’s fifth-generation line of printers, which includes the latest MakerBot Replicator, the Z18, and Replicator Mini. 


        It's a Simulation Holiday, How long to cook that Bird?

        by David Roccaforte on January 5, 2016

        While I was deciding on an appropriate brine, rub and injection for this years Turkey I was curious how closely a quick and dirty simulation would come to the reality of my smoker out on the deck? So while I was waiting for the bird to thaw I started modeling one up.  Then, to calculate the fowl temperature versus time I used a 4 step process:

        1. Gather Data and make Assumptions:

        - I'm assuming homogeneous thermal properties.

        - Assuming the majority of heat transfer is via convection not accounting for radiation.

        - I'm modeling the turkey while cooking dinner so bones are not added. If anyone has a full 3D Turkey skeleton send it on over.

        I found some thermal properties for meats here:


        - Most of the standard material properties in Flow are temperature dependant however for this study I'm assuming conductivity and specific heat are basically constant in this temperature range.

        - Assuming constant ambient temperature.  When I get a second probe with recording capabilities I will try again with ambient temp(time).  Ideally with the control system on the pellet smoker it's pretty consistent so it's not too big of an assumption.

        Step 2. Create a Steady State Flow Simulation of the Smoker:

        With Flow I used parametric studies to estimate inlet flow rate and temperature to create a steady state ambient temperature of 325F.  I will use the ambient temperature and convection heat transfer coefficients from Flow rather than estimating them as boundary conditions in thermal.

        Cut Plot of Ambient Temperature in Flow
        Heat Transfer Coefficient on Surface Note it is NOT uniform

        Step 3.  Run transient thermal simulation:

        The transient study was run in thermal analysis to reduce tun times.  Running the full smoker model in Flow as a transient would take much longer to run. However we did use Flow to capture the non uniform convection which would be more difficult to apply in thermal.

        Transient Thermal Simulation Using Flow Convection 

        Now you not may be able to tell from the picture but I was in the holiday "spirit" and forgot to save my temperature probe data from the Turkey.....

        author trying not to cut off a finger
        This gave me a good excuse to smoke some more fowl.  In this case I had fewer guests to feed so I did a slightly more controlled experiment with Cornish hens. Through the beauty of CAD embedded simulation I just scaled down my turkey and then created a new configuration and re-ran with the Hens.
        Calibrating my model
        Step 4:  Conclusion/Comparison:  Time versus temperature calculations 

        Analysis Compared to Thermal Probe Temperatures over Time
        Here is a comparison of multiple probe points in the vicinity of the probe on both hens versus time. The actual probe data is in the middle which is a good thing and gives me confidence in my model.  If I was using this turkey to optimize Flow in the smoker this would be good enough to stop here.  If I needed more accuracy I would take into account the following:

        - Bone thermal mass
        - Variation in ambient with time
        - Possible variation of conductivity and specific heat with temperature
        - Take into account rotating the Hens halfway the smoke.

        I hope this give you some insight into the synergy between Flow and Sim Pro thermal and a basic understanding of the assumption that go into a thermal analysis.

        Here's a link to some video of the simulations: https://youtu.be/rs7C9d6q6zM

        Happy New Year!



        Reindeer Power: Overcoming Aerodynamic Inefficiencies on Santa's Sleigh

        by Corey Gulley on December 28, 2015
        Santa’s sleigh doesn’t appear to be the most aerodynamic design we’ve ever laid eyes on, so I opened up SolidWorks Flow Simulation to analyze it.  I wondered how much power each reindeer would have to provide in order to counteract the drag put on the sleigh.  Using SolidWorks as a CAD and CFD tool, I could both analyze and design the sleigh in the matter of hours.

        If you do a quick google search, you’ll see that in order for Santa to visit most children in the world, he would have to travel at 650 miles per second.  While that sounds great, I’m just going to go with a descent speed of a regional jet at 300 miles per hour as the initial velocity flowing around the sleigh.  This is of course the only input I need for my study, so I can establish goals, or criteria that I primarily want to analyze when I’m looking at my results.  The first parameter I need to figure out is how much power is acting on the sleigh.  Once I figure that out, I can estimate how much power each reindeer would have to provide in order to get the sleigh to move.  So I am calculating the force in the direction of the airflow, along with the velocity.   Multiplying these two values together gives me an estimate of the work (or power) acting on the sleigh.
        If you convert the equation goal (power) from N-m/s to horsepower, you’ll end up with about 1700 hp.  Given that there are nine reindeer, each reindeer would have to put out about 190 hp in order to counteract the work being done on the sleigh… that’s about the horsepower of my Civic SI for each reindeer.
        Looking at the cut plot displaying streamlines, you’ll see the velocity changes direction just behind the sleigh, indicating a drag region.  So, in summary, Santa’s sleigh not even close to full speed is hardly aerodynamic.  

        So given all of these tools we have, do you think we can quickly come up with a better design for Santa?  I came up with a sleeker look for Santa, and it should make his travels much more efficient.  After running a CFD study, the new design only has 120 hp acting on the sleigh.  This design is much lighter and aerodynamic, so Santa should be able to delivery all of his presents to the children on time! 


          Press Release: Fisher Unitech To Host 3D Printing for Manufacturing Webinar Series

          by Rob Stipek on December 15, 2015
          Fisher Unitech will be hosting a webinar series that will run throughout the months of January and February with all webinar presentations scheduled to take place at 2:00 PM EST. These webinars will offer participants a better understanding of not only the differences between Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling and Polyjet 3D printing technologies but also how the design and manufacturing industries are utilizing 3D printing to make better quality products.
          All presentations will be given by our experienced Fisher Unitech 3D Printing Applications Engineering staff and will offer participants a question and answer session at the end of each presentation.
          These informative webinar presentations will specifically cover: 
          • 3D Printing Industry Trends and Forecasts
          • Additive Manufacturing Meets Traditional Manufacturing
          • Fused Deposition Modeling and Polyjet 3D Printing Materials Characteristics Overview


          3D Printing Helping the Aerospace Industry Take Off

          by Rob Stipek on December 9, 2015
          Whether it is on the commercial side or the military side of the aerospace industry, 3D printing is

          becoming a key component of getting projects off the ground. Commercial airlines are seeing a large spike in the utilization of 3D printing for end use parts. For companies like Airbus, 3D printing parts out of an ULTEM™ 9085 resin works great as this material is certified to meet Airbus material specifications. Utilizing Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printing, Airbus has managed to produce more than 1000 flight parts for use on A350 XWB aircraft, which began delivery in December 2014.

          The benefits that a company like Airbus sees out of 3D printing end use parts is pretty substantial. FDM parts are lightweight yet still very strong. This is helpful for the airline industry because if you can reduce weight while still maintaining a high level of strength, then you can save money on fuel. Another benefit Airbus has found by 3D printing is ways to reduce its part inventory. With the speed and accuracy of 3D printing it is simple to quickly print a new part when it comes time to replace something that is old or worn out. By doing this Airbus frees up space in warehouses by reducing their overhead costs of storage of replacement parts.
          3D Printing is also having a major impact on government and military projects. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Akron) and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) have included a request in the proposed 2016 Defense Budget for 10 million dollars worth of funding to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with the purpose of exploring and enhancing 3D printing capabilities in Airforce applications. 3D printing is also developing into a very important tool for NASA. There are numerous 3D printing projects that have been developed for space exploration including building parts for the land rovers that will be sent to Mars and even installing a 3D printer on board the international space station.

          With a reduction in design constrictions, increase speed, industry grade materials, and better productivity it should be no surprise 3D printing is becoming the perfect partner for Aerospace. 


          Extended SOLIDWORKS BOGO Promotion!

          by Stephanie Medeiros on December 1, 2015

          Good news, the SOLIDWORKS buy one, get one 50% off promotion has been extended into December! Now you can treat yourself (or staff) to SOLIDWORKS for the holidays and try something at 50% off full price when you purchase a product at full price.

          If you didn't see the initial post, you can read all about the BOGO promotion from earlier in November. Originally the promotion was going to end yesterday, on November 30th, but SOLIDWORKS has decided to extend their BOGO into December as a thanks to all their customers.

          You can see the list of SOLIDWORKS products that are included in this promotion below.

