found a bug with Solid Works 2010

For 90% of my product design, I use Solid Works 2010 at Pillar Product Design. It is an amazing software 3D CAD package that I have been using for nearly 10+ years. They radically changed the layout about every 5 years to keep things interesting. I recently needed to scale a 3D assembly and output an .stl file for a prototype for a client. Solid Works would not allow me to do this with-out going thru a long and confusing process. If it was not for the quality assistance of the Hawkridge technical help, I would have been spinning my wheels for sometime. I guess the annual maintenance fee is worth something.

So this is the bug that I discovered, and I hope that this blog will assist other users in the future. So if you want to scale and output and assembly file to an .stl this is the steps:
1) open the assembly file.
2) save it as a .prt file, give it a unique name so you don’t modify your original.
3) check the geometry to save check boxes at the bottom and check all components
4) Save file.
5) Close assembly
6) Open .prt file
7) hit the scale icon or insert, feature, scale
8) Open the solid bodies folder
9) highlight all the solid bodies to be scaled
10) add your scale factor
11) select scale around origin
12) hit the green check
13) file save as .stl

It sounds like this has been an issue for Solidworks for sometime and they are supposedly fixing this bug and making a simpler work around for 2011. At least that is what the technical support guy communicated to me.

Gearing up for the ski season

Since we basically had one of the most weakest summer that I can remember, I have decided to move on to the snowboard and ski season. I just ordered my season pass last week and now I am looking into purchasing a new avalanche beacon. As you may or may not know there are a lot if options out there. I have decided to go with the BCA tracker DTS beacon and transceiver. I am replacing my baby blue 1990’s ortovox transceiver that only worked on 3 channels.  The BCA is a well know fairly high quality brand. It is interesting that you can buy and transceiver like the Ortovox for around $40 to 50 used  or the BCA for $250 to 400.

I guess my take on it is what is your life worth if you get buried or covered up in an avalanche or tree well? When be buried, minutes count it best to have a tool that can find and locate individuals quickly. I plan on doing a lot of BC this year( at least every Saturday) in the Alpine Lake Wilderness area. Lots of amazing access to fairly large peaks via snow shoeing & sleds. I have been spotting peaks and access to them on my dirt bike all summer. When going into the back country if it is at a ski resort or the real deal I always carry my beacon to save my bacon. Normally, if I am riding with friends their is at least one other individual wearing a peep. Over the years I found the best things is really looking at the snow conditions, slope and always have an exit strategy. Also brushing up and not getting rusty on you peep skills ever few months is also good practice. Even with all this you can still find yourself in a bad position.  

Now it is time to strengthen the core, do some Broga and get some of those un-comfortable back breaking crunchers in.

Top Ten Reason for Product Release Failure

Pillar Product Design recently attended the local PDMA (product development management association) seminar on Mercer Island, WA earlier this week. It was presented by 2 very talented individuals who have a large and extensive back ground in developing products for fortune 100 corporations like IBM, Boeing, Motorola.

An interesting statistic that I pulled from the meeting was that in the US alone corporations spend over 260 billion in developing new products. On average a large size corporation will have roughly 3000 unique ideas on an annual basis. Of that 3000 ideas 100 will be explored. Of that 100 ideas explored 10 products will be fully developed. Of the 10 products fully developed 2 products will make it to the actual market. This filtration really pushes the innovation envelop to make sure that the product is actually an improvement and has a definite value proposition.

The 10 causes for in-effective launches for products are as followed:
1) build a better mouse trap. Does your product stand out from other products?
2) value and value proposition not understood by both the developer and the end consumer.
3) Product escape. Product idea is released to the public early before the designated launch.
4) Poor messaging or product positioning.
5) Weak product management. UN-realistic delivery goals and profit expectations.
6) Didn’t understand the market.
7) Not a whole product. Missed opportunities to delivery a fully thought out product.
8) Weak different from other similar product already on the market. Did not test against real world competition.
9) Poor or weak product distribution channels.
10) Didn’t listen to end customers. Biased early product development focus group flaws.

Pillar Product Design business spot light with West Seattle Junction Association

Pillar Product Design recently was interviewed by the West Seattle Junction Association and will be on their very popular web site for the next 4 weeks. This is a wonderful opportunity for locall Junction based Wests Seattle businesses to let the greater Seattle area know about their business, who they are and the services they provide. Having the Pillar Design studio in downtown West Seattle has really been an amazing opportunity. There is a wonderful sense of community on our little island across the bridge. Down town West Seattle has it’s own pace and energy. I often think of it as much slower paced than the rest of the city of Seattle. It is somewhere in-between not as slow paced as Vashon, but not as fast as Bell Town or Wallingford, Fremont ect.

The details of the interview can be viewed at

Practical Product Development Practices

At our Seattle, WA. based design studio Pillar Product Design we use practical sensible product development practices when working with our clients. The rule of thumb has always been if your client does not need don’t do or offer it. Sometimes your client is not sure what they need, so it is very important to sit down with he, she or them and open up detailed dialog on how they plan to market and distribute their new idea. Based off of what they need will give you a perfect action plan on what they need. It is that simple. Of course if your client is not sure how they plan on doing the distribution, marketing and or selling of their product, then it is often good to come up with a list of unknowns versus known and what do a complete risk analysis of moving forward with resources in a given direction. At the end of the day it is clear communication and the action plan that you have pitched to your client that you believe is best for the development of their new product.

There are many steps and pieces to product development that can be critical and many that will have little of no impact to the launch or development of the of a specific product. It is essential that your client communicates as clearly as possible what the end game plan is to create a list of the deliverable they are specifically looking for and a time- line for completion.