3D CAD – The Evolution Journey

3D CAD was first introduced in the 1990s and was a game changer at the time.

Before this CAD was 2D and replicated traditional hand drawn engineering or archtitectural drawings on film or paper, a process that had been around for many years.

3D CAD has grown in functionality since the 90s and has become increasingly sophisticated enabling users to design quicker, easier & more accurately than ever before. The design data is used to produce prototypes or manufactured parts, or buildings.

A milestone since then have been, ‘add ons’ such as Visualisation and Simulation of parts within it’s intended engineering environment, traditionally used at the end of a design process. These can now be used near the beginning in realtime to analyse and verify design behaviour, therefore saving time before going down some unwanted cul de sacs !

Another milestone recently is ‘generative design’ whereby the designer inputs engineering goals and parameters such as physical boundary conditions, material options, applied loads, manufacturing methods and cost constraints. The software then provides a set of variations that solve the engineering problem and the designer chooses an optimum design solution !

3D CAD has also changed over the years in the area of financing. Traditionally ‘seats’ were purchased using a perpetual license model and software owned by the user indefinitely. Now CAD is moving to subscription based pay-as-you-go model, where the user pays a monthly or annual fee or leases software for a set period.

A further development is SAAS (Software As A Service) whereupon software is accessed via the ‘cloud’ or internet and deployed from there. The hardware restrictions of single user in the office are lifted and collaboration of design work is made easier by users or teams from around the world, using the latest software. The ‘add ons’ mentioned earlier are also paid for on a ‘on demand’ basis, which can lower costs.

My only reservation of the direction CAD software is taking is ‘contingency’ and ‘ownership’ – if the cloud or internet based software goes down (which is a possibility), what back up is there? In addition the latest software will eventually be only available from SAAS. The present situation of the CAD software market is that legacy CAD software of perpetual license holders will eventually go out of date, as it is not possible to upgrade to the latest software on a stand alone license basis. It seems users will only be allowed to lease software, and not own it and decide to upgrade when they choose.

To conclude 3D CAD software has progressed in leaps & bounds over the last 30 years, but ownership is moving from user to software supplier, with increased financial control.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”

Henry Ford

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” 

Steve Jobs

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in 3D CAD, business, cad, CAD Software, design, Engineering, humor, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reverse Engineering

3D Scanner_IMechE_#1__

A rather counter intuitive title for a blog, but as I have often heard ‘one has to retreat to advance’ ! Reverse engineering in essence is the design process in reverse.

The need for reverse engineering arises when one has a legacy product one would like to reproduce or manufacture but no design drawings or information exist. You work backwards through the design process to arrive at the specification. The resulting technical data can be used to replicate the product in CAD.

Design information is collected by various 3D measuring systems or combinations thereof  including: coordinate measuring machines,  laser scanners, tomography scanners, 3D structured light scanners, time of flight and photogrammetry, and lastly digital calipers & micrometers.

Scanners produce a point cloud data file which is converted to a .stl file which is further converted to a 3D CAD model that can also be redesigned or optimised. The data from the final CAD file is then used to produce the part.

Although in engineering we seem to be in reverse we are in fact advancing !

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Thomas Edison

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Saint Francis of Assisi

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in 3D CAD, 3D Scanning, business, design, Engineering, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, quotations, quotes, Reverse Engineering, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrity in engineering & governance

Jet Turbine under test_    Jet Engine under test

Recent events in the UK and US led me to think about integrity in our world today, especially in places of leadership and governance, and even within our own professions – mine being engineering.

Their are codes of conduct in place for professions – in the IMechE we have a set which endeavours to preserve a high level of conduct in our association with others within a commercial environment.

Interestingly though in engineering the integrity of a component within a system is it’s ability not to fail under certain load test conditions of which it is designed to withstand. Failure can be due to incorrect design, material imperfections, internal stresses, manufacturing flaws and so on. An example would be a fan blade within a jet engine. If the integrity of the blade fails under certain tensile stresses within certain environmental conditions it will also carry through to failure of the engine – the whole system would then lack integrity not just the component. On the other hand, non critical parts can fail and the system integrity remains in tact.

This example is an illustration of what can happen when one lacks integrity and fails under pressure or a testing situation within business or society and the consequences that can follow.