          SOLIDWORKS CAD – Standard, Professional, Premium
          SIMULATION – Standard, Professional, Premium, FLOW, FLOW HVAC/ELEC
          PLASTICS – Standard, Professional, Premium
          PDM – Editor, Contributor, Viewer (not PSLs)
          SOLIDWORKS Composer
          SOLIDWORKS Electrical – 2D, 3D, and Professional
          SOLIDWORKS Inspection – Standard, Professional

          All you have to do is fill out a form on our website here and we'll take care of the rest!


          Stratasys 3D Printing Helping Hospitals Save Lives

          by Rob Stipek on November 23, 2015
          There are a lot of really interesting 3D printing project that have made the headlines in recent years,

          maybe the most impactful projects where 3D printing has assisted is in the medical industry. The traditional approach for operating on an organ probably didn’t involve practicing on a test organ that has the exact fit and issues that are in the patient about to go under the knife, 3D printing is changing that. Using scanning technologies along with Stratasys Polyjet 3D printing, doctors can have a test heart, liver, or brain printed that is exactly what will be in their patient and better understand how to approach a surgery. Polyjet allows for extremely precise detail and vivid color making organs or bone structure super realistic.

          3D Printing has become a great teaching tool to Medical students as well. Applications for students generally include practicing resecting and stitching organs on surgical navigation systems using the 3D printed models. Professors can now provide simulations to students of organs that have predetermined surgical road bumps and using these road bumps as opportunities to teach. Polyjet gives the users the ability to change the texture of a print so professors can have models that accurately replicate fat, tissue, and bone. In other training sessions, students can be tested to bind a blood vessel and operate on the organ within a time limit to avoid endangering patient’s health. 3D models can help students understand which blood vessel they need to bind or where to insert a scalpel.

          Lastly there is the 3D printing of medical devices. In surgery and medicine, often times the tools doctors need are unique to a patient. 3D printing allows for complex designs without much of the limitations that comes from traditional manufacturing at a fraction of the cost. According to the experts Stratasys “Around the world, growth in medical spending outpaces inflation, and patients are taking on a greater share of the cost and clinical decision making. By adapting agilely and accelerating the pace of innovation, you can improve patient care while sustaining or improving profitability”. 


          Stratasys Announces New SUP706 for Polyjet Machines

          by Rob Stipek on November 17, 2015
          On Tuesday, Stratasys announced a brand new support material available to all Polyjet Connex

          customers, SUP706. Running on all triple-jetting 3D printers, SUP706 is compatible with all Polyjet materials, the only exception being specifically identified hearing aid materials. This new support material opens up doors to print even more detail geometries and reduces the already low design constrictions Polyjet users have. Key benefits to the new Sup706 include.

          •  Maximize productivity of your triple-jetting system and achieve a low TCO per part with easy, two-step automated support removal 
          •  More design freedom with the ability to easily remove support material from delicate features and small cavities
          • Faster and easier water-jet removal and improved glossy-mode performance 

          For more information on how you can take advantage of the benefits of SUP706 please contact material@fisherunitech.com. 


          Idaho State University 3D Prints Life Size Bigfoot Skeleton

          by Rob Stipek on November 11, 2015
          History Channel recently aired a new documentary entitled “Bigfoot Captured”, which researchers at Idaho State University utilized Stratasys 3D printing to print an 8 foot tall life size skeleton replica of what researchers believe fabled creature to looks like.

          With help from anthropology and anatomy professor Jeff Meldrum, a team at the ISU Robotics and Communication Systems Engineering Technology program used fossil and bone data of an extinct large ape species Gigantopithecus, to model what they think a Bigfoot skeleton would look like. For those in the scientific community, Gigantopithecus is believed to be a close relative to what Bigfoot is, if Bigfoot is indeed real. The project was something that long time researcher Jeff Meldrum found really remarkable. “Even this was a bit of an academic exercise because obviously everything is just inferential, but what it conveys is that otherwise difficult-to-imagine sensation or impression of standing next to a skeleton that’s 8 feet tall. I mean it’s huge—massive.”

          The skeleton took roughly 16000 hours to print utilizing multiple Stratasys FDM printers. There were 1000 cubic inches of ABS plastic used to create not only individual bones but also fused parts together for larger bones that were too big for the printers build platform. Just like in the manufacturing world designers of this skeleton utilized CAD software to design what they thought was the best layout of Bigfoot, then when using the printers had to take into account part build orientation to optimize part strength and build speed. This project also utilized soluble support materials for the intricate bone designs which allowed for much greater detail and less design constraints. 


          SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Metadata Connection - SolidWorks, Toolbox, and Composer

          by Luke Luff on November 9, 2015
          Metadata Connection:  SolidWorks, Toolbox, and Composer
          While the geometry of our designs is the essential core of digital manufacturing these days, the communication of metadata attached to that geometry is imperative. How else would we fill out our title blocks, BOM, cut lists, and ultimately enrich our deliverable in SolidWorks Composer? Today I’d like to show the metadata connection between SolidWorks parts, toolbox parts, and SolidWorks Composer.  Watch the short video for a click by click detail.    
          Composer and imported metadata:
          ·  Composer automatically imports all custom properties from parts and assemblies in SolidWorks mapping them to the appropriate geometry actors in your project.
          ·  By Clicking on an actor all meta data properties imported from SolidWorks are listed under the “User Properties”
          ·  Any “User Properties” can be leveraged in BOM, or any other annotation in Composer.

          SolidWorks metadata assignment best practices:
          ·  Custom Properties – Go to File>Properties for any part or assembly and add custom properties (use the “configuration specific” tab)
          ·  Utilize the “Custom Properties” dialog in the task pane.  This is my favorite because you can consistently assign the same metadata to new and legacy documents (very composer friendly).
          ·  Utilized either of these methods for parts and assemblies.

          What about the toolbox?
          ·  Quickly add part numbers and sizes to the vast library of hardware.
          ·  Do not add part numbers to the “User Specified” configuration property field!  Composer cannot automatically import this as metadata.

          Take a look at the video!


          Trusted Customer Looking For Engineer Help!

          by Stephanie Medeiros on November 6, 2015

          Talkaphone, a trusted customer of Fisher Unitech, is on the lookout for a talented and skilled Product Design Engineer to help them out in Chicago. Will that be you?

          More about our customer: Talkaphone is the industry leader in Emergency Communications, Area of Refuge and Mass Notification Systems, providing the best quality, technology and support. With over 75 years of experience creating communication solutions, Talkaphone designs attractive, robust, reliable products, focuses on continuous technology advancement, and pledges a total commitment to customer and partner success.

          Job Description

          We are currently recruiting for a Product Design Engineer to join our dynamic team. Roles and responsibilities of a Product Design Engineer include but are not limited to the following:

          • Must be able to learn and understand our broad range of products – how they function and interoperate.
          • Accurately model various parts and assemblies in 3D and generate 2D drawings utilizing SolidWorks.
          • Create, update, and maintain various Bills of Material (BOMs) for our line of products through the use of a PLM system.
          • Collaborate with the engineering team in authoring and updating technical product documentation and product installation manuals.
          • Fully design and implement verification tests per product specifications and written test plans.
          • Assisting other engineers with projects.


          Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering
          1-3 years relevant work experience
          Excellent verbal and written communication skills

          Proficiency with sheet metal in a manufacturing environment
          Proficiency with SolidWorks
          Proficiency with Microsoft Windows
          Proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Visio applications

          Previous experience in plastics in a manufacturing environment
          Previous experience in castings in a manufacturing environment
          Previous experience in using a product lifecycle management (PLM) platform

          Send resume, references, and salary history to:
          Human Resources
          Talkaphone Co.
          7530 N. Natchez Ave.
          Niles, IL 60714
          Fax: 773-539-1241


          3DExperience Platform

          by Katie Huffman on November 3, 2015
          3DExperience Platform
          See Part 1 of this blog about Conceptual Designer
          Now you have data to share with stakeholders of the new product design, how do you quickly share these concepts with the other decision makers or engineers in another location? The 3DExperience Platform enhances the conceptual design phase of a project. Lets take a look at how this new platform is going to help share ideas to other members involved in the new product design.

          The 3DExperience Platform is a new cloud-based platform that encourages collaboration between different groups that may be involved in the design of a new innovative product. There are several software products that have been released on this platform including SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer.

