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CAD Execs Embrace 3D Printing

March 31, 2011

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE — Terry Wohlers @ 05:57

At this month’s SPAR International 2011, Brian Mathews, vice president of Autodesk Labs, asked the audience what they might want to print on a 3D printer. He went on to say that he believes 3D printers will go viral and completely alter manufacturing. Similar to sharable MP3 audio files, Mathews envisions the widespread creation of designs for the production of objects using 3D printers.

Others at Autodesk are familiar with 3D printing and where it might go in the future. In fact, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass runs his own 3D printer, a Dimension machine from Stratasys, at his home. Others at the company have acknowledged their excitement about the technology.

Autodesk is not alone. SolidWorks founder Jon Hischtick has stated publicly more than once his views and enthusiasm associated with 3D printing. In his SolidWorks World 2009 keynote, Hirschtick named 3D printing as one of four key trends that will impact the future of CAD.

3D printing and additive manufacturing have been available for more the two decades, but it was not until recent years that the technology has been embraced by top CAD company executives. This support is a good sign for those close to the AM/3D printing industry. Non-technical data, such as 3D models from video games, will become significant for 3D printing in the future, but for now, CAD provides an estimated 99% of the data that drives these systems.

Heimlich Maneuver in Sydney

March 20, 2011

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 10:56

The wide body aircraft that I boarded an hour earlier at Sydney Airport returned to the gate after the captain reported a mechanical problem. He had not canceled the flight, but based on his comments and past experience, I was expecting him to make the announcement any minute.

Suddenly, I heard some yelling and commotion directly behind me. It was so abrupt and loud that I immediately jumped out of my isle seat. A rather small woman was trying to do the Heimlich maneuver on a large man. I later found out that it was her husband. She was frantically pleading for help. I had only seen the Heimlich maneuver on television, but I immediately took over. After a half dozen or so lunges, she shouted, “Stop, he’s okay!” Maybe she thought I was doing more harm than good.

While I was doing what I thought resembled the procedure, I was thinking, “What if the guy doesn’t make it? Will they come after me for performing a procedure for which I’m not qualified?” My instincts told me to act and act quickly and not consider such ramifications, although it definitely came to mind. Fortunately, he recovered and sat back down in his seat directly behind mine.

Flight attendants and medical staff rushed to our area of the plane, but it was all over by then. Minutes later, the captain canceled the flight and everyone exited the aircraft. The choking guy, nor his wife, said a single word to me.

Four Years in Hotels

March 6, 2011

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 15:01

In my previous blog commentary, I answered the most asked question: How did I get started in additive manufacturing more than two decades ago? The second most asked question is: How many days of the year am I away from home?

I take about 18-20 business trips by air per year. In 25 years, that’s approaching 500 trips. In recent years, about one-third of them have been outside the U.S. The domestic trips average two nights, while the international trips average about one week in length. This means I’m away about 60 nights per year. Put another way, I have spent about four years in hotel rooms over the past 25 years.

Some people don’t like to travel. I hear them complaining at airports and on planes, so I’m not sure why they do it. Maybe they have no choice. For me, I enjoy getting out and meeting people and seeing new things. Do I like airports, planes, and hotels? I take a lot of work with me and enjoy catching up on my reading. Often, when traveling, I get into a “zone” where I’m almost oblivious to what’s going on around me.

One of the few negative parts of travel is not getting sufficient rest at night. The day goes so much better when you get a good night’s sleep, although it’s surprising how well the body and mind can function on little or no sleep. Packing is not a favorite part of the trip, nor is catching up after being away. With these exceptions, I look forward to trips, especially when traveling to new and interesting places.