3 Cool Presentations from solidThinking’s Design & Technology Conference
Shawn Wasserman posted on August 04, 2016 |
CONVERGE 2016 aims to teach engineers to combine art with science, design and technology.

solidThinking’s CONVERGE 2016 Americas conference is coming to Los Angeles and there are quite a few presentations that a design engineer would find fascinating.

The CONVERGE conference looks to educate engineers, architects and product designers about the importance of merging art with the typical tools of the trade, such as computer-aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided design (CAD) technologies.

The following is a series of presentations at CONVERGE which will demonstrate how engineers can improve their product designs and manufacturing techniques using a little creativity.

Engineering Olympic Quality Prosthetics

Blake Leeper sporting his running blades. (Image courtesy of www.patrickblakeleeper.com.)

Blake Leeper sporting his running blades. (Image courtesy of www.patrickblakeleeper.com.)

In a talk from Kevin Shinn, vice president of industrial design at Altair Thinklabs, engineers at CONVERGE will learn about how to design prosthetic legs durable and efficient enough for an Olympic runner.

Blake Leeper is a bi-lateral below-the-knee amputee. It is his goal to become the first U.S. double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics.

Altair is working on “running blades” that will empower Leeper to unlock his full speed potential. Blake already holds American records for handicapped athletes in both the 200 m and 400 m at 21.5 and 46.1 seconds, respectively. Imagine what could happen when he sports Altair’s running blades which are optimized for weight and efficiency.

Currently, only the now-notorious Oscar Pistorius from South Africa has competed in both the Paralympic and able-bodied Olympic games using similar leg prosthetics. Leeper aims to bring an inspirational spin back to an achievement that met with a dark end.

The enhancement that Leeper experiences with his ever-improving running blades doesn’t stop with him. Altair is using the information it learns from his prosthetics to help others with similar needs.

During Shinn’s presentation, he will explain the path his engineering team took to design Leeper’s legs. Engineers will also learn from a series of real-life lessons and best practices created by Shinn’s team.

State of 3D Printing in the Manufacturing Industry

HP claims its Jet Fusion 3D Printer is 10 times faster than the rest. HP's Virginia Palacio and Shapeways’ Vice President of Manufacturing Stefan Rink photographed with the printer. (Image courtesy of Shapeways.)

HP claims its Jet Fusion 3D Printer is 10 times faster than the rest. HP's Virginia Palacio and Shapeways’ Vice President of Manufacturing Stefan Rink photographed with the printer. (Image courtesy of Shapeways.)

In a CONVERGE presentation from Terry Wohlers, founder and president of Wohlers Associates, engineers will learn of the state of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry.

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a hot item. Many companies, government agencies and academics are looking into the technology. Unfortunately, many engineers still don’t understand how this technology will evolve their manufacturing processes. As a result, these manufacturers will be disadvantaged in comparison to competitors.

Many are taking up the challenge to implement 3D printing into their workflows. For example, Wohler explains that Airbus, Boeing, GE, Lockheed Martin, NASA and even UPS are adding AM to their workflows and R&D budgets.

If those big names don’t convince your engineering team, they will surely convince your rivals. And with HP claiming to have created a 3D printing technology 10 times faster than its competitors with the release of its Jet Fusion technology, the excuses for slow AM production lines are dwindling.

Computational Thinking in a Design World

Engineers at CONVERGE looking to gain insight into the evolution of CAD and CAE technology should listen to the presentation of Shibo Ren, senior structural engineer and designer at Arup. This presentation will discuss how the digitization of the engineering design workflow, including technologies such as CAD and CAE, has spawned innovation for product materials and structures.

One example is the CAE tool Inspire from Altair’s solidThinking. This tool helps engineers light-weight their products using topology optimization algorithms. The results are creative and organic designs that would have been difficult to create without the help of shape optimization design tools. As performance is maintained and weight of the part reduced, Inspire promises to save many organizations a lot of money.

The solidThinking Inspire workflow helps engineers to come up with new and organic designs using topology optimizations.
The solidThinking Inspire workflow helps engineers to come up with new and organic designs using topology optimizations.
Ren will explain how engineers can use tools like Inspire to inform and optimize the design process. As these design tools offer engineers a near-optimized design, the team should be able to bring the product to market faster, further reducing the price point.

Additionally, Ren will discuss how these CAD and CAE tools can be married with AM, allowing for the production of designs that were impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing techniques. As a result, engineers have the freedom to run with designs that were once seen as optimized in theory but impossible in practice.

Finally, Ren will explain how the use of additive manufacturing, in conjunction to CAE and CAD tools, will allow engineers to optimize a product for a single production run. As a result, customers will be able to enjoy extremely customizable products that meet their specific needs.

The CONVERGE 2016 Americas conference will be held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, follow this link.

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