          3d dashboard.PNG
          Screenshot of 3D Dashboard

          When you login to 3DExperience, the first page you land on is the 3DDashboard. This is the main interface of the cloud-based environment. From here the WE compass guides you around the interface. There are four main parts on the WE compass. In this blog post we are going to focus on the Social and Collaborative Apps and the 3D Modeling Apps as they relate to Conceptual Designer.

          compass 2.PNG

          As ideas are created in Conceptual Designer, they can be shared on 3DExperience by using the Social and Collaborative Apps. There are two main Apps here, 3DSpace Collaborative Spaces, and 3DSwym Communities. Theses two Apps work together to help convey ideas to the different members.

          3DSpace is where the collaborative spaces are managed. This is used to share design concepts from Conceptual Designer across the group of stakeholders.

          blog example 3d exp.PNG
          Model in 3DSpace

          3DSwym communities allow communication between the stakeholders to clarify ideas or ask questions through blog posts, iQuestions, Wiki pages, and 3DMessaging. 3DSwym actually stands for See What You Mean.

          blog posts.PNG
          Blog posts in 3DSwym  can show in the Conceptual Designer interface
          video upload.PNG
          Blog posts in 3DSwym can also show in the 3D Dashboard
          3DSpaces- shared data storage
          3DSwym- conversations clarifying and asking questions between the group members

          I do want to note here that there are several privacy settings to protect who has access to the 3DSwym communities, and another level of settings to determine who can contribute to the community. 3DSpaces are available only to the invited members. The owner of the collaborative space can invite the users who should have availability to the project.

          3DExperience is going to streamline the design process, allowing stakeholders on a project across the globe to be connected in real-time. Incorporating the 3D Modeling Apps into the connectivity of this platform is going to allow any stakeholder involved in the project to quickly see design updates and relay their questions to the group. This platform is a new innovative way to share design data to all the necessary parties involved in a project.


          BOGO SOLIDWORKS: Buy One, Get Another 50% Off

          by Stephanie Medeiros on November 3, 2015

          Right now is the perfect opportunity to bring your product development to the next level, not to mention trying out other SOLIDWORKS products without the full price tag. Throughout the month of November you can buy any SOLIDWORKS product and get another product of equal or lesser value for 50% off!* Full one year subscription fees apply to all licenses purchased for this offer.

          Find out why over two million engineers choose SOLIDWORKS as their tool of choice when creating innovative new products!

          The following SOLIDWORKS products are eligible for this offer:

          SOLIDWORKS CAD – Standard, Professional, Premium
          SIMULATION – Standard, Professional, Premium, FLOW, FLOW HVAC/ELEC
          PLASTICS – Standard, Professional, Premium
          PDM – Editor, Contributor, Viewer (not PSLs)
          SOLIDWORKS Composer
          SOLIDWORKS Electrical – 2D, 3D, and Professional
          SOLIDWORKS Inspection – Standard, Professional

          If you have been interested in trying out any of the above products, do it now before this opportunity ends!

          Interested? Fill out this form on our website and one of our techs will get back to you shortly.

          *Purchase of a one-year subscription service at full price is required on each new SOLIDWORKS product


          DEF 2015 Recap II: Grand Rapids, Troy, Kansas City

          by Stephanie Medeiros on October 29, 2015
          We continue to be busy at Fisher Unitech with the second leg of Design Excellence Forum but it has definitely been a fun and insightful time. Our latest stops have brought us to Grand Rapids, Dearborn, and Kansas City in the last few weeks with very positive turn outs.
          We hosted DEF Grand Rapids at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to an amazing turnout of 68 attendees! Here's a shot of the presentation room from the event.
          The Troy DEF was held at the Ford Motor Conference & Events Center right in the heart of the Henry Ford Museum grounds. While this was a smaller event, everyone who attended had great questions and feedback for the team.
          Kansas City was the next stop and also saw a great turnout at the Arrowhead Stadium! Here is an action shot from the presentation room and the smiling faces of Fisher Unitech's Luke Luff and Jim West.
          Today we're kicking off things in St. Louis at the Union Station and will be traveling to Fitchburg, MA and Providence, RI soon after. Want to join in on these DEF events? You can still register on the DEF Events page.
          All of the Design Excellence Forums couldn't be possible without the big time help of SOLIDWORKS, HP, Stratasys, and of course the attendees! We are incredibly excited the feedback for this year's events have been overwhelmingly positive from you guys. Thank you again for making DEF possible.
          HP SOLIDWORKS 2016 Promotion


          Fisher Unitech Shines at 2015 Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Trade Show

          by Rob Stipek on October 23, 2015
          As always, the annual Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Trade Show in Dayton Ohio featured lots of

          technologies that are helping all manufacturing industries from injection molding to tool and die shops create high quality products. This year again one of the most popular and well attended booths was the Fisher Unitech 3D Printing booth. With on sight 3D printers and lots of example parts on display, Fisher Unitech showcased many different ways of how 3D printing is helping manufacturing and design industries do things in a more effective way.

          3D Printing has been referred to as a disruptive technology and no doubt there was still a large buzz about the many applications it can be used for in manufacturing. Attendees who met with the Fisher Unitech staff ranged from designers to manufacturing engineers, all had questions that were specific to their own needs and left with a better understanding of how both Polyjet and Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printing can help them.

          Fisher Unitech Application Engineer Ben Karczewski also gave presentations on a variety of topics to those in attendance, ranging from manufacturing applications to material characteristics. “I enjoyed sharing my knowledge of the Stratasys printers and their manufacturing impact. I look forward to the future of how 3d printing can complement traditional technologies to bring higher quality products to market faster”. 


            Royal Navy Using 3D Printed Aircrafts

            by Rob Stipek on October 21, 2015
            With the advancement in material strength properties being seen in 3D printing, industries are more and more utilizing 3D printing for end use parts. Recently the United Kingdom’s Navy began testing the capabilities of launching unmanned 3D printed aircrafts for use in reconnaissance information. According to Commander Bow Wheaton, the navy is very interested in the possible uses of unmanned and highly automated systems.
            Heading up the project with the Royal Navy were researchers from South Hampton University, Professors Andy Keane and Jim Scanlan. With the value of these unmanned aircrafts recognized, the

            professors needed to test designs that were simple to produce, low cost, and were able to stand up to tough weather conditions. These designs in some cases are rather complex geometries, however 3D printings capabilities are well suited for high complexity shapes and because the professors could print in strong nylon materials, 3D printing was the ideal solution to producing multiple designs that we cost effective and durable.

            According to First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas, “Radical advances in capability often start with small steps. The launch of a 3D-printed aircraft from HMS Mersey is a small glimpse into the innovation and forward thinking that is now embedded in our navy's approach." 3D printing is already in high use by militaries across the world and as advancements in material come along, you can expect 3D printing to grow in the defense industry. 


            Even More Design Excellence Forum Adventures

            by Stephanie Medeiros on October 20, 2015

            The away team has continued on with their adventures for Design Excellence Forum, ranging from Cincinnati to Ft. Wayne! Here are some action shots from the various DEF events that have been going on since the Cleveland update.

            Cincinnati DEF was hosted at the Great American Ballpark and had some amazing views during the sessions! Here is Esteban, part of the away team, setting up the presentations with the view of the ballpark right behind him. The above picture is also the entire team enjoying the stadium--great work, guys!
            Looks like Abe also enjoyed being in the stadium for the Cincinnati Reds, too...
            This bust, which was beautifully 3D printed by the Connex 500, has been traveling to all the Design Excellence Forum events as well. Remember to drop by and say hello and learn more about 3D printing if you're attending a local DEF.
            Grand Rapids was next up on the tour and what a great turn out. This was actually the second ever Design Excellence Forum in Grand Rapids and we received positive feedback from attendees. They said the venue, food, and presentations were all on point. So, a giant thank you from all of us at Fisher Unitech--we're glad everyone had a great time and look forward to next year!
            And finally, Fort Wayne is happening today (October 20)! The event is being held at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. Here's to another great event, we're sure the away team will provide valuable insight.
            Of course, all of this can't be a success without our attendees. That is why we send out a survey to both attendees and those who couldn't make it after the events and very much appreciate the feedback we have received so far and in the future. We are taking all the information and using it to make DEF even better next year.
            Want to join in on a future Design Excellence Forum? We still have Troy, Kansas City, St. Louis, Fitchburg, and Providence coming up and there is still time to register. Check the DEF page on the website to learn more.


