The first filament!

Last thursday I worked with Kees on our 3D printer. It was long overdue because I have been busy working... Until wednesday we had a machine that was moving. We could give some commands, and the machine would move to the designated coordinate.

A few weeks back I had ordered an extruder because making one ourselves would take too long. Thursday we connected it to the electronics and after some modifications in the firmware we could see the extruder nozzle heating up, we could see the temperature, and the stepper motor driving the extruder moved. We only lacked filament.

A friend of Kees had an extruder and 3mm PLA material. So with this we could try to extrude. See below the result... Next week we'll get the steps per mm filament correct and I hope we'll be able to print something then more sophisticated. We're nearly there.



There and back again :-)

Last post of this working week. I'm back home, with an arrival party meeting me at the train station on my return.

The travel from Schiphol to Varsseveld took almost longer than the trip from the hotel to Aberdeen airport. There was no service between Utrecht and Arnhem because of an accident. So that meant I had to stay in the train to 's Hertogenbosch, after that taking the train to Arnhem for the connection to Varsseveld. As my taxi driver would say: "Aye, it's absolutely mental!" (do the right intonation here).

Another phrase I liked from him: "If i'd done something wrong when I was a kid I'd get a proper bollocking! Ye know what I mean???" (We were talking about teachers being "bollocked" by parents when their kid had done something wrong instead of it being the other way around). I like this nuanced phrase.

Looking back it was a good week. I experienced good preparation from both sides pays off. Working with the Scotsmen is like working with "Achterhoekers" and "Twentenaren". No nonsense, hard working and having a laugh. Scotland is beautiful, and the taxi driver told me that if I was to be back later (not decided yet) than the country would be more green.

Now I'm going to relax and enjoy the weekend.

Before flying back

Tomorrow I'll fly back to Schiphol. I'm being picked up by Taxi at 6:30 in the morning. My flight is at 8:55. I hope to be back at home early in the afternoon.

I have had a good time here. The Scots are very friendly. At home if somebody speaks dialect, I can manage and know most of what is being said. But here, if there is a Scottish contractor or employee telling me something in Scottich (because he/she forgets I only know English) I have to tell them: "Sorry, I don't understand, could you repeat that please?". Then they understand and it gets easier for me.

This evening I talked to an Suid Afrikaanse guy. Funny to meet someone that if you speak in Dutch he can understand and if he talks Suid Afrikaans it rings a bell. I understand, but not for the full 100%. We gossiped and In the end we concluded that the Dutch and the Suid Afrikanen are very direct in dealing with others. I don't pretend to know how many other nationalities deal with themselves and us, but I think we sometimes indeed are a little too direct. So beware for the future!

That was the serious note for today. Please note that we each had a Scottish Whiskey (last one for me this week). I'm going to pack my suitcase (determine what's dirty and what's not) and look forward to tomorrow when I'll be back with Carrie and the apes.


First the thing I promised to write about: Deserts. Yesterday desert was "Sticky Toffee Pudding Served with Toffee Sauce and Butterscotch Ice Cream". Today and the day before yesterday I had "Hot Chocolate Fudge Cake with Cherries in Red Wine"... need I say more?

Today was a day that I was attending casting of grouting (cement). I did not do a lot physically today. Not disappointed about that since I am experiencing aching muscles after last nights hammering M24 bolts. I didn't know I had that much muscles in unexpected places like my toes.

I talked with Carrie, Simon and Lucas when I returned in the hotel this afternoon. Although I like doing this job/project, I am also looking forward to friday afternoon when I will be back home.

I like Scotland and the no-nonsense way around here. It's relaxing to sit in the hotel bar, eating your dinner, reading a book, listening to "old" music (Bagpipes, John Denver, the Bee-gees, the Proclaimers), drinking a Scotch Whiskey and just not having to do anything at all.

When I went to the toilet I suddenly
experienced a great cold. This could be the "Green Lady" (according to a colleague, every castle in Scotland is haunted by a Green Lady) or maybe this time of year it's just the cold of the castle. I now understand why there are so many carpets everywhere.

There are also a lot of tiny things that are different. Cars drive on the left. Which is quite unsettling if you are in the passenger seat (left) where you are used to having a steering wheel in front of you. When opening the door to my room the lock is to be turned right while turning the door handle to the left. Maybe something specific with my door, but I still haven't got used to it. Cold water on the left, instead of on the right....

