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PD+I 2015 Conference, London

The PD+I 2015 conference took place on 20-21 May 2015 chaired by Chris Lefteri, generating ideas, dialogue and business opportunities in the industrial design community. Following the success of the event, planning is under way for PD+I 2016. To find out more about opportunities at PD+I 2016, contact Donna Bushell

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Mapping Cambridge’s innovative companies

28 November 2012

The Cambridge Cluster Map brings into instant focus the breadth and depth of innovative companies in Cambridge that are competing globally in software, life sciences, cleantech etc. Launched at Cambridge University’s Computer Lab, which was part of the Silicon Valley Comes to the UK event, the interactive map shows high achieving companies such as ARM and plenty of other fast-growth start-ups, many of them spun out from the university.

But the map is more than just a visualisation. Using technology developed by Trampoline Systems, it provides data showing links between companies and their directors, their financial performance and job opportunities. The map’s backers say this helps transparency for those seeking to find out more about Cambridge’s fast-growth cluster.

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Sign up for free Autodesk webinar on simulation and product design

21 May 2012

Simulation is a tool that has been used tellingly in product development work in the aerospace, automotive and other sectors. It is increasingly being used by the design and development chain in a wider range of markets, so understanding all the benefits and capabilities of simulation systems has become imperative.

Simulation software leader Autodesk, a Platinum Sponsor at our Product Design + Innovation conference, will present a free webinar on 12 June entitled: “Driving innovation with upfront and flexible simulation by Autodesk”.

Webinar presenter Jonah Normand, a simulation expert at Autodesk, will discuss how to:
• Understand the impact of design choices, predictively
• Integrate, continuous simulation throughout the design process
• Get product performance right the first time
• Economically access a wide array of analysis solutions.

Click to register for the free webinar on Tuesday 12 June, 2012, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, BST.

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Key providers back conference

7 May 2012

Our Product Design + Innovation Conference on 29-30 May has received sponsorship backing from four global companies providing key services to product designers: Autodesk, DuPont, Materialise and MacDermid Autotype.

Platinum Sponsor Autodesk will be demonstrating its Product Design Suite and PLM360 systems. Carl Faux at Autodesk customer Triple 8 Racing will make a presentation on “Cars designed and produced in three months thanks to streamlined workflows”.

DuPont Performance Polymers returns as a Platinum Sponsor for the second year. Mark Young from DuPont will present on “Sustainability without compromise”.

“Autodesk is proud to be a platinum sponsor of the Product Design and Innovation conference,” said Richard Tinsdeall, PLM Sales Director, EMEA. “We are committed to the principle of fostering innovation through design, which lies at the heart of this event.”

“At Autodesk, we are making a significant contribution to delivering economic growth both to businesses and the broader economy through our next generation cloud-based products. We will be demonstrating Autodesk PLM360, which makes the benefits of Product Lifecycle Management accessible anytime, anywhere, to companies of all sizes and showcasing Autodesk Product Design Suite, a digital 3D prototyping solution, already driving innovation through integrated, discipline-specific tools.”

Veronique Ruppert-Schmitt, Marketing Communications Manager Europe at DuPont said, “DuPont Performance Polymers is delighted to be once again one of the Platinum sponsors of Product Design + Innovation, an event that reflects our desire to work more proactively with designers, engineers and specifiers - the partners with whom we are developing tomorrow's innovative solutions in plastics and bioplastics in every possible area in the home, workplace and automotive applications.”

Mark Young, Industrial, Consumer and Energy Applications Manager, Europe at DuPont continued: “By collborating with designers, sharing innovations in polymer technology and using expertise gained in multiple market segments, at DuPont we associate design with creation, innovation, something new and exciting that will improve the quality of life, yet is also affordable. The conference has an exciting line-up of top level speakers to stimulate thought and development in design. DuPont's presence at the conference will focus on renewably-sourced engineering thermoplastics that provide comparable performance to existing product lines.”