            Plastics Tech Tip: Is the Plastics Solver Able to Use Multiple Cores?

            by David Roccaforte on October 19, 2015
            I often get asked for hardware recommendations for our simulation products and if  the solvers are able to utilize multiple cores.  One great value with our solvers like Plastics and Flow is that you do not get charged for using multiple cores and both solvers show great scalability when adding cores.  I wanted to quantify that scalability with a quick test today.

            My general recommendation and rule of thumb is that clock speed/number of cores affect solve times and memory affects the size of the model we can handle.  As we saw in our Flow benchmark you can have all the cores in the world but if you start to choke the problem without enough memory all the cores and clockspeed in the world won't help.

            Plastics simulation is no different with respect to memory needs so I chose a modest sized model to insure memory would not be an issue. For the Plastics simulation benchmark I ran a solid mesh model through fill, pack and warp using a tool cooling profile already run ahead of time. This particular machine is using SOLIDWORKS v2015 sp2 on Windows 7.

            Model Used for Benchmark

            This model had 1.9M elements and during solve I did not see more than 6 Gb of system memory being used. The machine I used for comparison is a 6 core xeon with 32Gb of memory and hyperthreading left on.  I ran studies with 1 , 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 threads by setting the solver process affinity in the task manager. Taking a look at the results we can see substantial speed improvements at 4  and incremental improvements all the way up to 12.

            If we look at the raw data we can see most of the speed improvements come from the fill and pack phases.  The warp solution is much less computationally intensive and did not benefit from the added cores. I'm assuming this is because the warp phase is not computing fluid dynamics it's basically a thermal stress/deflection problem.

            In summary as a Plastics end user I would make sure I have at least a quad core machine and 32Gb of RAM to start with and if I'm running large models (2M or more elements) on a regular basis it would make sense to have a dual quad or 6 core processor.  It's worth keeping an eye on the memory usage during the solve to make sure we aren't maxing out.

            I hope this sheds some light on how well the Plastics solver uses multiple threads.




            Cleveland Design Excellence Forum 2015

            by Stephanie Medeiros on October 14, 2015
            Wow! This year’s Design Excellence Forum in Cleveland had an amazing turnout with 105 attendees at the beautiful Great Lakes Science Center. We are ecstatic that so many of you came and were able to gain insight into SOLIDWORKS, Stratasys, and 3D printing in general.

            Our away team did an amazing job making sure everyone knew where to go for the event and provided helpful knowledge about 3D printing and design--not to mention free goodies for everyone to take home! We also want to extend a huge thank you to our presenters and how hard they have been working at each and every Design Excellence Forum to provide excellent information, tips, and resources.

            Design Excellence Forum also brought success to one of our representatives, Gregg Vining. He had this to say about Cleveland DEF: “As a result of the DEF, I got commitment from a prospect to do business with us and not 3DVision…. I will most likely see several training and consulting opportunities come about as a result of the PDM Standard presentation.”

            Tim Sheehan, the MC at DEF and regional sales manager, had this to say about the event: “It was exciting to see such a great turnout for our presentation of SolidWorks 2016 software solutions well over 100 engineers attending the event. So many customers in Cleveland show us their commitment to the software tool that continues to increase their productivity and reduce their cycle time of effort.”
            Breakfast and lunch was provided at the event and guests could take in the unique and interesting exhibits at the Science Center itself. The away team even found a fan in a Fisher Unitech t-shirt!
            If you weren’t able to attend the event, we hope to see you next year! But more importantly, you can still request a demo to have a closer look at all our product offerings and how exactly they can help your company.

            Thank you Great Lakes Science Center for having us and we will see you again next year, Cleveland!
            Want to join in on a local Design Excellence Forum? Find out where the next one is happening near you and register today before it’s too late.


            106 Labs utilizing Fisher/Unitech LLC 3D Printing Build Services to Prototype

            by Rob Stipek on October 13, 2015
            As a mechanical engineer and the father of four sons, one can imagine that for Zac Coon, it would only be a matter of time before some pretty innovative ideas for toys would come to fruition. Last December, Coon and his team at 106 Labs posted a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising enough capital to get their new craft toy project, the Hyper-B, up and running. The Hyper-B is a hyperboloid-shaped toy that keeps your eyes entertained through its unique movements, and it comes in a kit that gives kids a fun craft project to complete before actually getting to play with their new toy.
            As with any new idea, there is a process involved when trying to get a new product off the ground. Coon made multiple prototype designs in his garage and worked hard to optimize the Hyper-B design. However, at- home designs can only go so far when prototyping. 

            This is where 3D printing and our team at Fisher Unitech were able to help 106 Labs continue making improvements to the Hyper-B. According to Coon, “The Hyper-B design has been improved greatly by prototyping. I tried printing a prototype on a Cubex Trio, but the detail requirements exceeded its capabilities. For my first purchased prototype, I went with a company that printed the parts in Belgium. The parts themselves were nice; however, it took 20 days from order to receipt. Fisher Unitech printed my next set of prototype parts, and the parts were excellent; the fine detail of the prints came through perfectly. I believe I have one more round of printed prototypes left, then I’ll be ready to send the design to the mold maker.”

            By utilizing our 3D printing build services, 106 Labs was able to ensure a quality design, get a good understanding of what the final product would look like, and do all of that in a timely manner. At this stage in product development, 106 Labs has many directions they can take when trying to bring their Hyper-B to market. 

            “There are a couple of companies interested in potentially licensing the product," Coon states. "We may do that and use some of the proceeds from licensing to start our own business in the future. Also, in hopes of making this world we live in a better place, we want to try planting some micro-businesses in impoverished 3rd world countries.  We would supply free Hyper-B materials, which they could assemble and sell locally to support themselves”.  Fisher/Unitech LLC printing capabilities contributed to the success of the project, and demonstrated to small companies the advantages of using their services in the future.


            We're Giving Away a 3Dconnexion 3D Mouse EVERY QUARTER

            by Rachael Hughes on October 5, 2015

            WIN A 3D MOUSE!!
            Have you ever wanted to smooooooth out your zoom and rotate movements in SOLIDWORKS?

            Have you ever wanted to speed up your modeling?
            Have you ever tried a 3D mouse?
            How can YOU get in on the next drawing?  
            -Take the survey at the end of the course
            -You're entered to win a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse!
            -Every course you take this quarter, fill out the survey for an entry!
            Fisher Unitech's Training Team is giving away a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse EVERY QUARTER!  Every time you take a training course, fill out the survey at the end of the course and you'll be entered into the drawing.
            This quarter (Oct-Dec), we are giving away:
            The 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless - a $339 value
            Learn more about 3D mice on our website, check out the product guide, and follow the 3Dconnexion link on our page for more info:  https://www.fisherunitech.com/Products/3Dconnexion

            Sign up for a Fisher Unitech training class here: https://www.fisherunitech.com/Training/Find-SolidWorks-Courses-by-Product


              Congratulations to Adam Graham - the Winner of the 3D Mouse Giveaway! YOU could be next!

              by Rachael Hughes on October 1, 2015

              Congratulations to Adam Graham!

              This quarter, Adam Graham from Accutemp Products (Fort Wayne, IN) took the Advanced Part Modeling Course online with Fisher Unitech.  He filled out the survey at the end of the course, and now he is a proud new owner of the SpacePilot Pro from 3Dconnexion!