I guess it’s a challenge to us all in our professions to wisely consider our actions before we take them, and to try our best to walk in integrity !

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Something I learned early is to not worry about what I can’t control… But what I can control is my attitude, my effort, and my focus every single day.”

Tim Tebow

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

Charles Dickens

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in business, design, Engineering, failure, Gas Turbine, humour, Integrity, jet engine, manufacturing, material science, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, Politics, quotations, quotes, turbine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid 19 – hands to the plough


It’s amazing that in challenging and difficult times communities and even professions pull together to combat the ‘enemy at large’ and it’s consequences.

At the risk of blowing the trumpet for IMechE, they have informed us of the following:

“Our members are involved in the national response to COVID-19 at many levels, from designing ventilators to working on infection control in buildings and public spaces.

We have over 3,000 members in our Biomedical Engineering Division, many of whom are playing vital roles working to support the NHS to cope with the COVID 19 crisis which has claimed thousands of lives in the UK.”

The UK faces a continuing shortage of PPE including face masks, visors and gowns. The Government has called for industrial manufacturers to switch production to making PPE and has also looked to imports to meet the shortfall.

I understand there are large & small companies from various sectors across the UK who have heard the ‘call’ and are switching parts of their production to making PPE.

It is great to see professionals from every sector ‘putting their hands to the plough’, including engineers to work for the common good.

Hope you have a peaceful month

All the best,


Quotation corner:

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

General George S. Patton

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


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Global Race for Coronavirus Vaccine

‘Unprecedented times’ seems to be the key phrase these days. A virus that has effected the world – physically, spiritually, mentally and financially. There is hope though that comes in may forms. One form is in the provision of a vaccine via scientific research.

Israel’s Institute for Biological Research—a civilian organization formerly under the Defense Ministry—are soon expected to announce the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, but this process might require many months of trials and experiments before it is deemed safe and effective (source: Reuters, Haaretz )

The Israel state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute also announced a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus. Their rapid progress was credited to four years of previous research focused on the development of a vaccine effective against an avian coronavirus affecting poultry, that could be adapted to counter COVID-19. (source: Reuters,  MIGAL     http://www.migal.org.il/Migal.covid )

In the U.S., a coronavirus vaccine trial has given a dose to its first participant. The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and conducted in the Kaiser Permanente Health Research Institute in Seattle is currently testing whether the vaccine is safe for human use. (source: Reuters, http://www.nih.gov/news-events/ )

In China, researchers at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences have received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine, as reported by state media. (Source: Reuters)

U.S. drug maker Pfizer are collaborating with Germany’s BioNTech to co-develop a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. (Source: Reuters)

Experts at the World Health Organisation say they do not expect any fully tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of 2021. (Source Reuters, WHO  http://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/ )

Another form of hope I have personally found helpful is in the Holy Bible,

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength … ” 

book of Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31

All the best,



Posted in research science, Uncategorized, Virus | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A train that’s ahead by a nose !

ALPHA-X_Train__   Shanghai_Maglev_Train__

ALPHA-X                                                                        Maglev

Trains are accepted to be less polluting than aircraft but to truly rival plane travel as a valid alternative they are being developed to go faster. In Japan they are testing the ALPHA-X which stands for Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in rail eXperimentation. It will be capable of speeds up to 250 mph (402km/h) – 50 mph faster than the current generation of Skinkansen trains. However the fastest in the world is the Shanghai’s Maglev train, which employs a non traditional train technology whereby the train is raised or levitated above a track by magnetism.

For the ALPHA-X to achieve 250 mph engineers have had to modify the ‘kingfisher’ inspired nose cone: namely to make it even longer. Night time trials are being undertaken presently with 16m & 22m length cones. The cone is used to combat the ‘piston effect’ when traveling through tunnels, which can cause an unwanted sonic boom at the other end, which has been known to smash windows ! It is also designed to reduce drag and effect of side winds.

Please see link below to YouTube video of ALPHA-X in action !


Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Walt Disney

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”


ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike



Posted in aerodynamics, business, design, Engineering, engineering development, environment, humor, humour, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, polution, quotations, quotes, train travel, transport, travel, Uncategorized, Vehicle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sepsis – early detection technology

Spyras_Sepsis_detection_  Spyras_Sepsis_detection_#2_

Patient deterioration owing to infections that develop into Sepsis is the primary cause of admissions to intensive care units from lower dependency hospital wards. A patient’s respiratory rate is well known to be the earliest signs of Sepsis.

