Open source engineering communities.
We could observe the severe protest against ACTA in several countries like it was in Poland. The most interesting question regarding ACTA is why do we need such a law and who want to introduce it? Whose interests should ACTA protect? My only anwser is that big companies do not want care about quality and constant development of our civilization. ACTA is important for some companies because they know, they would go bankrupt if they allow people to be creative.
How it is done in engineering?
Engineering is not so far from ACTA and leisure industry. We do not have engineering standards in most of domains. When we consider CAD/CAM software we have a few of them. Everyone has its own standards. This makes the development complicated. If you consider CAM tasks. There is no single out of box CAM software that will be versatile. You have to use CAD and CAM software from different vendors. Lack of standard is not helping you with the task of making work in those two compatible. Considering the marketing strategy of Siemens or Dessault there is no chance to produce a standard. They are too big, too wealthy and not interested in producing a break through technology.
Lack of missing open source CAD/CAM software. CAD iTunes is missing
There are several open source libraries like Open Cascade, Open NURBS etc. They are too big and the learning curve that is not good for working with them. Open Cascade is also known for some performance problems. Once you invest substantial amount of time into starting with Open Cascade there arise another problem: I want my part to be displayed within GUI. Look how many GUI libraries you have on windows and any UNIX. So you start developing GUI from scratch and loose time. So you have a second option: use whole open source CAD system. And you realize at the very beginning that you are unable to customize it properly. Their mouse interface does not work conveniently, too many buttons, too less functionality. At the end you realize that have always third option: buy CATIA or NX or any box CAD system. But this is not a solution. For instance you are developing some robotics manufacturing solution. Is it really worth buying CATIA/NX to open file, do your custom geometrical postprocessing on the file and control your attached machines? What about good GUI that will allow you for efficient work? This does not come with CATIA/NX. So none of those three options are solution to your problem. Personally I would like to hire someone who knows how the stuff is working, like me, and let him develop the software. Nonetheless we are missing good standards in which we can communicate. Introducing standards greatly facilitates development and introduces reliability. Lack of standards disallows for file exchange, visualizations standards, scene modifications etc. iTunes for CAD software is missing. CAD iTunes from which we can take out components and create new value.
Lack of missing constrained design and open source part library bundled together with CAD software.
Personally I see big potential within Grabcad like projectsm, but this is not a solution to real problems we are facing with. For today I am sure that introducing constrained design to mechanical parts, bundled together with CAD software and geometrical database will introduce a new quality into engineer’s life. Constrained design because you can easily adjust the dimensions of your mechanical part. CAD software: because software is a tool you are using to design parts. And database: to share knowledge with others. NX tries to do this philosophy with NX and Teamcenter. The only problem is that their solutions are not perfect and cost a lot of money. This prevents many start up and smaller innovative companies from further development.
Spotlight on Grabcad
CAD files are not 3ds models that we include into our game and we are done. Therefore Grabcad does not solve the problem as a whole although is great step forwards. We work with CAD, modify them and manufacture. Therefore Grabcad only as a library is too little. We need new software tools to discover the potential of Grabcad.
To summon up. Working together with CAD system that is modular and adjusted to professional needs, connected to geometrical database (mechanical parts database) and is affordable is missing in the world. We are not as innovative as we could. Big companies do not want help other grow. Wealth is killing the world’s famous world: creativity which we desire so much in every essay concerning crisis, development of civilization etc. We can get rid of them only if we introduce good standards that we will treat with respect and be stay open to other who also want to achieve a break through. Then we can get substantial improvement in our speed of work, quality and we could even expect birth revolutianary tools like it has happened with birth of UNIX OS.