              How can YOU get in on the next drawing?  
              -Take the survey at the end of the course
              -You're entered to win a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse!
              -Every course you take this quarter, fill out the survey for an entry!
              This quarter (Oct-Dec), we are giving away:
              The 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless - a $339 value!
              Learn more about 3D mice on our website, check out the product guide, and follow the 3Dconnexion link on our page for more info:  https://www.fisherunitech.com/Products/3Dconnexion

              Sign up for a Fisher Unitech training class here: https://www.fisherunitech.com/Training/Find-SolidWorks-Courses-by-Product


                Fisher Unitech to Host Solidworks Design Excellence Forum

                by Rob Stipek on September 21, 2015
                Leading Solidworks Partner Fisher Unitech will be hosting its Design Excellence Forum, which offers those in attendance a look at how to utilize today's most innovative technologies to achieve the best manufacturing and design results. The Forum aims to deliver insight on how CAD, simulation, data management, and 3D printing are helping product development reach new heights that the design and manufacturing industries haven’t seen. Design Excellence Forum will also offer new updates on Solidworks 2016 and what current users can expect from the new release.
                The Design Excellence Forum serves as a unique and complimentary resource for not just SolidWorks users, but all who are interested in the latest technologies the design and manufacturing industries are utilizing. Presentations will be given by our knowledgeable Fisher Unitech engineering staff who will be covering in detail what’s new in Solidworks 2016, along with breakout and presentations specific to simulation, PDM, and 3D printing.
                "We are extremely excited to introduce SolidWorks 2016 to our clients,” said Dan Saperstein, Vice President of Sales at Fisher Unitech. “With more than 200 new enhancements and features, this release has a significant positive impact on our client's ability to realize their quality, costing, time to market and innovation goals."
                The Design Excellence Forum is completely complimentary and all are welcome to attend. Registration is required. For more information on the agenda, multiple event locations, and dates please visit funtech.com. This event is sponsored by HP, PCB Works, and, Stratasys.


                Solidworks and Stratasys Combine to Create Fisher Unitech Lamp Post

                by Rob Stipek on September 3, 2015
                Fisher Unitech participates in many different design and manufacturing trade shows throughout the

                year. Needless to say to stand out to attendees we needed to do something that sets us apart from other participants, and our 3D printed lamp post helps us do just that. By utilizing both Solidworks for that CAD design along with Polyjet and FDM 3D printing technologies, Fisher Unitech was able to create a differentiating marketing piece that showcases multiple engineering technologies.

                The lamp post which is about 8 feet tall was designed by Fisher Unitech 3D Printing Application Engineer Adam Kneller, who was given the task of designing something that would make attendees at a trade show stop and ask questions. To design the lamp post Adam started with a general design inside of Solidworks. The build had 3 major components the base, the post, and the lamp top. As Adam is an expert in 3D printing, he was able to design the lamp post, utilizing self-supporting angles, so that it would be best suited for the 3D printer by reducing not only support material required but also shortening build time.
                Once the design had gone through about 5 hours of iterations and subtle adjustments, it was time to send the design to the printers. The lamp post, which was made up of 12 Fused Deposition Modeling Parts and 4 Polyjet Parts was printed in the Fisher Unitech Troy, MI office using our Objet 500 Connex 3 and Fortus 450 machine using ABS-M30 material. These machines were used based on build size and color availability, particularly the Connex 3 technology allows us to blend polyjet materials to get vivid or clear colors.

                Once these parts were printed it was simple to assemble the tongue and grove joint design of the post sections, add some wiring for the light, and plug in the post. Fisher Unitech unveiled this project at the Big M in Detroit last June and those in attendance were blow away by the detail of the post, most not even realizing it was a 3D printed part. 


                Fisher Unitech Expands 3D Printing to West Virginia

                by Rob Stipek on August 31, 2015

                FISHER/UNITECH announced today its recent authorization to expand its 3D printing sales territory into West Virginia. The company, an engineering solutions provider and Stratasys partner for nearly 18 years, supplies both Polyjet and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) professional 3D printers to design and manufacturing industries. For the past several years, FISHER/UNITECH has been one of the world’s top resellers for Stratasys Corporation.

                 “West Virginia is an exciting new frontier for us!  This is an area with high industry growth in both aerospace and automotive.” Says Fisher Unitech 3D Printing Services Manager Nick Licari. “We hope to partner with these companies to use our experience with additive manufacturing to help expedite this growth.”
                FISHER/UNITECH has four 3D printing centers and fourteen local offices to support benchmarks, part- building services, and advanced training throughout the Midwest.  Each center is equipped with systems for both 3D Printing and 3D Production manufacturing applications, with the ability to print parts using all available Stratasys materials.  FISHER/UNITECH has increased its commitment to 3D printing in recent years with an expanded sales, service, and support team that focuses solely on Stratasys solutions.  Each of the company's 14 offices house equipment for localized printing, demonstrations, and training.  FISHER/UNITECH is now proud to offer these same services and solutions throughout West Virginia.
                3D Printing has become a necessary component of the overall product development lifecycle. Design and manufacturing teams can test form, fit, and function, while accelerating time to market. 3D Printing enhances collaboration between different departments and allows for better communication.  In recent years, 3D Production has become what the manufacturing and design industry would call a disruptive technology, changing the way traditional manufacturing is done. Across the board, all manufacturing industries are utilizing 3D printing to produce high quality parts in a more time and cost- effective manner, in comparison to traditional processes.

                Click here to learn more about 3D Printing 


                3D Printing Creating a Better Shoe

                by Rob Stipek on August 11, 2015
                To build a great quality product, you have to understand your customer's needs, innovate, design, test, and design again before having a product that is ready for market. These challenges are no different for the shoe industry, so it's not too hard to find the impact 3D printing is having on the advancement of shoe technology.
                Massive shoe companies such as Nike and Adidas are utilizing 3D printing in ways that help them better understand their customers, get products to market faster, and improve on functional design. Adidas has been using 3D printing for years to address challenges for shortening production and development time, which in turn has sped up their time to market for new products. According to Adidas, the ability to print models made from multiple PolyJet 3D printing materials enables them the ability to do functional testing in the early stages of the design and development. This generates time savings and a competitive edge. Prior to 3D printing, Adidas prototypes were made by hand and took a long time to create. With 3D printing, designs can be knocked out in a matter of hours.
                Nike has started to take functional testing using 3D printing to the race track. Working with Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson and his Performance team, Nike started printing and testing football cleats like the Vapor Laser Talon. The ability to create a shoe that improves an athlete's speed and traction can be the difference between a wide receiver catching up to an over thrown pass or a linebacker tracking down a running back. 

                "Nike's new 3D printed plate is contoured to allow football athletes to maintain their drive position longer and more efficiently, helping them accelerate faster through the critical first 10 yards of a 40 yard sprint," said Johnson. "Translated to the game of football, mastering the Zero Step can mean the difference between a defensive lineman sacking the quarterback or getting blocked." 3D printing technology is allowing Nike to design cleat plates in ways that previously were not possible with traditional manufacturing.

                Recently Wiivv Wearables Inc. received a substantial investment from Evonik Industries to start producing 3D printed insoles. Wivv aims to start producing insoles that are specific to a customer's anatomy by utilizing electric sensors to map out a customer's foot. "Wiivv's business is an ideal match for Evonik," said Dr. Bernhard Mohr, head of Venture Capital at Evonik. "Through our investment in Wiivv, we're supporting the market launch of one of the first individualized mass-produced articles to be manufactured by 3-D printing. This also gives Evonik access to the highly innovative growth market for wearables," added Mohr.
                There is no question that in the future, the shoes we wear out on the town or in the gym will see improvements in comfort, style, and functionality with the innovation 3D printing allows.

                Click Here to learn more about 3D printing at our website.


                A Look at SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer

                by Katie Huffman on August 4, 2015
                Design Intent, Design Intent, Design Intent! Whether you are a power user of SOLIDWORKS or have recently taken an Essentials course, you know how important it is to model defining the design intent of your part or assembly. We all know it builds intelligence into our model, making design changes quick and easy. To take advantage of the parametric modeling functionality that SOLIDWORKS offers us, we need to know the design intent of the part that we are designing.

                conceptual designer.PNGWhat if the design intent is not known yet? During the conceptual stage of the design process, the design intent may not be known, and the parametric modeling functionality that builds intelligence into our design may be a hindrance. At this stage in the design process, the need is to get the ideas down on paper… like a napkin sketch! However, more than a napkin sketch, we want to capture the ideas with a trackable history, be able to share the ideas with necessary involved parties, and maybe even analyze the movement of mechanisms.

                SOLIDWORKS has answered this need with a new product, SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer, built on the new 3DExperience Platform.