Prototype paper sensors have been developed by Spyras (founded by 25 year old George Winfield), that will be able to detect early signs of Sepsis in hospital patients, by accurately monitoring a person’s breathing. The respiratory rate, inhalation and exhalation periods and depth of breathing, would be analysed and closely monitored. Clinicians would be alerted at the earliest signs of deterioration in the patient.

This technology is very important given that every 4 seconds someone in the world dies from Sepsis, and early detection might save up to 14000 lives a year in the UK alone – staggering.

May there be many more engineering innovations that will continue to improve our essential health service.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

Benjamin Disraeli

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Sir Winston Churchill

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

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Business Venture – Laurel & Hardy style !

Laurel and hardy Big Business__#1_

It’s that time of year for a little light hearted fun.

Please find link below to one of my favourite Laurel & Hardy short films on one of their many business ventures – selling Christmas trees !

A perfect 18 minute break from the frantic season over a cuppa !

Hope you have a good, peaceful & restful holiday

All the best,




ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in business, Car, Comedy Sketch, humor, humour, Selling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Metamaterials – world changer


In 2006 Sir John Pendry a physicist invented an ‘invisible cloak’, a nano-engineered material that could bend light waves. This heralded the the beginning of a new class of material that could manipulate the properties of light and do things previously thought impossible – metamaterials. This new material owes it’s properties more to structure than chemical composition, this structure is at a scale less than the wavelength of any waves going through it.

Since 2006 the cost to produce metamaterials was prohibitive and therefore non commercial, but now a Canadian company MTI has begun manufacturing metamaterial products. One is a transparent material that can manipulate electro-magnetic fields for real world applications. It is called metaAIR an optical filter that protects pilots from laser attacks. This is achieved through holographic exposure where lasers create hundreds of nanometre scale layers, each of which reflects a different frequency of light. In the last 4 years there has been 40,000 laser strikes which can lead to burnt retinas. It is a transparent film that can be applied to glasses or cockpit glass blocking 99.999% of harmful laser radiation.

Other applications of metamaterials are: transparent heaters, foldable mobile phone screens, transparent 5G antennas, higher efficiency solar cells and augmented reality glasses, metaboards that are part of the furniture that can charge mobile devices wirelessly.

Below are a couple of videos explaining further this new technology – enjoy !



Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

Mark Twain

“Worry – a God, invisible but omnipotent. It steals the bloom from the cheek and lightness from the pulse; it takes away the appetite, and turns the hair grey.”

Benjamin Disraeli

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike



Posted in Engineering, humor, humour, manufacturing, material science, Physics, quotations, quotes, research science, technology, Uncategorized, university | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The WaveFlyer – Electric Hydrofoil Jet-Ski

Wave Flyer Jet Ski__#2_        Wave Flyer Jet Ski__#1_

The WaveFlyer is the world’s first electric hydrofoil jet-ski, developed by an Australian company Electro.Aero, in collaboration with University of Western Australia. Essentially it is a personal craft that ‘flies’ serenely one foot above the water, powered by lithium batteries. It is similar to a jet-ski when stationary in the water but when it gets going it rises up using it’s actively stabilised hydrofoil propulsion system.

It can run for 30 minutes with 2 riders, whereas a conventional petrol jet-ski can run for 2 hours. The foils are most likely inverted T shapes rather than a V which are more efficient but can be prone to being more unstable, which may explain a slight instability in the video below. I should think like all these things it takes time to perfect it’s operation. The height above water is dynamically controlled using height sensors.

Major advantages of the new craft are: low pollution, quiet and smooth operation, and energy efficiency.

It could possibly be used in recreational lakes that prohibit fossil fuel powered crafts. This product has great potential and could really fly – excuse the pun !

Please see link below for YouTube video of the new WaveFlyer – enjoy !


Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

” I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

Douglas Adams

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Sir Winston Churchill

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.“

Groucho Marx

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in business, carbon fibre, design, electric vehicle, electrical engineering, Energy, engine, Engineering, green power, humor, humour, hydrofoil, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, Propulsion, quotations, quotes, transport, Uncategorized, university, Vehicle, water craft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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