Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Making 3D models of the Mars surface

This is pretty neat.

The guys at Eos Software, who make the Photomodeler (photogrammetry) software, started using the photos delivered by the Mars Phoenix Lander to create 3d models of the Mars surface.

Why, I hear you ask? Just because they can. Using some of the photos from the University of Phoenix Mars Mission site, the photos are read into PhotoModeler and feeding in known camera specifications, the software then lets them pin-point a few 3D points on the photos and it starts to make 3D data out of it. This is a part-manual, part-automated process that also allows items such as the Lander’s leg to be excluded from the model. Photogrammetry has definitely come a long way since I last used it.

The image below shows a screen shot of one of the models created. Click on that to see the video they made of making the model.

Posted by The 3D Team in 23:06:36 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Freely available Green Engineering Articles at CADCAMNet

Just recently the CADCAMNet team has been researching a lot of leads about engineers and manufacturers delving into the field of Green engineering. CCN’s Green Engineering Reports are free, and are working towards understanding what it’s all about – how the choice of materials can change the nature of a product being designed, how to find recycled materials, what technology (and believe me, it’s few and far between) can help in green engineering.

So do check ‘em out if you are curious about how you would make your products green(er).  They are all down the right hand side of the CADCAMNet home page.


Posted by The 3D Team in 06:33:40 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Saturday, May 10, 2008

ShareHolders not happy with MoldFlow Acquisition?

While I was googling the Moldflow acquisition news today, I happened across an interesting sponsor link. It reads:

Moldflow Takeover Unfair?
Are you unhappy with the proposed takeover of Moldflow Corporation?

Click on the link and it leads to Levi and korsinsky LLP, NYC based lawyers who are investigating the possibility that the MoldFlow acquisition by Autodesk might be worthy of some further investigation.

According to the Autodesk press release on May 1 2008, “Autodesk will acquire Moldflow for $22 per share, or approximately $297 million.”

According to lawyer Edward Korsinsky, some shareholders in MoldFlow have already asked the company to investigate if this is a fair offer, and the company is now seeking other shareholders that may be interested in a class action suit, if indeed its investigation proves that the offer is too low.

By way of clarification, the legal firm conducts investigations at no charge, and then negotiates a contingency fee if they feel action is appropriate. According to Korsinsky, the company is also a lead counsel in the Bear Stearns acquisition case, where the original, agreed offer was at $2 per share, later upped to $10 per share, and at this point, still unresolved. The Moldflow acquisition, by comparison, is very small beans – but it’s CAD, so we are paying attention!

Is the law firm an ‘ambulance chaser’? Maybe yes, maybe no. A couple of Moldflow shareholders alerted the company to the situation that they feel needs some observation and investigation. Korsinsky says that their service allows shareholders who feel that they are being left on the outskirts of a decision can take sensible action to ensure their rights are being heard and taken into consideration. That’s fair, right?

Thus far, the case is still in the investigative stages, but the company is poised and ready for action, if merited. Maybe it is, maybe not. We will attempt to keep you informed.


Posted by The 3D Team in 05:32:37 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Autodesk Acquires Photogrammetry software, REALVIZ

It seems Autodesk is out shopping again, with an anouncement to acquire MoldFlow last week, and this week the news that it is acquiring REALVIZ, out of Sophia Antipolis, France.

According to Autodesk’s Press release about REALVIZ, the company provides “efficient ways to generate 3D content and visual effects from photo imaging and 2D environments.” or in other words, Photogrammetry. This discipline is pretty cool – the basis is of it is that using a scanned photo, or set of photos, you can pretty quickly create 3D points that in turn become a 3D model. This type of technology is used a lot in architecture, film graphics and gaming. The products also deliver motion capture and panoramic photo stitching. Already the products on realViz’ web site have been renamed with Autodesk’s monniker, and the company intends to continue to sell REALVIZ’s Stitcher Unlimited, Stitcher Express, ImageModeler and Movimento software as standalone products.

