FEA and 3D printing – challenges and potential workarounds

3D printing is challenging the ways that Finite Element Analysis (FEA) methods are traditionally employed to assess the structural adequacy of engineered components. Thanks to 3D printing technologies, it is no longer a safe assumption that materials can simply be modelled in FEA software as uniform homogeneous solids. Indeed, a 3D printed cube of material is not what it appears to be on the outside, as it can be built from the ground-up, piece by piece and may actually possess a complex internal cross section composed of intricate void spaces such as complex hexagonal honeycomb structures. Read more

The cloud isn’t scary, is it?

Today we’re going to talk about why the cloud is great. It’s convenient, safe, and probably better than whatever you’ve got going on now. Even companies with the world to lose have come to the conclusion that “yeah, the cloud is the best way to achieve our goals.” Most people who object to the cloud have something to say about purported security vulnerabilities. If it feels like we’ve had this conversation before, it’s because we have. A couple of times, actually. Read more

The new Community model uploader and editor

When you look at our CAD Library, it’s easy to forget that each and every model was created and uploaded by a member somewhere in the world. The GrabCAD Community is an amazing place not because of us, but because of the contributions of our members. These contributions deserved an experience just as amazing to manage them, and that is why we built a new model uploader and edit page. Read more

What Industry 4.0 means for you

Industry! The term evokes vivid images of long assembly lines, factory floors rife with robotic automation, and perhaps even big men putting screwdrivers into things. Creatively append a version number at the end of this well-established piece of vocabulary, however, and suddenly that crystallized mental image falters somewhat, derailed with the introduced ambiguity of a new manufacturing initiative. What precisely is Industry 4.0? More importantly, why should you care? And, most importantly, why the decimal? Are there industry point releases in the wings? Read more

How to analyze a 3D printed part: a matter of meshing

When I was working for the automotive industry, I heard the phrase “additive manufacturing” thrown out in prototyping. Later on, I was briefly introduced to the philosophy behind the practice. My impression by then was that AM was fun, for hobbyists mostly, for automotive prototyping maybe, for leisure all in all, but it might not be the serious competitor to tooling. Even up to last year, I was thinking that 3D printing could have a future but only within the automotive industry. Boy was I stunned when one of the giant aeronautics builder seriously engaged in it! And not only for prototyping, mind you! Read more

Challenge helps NASA pack for Mars

NASA’s Advanced Exploration System (AES) Division’s Logistics Reduction Project is trying to decrease the dependence on earth resupply for future long duration space missions. This is done via direct mass reduction, re-purposing logistics, and conversion of waste into useful by-products (gases, water, solids). We are trying to pack everything for Mars but our suitcase is too full. So we need to be smart about what we take, how we maximize the use of those items, and create new uses for the items once they’ve met their original purpose. Read more

The virtual, augmented reality of reality computing

Say it with me: reality computing. It certainly sounds like a throwaway nonsense line cut from the Lawnmower Man screenplay, a particularly egregious instance of Star Trek Voyager technobabble, or perhaps a clutch verbal aberration used to clinch the international championship in buzzword bingo. Joking aside, there's an important, developing technology concept behind the bemusing moniker. But what exactly is real (or computational for that matter) about reality computing? Read more

Behind the scenes with Alcoa & the bearing bracket challenge

After receiving an overwhelming number of entries for our GrabCAD Challenge, Alcoa Fastening Systems & Rings (AFSR) quickly set forth evaluating each design using a systematic approach. PH15-5 material properties were applied to the parts to determine their mass. We then placed each design within the given part envelope to ensure the requirement was met. The entries that did not meet the part envelope were not considered further. As a next step, we evaluated the stress under both load conditions using FEA. Read more