Going to read some more, under blankets which do what they need to do. Keeping me warm. I have had blankets not doing their job in past hotels. Not so now... Excellent blankets.

My stay in the Hotel

After arriving monday (yesterday) in Aberdeen it took approximately 50 minutes to get from the airport to the job site and hotel. This is the hotel I am staying in. Nice??? Yessss!!! I can see the driveway when I open the curtains in the morning.

Yesterday was a long day because of the early travel. Today was a long day because a lot had to be done. Without getting into details I can say that for this installation there will be some M24 bolts that are being anchored in the ground with chemical anchors. That means drilling holes of ø28 240 mm long before putting the glass with the chemical (20 cm long) in the newly made hole. If the hole is not straight then it will break before it's meant to. Also the treaded rod M24 will put up a fight. So because they did't fit nicely we were forced to use bigger hammers. I will have aching muscles in the morning.

Now the hotel:

It's a real castle, with carpets on the floor, high rooms, stairs up- and down in the hallways. Bar with couch where you can eat. In fact, I m writing this before soup (yesterday lentils, today chicken-mushroom). Next will be (yesterday "seared breast of pheasant") "seared highland venison". I'll update on the dessert later because I haven't made a choice yet and have forgotten what I had yesterday.


On my way to Schiphol

So, here I am, in the train, travelling from Varsseveld to Schiphol. Surprised by the internet available in the train (meaning I do not have to tether to my phone).

Today was very early, leaving home at 5:15. The funny thing I noticed while sitting on the bench waiting for the train was that the entire world is enormously quit... Until approx. 5:30 when suddenly a lot of car are on the move.

This week I am going on a trip for work. I am going to help installing preparations for equipment in the vicinity of Aberdeen, Scotland. I am flying back on friday march 1st.

I am looking forward doing this. In the past I have made many trips to the south of France (Toulouse vicinity) with not always good news. Add a pretty big language barrier to this (technical french is something else compared to the "Bonjour, ça va?" french of high school) and you'll understand these trips could be frustrating.

So, now I'm on the train expecting to have a week of hard working, but in the same time having a lot of fun doing a job/assignment that (I hope) is not going to be as frustrating as the trips I made for work in the past.

I am curious to see if I have the same opinion of my trip on friday as I have today so I will try to update during the week.

Benchmark results of SolidWorks in Bootcamp and Parallels

My previous post was about how I installed SolidWorks on my MacBook Pro with Retina display. My main problem (before I bought my MacBook) was that there are no numbers for comparison between BootCamp and Parallels. Mostly it's "It runs very fast" and "The virtual machine is a little bit slower"...

I love numbers to compare so here is my setup and here are the results.

I used the following benchmark files from SolidMuse:

Situation 1: my new MacBook Pro with Retina display

  • Windows 7 Pro, 64 bit, SP1, running from BootCamp
  • 2.6 Ghz Intel Core i7
  • 8 GB Ram
  • Intel Graphics 4000 (shared) + NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, 1GB

Situation 2: Same as Situation 1 but

  • Windows 7 Pro, 64 bit, SP1 running from Parallels
  • Parallels running 4 CPU cores
  • Parallels running with 4096 MB memory
  • Parallels video memory 1 GB

Situation 3: my Workstation XW6600

  • Windows XP Pro, 64 bit, SP2
  • 2x Intel Xeon Quadcore 2.5 GHz, E5420
  • 16 GB Ram
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 4600, 768 MB


Punchholder benchmark
SolidWorks 2012 SP5.0, CRTL+Q for rebuild of model, results from feature statistics info.

Setup Rebuild # Time
1: MacBook with Bootcamp 1 57.89 s
2 60.14 s
2: MacBook with Parallels 1 69.85 s
2 74.91 s
3: HP XW6600 Workstation 1 114.61
2 119.66

Scoobie Doo Surface model benchmark
SolidWorks 2012 SP5.0, CRTL+Q for rebuild of model, results from feature statistics info.

Setup Rebuild # Time
1: MacBook with Bootcamp 1 12.70 s
2 11.86 s
2: MacBook with Parallels 1 13.91 s
2 12.78 s
3: HP XW6600 Workstation 1 22.41 s
2 22.40 s

Photoview 360 Lighter assembly benchmark
SolidWorks 2012 SP5.0, 1024x786 px, fileformet Tif, results from photo view 360 window.