However, the Matchmover, Retimer and VTour products will no longer be available as standalone products but will be developed as core technology into future versions of Autodesk’s existing products.

The following REALVIZ offerings have been discontinued: Stitcher Pro, Stitcher Unlimited DS, and StoryViz. Education versions of ImageModeler and Stitcher continue to be available. Student versions of ImageModeler and Stitcher are no longer available. The terms of the acquisition have not been revealed.

So is this ‘photogrammetry comes of age?’ Probably not…yet. This niche discipline (focused on architecture, ‘shape capture’, entertainment etc) has only a few players including Eos Systems’ Photomodeler, and PhotoPlan from Latimer CAD Ltd (a product that only supports AutoCAD) (Photogrammetry is used much more widely in GIS and mapping but that is not what these products aim at.) Photogrammetry is an important, but small, aspect for architectural projects that use existing structures, and for surveying buildings, in forensic projects, and its value in film graphics and game development is unquestioned. But we don’t see this as a sign of the market maturing:- there are way too many other potential uses for this that have not been fuly explored and exploited including rapid (and affordable) reverse engineering and ‘shape capture’ of products directly into 3D CAD. Since REALVIZ was purchased by Autodesk’s Media and Entertainment division, we suspect that reverse engineering of products using photogrammetry is not on Autodesk’s radar screen.

REALVIZ’ 3D format support is listed as: Maya, 3ds Max, DWG, Lightwave, Softimage, OBJ, WRML and Google Earth and we suspect that they will keep this support even now they are Autodesk poducts. I doubt that the support will widen any. By contrast, PhotoModeler has a much wider 3D CAD format support including IGES, STEP, STL, DXF, Rhino, and then Maya, 3DS, FDX, OBJ and Google Earth. Does this matter? if you use non-Autodesk products, then yes, it does.

Posted by The 3D Team in 21:08:05 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Aras’ Open Source PLM gets Windows Server 2008 certification

Aras Corporation today announced that its Open Source PLM software is one of the first 10 products to ever achieve Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 certification.

It appears that gaining this certification is no mean feat. As explained in the press release, “Windows Server 2008 Certification comprises approximately 100 test cases that independently confirm an application’s compliance with best practices for reliability, security, availability, and compatibility on the new Microsoft platform.”

Or as Aras Marketing VP Marc Lind said to our editor-in-chief, Randall Newton today. “Having gone through the process of becoming certified, and knowing what it requires, I would be surprised if any of the other PLM providers will ever achieve this certification.”

Aras’ PLM software is the only Open Source PLM software that we are aware of, and is used by some surprising customers including Motorola, Rolls-Royce, Freudenberg, Lockheed Martin, Ingersoll Rand and ACCO Brands. Why surprising? Because I still have some inborn snobbery towards Open Source software, which apparently is unmerited and inappropriate. I will have to keep trying to rethink my position on this. Congrats to Aras while I do that.

Posted by The 3D Team in 22:09:27 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SolidWorks World 2008: Dean Kamen’s FIRST needs volunteers

At SolidWorks World 2008, one of the presenters was Dean Kamen, he of the Segway fame. One of Kamen’s passions is the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program for high school kids. During his presentation he noted that FIRST is in need of volunteers, as pointed out by Joel Orr at the COFES blog.

During a recent Autodesk event, I got the pleasure of talking directly to a bunch of FIRST teams in Oregon, and their mentors. As the kids, age 14-18 explained how the robot they made works, I found my admiration for them going sky-high. As a 15 year old explained to me how he programmed the controller chips to make the mechanism work, so my belief in FIRST went through the roof. Allow me to explain it this way: at the ripe old age of 40, I could never fathom creating programming code for a processor. But maybe I could have if someone had opened the door for me when I was a teenager. No one did, so it remains a mystery. The key to this understanding, however, is down to the mentors. This particular team in Oregon had an Intel employee as one of the mentors, who then started to explain, enthusiastically to me how he teaches the kids programming. Even I started to get enthusiastic! It was very cool!

