The Autodesk Digital Prototyping forum 2010
This year Autodesk set a new president by holding it’s own Digital Prototyping forum, in addition to the many user events held by the Autodesk Resellers.
The day started well at the impressive Belfry Hotel and conference centre in Birmingham UK, with Tim Doig (Autodesk Sustainability Director for Northern Europe) leading the fray.
Autodesk’s Environmental, Economic and Social Credentials
Tim’s message was all about the environmental responsibility that Autodesk has, considering that some 10 Million people world wide are using Autodesk software to design their products. Tim believes that it is possible to observe the Environmental, Economic and Social inputs to sustainable design,whilst still looking out for the bottom line.
Autodesk’s position in the CAD Market
Up next was Keith Perrin (Autodesk Senior Industry manager for Manufacturing). Keith took us through Autodesk’s impressive stat’s as a software company, pointing out that Autodesk is the third biggest CAD company in the world (In terms of turnover) and that Autodesk is the Number one MCAD provider in the world (In number of seats sold).
The Autodesk User Community
Both presenters made a point of commenting on Autodesk’s avid and passionate user community (They were addressing me personally, I’m sure :-) ).
The remainder of the morning was taken up with presentations from some of Autodesk’s clients – real case studies form people using Autodesk software in their daily business.
Robo challenge/The Gadget Show
The first presentation was from Ortis Deeley of the Gadget Show and Grant Cooper of Robo Challenge. Grant designed the Robot for the Gadget show’s entry to Robot Wars. The guys at Robo Challenge used Autodesk Inventor to digitally prototype their robot, starting from the layout of the internal components and working out to the chassis and body shell. The guys were even able to do some simulation to prove the effectiveness of the Air powered flipper. The Robot was designed in under 24 Hrs and built in under three weeks.
One of the most memorable parts of the day was Grant’s rookie mistake of referring to the ‘3D Cad package’ as Solidworks – Promoting a few hundred Geeks to drawn in their breath and let out a low moan… Grant will not forget this years forum in a hurry!
The next presentation was from Frank Stephenson, the Design director of McLaren Automotive. Frank took us through how the design process has changed, since he first started designing cars, from :
Sketches > Models > Prototypes | Engineering
Sketch(Alias Sketch)> 3D Surface model (Alias again) > 5 Axis CNC milled clay model > Car
This process has been reduced from 18 to 12 Months With engineering getting in on the act a lot sooner. Crucial from Frank’s point of view, this reduction in time has not had a negative impact on design freedom. In fact, Frank’s team gets to continue working on the car even after the design has been handed over to Engineering.
Frank described working for McLaren as his dream job. If I got to work at the McLaren technology centre (designed by Sir Norman Foster) I might not want to come home from work either!
The final customer presentation was by David Leadley of Land Instruments. Originally set up as a family cutlery company, land Instruments now specialise in remote temperature sensing and thermal imaging equipment. David has taken CAD from a disparate and inefficient tool within his company, to a shining example of coordinated technologies.
David and his team chose Inventor as the 3D CAD Package they found easiest to use and have invested heavily in Digital prototyping, 3D printing and data management to decrease their time to market and reduce manufacturing costs.
David recently invested in their own 3D printer at a cost of £60k. A cost he expected to make back in the next 12 Months!
If McLaren have the best premises to work in – David must surely be the best Boss!
The Break Out Sessions
The remainder of the day was focused on more ‘User focused’ training, the highlight of which was Steve Bedder’s 90 Minute Inventor tips and tricks session. I won’t comment to much on that right now – suffice to say that Steve gave me a couple of a great ideas for upcoming posts! Cheers Steve ;-)
The final roundup came from Keith Perrin and Steve Bedder with a brief, good looking, but non-committal look at ‘Possible’ future technologies (And bunnies, lots of Bunnies).
In closing, if you didn’t make it to the Forum this year, I highly recommend it to you. If you did go – I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.I look forward to seeing you their next year!
I’ll leave you with a word from our sponsors…