Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Autodesk 360 mobile app - view any CAD file in the cloud

With the recently released (or rather "re-released", see below) mobile application Autodesk 360 you can interactively view and discuss virtually any 2D and 3D CAD format file on the screen of your iPad or iPhone.

The "Autodesk 360" cloud service offers many useful CAD functions and cloud tools, and much more new enhancements are planned for coming months (see our blog post). Functions of the new, project-based Autodesk 360, including the interactive viewer of any of the 60 different CAD formats, are available through a web browser. But there were performance limits imposed by mobile web browsers like Safari or Chrome - especially WebGL limits. The new mobile application Autodesk 360 circumvents these limits by accessing the cloud data and functions directly, not through a mobile web browser. Autodesk 360 Mobile is currently available for iOS only - i.e. for iPads and iPhones (Android version is planned).

Autodesk 360 on an iPad:


And Autodesk 360 in a desktop web browser:


Autodesk 360 allows to view even huge 3D and 2D designs and tracks what's happening on your projects. Through the app, you will be able to connect and collaborate with your teams, from wherever your work takes you. All the data is accessible and easily viewable in a wide variety of formats. Autodesk 360 enables both online and offline workflows - it will help you become more productive by dramatically improving the way you design, visualize, simulate, and share your work.

Some of the CAD formats supported in Autodesk 360: AutoCAD, Inventor, Fusion 360, Revit, Navisworks, SolidWorks, CATIA or generic file formats like PDF, DWF/DWFX, STL, STEP, IGES, OBJ, SAT and much more.

You can download the new Autodesk 360 (free) from iTunes.

PS:
Although the name "Autodesk 360" is appropriate for such tool, there already was an application called "Autodesk 360" (aka "Design Review Mobile"). This app is still available for Android. So don't be confused by the version numbering - in fact "Autodesk 360 V1.0 for iOS" is a brand new tool with much more functions than the "previous" version 3.x of the older app named "Autodesk 360".

Monday, June 2, 2014

Nastran enhancement for Autodesk Simulation Mechanical 2015

Very shortly after the announcement of the NEi NASTRAN acquisition, Autodesk has added this newly acquired technology to its standard product offering. Subscription customers of Autodesk Simulation Mechanical 2015 can now download a "product enhancement" from their Subscription Center account.

This download adds the Autodesk Nastran industry proven solver to Simulation Mechanical 2015, improving the accuracy and robustness of the simulation process.


What's new in the enhanced Simulation Mechanical:
  • Integrated Autodesk Nastran Solver
  • Autodesk Nastran Editor for expanded workflows and results
  • New meshing and selection options
  • Surface force distribution enhancement for loads
  • Browser usability improvements

The four Nastran-supported analysis types are:
  • Static Stress with Linear Material Models
  • Natural Frequency (Modal)
  • Critical Buckling Load
  • Steady-state Heat Transfer and Thermal Stress

Product enhancement functionality in a Sim TV video:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Autodesk 360 cloud - what's next?


Designers and engineers increasingly collaborate in extended teams on complex projects involving different disciplines - so they need to access current project data anytime, anywhere, on any device. A key aspect is the need to keep track of all changes and activities around the project, in one place. One of important requirements is also the availability of CAD data for non-technical users, or transfer of performance-intensive tasks to the cloud. All these benefits are offered in the cloud service Autodesk 360. What is the nearest future of Autodesk 360? This web application becomes a broad platform integrating various web services by Autodesk, enabling feature-rich online collaboration, creation and management of CAD data.


Within teams, you will probably encounter different types of CAD applications. Therefore, it is important to support multiple types of the most common CAD ​​formats. The existing version of Autodesk 360 supports the formats DWG, DXF, Inventor, Fusion, ATF, Navisworks, Revit, SIM360, but soon also other "foreign" CAD formats will be added, such as CATIA, Pro/E or Solidworks (already fully supported in Autodesk Fusion 360). You can then view this data interactively in your web browser, display the structure of the model, its exploded views, etc.


