January is the time when many companies preview some of the hottest new features coming out in the next version of their software. And SolidWorks World 2006 was no exception. CEO John McEleney wowed the crowd at his keynote address with a sneak peek at SolidWorks 2007. Due to ship this summer, the software's most significant new capability gauged by audience reaction is SWIFT (SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology). Though it's a built-in software help system, it promises to be nothing like Microsoft's scorned Clippy tool. Intended for those hairy situations like when a model fails to regenerate and you can't figure out why without chasing down the resident Solidworks expert SWIFT helps troubleshoot and fix the problem automatically. "We're basically trying to minimize the CAD overhead, so that the engineer can spend his time doing the creative stuff, instead of having to manually construct a fillet so it works," said McEleney. SWIFT also does things like a true tolerance stackup.
McEleney also promised 50 percent smaller file sizes in SolidWorks 2007 though he was coy about exactly how engineers reduced the bloat. Even with memory on the cheap, engineers reacted positively to the news.
The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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