And now FIRST needs more people like him. Mechanical engineers, programmers, control and signals technicians and more. The reward? Watch these kids simply fly.

For more information click here:

Posted by The 3D Team in 15:28:54 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Autodesk Opens New Customer Briefing Center

On January 10th, 2008, Autodesk invited a bunch of customers, and a couple of press, to watch the official opening of its newest Customer Briefing center in Lake Oswego, OR. The 3DCN team was there, finding out what was making Autodesk’s Buzz Cross so proud of his 5th floor set up.

It is located in the new offices of Autodesk’s Manufacturing Division, headed by Buzz Cross and Richard Jones, and supported by some 200 employees on site. As you leave the elevator, so you see an array of products created using Autodesk software including some guitars from RKS,  a novel geared wheelchair that prevents  wheelchairs from rolling backwards by Magic Wheels, and a whole bunch more. Even better, you are actually allowed to touch the guitars, take them off the stands and pretend to be a rock star. (Image: Jason Medal-Katz, senior manager of the Customer Briefing Center, has a moment of ‘what if’ with an RKS guitar.)

The banks of touch-screen monitors, created using flat glass and projectors with light sensitive cameras in them make for a pleasing display. And behind a large panel of frosted glass, which switches to clear at the touch of a remote control, are 2 RP systems, happily grinding away, or adding materials to some Autodesk Inventor Models. (PIcture 2: an image of a car designed using autodesk inventor and the Autodesk Alias products, displayed on the touch-screen monitors in the center.)

You will see a longer expose on this center in next week’s CCNtv broadcast, where we get in depth about some of the products on display. However, it was an excellent evening, with short and friendly presentations by Buzz Cross and a gentleman from the local Chamber of Commerce who, we think, was getting paid every time he said ‘Lake Oswego.’

But do check it out in-depth at CADCAMNETtv on January 21 2008.

3DCN team

Posted by The 3D Team in 06:50:15 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Holiday Message from the 3D Team

To all 3DCADNews Readers,

The 3D Editorial Team wishes everyone a great Holiday week, in whatever it is you are celebrating, and we wish the entire CAD/CAM industry the best of fortunes in 2008.

We are by no means signing out until the New Year and will be continually tracking and watching the CAD news at all of our sister sites at:
TeamDWf and more,

Please have a fun time reading our sites and watching our broadcasts, and may your God be with you as we step into the New Year.

3D CAD News editorial team

Posted by The 3D Team in 17:22:27 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New ‘Legal Hot Water’ RP Material Announced for V-Flash

Another round of artillery fire, in what seems to be an ongoing feud in the rapid prototyping industry was lobbed this week when RP vendor 3DSystems was granted a preliminary injunction in Germany against rival RP vendor EnvisionTEC. It was your basic “shut your mouth” injunction.

To work from the present and going backwards (the story has length but is worth it), this week 3D Systems obtained the injunction to prevent EnvisionTEC from further publishing statements it made in a November 28, 2007 press release, which stated 3Dsystems’ “V-flash unit system is potentially infringing on its German issued patents.”

3DSystems’ December 18 2007 press release about the injunction states,

“The preliminary injunction prohibits EnvisionTEC from the further publication of those statements in Germany and stated that EnvisionTEC GmbH may be subject to a fine of up to €250,000 or that its legal representatives are subject to arrest and imprisonment for up to six months for each violation of the court’s prohibition order.” (editor comment: ouch)

But this is a huge step forward from the war of words in the weeks before: 3DSystems’ December 4th announcement initially responding to the claims made by EnvisionTEC has the following quote:

“As a company, we are keenly aware of the importance of intellectual property, and we make every effort not only to protect our own intellectual property but also to respect the valid intellectual property rights of others,” said Abe Reichental, president and chief executive officer of 3D Systems. “In this regard, we are currently involved in litigation with EnvisionTEC in the United States charging that its Perfactory and Vanquish prototyping systems infringe a number of our United States Patents. With respect to EnvisionTEC’s recent press release, we believe that EnvisionTEC does not have sufficient technical information or a factual basis for the statements it makes in that release.”