Especially for large projects, the search function is very important - Autodesk 360 supports "deep search", detailed search through projects or contexts, including the ability to search the contents of supported CAD files (components, texts). The forthcoming semantic search function then creates searchable links and relations between project data - what project is it? who designed it? who commented on it? what is it linked to and where is it used? who and when made any changes?:


The project management functionality allows you to create and organize tasks and milestones for workflows in the current project and team. You can also follow progress of the project, including notifications of critical situations.


Autodesk 360 will support (like other Autodesk web services) federated data - your CAD data can be physically stored in another cloud according your preferences - technical, enterprise or legal - e.g. in Dropbox, Box, Google, Sharepoint etc.

You are not limited to your desktop, you can also use any mobile device in the field or on the site to access project data from Autodesk 360, display supported types of CAD data, team members can comment on the designs, search project data, use project schedules, tasks and milestones. You can e.g. shoot photos with your mobile phone, place them directly into a project and use the ReCap 360 module to generate 3D models.


The nearest future

The new Autodesk 360 is already available in a form of a technological preview for invited users (since May 22nd for anyone on www.autodesk360.com, log-in on the bottom), and it is also integrated in the current version of the 3D editor Autodesk Fusion 360. The existing (old) features of Autodesk 360 (internally called "Nitrous") will continue to be available for free. The new, enhanced Autodesk 360 will be available as a commercial service (starting end of June/beginning of July).

The existing Autodesk 360 cloud service supports individual files - can share them, view them. In contrast, the new, upcoming version offers online collaboration not only for documents, but for entire projects. It identifies relevant associated documents (xrefs, assembly components), offers the aforementioned team functions, time-scheduling functions, team user management, supports various types of CAD data formats, integrates other Autodesk's cloud services (render 360, Fusion 360, Sim 360, CAM 360, ReCap 360, PLM 360, Infraworks 360), plus there is a mobile version.

Roadmap of new releases of Autodesk 360:
  • May 2014 - integration of Rendering and Showcase 360
  • June 2014 - launch of the commercial version
  • July 2014 - integration of ReCap 360 and the cloud-based Revit Server
  • August 2014 - integration of PLM 360
  • December 2014 - new version for AU2014

The above mentioned planned new features include a unified universal viewer for large 3D CAD data (LMV - large model viewer); the "deep search" function - search through projects and through the contents of CAD data; project management (milestones, tasks); integration with Design Feed available in desktop applications; cloud API. So in the coming weeks and months we can look forward to exciting new tools that open interesting possibilities for easy collaboration on CAD ​​projects.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Autodesk - the NASTRAN acquisition


Autodesk announced its own 3D printer yesterday and today comes with new surprise - acquires certain assets of NEi Software (formerly Noran Engineering), including its main product, the well known NEi NASTRAN solver. NASTRAN (NAsa STructural ANalysis) is a highly acclaimed tool for analysis of 3D models based on the finite element method (FEA). This solver is also used in other CAE applications (e.g. Femap). The roots of NASTRAN date back the 60s when it was developed for space agency NASA. There are several offshoots of this software (FTC-induced clones in 2002). Calculations from NASTRAN are used today not only in the space program (e.g. for SpaceShipOne), but also for demanding "mundane" behavioral analysis of 3D models - linear and nonlinear analysis, dynamic simulations.

It can be expected that NASTRAN will complement the existing Autodesk simulation products. The desktop- and cloud-based CAE tools by Autodesk are being developed on the technologies derived primarily from acquisitions completed in recent years - such as Algor, Moldflow, CFdesign (Blue Ridge Numerics) or Firehole Composites.

The latest NASTRAN acquisition confirms that Autodesk is very serious in the simulation business.

(via schnitgercorp.com)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Autodesk Memento copes with very large mesh models

Autodesk just launched a new update of Project Memento, a technology preview Windows application with tools for converting photos and scans into high quality 3D mesh, plus powerful tools for mesh clean up, fixing and optimizing mesh models for further use - e.g. CAD or 3D print. See the announcement on Shaan Hurley's blog.