                Conceptual Designer is a new cloud-based modeling software that allows a concept to be developed in a single modeling environment using direct editing techniques. These two aspects make Conceptual Designer very different than the desktop SOLIDWORKS. It also allows the conceptual process to happen fluidly without worrying about design intent in this early stage of product design. You can even take a look at how moving mechanisms might interact, and perform a motion analysis on the concept design. Below are images of a mechanism I developed. I have added some static images as well as a video analyzing the movement.

                position 2.PNGconceptual designer 1.PNG motion study.PNG

                Single Modeling Environment:
                There are no parts or assemblies in Conceptual Designer. There is one modeling environment where the ideas are to be sketched out. Think about if you were sketching the idea you are trying to capture on a piece of paper. You are quickly drawing the outline of the part or components and how they might interact together. All of this is done on one piece of paper, or one environment. Now instead of a napkin sketch, you are doing a similar process using Conceptual Designer. One modeling environment, quickly sketching the outlines of the different components and analyzing how they might interact together, without having to create different parts and an assembly.

                Direct Editing
                Direct Editing is the opposite practice of parametric modeling. Parametric modeling in SOLIDWORKS allows you to define design intent by relating different features or geometry to each other using sketch relations, dimensions, and equations. Using direct editing techniques allows a user to easily manipulate different geometry without worrying about the design intent. A user can push and pull on the geometry to adjust the size and shape. This allows for quick changes of the geometry without worrying about features and parent/child relationships.

                Even though the purpose of Conceptual Designer is different than SOLIDWORKS desktop, the sketch tools are very similar to what we already know how to use.


                Once you have a concept created, you can share that data using the 3DExperience Platform. In my next blog post, I will explore the 3DExperience Platform, and how you can share the data you created using Conceptual Designer.


                What sets a Professional 3D Printer Apart From a Hobby 3D Printer?

                by Rob Stipek on July 30, 2015
                There is no question that 3D printing has been gaining enormous amounts of traction in pop culture and the mainstream media. According to a recent Wohlers Report on 3D printing revenue growth, 3D printing sales could grow to $21 billion by 2020. What may not be as well-known by 3D printing enthusiasts, however, is what differentiates a professional 3D printer from a hobbyist 3D printer. Companies like GE, Ford, Boeing, and Microsoft are usually using different printers than students working in design classes at local high schools. The needs and requirements of the design and manufacturing industry require professional printers to be bigger, faster, and have more precision and reliability than personal machines currently offer.
                A hobbyist 3D printer, such as a MakerBot, is great for home users, students just learning about 3D printing, and sometimes users who are just looking to dip a toe into the waters. These machines' price points can range from $1,375 for the Replicator Mini to $6,499 for the Replicator Z18 and use Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) to layer plastic repeatedly to create a part. Hobbyist printers are limited in features such as build size, material options, resolution or precision, and heat controls. However, the needs of students and 3D printing enthusiasts may not be as particular as those of manufacturing professionals. What makes a MakerBot type of 3D printer great for students and home users is a more accessible starting price point that will still provide the user with a quality printed part and a fairly intuitive interface.
                Professional 3D printers, on the other hand, bring a far wider range of features that manufacturers and designers not only want but need in order to create accurate prototypes or parts that will be brought to market. There are many different 3D printing technologies available, but the main features that set professional printers apart from their smaller counterparts include things like accuracy, repeatability, soluble supports, material options, warp reduction, and safety. 

                For example, a Stratasys Fortus450mc printer uses the same basic FDM technologies as the Makerbot, but comes at a far higher price range. However, Fortus users get features including (but not limited to) a heated build chamber to reduce warping, a wide range of common industry compatible materials, higher resolution capabilities, and a build tray that is well over double the size of a MakerBot's. For a company like John Deere, printing a large tractor part that their design team is working on and quickly validating its shape, size, and functionality is crucial to making sure projects stay on time and budget. This kind of work simply can't be done on a hobbyist printer.

                Are you trying to decide between a personal and professional 3D printer? Ask yourself what your particular needs are and what kind of return you're looking to get out of your 3D printer. Both hobbyist and professional printers are valuable tools, but they do have very different capabilities.

                If you could use a hand deciding which 3D printer is your best fit, our team is always available. Contact us by clicking here and one of our team members will help you out.


                Fisher Unitech to Host 3D Printing Workshops Throughout the Midwest

                by Rob Stipek on July 21, 2015
                Want to come inside and cool off while learning about 3D printing? We will be hosting a series of professional 3D printing workshops throughout the Midwest this summer. Our hopes are to educate participants to the value 3D printing adds to the design and manufacturing industries and encourage discussion about specific questions attendees may have.
                This event will showcase both Stratasys PolyJet and FDM 3D printing capabilities. Our machines will be up and running so participants can better understand how these printers work, and we will have a wide array of example parts on hand to show the many different applications 3D printing is being used for. We understand that no two manufacturing issues are exactly the same, so we will have our sales and applications engineers on hand and ready to discuss with you any specific questions you and your company may have.
                These workshops run from 10:30am to 1:00pm local time
                - Welcome/Overview for the Day
                - 3D Printing Technology and Applications Overview
                   Detailing the differences between PolyJet and FDM technologies
                - Lunch
                - Example Part Discussion
                   Time to view sample parts, check out machines, and talk with experts about 3D solving your current design problems
                - Q&A Wrap Up


                Fisher Unitech Now Offering the Makerbot 3D Printer Series

                by Angelle Erickson on July 20, 2015
                Fisher Unitech, LLC, a leading reseller of 3D printing and engineering software and services, recently announced its expansion into the hobbyist 3D printing market with the addition of Makerbot to its product portfolio. Fisher Unitech has been one of the top Stratasys professional 3D printing resellers in the world for over 18 years, and the addition of Makerbot greatly expands the types of individuals they are able to assist.
                "We are excited to start offering MakerBot printers," said Nick Licari, 3D Printing Services Manager at Fisher Unitech. "The addition of the MakerBot line really completes the range of 3D printing products we can provide and opens up an avenue for us to help those looking to break into 3D printing without breaking the bank."
                MakerBot 3D printers are desktop accessible printers that utilize Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology to extrude plastic that builds layers upon layers of material until a part is complete. The MakerBot printer line provides excellent portability and is easy to use. For those reasons, these printers have been widely adopted in smaller office settings, in the classroom, and in consumers' homes. Fisher Unitech will be offering the MakerBot 3D printers themselves as well as the PLA filament that they utilize.
                The Makerbots being offered can be found on Fisher Unitech's website at www.fisherunitech.com/e-Store/MakerBot.
                About Fisher Unitech (www.fisherunitech.com)
                Fisher Unitech, established in 1993, provides advanced technology solutions to discrete manufacturing companies. The company's mission is to help companies manufacture innovations that will change the world. The technology applications offered focus on design, engineering, 3D Printing and additive manufacturing. Professional services are offered for design automation and data management which provides customers with a full service, one-stop source for complex PLM systems. The company offers advanced web-based delivery of education programs with its interactive, instructor-led 3DU. Please visit the company's website at (https://www.fisherunitech.com) or call 800-816-8314.


                SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Model Visualization - Part 4: Stereoscopic 3D, Augmented Reality, and The Future

                by Angelle Erickson on July 15, 2015
                If you missed the first three parts of this series, they can be found here:
                Part 1: Orientation
                Part 2: Perspective
                Part 3: Camera
                For the visualization of models, we've covered Orientation, Perspective, and SOLIDWORKS' Camera tools. After perspective and camera trickery, we start to get into newer technologies for visualization.
                Leading the way for viewing technology in SOLIDWORKS is the viewer: eDrawings. eDrawings supports both Stereoscopic 3D viewing of models and Augmented Reality.
                To utilize the stereoscopic 3D features in eDrawings, you must have a 3D monitor, 3D glasses (they usually come with the monitor), and a supported graphics card.

                To find supported graphics cards, go to http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.html and look for graphics cards with the icon to the right next to them.

                eDrawings supports both passive and active stereoscopic 3D. This just depends on the hardware you are using along with eDrawings.
                Before opening a file, go to Tools > Options and turn on "3D Stereo Viewing." This is also the location where you can tweak the stereo separation (How far the left eye images and the right eye images are from each other).
                (Click to Enlarge)
                Early in 2013, SOLIDWORKS updated their mobile eDrawings application with the ability to use QR codes for augmented reality (iOS only). Augmented reality is the process of superimposing additional data into a user's view of the world. Usually an accelerometer or gyroscope is needed, as well as a camera, to get this effect. Luckily most smartphones and tables have all of these in one compact device.
                Here's a quick tutorial to show you how to view your CAD models in a live, real world environment.

