Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

5 Questions with Tim Olson, Founder

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Tim Olson is the founder and developer of the ViaCAD and Shark line of CAD design products. Tim founded CADSoft Solutions in 1994 and created the first version of ViaCAD. Tim’s company, Evolution Software, currently supports and develops the ViaCAD and Shark products in partnership with Encore Software.

1. What was your inspiration for creating ViaCAD and Shark?

We wanted to create a system that was powerful enough for a CAD expert but usable and affordable to a CAD beginner.

2.  What were your goals with the most recent release?

Our goal was to improve productivity, quality, and user experience. This was accomplished by addressing issues in the areas of usability, 2D design & drafting, 3D design, interoperability, visualization, and performance.

3. What’s the biggest surprise or reward from creating the software?

Growing up I was inspired by the Apollo missions and wanted to work for NASA. I ultimately turned down a job at NASA to work for Lockheed’s Advanced Design team responsible for developing a CAD system for next generation air vehicles. I was thrilled when an early version of PunchCAD was used for the conceptual design of SpaceShipOne, the first private space vehicle in history. I find great reward in seeing how others use the software.

4.  Where do you see CAD software and 3D design going in the future?

Usability, performance, and reliability are continued evolutionary areas of CAD.  Revolutionary areas in CAD could involve merging CAD with AI and VR.  My daughter recently interned with IBM, working on the Watson AI project. It stunned me with how far “assisted” technology has come. Likewise, my grade school son was introduced to VR at a local university and bubbled with excitement on how intuitive 3D becomes within a virtual environment. Imagine having an expert engineer assisting our ideas, tested within a virtual environment. The next generation of CAD could break down existing barriers and serve as a catalyst for innovation.

5. What is a piece of advice you’d like to impart on an aspiring designer?

Many of the old barriers to CAD are gone. Download a trial of a low-cost 3D CAD system and start exploring. Join a user forum for help and advice. I find people in forums extremely helpful and knowledgeable especially for beginners.  Once you get up to speed, create a simple part and have a physical part made from a 3D printer bureau. There is nothing more rewarding than going from a concept to holding a physical model!

 

New Shark Version 10 Available Now

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Introducing SharkCAD and SharkCAD Pro – insanely intuitive and advanced CAD software for a one-time price that anyone from a DIY user to a professional engineer will love.

For version 10 we upped our game in usability, 3D design and printing, 2D drafting, interoperability, tool sets, and visualization. We also adjusted our name in order to bring it more in line with the rest of the ViaCAD product assortment, but rest assured it’s the same great Shark software you’ve come to love – only better! We truly want to make CAD design software approachable and accessible, and with SharkCAD and SharkCAD Pro we deliver one of the best price to performance ratios on the market.

And not only do we have a new name and a new logo, but version 10 also has an assortment of great new tools and features perfect for 3D printing, prototyping, high-resolution renders, architectural designs, and much more. A few of the improvements and updates in Version 10:

  • Usability improvements eases introduction into 3D modeling (Customize, Gripper, Selections)
  • New Tools for Makers and DIY creators (3D Print tools, Mesh Subdivision tools, Snap to Solid)
  • Improved Performance (Multithreaded and 64 bit optimizations)
  • More ways to Share Data (3D PDF, KeyShot Live Linking, SketchUp™ Import/Export 2016, SAB)
  • Improved Visualization (Faster 3D displays, Transparent Sizable Cutting Planes)
  • 3D printing tools to prepare and validate designs to be 3D printer ready
  • New and Improved Draw Views and Bill of Materials

With SharkCAD and SharkCAD Pro the most powerful CAD tools are right at your fingertips. Create professional 3D files, render beautiful prototypes, construct accurate woodworking designs, turn your concept into a reality. Top overall features:

  • Extensive drawing capabilities like the LogiCursor™ that thinks as you draw – precisely guiding your mouse and cursor in both the 2D and 3D space
  • Powerful 2D and 3D editing tools for intuitive workflows (blending, chamfering, shelling, text, dimensions, 3D to 2D drawing generation tools, bill of materials)
  • Robust Architectural and Woodworking tools made for professionals and hobbyists alike
  • Powerful subdivision to NURB editing tools allowing you to design complex organic shapes
  • Advanced rendering capabilities to examine files and projects before sending them a printer or fabricator
  • Flexible license that allows you to install program on multiple machines

Sound too good to be true? Check out a free trial of any one of our CAD programs. Find the program to match your needs, and if your you’re looking to add a couple new CAD tricks to your skillset, take a look at our in-depth tutorials and project walkthroughs – they’ll quickly help you master all the cool and complex functions that can bring a project to the next level.

