Evolution allowed man to stand on two legs and take up arms, and then, instead of evolution, progress worked, spurred on by man himself. Progress surrounds us everywhere: the new average smartphone is more powerful than the average computer five or six years ago, humanity is actively developing renewable energy sources, and Elon Musk speaks with full confidence about the colonization of Mars, which will happen in the near future.
Why has everything accelerated so much during our lives, why do new, more advanced models of technology appear at intervals of sometimes several months? Let’s learn a little about the modern technological revolution, thanks to which real miracles become possible.
If, in today’s fierce market competition, a manufacturer spent as much time on development and testing as before, then its future product would be outdated at the design stage. Special CAD tools (computer-aided design systems) allow you to save time and solve many related issues. Their essence is to perform most of the routine work for the developer – calculations, data analysis, forecasting, etc.
Down with the routine!
Engineers today can forget about routine, leaving time for inventions and their implementation. Tools such as SolidWorks, which is a set of software applications, allow you to fully concentrate on the end result and get it now. In simple terms, this means that the program will help the engineer to make a virtual model of the most complex parts, “fit” them, advise the necessary materials, estimate the cost of production, and predict the optimal life of the finished product. And this is only a small part of the possibilities that the user receives.
In practice, this means that in some cases it is enough for an engineer to create a prototype of his device in the software environment, and in two or three hours he will be able to print it on a 3D printer, having tested it in action! It was hard to even dream of such a thing ten years ago.
But what about miracles, you ask?
An artificial bird with a wingspan of more than one and a half meters and a weight of less than half a kilogram flies over a silent hall full of people at another technical exhibition. It is made of lightweight plastic, and the aerodynamics of its wings are fully consistent with what we can see in living birds of flesh and blood. Such amazing things are made possible by aerodynamic calculations in an application that helps to calculate the interactions of solids with gases and liquids. Today, such solutions are used to design aircraft, rockets and much more.
The retro car Effeffe Berlinetta only looks like its ancestors from the distant past, in all other respects it is a modern sports car based on the classic Alfa Romeo. Enthusiasts who made their dream come true say that development and testing of the prototype would not have been possible without CAD. Engineers used SolidWorks software, including the Simulation Professional application (which allows you to conduct a virtual crash test and calculate the strength).
Classic tests would cost the company an unbearable amount for them. The software allowed them to “print” most of the parts, calculate the properties of the car in advance, and drive it in record time, and at minimal cost. And this is not an isolated example of the use of CAD products in the automotive industry – at the moment, companies designing racing cars for professional motorsport use them too.
But such systems are useful not only to engineers. You can already download many ready-made drawings for a 3D printer on the Internet to make yourself, for example, a crossbow or the recently introduced image stabilization handle for an action camera with a built-in gyroscope.
SolidWorks World 2017
Every year, Dassault Systemes, the developer of SolidWorks, organizes a large-scale SolidWorks World conference dedicated to everyone who is interested in the topic of CAD. This year it took place for the 19th time. In the colossal hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, more than five thousand engineers and designers gathered for the opening, who came from all over the world.
Among other things, the public was shown how to work with virtual reality glasses – now you can work with models not only on a PC screen, but also practically hold them in your hands, even before the idea is embodied in physical form. Which, by the way, thanks to 3D printers, can be done almost instantly.
Dassault Systemes says they are defying the limits. Numerous partners agree with this, of which there were 121 at the conference this year. Among them are such respected companies as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, AMD, Dell, MSI, NVIDIA, Lenovo and many, many others. They demonstrated their products and technologies.
And, of course, the traditional presentation of innovative features in SolidWorks 2018 took place as part of SolidWorks World.
Space technology is close at hand
An outstretched hand today may well turn out not to be human, but a robotic hand. Thanks to the software environment, several robotic arms have already been developed that are designed to work in conditions that are unsuitable for humans. The operator of the robot – an ordinary person – controls it from a safe place at a distance, while the machine reproduces all the movements of the operator’s hands.
Russian scientists also massively use these solutions in the most high-tech areas. Thus, the “Design Bureau of Chemical Automation” develops liquid-propellant rocket engines, actively using CAD. By the way, this is exactly the design bureau that participated in the preparation and implementation of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight into space.
So the future is very close to us. One has only to dig deeper and you will see progress. And innovative engineering solutions bring us even closer to the future – which, as you know, always starts today.