“Since Materialise began more than 20 years ago, we have used additive manufacturing to help bring great ideas to life, with prototypes that today match reality closer than ever. As a next step, our objective is to meet designers and entrepreneurs who wish to join their experience, knowledge and creativity with ours,” said Stijn De Rijck, Marketing Manager, Materialise. “We strongly believe that the Product Design + Innovation Conference can facilitate this. Ultimately, our goal is to together discover a freedom of design that can improve the products and businesses of tomorrow.”

“Looking at the line-up of speakers and the visionary but concrete content of the programme I am confident of getting the opportunity to exchange ideas with designers and entrepreneurs that have a mindset that allows them to think outside the beaten manufacturing tracks,” said Philip Hudson, Managing Director, Materialise UK.

For the second year running MacDermid Autotype are sponsors. Kevin O’Hara, Project Manager FIM based in their head office in Oxfordshire said: “Last year’s conference was stimulating and as a participant immensely enjoyable. We found during the event many of our issues and concerns were being vocalised in ways which were novel and thought provoking. The quality of the presentations and activities were outstanding and it was not a difficult choice to support this event again this year. We are looking forward to another exciting conference.”

Find out more about the conference programme and how to register on our conference pages.

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The luxury watch that only came about thanks to great rendering

3 March 2011

What is more arresting about the Devon Tread 1 luxury watch: its industrial beauty or its designer’s unorthodox route to get it into production?

Jason Wilbur’s inspiration for the watch design was industrial conveyor belts and motorcycles, leading to a form that is neither dial face nor digital display.

The watch movement is a series of overlapping, interwoven belts encased in glass-reinforced nylon that is typically used in avionics. This being a luxury watch, it is also bullet-proof, anti-reflective and can withstand temperatures ranging from negative 20°F to 150°F.

Devon Tread 1 caused a stir in the USA last year, but the magazine and blog coverage was based on rendered images sent out by Wilbur, as the watch had not got a production deal. The rendering package he used was Bunkspeed SHOT, and the US rendering and animation software group has disclosed its involvement in the story.

Bunkspeed says: “[Jason Wilbur] realized sketches were not enough to entice engineers to manufacture his design, and convince financiers to fund his project. He needed ultra-realistic images that would truly showcase the watch’s cutting-edge characteristics and emotional value.”

The group quotes Wilbur: “When you are describing a future concept, it is essential to have realistic images that back-up your vision. The more realistic you can portray the form and details, the more people are going to buy into it.”

As the impact of the watch design comes from the intricate details on show, this made the realism even more critical. “When you have that kind of design, traditional rendering software won’t give you the realism and attention to details needed to communicate the emotional value,” said Wilbur.

Wilbur imported the models created in Solidworks into Bunkspeed SHOT, to create photorealistic representations of the Devon Tread 1 that communicated the intricate details. This allowed him to wow retailers and watchmakers and it is now produced by Devon Works, in Los Angeles.

“The rendered images looked so real, retailers kept asking for us to bring in the real watch. They didn’t understand that the watch didn’t exist,” said Wilbur. “Without the mind-blowing renderings produced by Bunkspeed SHOT, this project wouldn’t have happened. The watch looked so real you thought you could touch it!”

Devon Works

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New releases accelerate idea to iteration, says solidThinking

17 February 2011

New 3D concept design and visualization software releases from solidThinking are “better, faster, easier”, says the US company.

The releases, solidThinking 8.5 and solidThinking 8.5 Inspired, contain 900 new features, enhancements and updates. Robert Little, president of solidThinking, says user feedback has shaped the new versions, which have “outstanding levels of improvement.”

Alex Mazzardo, solidThinking’s vice president of marketing and product strategy, says: “The fundamental functions behind design are ideation and iteration – the ability to conceptualize ideas at the speed of thought and without constraints. SolidThinking 8.5 and solidThinking 8.5 Inspired are our next steps in redefining the way design concepts are created, evaluated and photorealistically visualized, in real time, in the early development phase.”

Among the new tools is a new Face Extract modeling tool to create new surface objects by extracting faces of existing objects.