                Now, let's look forward. If you've checked out new technology like Microsoft's Hololens, you saw how far design and our design tools can go. I have been semi-obsessed with this idea since seeing 2008's Iron Man, where Tony Stark interacts with repulsor design before a prototype is ever made.
                (Click to Enlarge)
                What tools and technologies do you think we'll be using to design in 3, 5, 10 years?
                I hope you have enjoyed this four part blog on how we view the models we create and you are excited about how technology will change the way we design and the tools we use to do so.
                For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.


                We're Giving Away a 3Dconnexion 3D Mouse EVERY QUARTER

                by Rachael Hughes on July 2, 2015
                Have you ever wanted to smooooooth out your zoom and rotate movements in SOLIDWORKS?
                Have you ever wanted to speed up your modeling?
                Have you ever tried a 3D mouse?
                Now's your chance!  
                -Take the survey at the end of the course
                -You're entered to win a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse!
                Fisher Unitech's Training Team is giving away a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse EVERY QUARTER!  Every time you take a training course, fill out the survey at the end of the course and you'll be entered into the drawing.
                This quarter (Jul-Sep), we are giving away:
                The 3Dconnexion SpacePilot Pro - a $399 value

                Learn more about 3D mice on our website, check out the product guide, and follow the 3Dconnexion link on our page for more info:  https://www.fisherunitech.com/Products/3Dconnexion

                Sign up for a Fisher Unitech training class here: https://www.fisherunitech.com/Training/Find-SolidWorks-Courses-by-Product


                Stratasys to Host Kansas Roadshow Series

                by Rob Stipek on June 29, 2015
                This July, our partners at Stratasys will be hosting a series of roadshow events designed to showcase their PolyJet and Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printers and 3D production systems. These events are scheduled to take place in Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, and will give those interested in 3D printing a great opportunity to see how the manufacturing and design industry is utilizing this fast-growing technology.
                In previous roadshows hosted by Stratasys, participants were provided with presentations that addressed common manufacturing challenges and introduced how additive manufacturing is finding new ways to solve problems faster and with less expense. Those in attendance at this year's shows can expect to learn about the basic functionality of the FDM and PolyJet 3d printer series and how their technologies differ, along with specific applications that are revolutionizing how traditional manufacturing is done. 

                With so many different industries that benefit from 3D printing technologies, few challenges are identical, and one-on-one time to discuss your own unique setup is invaluable. Stratasys and Fisher Unitech application engineers and sales representatives will be on hand at each roadshow to discuss any specific questions attendees have regarding their own applications.

                To register to attend the July 20th Roadshow hosted at the Hotel Sorella Country Club in Kansas City, click here.

                To register to attend the July 22nd Roadshow hosted at the Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, click here.

                To see more Stratasys and Fisher Unitech 3D printing events coming up this summer near you, click here to see our 3D printing events page.


                3D printing Company finds their way to ABC’s Shark Tank

                by Rob Stipek on June 16, 2015
                Let's be honest: the majority of reality TV available to viewers is not the most educational of content. However, ABC's Shark Tank gives real-life entrepreneurs the opportunity of a lifetime to pitch their ideas and companies to some of the best business minds in the manufacturing, design, and technology industries. So it was only a matter of time until 3D printing company "You Kick Ass" came to Shark Tank looking for investors.
                You Kick Ass was able to develop a technology that takes a 2D image of a face and turns it into a 3D model. This model can then be brought into a 3D printer, where the customers face is printed and attached to a superhero body, thus the name "You Kick Ass." 

                By utilizing 3D printing You Kick Ass was able to capture all the details in a customer's face and take advantage of the benefits 3D printing brings to producing low-volume complex end-use parts. After providing an overview of the concept and their technology, Founders Alesia Glidewell and Keri Andrews looked for a cash investment and guidance from of one of the sharks. They found it in investor Mark Cuban. Cuban, having an extensive background in technology and seeing the value in both 3D printing and proprietary 3D printing software, agreed to a 10% for $100,000 stake in the company.

                "We went with Mark because we felt he would be a great partner," explained Andrews. 

                "He really seemed to understand that we were a technology company and he gave us what we asked for. I couldn't be more excited."

                Want to learn more about 3D printers? Check out our website by clicking here.


                SIMULATION TECH TIP: Transferring Flow Loads to Shell Elements

                by Corey Gulley on May 26, 2015
                In SOLIDWORKS, we have the ability to take advantage of an integrated interface where we can use multiple simulation tools. If you are using Flow Simulation and Simulation (FEA), you can export Flow Simulation loads to FEA studies. In the following example, I ran flow over a truck body and exported the pressure loads to SOLIDWORKS Simulation. The goal of this particular problem is to identify the displacement of a truck cap as a function of the aerodynamic pressures.

                In this example, there is 90mph airflow over the truck body. To start this problem, I ran through the Flow Simulation Wizard tool and set the problem as an external flow analysis. I gave the moving fluid (air) an initial velocity of 90 mph normal to the truck body and ran the study. If I want to see how aerodynamic my model is, I can view flow trajectories over my model. Figure 1 shows a cut plot of the velocities over the body with flow trajectories modeled as streamlines.

                Figure 1: Velocity Cut Plot with Streamlines
                Due to pressure being derived as an output variable in Flow Simulation, I can export that information over to a Finite Element Analysis in SOLIDWORKS Simulation. If you are using SOLIDWORKS 2015, you do this by going to the toolbar: Tools > Flow Simulation > Tools > Export Results to Simulation. Once in Simulation, I need to import the flow loads into my study. I do this by going to Study Properties > Flow/Thermal Effects > Fluid Pressure Option > Include fluid pressure effects from SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation (Browse to .fld file).
                When this operation is completed, SOLIDWORKS Simulation will map the flow results over the mesh. It is CRITICAL that you mesh prior to importing the flow results. This is because Flow needs to identify the pressure loads at the node locations on the mesh. For the truck cap analysis, I used Shell Elements in SOLIDWORKS Simulation by right-clicking on the body and selecting "Define Shells by Selected Faces." After the shell has been defined, I can import my pressures, and run the study. Figure 2 shows the displacement plot as a function of the pressure loads in Flow.
                Figure 2: Displacement Due to Aerodynamic Pressure

                Like this example, one main application where the combination of these tools is handy is flow over a body to identify lift. Lift is a force that acts on the body perpendicular to the direction of the airflow and is in contrast with drag. In this example, I was able to successfully run a fluid simulation over the truck and import those pressure gradients into Finite Element Analysis. The FEA gave me the displacements of the model as a function of the lift force on the model, as shown in Figure 2.

                Being able to work with a diverse toolset in SOLIDWORKS gives me the ability to analyze multiple conditions in one single interface. If my model isn't as aerodynamic or as stiff as it needs to be, I have the ability in SOLIDWORKS to run analytical studies concurrent to my design process. If I were to use a third party program, I would be constantly importing and exporting between the software packages to ensure an optimum design. In SOLIDWORKS, I can do all of this in one easy interface.

                For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.


                3D Printing Helping Lead the Way in Battle Field Armor Development

                by Rob Stipek on May 21, 2015
                When out on patrol, members of the armed forces and law enforcement teams count on each other and their training to keep themselves safe. Just as important to safety as making smart decisions, however, is what type of personal protection is available to individuals. The goal is to ensure that, when under attack, soldiers and law enforcement members have the best chance of avoiding injury. Currently, Kevlar body armor is the standard in protecting vital organs, but through the utilization of 3D printing, researchers are finding new ways to make improvements.
                Using Stratasys PolyJet technology, a team comprised of members of MIT and the Technion Research & Development Foundation have been working to develop a new type of body armor design funded by the US Army. This project aims to more fully understand how a fish scale design could provide better coverage and protection. Researchers determining how to best alter the shape and design of the scales is key to providing premium coverage and improving on range of movement.
                By utilizing PolyJet capabilities - specifically the Objet500Connex model 3D printer - the research team has been able to print multiple materials in the same build. By doing this, they have the flexibility to experiment with altering the density of the scales until they find the best possible combination. Through this experimentation and material adjustments, the team was able to increase the resistance to penetration by a factor of 40, with a reduction in flexibility of only a factor of five.
                The US Army plans on continuing this project of testing new prototypes based on the 3D printed designs. The hope is that in the future, police and military personnel will be able to obtain body armor that is custom built for each individual and their specific needs.

