Autodesk acquired Moldlow last year and clearly is injecting digital firepower into the simulation software company founded by Colin Austin in Australia in 1978. Simulations are now delivered more than two times faster with a parallel architecture using NVIDIA Quatro FX 4800 and Quatro FX 5800 GPUs, says Hilde Sevens, senior product line manager for the Manufacturing Solutions Division of Autodesk, San Francisco. One of Autodesk’s goals is to improve accuracy of cavity simulations by providing better 3D mesh analysis. Moldflow will also be better integrated with Autodesk Inventor and other CAD models. The improvements are contained in the Autodesk Moldflow 2010 release demonstrated at the National Plastics Exposition this week in Chicago. One of the company’s big goals is to make Moldflow part of the design process at the very beginning. Many designers now use Modlflow to verify a design prior to cutting a mold. The idea is to save time and money, says Sevens. One strategy is to encourage more use of Autodesk Moldflow Adviser, a simplified and less expensive tool than Insight. Release 2.0, scheduled for next month will beef up digital prototyping options.
Meanwhile, Moldflow continues to expand its capability to test compounds, both commercial and proprietary. Simulations are developed in part from actual materials testing. Moldflow has a database of more than 8,000 commercial grades and a separate highly guarded database of more than 4,000 formulations developed for specific customer applications. A current focal point is developing improved simulation capability for long glass-fiber reinforced systems due to increased effort to cut weight in cars. As of now, there has been little customer demand for simulation of biobased materials. That may change, however, as big resin producers, such as DuPont and BASF roll out bio grades.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.