There is also a new and improved round tool with advanced options for shape control and handling of overflowing/overlapping rounded surfaces.

Industrial designer and solidThinking user Emanuele Rodella says the new round tool “helped me handle some very complex changes; and I often used the environment visualization mode to review the model’s progress. The faster, more improved modeling in solidThinking 8.5 has developed noticeably higher-quality, smooth and sinuous models, and a more interesting, visually dynamic shape – ultimately allowing me to realize the full potential of my design projects.”

Find out about the new functionality at solidThinking’s site.

We are pleased that solidThinking is a Silver Sponsor at our Product Design + Innovation conference on 18-19 May. Find out more on our conference pages.

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Tinkering is not a waste of time, as Autodesk app shows

4 February 2011

Tinkering is an undervalued activity, so it’s great to see Autodesk choose the name TinkerBox for an iPad app game for teenagers which it says “allows players to experience the fun and excitement of invention, while gaining confidence in their ability to excel in engineering”.

The Collins Dictionary makes the verb ‘tinker’ sound like an unproductive human diversion, defining it as “play, fiddle or meddle (with machinery etc), esp while undertaking repairs”.

But the value of play in learning and ultimately accomplishment is being increasingly recognized. How many kids that went on to become good designers and engineers started out playing with Lego before moving on to Meccano, all the time finding out what structures do and don’t work while they were having fun?

Tinkering is really the adult equivalent of a child’s experiments with dismantling objects to see how the engineers put them together. Big kids tinkering with their first motorbike or car (before the spoilsport carmakers locked away components in inaccessible housings) are instinctively pursuing the discovery of how stuff works.

The tinkerer makes mistakes, but will improve him or herself because mistakes lead to better understanding. Tinkering, like all play, is also the expression of creativity, a vital foundation in design-related careers.

The TinkerBox app encourages the player to insert gadgets, assemble components and test their inventions. Completing each challenge inspires players to create more and increasingly complex innovations. The game’s Invent mode enables players to design their own contraptions and share them with friends.

In November 2010, Autodesk polled more than 1,000 American teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 about their attitudes toward academic subjects that provide the foundation for a career in engineering. The results showed students don’t find the subjects boring or nerdy, but rank engineering and maths doubly hard compared to other subjects (16% vs. 8% for English and languages).

“Students need to be given opportunities to experience success with engineering long before they reach colleges and universities,” said Samir Hanna, vice president of Consumer Products at Autodesk. “The Autodesk TinkerBox App shows kids how fun and exciting science and mechanical engineering can be. This game helps combat the idea that science and engineering are ‘too hard,’ while allowing kids to create some pretty amazing inventions.”

Autodesk website
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Uniting man and machine through optimum bike geometry

30 November 2010

Anthony Clark reports from the annual Dassault Systèmes customer event on an innovative Czech bike frame manufacturer. Duratec measures the prospective owner’s body and creates bikes with bespoke designs for seating geometry, distance to reach the handle bars, saddle size, inclination and so on.

Czech bike frame manufacturer Duratec has helped create bespoke bicycles for a range of top cyclists including one for paralympian cyclist Jirí Ježek who took multiple medals at the Beijing Paralympic Games.

“Our philosophy is to create a bike with perfect driving properties,” said Milan Duchek, chief executive officer, Duratec. “Customers can start with one of our aluminium alloy and carbon frames and choose from standard components and assemblies or provide us with specifications so that we can build the bike of their dreams, perfectly tailored to their needs.”

In addition to a bicycle’s technical requirements, such as number of gears, weight and frame size, Duratec also creates its bikes so that they respond to each rider’s specific characteristics such as seating geometry, distance to reach the handle bars, saddle size and inclination and so on.

The company achieves this by using measurement software developed by, a Dutch company whose products determine optimum bicycle geometry. “Based on the results obtained with this measuring equipment we can tailor the geometry of our frames and seats for each individual,” explained Duchek.

“Customers can choose a variety of characteristics such as frame colour, handwritten signature, nicknames, or even blood type and have them inscribed directly on the frame. Once the frame meets the customer’s final approval, we start to assemble the entire bicycle.”