                You can learn more about 3D printing at our website - click here.

                You can read more about this project in Soft Matter journal - click here.


                SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Accounting for Coatings and Determining Pre-plate Dimensions

                by Jay Pinheiro on May 15, 2015
                For certain precision machining operations, the application of coatings will necessitate machining to a slightly different dimension than the one on the final print. While there is no direct feature in SOLIDWORKS to just remove the coating thickness, this type of operation can be completed in about three steps using a few of the lesser-known SOLIDWORKS features.
                The basic idea is to create a model of the coating thickness and subtract it from the completed part. It's actually simpler than it sounds.
                To start the process, we will make a copy of the body. To be perfectly clear, I am not introducing any new part files. This is a multibody technique where one part file will have two bodies (temporarily). The feature called Move/Copy body is how we'll do it. The duplicate body and the original will need to be in the exact same location, so we're not actually going to move it at all. To start we go to InsertFeaturesMove/Copy. There are two versions of this property manager and for this we will need this version.

                If you are looking at what appears to be assembly Mates, click on the button at the bottom that says Translate/Rotate and you will get the property manager above. In this property manager, all you have to do is click on the body and select the Copy option. Leave all the other inputs as zero and hit OK. SOLIDWORKS will prompt you with this message, since it thinks you forgot to do something
                Just click OK and you will end up with two solid bodies that occupy the same space. This will be apparent if you look at the top of the Feature tree and the Solid Bodies Folder.
                For our purposes, you may wish to hide the original for a minute by clicking on it and then clicking on the glasses icon. Now we will create the coating thickness by shelling out the copied body. In the Shell feature, we can enter the coating thickness and select any faces that might be masked during the coating operation (so the machined value is the final value) or leave the Faces to Remove box empty if all faces are getting coated. If the faces to remove box is blank, don't forget to fill in the Solid Body box so SOLIDWORKS knows which body to apply the shell to.

                Now that you have the shell that represents the coating, we have to subtract the coating from the original. We will accomplish that with a Combine feature with the Subtract option. The Combine feature is found in InsertFeatureCombine and the property manager will look like this:
                The Main Body is the original part and the Bodies to Combine is the shelled version of the copied body. Once this step is completed, the part is now shown in its pre-plate condition. You will be able to create drawing views of the machine operation and any pre- or post-plate inspection reports by using configurations to suppress or unsuppress the Copy/Shell/Combine features.
                Once you've run through this once, you will find it to be an easy process.

                For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.


                Building a Case for a 3D Printer Purchase

                by Rob Stipek on May 6, 2015
                If you have been in the manufacturing industry long enough, you have probably found yourself making requests to upper management for new equipment to do your job more efficiently. Sometimes you make a compelling enough case and get what you ask for, and other times there may not be room in the budget, or management decides they are not interested in buying new tools. Purchasing a 3D printer is no different.
                As most in the manufacturing industry are already aware, 3D printing has become the latest and greatest new technology for manufacturing. However, many engineers are still looking for advice on how to justify the purchase of a new or upgraded printer. What many seem to find is that it's difficult to establish the cause and effect of new technology implementation and put it into tangible numbers. It's not easy to quantify things like higher satisfaction, increased idea flow, and better communication between departments. Also, depending on the applications you are looking to use a 3D printer for, the cost to buy can be a pretty big hit to a company's budget.
                To build a case for the purchase of any technology, you must show how this new purchase is going to improve operations within the company. Whether your employers are more driven by finding ways to reduce cost or increase profits, be sure to tailor your message in a clear and compelling manner. Be sure to not add fluff or tangential information about which your management can say "that really doesn't apply to us anyway." In a short business case, it's helpful to detail your current challenges, your solution to these challenges, and the costs associated with these challenges. Once you have established the need for change, you can then begin to build a case for your new 3D printer purchase. 

                One hypothetical scenario is where you currently have a service bureau making your prototype parts, but you feel printing in-house will give you more control over making changes and speed up production; when building your case, detail how that helps the company. Will this new machine mean increased cost-efficiency by not using the service bureau as much, or possibly faster approvals for build designs so you can move on to other projects sooner? If you can put hard numbers down in your report for the ROI a 3D printer will provide, do it. It will look good to management and it's more difficult to argue with math.

                Remember when pitching your idea for a 3D printer to stay on point with what your audience wants to hear. When management invests in new equipment, generally it is either because something is broken, the investment will reduce costs, or it will increase profits. Make sure you understand what management is looking for before you begin your proposal. 

                When other departments are competing for budget, it's good to try and build an argument of "this won't only help me; it will help the whole company." If a 3D printer will save you time in one aspect of a project, then you have more time to direct your attention to other issues or ways to help other departments.

                To learn more about 3D printers, visit our site.

                If you'd like to build your case but need some help, please feel free to contact our sales team for assistance.


                SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Model Visualization - Part 3: Camera

                by Angelle Erickson on May 5, 2015
                If you missed parts 1 or 2...
                Part 1: Orientation
                Part 2: Perspective
                Now that we know the camera, and not the model, moves around for our orientation, and the illusion of depth we create with perspective, let's dive even deeper to combine these with cameras and camera views.

                I've given you both a video and text based version of the blog for however you'd prefer to consume it.

                To add a camera to your model, Go to the Display Manager Tab > Right-Click Camera > Add Camera.

                A quick guide for the camera settings is below, but I encourage you to watch the video, as the on-screen controls can be easier if you're a visual person.

                (Click to Enlarge)

                SOLIDWORKS does provide an image to help you with the camera lens, but here's another visual that might help you understand the different settings.

                (Click to Enlarge)
                The red portion is the distance from the camera to the picture plane.
                The blue is the vertical angle from the camera to the upper and lower edges of the picture plane.
                The green is the height of the picture plane.
                After you've set the options for the camera and click OK, SOLIDWORKS does not automatically use that camera. To make the SOLIDWORKS graphics area reflect what would be seen through the camera, go to the Display Manager Tab > Next to camera, click the plus sign > Right-Click the camera you want to use > Choose "Camera View." Do the same to turn the camera view off.
                These camera views can be used in conjunction with PhotoView 360, animations, and combining PhotoView with animations.
                If there are enough requests, I'll blog about more camera effects like Depth of Field, The Fish-Eye lens, and the Dolly Zoom effects. 
                For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.


                SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Meshing Tips and Tools for Better Results (Part 8 - Final)

                by Ken LaVictor on April 21, 2015
                Since I am always being asked what makes a good mesh, I decided once again to blog about a list I put together a while ago. This was a general list, in no particular order, of things you can do, things you can use, and things you can look for in creating a mesh; knowing you have a good mesh, you can feel better about the results you are getting. This is the final part in this series. Here, I will talk about some final tips in meshing your parts and assemblies.
                Geometry Preparation
                CAD geometry contains all the features necessary to make a part, but many of those features can be considered insignificant for analysis and should, therefore, be suppressed. With every benchmark I do, or any support case I work on, the first thing I will typically do is create a SOLIDWORKS Configuration and call it "FOR FEA." In this configuration, I will suppress the features and the parts that I believe will be irrelevant to the analysis and to the results that are being sought. For imported geometry, or parts with "artifacts" (those small sliver faces created when applying our standard SOLIDWORKS features), I will use the Delete Face command (Insert, Face, Delete). With the Delete and Patch option, a lot of times I can remove these small faces/artifacts and quickly simplify the model for meshing.
                Mesh Control

                If you are meshing an assembly, and one of the parts fails to mesh, open the part in its own window. Once you are able to mesh the part here, apply these mesh settings as Mesh Control in the assembly. Another, simpler method than the one just described is to apply mesh control to the failed component. In the Mesh Control property manager, you will find an option called "Use Per Part Size." This option will apply an appropriate mesh size as if the part was opened in its own window and meshed.

                When All Else Fails
                When all else fails, you'll be happy to know, Fisher Unitech will be here to support you. Contact our support team at (800) 816-8314 option #5, support@fisherunitech.com, or via support chat at https://www.fisherunitech.com/chat.
                For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.

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