Here’s a curious point: the offending November 28 2007 press release issued by EnvisionTEC is almost nowhere to be found on the web, anywhere, even on the company’s web site. It implies a lot about EnvisionTEC’s press release distribution ability and I even started to think that they may have simply sent it to their sibling rivals at 3DSystems for some fun and giggles near Christmas. But no, thank goodness for Ralph Grabowski, who kindly dug up the text from the cache archives of Google. It reads as follows:

BREAKING NEWS – EnvisionTEC Gmbh Claim Patent Infringement

November 28th, 2007 – EnvisionTEC Gmbh has officially notified the
German distributor of the V-flash system manufactured by 3D Systems
company that the V-flash unit system is potentially infringing on
its German issued patents.

“Our intellectual property is very essential to our strength in
delivering innovative solutions to our customers, and growing our
market share in the Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing market. We
intend to vigorously defend our patents when we believe that they are
being infringed upon” said Mr. Siblani, CEO of EnvisionTEC Gmbh.

EnvisionTEC Gmbh is based in Gladbeck Germany and manufactures a
complete line of rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing systems
known as the Perfactory Standard, MINI , and Desktop. It also
manufactures the Perfactory Vanquish Flashcure System as well as its
latest offering, the Perfactory Xede.

But the squabble doesn’t end there. In a clear pattern of feudal hissing and squabbling in the RP family, 3DSystems is currently involved in litigation in the US regarding EnvisionTEC’s possible infringement of 3DSystems’ US patents. That began in 2006; 3D Systems issued a press release on March 9. Part of it reads:

“3D Systems’ complaint asserts that the defendants are infringing these U.S. patents by importing, marketing or selling prototyping systems, including their PERFACTORY and VANQUISH modeling systems, used for creating physical three-dimensional models of objects.” This legal action is still ongoing and is referred to in the Dec 4, 2007 press release by 3DSystems.

But then the story twists. In a moment of what we at 3D CAD News see as pure hypocrisy, 3DSystems asserted the following in its December 4th 2007 press release:

““It is regrettable that EnvisionTEC has chosen to issue a press release concerning its views with respect to its patents and our V-Flash™ Desktop Modeler. We prefer that legal issues be confined to the appropriate legal forum and that companies compete fairly in the marketplace,” concluded Reichental. “Unfortunately, EnvisionTEC’s public statements have left us with no alternative but to respond in order to make our distributors and customers aware of the facts and our position.”

Now then, who issued that first opening shot, publicized via press release, on March 9, 2006? It could, just perhaps, have been 3DSystems, non?

And while members of the RP family continue to lob grenades back and forth as a form of distraction from the job at hand, rich cousin Stratasys continues to experience record growth. You can see more about the financial health of Stratasys and 3Dsystems at CADCAMNet‘s lead story last week, at (Free trial subscription or paid subscription required.)

Posted by The 3D Team in 02:08:02 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Venue, New View for Interoperability Conference 2008

David Prawel, who has organized and hosted the 3D Collaboration and Interoperability conference with SME for the last few years, has announced the conference will now be hosted in Denver, CO, on May 15-16, 2008.

Despite the best efforts of many, interoperability of 3D data can still remain a frustrating problem. Even with the many work-arounds and neutral file formats in existence, the translation of usable 3D data still often doesn’t work. According to our CADCAMNet Interoperability survey back in May 2007 (Subscription or free trial required), while interoperability has become more manageable, it is still by no means resolved.

The conference will follow its standard format, with a few extras thrown in such as:

  • Multi-CAD interoperability,
  • Migrating CAD data,
  • Cross-PDM interoperability,
  • Lightweight 3D formats,
  • and, of course, a lot lot more.

This intimate conference will convene at the beautiful Denver Athletic Club, with stunning views of the Rockies (just so you don’t forget how insignificant mountains can be). Early registration ends January 15th 2008.

You can find out more at:

Posted by The 3D Team in 04:59:31 | Permalink | Comments (2)