Setup Good Better Best Maximum
1: MacBook with Bootcamp 19.8 s 50.8 s 1 m 55.0 s 4 m 42.9 s
2: MacBook with Parallels 11.9 s 1 m 2.0 s 2 m 20.3 s 6 m 6.3 s
3: HP XW6600 Workstation 13.0 s 1 m 3.7 s 2 m 26.3 s 6 m 0.4 s

Generally I noticed that when you run SolidWorks from your BootCamp disk inside Parallels that you do not have a very responsive display while modelling. For example it takes visual effort to draw the lines on the edges of the punch holder.

For doing real work for customers I would choose for the Bootcamp setup. Visual most attractive and fast. Only problem lies with SolidWorks itself. Though the big icons can be used in the command manager. All other icons (from menu and normal toolbars) are very small due to the incredible screen resolution. Another reason to use those keyboard shortcuts :) .

SolidWorks on a Mac

Last week my old mobile workstation laptop decided not to support me any more. I had some problems brewing, but it was still workable... However, after losing some work again I decided to invest in a new laptop.

I had my eyes on the MacBook Pro 15" with retina screen, but since I need to be able to run SolidWorks for my work (I am a self employed 3D engineer/consultant, see Luminize). I needed to be able to use SolidWorks from my future laptop-to-be. Not as before where my laptop was my main computing power because I have another workstation (big one, not mobile) to help me with the necessary CAD/FEM.

First I searched the Internet to see if there is experience with this, but it is hard to find some info on performance of SolidWorks on a Mac and the difference between Bootcamp and/or Parallels. After some reading I decided to take the plunge...

The Retina screen is absolutely fantastic. The display really is sharp as a knife, it almost makes your eyes bleed! OSX works so good and natural that while removing some files from my old laptop (I only used the MacBook for a few hours) I noticed the difference immediately. Also the flash disk is so fast that the startup from zero takes about 10-15 seconds...

But enough about this. I wanted to tell how I got SolidWorks running.

I downloaded parallels 8 and with that it installed the Windows 8 release preview automatically. I installed SolidWorks 2012 (no problems) and noticed that the display was slow in reacting. (if you hover over the front plane normally the edges show immediately, this was the case, but it was noticeably slow. I knew I would get irritated by that.) The reason for the lag is because Parallels acts as a video card, it works as an in-between, at the cost of the graphical performance. SolidWorks was setup to use "Use software OpenGL" and I wanted it to be hardware accelerating as fast as it could.

I made a backup of the Mac (DO IT, DO IT, DO IT, normally I don't, but really DO IT) before installing Bootcamp. I unknowingly made the mistake of not removing the external USB disk used for the backup when installing windows via Bootcamp. The result was that the Windows 7 installation(not Windows 8 because I need to be able to run older SolidWorks versions for some customers) failed because of the formatting of the Windows partition. Also I could not reboot to OSX... hot... cold... adrenaline... Luckily i had made the backup! Within 20 minutes I was back.

So if you have stayed reading until here, if you try this yourself, make the backup before attempting to install Windows 7 with Bootcamp and as a bonus also remove all USB devices except the USB thumb which has the Windows installation files.

Attempt 2 was successful, Windows 7 was up and running with full hardware capabilities. Installing SolidWorks went smooth. Pas de problèmes!

Booting in Windows to use SolidWorks to the max in my situation only takes 10-15 seconds before I can start modelling. Because of Bootcamp you must reboot if wou were working in OSX. I think if you look at the boot-up time versus the use of the hardware it is a good tradeoff to work from Bootcamp in these situations.

Don't be afraid to use your Mac without OSX. When you are modelling you don't need the programs that OSX offers? Don't let the excuse of email rule your (digital) life. You also have your phone or iPad for checking mail. If it is really important people can still use the phone, and checking your mail can still be done also from Windows. Or.... Do a re-boot when you go for a coffee. Good reason to press CRTL+S and save your work :) It's soooo fast you won't be annoyed by it.

The only drawback comes from SolidWorks itself. The icons in the are very, very, very small (not command manager icons, but the toolbars and menu's). I like small icons, but this is a little bit too much (or actually, too little).

Next post I will give you a performance comparison between my MacBook Pro with Windows 7 and SolidWorks 2012 + 2013 and my workstation with XP 64 Pro and SolidWorks 2012. I will use the benchmark files from SolidMuse: Punch holder, Scooby Doo Surface model and the Photoview 360 benchmark files.