Duratec has also adopted Dassault Systèmes’ Catia PLM Express design software, principally because of its sophisticated surfacing capabilities. The company’s designers use it for both milled and moulded components as well as for the associated tooling.

“Catia is not only used to design individual components, we also use it to support our production process with specific company-based procedures, based on our knowhow, for manufacturing composite parts,” said Milan Duchek.

The company also uses Dassault Systèmes’ 3DVIA Player and Composer, which Duratec claims are the cornerstone of its customer manuals, marketing materials and manufacturing and assembly procedures.

“Since a composite frame consists of several hundred parts that need to be assembled it would be difficult, if we did not have 3DVIA Composer, to show our technicians clear and visual instructions about how to assemble these sections,” explained Duchek.

The Dassault Systèmes products have helped Duratec shorten its product development cycle by 30% and reduce the number of physical prototypes required for verification before going to production.

The complete process, from order placement to bicycle delivery, takes three to four weeks.

Duratec website

Dassault Systèmes website

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Sustainable material choice is the aim of Autodesk-Granta deal

Granta Design chart

18 November 2010

Autodesk and Granta Design have formed a partnership to co-develop software that will add sustainable design capabilities to the Autodesk products.

Granta, based in Cambridge, UK, has an extensive database of materials and its software allows designers make material selection choices based on combinations of criteria, such as tear strength (pictured in chart). As well as enabling rational decisions on the trade-off between cost and performance, Granta has been adding sustainability criteria to its tools, which now forms the platform for the Autodesk partnership.

The partners say that integration of Granta’s eco design methods into Autodesk software will help designers estimate the environmental impact of a product and make more sustainable design decisions. This is an increasingly desirable goal as they say nearly 80% of a product’s environmental footprint is determined during the design phase.

“The ability to optimize material selection based on environmental impact, in addition to cost and performance, is crucial to today’s manufacturers,” says Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk. “We believe that companies of all sizes - not just large enterprises - deserve ready access to this information, and our partnership with Granta will help deliver that capability to Autodesk customers worldwide.”

Making greener products is not just a response to customer demand but is also being driven by compliance with regulation. The companies point to two examples: the US Federal Trade Commission is in the process of updating its "Green Guides," requiring manufacturers that claim their products are made with renewable materials to say how much of the product is manufactured with those materials, what those materials are, how they are sourced and why they are considered renewable.

In Europe, the European Union's recent Eco-design of Energy-Related Products Directive requires companies to use best practice in design for the environment to minimize the environmental impact of energy using products and energy related products.

Autodesk website

Granta Design website

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Student team shows stripping down a laptop can take 2 minutes

Recyclable laptop

9 November 2010

A team of students from Stanford University in the USA and Finland's Aalto University have designed the Bloom laptop to be easier to disassemble, and therefore easier to recycle components. The group was named Autodesk Inventor of the Month for October due to their use of Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Publisher software to help develop and refine the laptop during the school year.

The Bloom laptop can be disassembled in just two minutes, without tools and in just 10 steps, says Autodesk. This compares with 45 minutes you would need to disassemble a commercial laptop, should you have the three separate tools and patience needed to complete the 120 steps of breaking it down.

Aaron Engel-Hall, one of the student project team, says: "We created 3D shapes to represent the hardware we had to design around, and the parametric design of Inventor software let me put in different parameters so that all the model dimensions would update immediately. I was also able to experiment with various thicknesses for the case enclosure, making it as thin as possible while maintaining structural integrity."

Autodesk says its Inventor Publisher software helped the student team create 3D technical documentation materials directly from the digital prototypes.

The team found other benefits as they worked on the design. Using easy-to-disassemble modularity allowed them to develop a keyboard and track pad that detach and allow for improved ergonomics. It is also easier to repair and upgrade components over the lifetime of the product, encouraging a longer-term relationship between the consumer and the service provider.

More at the Autodesk website.

Watch YouTube video of the disassembly.

More about the Stanford University ME310 course.

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