A History of CAD Innovators

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

History often points to one or two people who took risks to innovate and bring about change – in a way that often ripples through several generations. This holds true in design and computing.

A Brief History of Design

Prior to the mid-20th century, any industry that required designs relied on draftsmen, designers, and engineers doing calculations and drawings by hand. These industries included shipbuilding, aerospace, automotive, medical, architecture, engineering, even movies and theatre. The process was a long, tedious road involving ideation, prototyping, creation, and scaling – though often not so cleanly and clearly.

The Development of Computing and Design

As computing developed in the mid-20th century, companies and research institutions began experimenting with the fields of design and engineering. After all, engineers and mathematicians have used machines for calculations since the 1800s. Soon, the idea of drafting on computers took hold, and by the early 1960s, the industry was talking about computer-aided design (CAD) and subsets including electronic design automation (EDA), mechanical design automation (MDA), computer-aided drafting (using software to create a technical drawing), and computer-aided geometric design (CAGD).

CAD software has innumerable uses, but its purposes, though broad, are vital in the world of design – so much so that they have become defaults in design. The purposes of CAD are to:

  • enhance a design’s quality
  • increase the designer’s productivity
  • improve design communication (appearance and vital information, such as materials, processes, dimensions, tolerances, etc.)
  • create a database for manufacturing

Over a generation, from the 1960s to the 1990s, computing systems evolved rapidly. In the 1960s, computers were huge, outsize machines that only major companies like General Motors, Ford, or Lockheed could afford.  A commercial CAD software system called Digigraphics debuted, but its cost of $500,000 per unit was severely prohibitive.

The Father of CAD/CAM

The 1960s saw many large industrial corporations exploring with in-house design programs and languages. Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty is vital to the shift in CAD that made it a worldwide standard. But let’s start with his first accomplishment.

In 1957, Hanratty was employed by General Electric. Having already earned his PhD from the University of California, Irvine, he was a programmer for the industrial giant. That year he wrote PRONTO – an early numerical control programming language that was the basis for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).

Within a few years, Hanratty moved to General Motors Research Laboratories, where he helped write and develop Design Automated by Computer (DAC), the company’s proprietary, in-house CAD software.

(Simultaneously, other designers were working on computer-aided design variants. The most famous early version, Sketchpad, was developed by Dr. Ivan Sutherland at MIT. Sketchpad allowed the designer to draw with a light pen on the computer’s monitor, literally creating computer graphics.)

In the early 1970s, CAD systems were limited to industrial computers that had private languages that used algorithms to create two-dimensional design. Hanratty founded M&S Computing, a consulting firm, 1971. The company’s goal was to support user design interfaces in the language of the application, instead of in programming terminology. To that point, CAD systems were proprietary, meaning there was no standard.

M&S Consulting soon developed a program called ADAM, short for Automated Drafting and Machining. ADAM became the basis for many CAD programs that the company sold to about a dozen start-up companies. Today, industry analysts estimate that 70-90 percent of current commercial drafting software can trace roots back to Hanratty’s ADAM program.

Thanks to his major contributions to the worlds of CAD and CAM, before the two systems were fully integrated, Hanratty became known as the father of CAD/CAM.

Making CAD Accessible

As the cost and size of technology shrunk, more companies could use advanced technologies. By the early 1980s, CAD software systems were running on 16-bit microcomputers (with 512 Kb of memory and under 300 Mb disk storage), totaling about $125,000 per unit. As such, CAD had become a decently accepted part of design innovation for industrial companies.

But its cost was still generally prohibitive to consumers who were looking to engage with the software as a hobby.

In 1982, a group of 16 people in California pooled together just under $60,000. John Walker, a young programmer, had spearheaded this effort with one major goal: to create a CAD program that would cost no more than $1,000.

Walker founded the company Autodesk, and his team of 16 released the first version of AutoCAD.

[CAD personal set-up, circa 1995. Image Source]

Today, AutoCAD is one of the bigger names in CAD, though its price can still be prohibitive to hobbyists and professional consumers familiar with the technology. Thanks to many innovators and companies, several more affordable, full-service CAD options are available, perfect for the at-home user (hint hint: PunchCAD).

As technology often goes, computing has become more economical and efficient, so computers can do more. This is true of CAD – with every iteration, CAD can do more. Importantly, it has become more accessible to users. We know this firsthand with our own line of CAD products and the future looks awfully bright for CAD users of all stripes.