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Is Solidworks for Education usable for open source design?

Question asked by Dale Mahalko on Feb 20, 2015
Latest reply on Feb 25, 2015 by Dale Mahalko

This is a license usage question for the lawyer types: Is Solidworks for Education compatible with open source engineering?


I want to explore construction of a ridiculously ambitious virtual reality haptic interface design project which I have no hope of ever making any profit from, and which I don't have all the necessary technical knowledge to complete on my own. The prototype hardware will cost me probably $25,000, trying to use as inexpensive of a design as possible.


I'm just a public school tech support employee, so I don't have much money to play with. I am generally expecting that I'm going to have to forget about trying to patent anything, and just release it all under the Creative Commons "CC-by-NC" license ( Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States — CC BY-NC 3.0 US ) to try to get other people interested in the design and to participate in the project.


I want to do mechanical design and force simulations with Solidworks before spending any money on actual hardware.  Since I work at a public school, I have already access to Solidworks through the school's technical education department.




Project summary. So I'm starting off modeling how to make a keychain hanger? Maybe some coin holders? Nah.


I want to see wearable full-body powered exoskeletons developed as a virtual reality haptic force-feedback interface, but nothing like it currently exists as far as I can tell. This is as close to "the Matrix" without implanting electrodes in the human body.


- X-Y-Z force feedback motion platform approximately 15ft tall/wide/long

- 360-degree rotation pitch/yaw/roll cage attached to the motion platform

- Powered exoskeleton robot suspended in midair in the center of the motion platform

- A human is strapped to the robot and suspended in the motion platform

- The human wears a helmet containing microphone, headphones, and stereoscopic vision

- (There's more to it than this, but I am generalizing.)


The robot exoskeleton does not enhance the human motion but instead resists it and moves against the wearer to simulate contact with simulated virtual 3D objects and surfaces. Its primary goal is to just suspend its own weight so it appears weightless and free of inertia to the wearer.


Limb positions of the robot, and the angles of the rotation platform are fed to a computer running a physics simulation and virtual 3D space. Forces in the simulated physical space are sent to the motion platform and the robot.


Throwing a heavy virtual object against the wearer will cause the robot to simulate the limb motion of being impacted and the wearer being knocked backwards off their feet. The rotation platform rotates the entire exoskeleton to simulate falling backward, followed by the entire motion platform suddenly jerking upward to simulate the force of falling backward onto the ground. The motion platform then slowly drifts back towards the center to simulate the next impact, while the rotation platform holds the wearer in a prone position laying on the virtual ground.


The ultimate goal is to build multiple of these and network them together so that people can physically interact from a distance within a shared 3D virtual world.




Much of this will require professional multidisciplinary work generally described as "Mechatronics" by experts in fields of mechanical engineering, machine design, hydraulics / pneumatics, electromechanics, programming, physics engines, and 3D modeling.


I have little hope of accomplishing all this myself, so my goal is to focus on the core mechanical design components and leave the computer interfacing, physics simulation, and force-feedback implementation issues for later. One of the goals of making this open-source is to possibly attract interest and participation from other experts who can help with the design.


Although I am not a professional mechanical engineer, I am very aware of the technical design issues. I believe I have a found novel solution to designing a very low-cost, compact, and flexible exoskeleton that can be easily adapted to many different sized people. I have studied the topic extensively and wrote and cited about 90% of the "Limitations and design issues" section of the Wikipedia article on Powered Exoskeletons ( Powered exoskeleton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ).  I have also written about this previously back in 2009 ( Dale's Data Dump: Exosuit as a VR/3D haptic interface )



So, is working on this in a public open-source manner compatible with the Solidworks for Education license, or do I need to spend $10,000 of my own money on the commercial version of Solidworks Professional, to be able to do actuator motion and design strength modeling studies?