Category Archives: Hardware

The plummeting costs of rapid prototyping

The costs of rapid prototyping machines continues to plunge, with the latest being a $2950 machine from Solido. The Solido SD300Pro uses a subtractive process, cutting layers from a sheet of raw material.

What’s not clear from its low sticker price is the true cost of materials; I have a hunch companies are finally aggressively pursuing the inkjet printer business model, losing money on the cost of the printer and making the profit in the raw materials needed to run it. As such, I think the coming few years will be a confusing time for those looking to buy a rapid prototyping machine, as the true cost of ownership will be difficult to figure out.

Solid State Fan

Researchers are making good progress towards an interesting product…a fan that has no moving parts! It uses an electric field to create a breeze up to 2.4 m/s; potential applications are small scale cooling such as in mobile electronics. You can read more here.

Physics-enabled white board

Interaction between computers and people is something that continues to evolve in fascinating ways. The latest is a design environment for physics simulations that uses a whiteboard for interaction. Check out the video:

For some other interesting user interface designs, follow this link.

Run Pro/E or SolidWorks on a Mac?

Mac fans no doubt know about Bootcamp, a way to dual-boot your Intel-based Mac into either OS-X or Windows. It generally works fine from what I’ve heard, but who wants to dual-boot? Well, the latest version of Parallels Desktop not only allows you to run Windows applications from the OS-X environment, but finally supports OpenGL. This means that, in theory, you’d be able to launch SolidWorks (or any other cad system) just like you would any other application. I expect there’ll be some performance hit, but likely minor. Before I rush out and spend $80 to get this ability, though, I’m going to see what Apple has to say about its next version of OS-X, Leopard, at their developers’ conference next week. There have been rumors that bootcamp will become more tightly integrated with the OS, perhaps making Parallels Desktop unnecessary.