We have tested the new version of Memento 1.0.8.0 on a large model of "baby alien" from our last year's design contest Hedgehog in cage. The winner, the "Alien" model (with its cage/nest) was designed in 3ds Max and this organic shape is very detailed. Its source .max file has about 700MB, the exported .obj file is a hefty 1.6GB giant. Full detailed STL print file is also over 1GB, and thus many 3D print engines had problems handling it. It was also not easy to view or simplify this large mesh in any 3D software.

Loading this OBJ or STL model into Memento was very fast, about 2:20 min. on a plain home PC with just an integrated graphics card. The model then rotated and zoomed in real time. Individual faces could be easily selected. The native .rcm file has 700MB and it loads instantaneously(!) in Memento. Subsequent OBJ re-export of this model with 50% decimation (simplification) took about 4 minutes (there was not any visible degradation on this 50%-smaller model). You can 3D print on different 3D printers directly from Memento.

Alien OBJ (1.6GB) loaded in Memento

see the details of the model

So if you need to heal, process or 3D print a large mesh model (scanned or modelled), Memento is definitely worth trying.

See Project Memento on Autodesk Beta site.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stereoscopic viewing of 3D models in Autodesk 360 cloud

If you use a graphics card nVidia Quadro (or other graphics card supporting stereoscopic display) in your computer, you can three-dimensionally view your 3D CAD models stored in the Autodesk 360 cloud. There is no need to pre-process the CAD models nor to install any special viewing software, a standard web viewing functionality of the cloud is used. The models are displayed stereoscopically, with any 3D viewing technology supported by your graphics card.

You need to first setup the stereoscopic mode on your graphics card. Install the latest version of the graphics card driver (full install). On nVidia cards then run the "NVIDIA Control Panel" and in it the task "Set up stereoscopic 3D".


The initial setup will launch the "Setup wizard" where you can choose the required display technology for 3D viewing. If you have no special 3D hardware (glasses), you can use plain paper red-cyan stereoscopic glasses - then use the option "Discover Glasses".


After this initial setup check the option "Enable stereoscopic 3D". This will enable 3D display in games but also in the Google Chrome web browser. Now if you login to your Autodesk 360 account with this browser and if you start a standard full preview of a 3D model from the uploaded documents, the interactive viewer will offer an anaglyph (or other selected) stereo view:



You can rotate/orbit your 3D model and enjoy the 3D experience. Please note the quality of 3D viewing can be sometimes less than ideal - this is not a functionality of the cloud itself but rather a local functionality of Google Chrome and the nVidia driver. Not all cloud-supported (viewable) 3D formats seem to invoke this 3D display mode.

See also other options for stereoscopic 3D display of CAD data - Anaglyph app and www.cadstudio.cz/anaglyf

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fibers - a small technical change in AutoCAD 2015

You have probably NOT noticed a small technical change in the latest AutoCAD 2015. This change is more important for programmers but it has also some consequences for normal AutoCAD users.

AutoCAD (at least its Windows versions) has traditionally used so called "fibers", an old Windows multitasking technology for switching contexts and threads. This allowed AutoCAD to switch drawings (documents in Windows terms) transparently in a middle of a command, without interrupting it. You could start a polyline in one drawing, switch to a different drawing opened in the same AutoCAD session, draw something there, and then return back to the original drawing to continue with the original polyline.

This is maybe a nice feature but it was not used much. And first of all it created major technical obstacles in debugging add-on applications, especially modern .NET and ObjectARX plugins, as Windows do not fully support this fibers technology anymore. See programming details on ADN DevBlog. Our programmers do like this change.

So since AutoCAD 2015, switching MDI context (switching to another opened drawing tab) now effectively means interrupting the active command - like pressing ESC. Do not confuse this with switching viewports in layouts - you can still use this type of "in-DWG" context switching in AutoCAD 2015.

There won't be many mourners at this funeral...