Monday, August 24, 2015

Shadow cube - 3D model of C-A-D

Shadow cubes are an interesting design challenge, checking your imagination and your design skills in the 3D CAD software of your choice. The goal is to design a 3D model, that casts three different letters as a shadow in the individual orthographic views (top, side, front - X, Y, Z). So e.g. "C" in the top view, "A" in the side view and "D" in the front view. Start your Inventor, Fusion 360 or 123D Design and test yourself designing such model for an arbitrary combination of 3 letters. Be warned, some combinations are very difficult.

If you dare to endanger your own Karma by an innocent cheat, you can seek help through a useful tool, the programmers CAD modeler OpenSCAD. In this application, enter the following script and generate the 3D model by pressing F6.

// podle: UlrichB1


S=10; // size in mm

// "C" "A" "D" - modelled letters

intersection() {
 M("A", S); // "A"
 translate([0, S, 0])rotate([90, 0, 0]) M("D", S); // "D"
 translate([-S/2, S/2, 0])rotate([90, 0, 90])M("C", S); // "C"

 module M(t,s) {
 resize([s, s, s])linear_extrude(1) text(t, halign="center", font="Raavi:style=Bold");

Then you can export your model e.g. to the STL format - for 3D print or for further processing in another CAD application. If you want to get it into AutoCAD, you can use the conversion service STL2DWG. A sample AutoCAD model can be downloaded from the CAD/BIM block library, or viewed interactively through the online viewer A360:

The model in Fusion 360:

via Instructables and InventorGuru

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Autodesk Inventor on Citrix with accelerated graphics? Why not?

Application virtualization and the application publishing technology for intranet and internet users is already available for a long time, but it has been limited so far rather for office applications for performance reasons.

Hardware and software vendors now offer technologies allowing to access substantial graphical performance - yesterday's main limitation - which opens virtualization also for most demanding applications like CAD (or games). Autodesk also officially supports running its CAD software applications on virtualization platforms, specifically on Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop (there is a preferred partnership between Autodesk and Citrix). The list of supported applications and their system requirements can be found here.

Technical background
The single requirement on the side of Autodesk CAD software is to own a classic network license (NLM) - former requirements for a special Citrix license have been lifted since version 2014. On the Citrix virtualization server side, the key component today is the HDX 3D Pro technology, offering a set of graphics acceleration technologies like Direct 3D (used by Inventor), OpenGL or CUDA. These technologies allow to set profiles assigned to individual users in 3 levels, so that precious graphical performance is available exactly there where it is needed. In the highest, third level, suitable also for demanding CAD applications, the maximum graphical performance, or even direct access to the graphics card is available. This profile also supports 3D mice (controllers) often used by designers for easier control of 3D scenes. The hardware-level key component is a graphics card based on the nVidia Grid technology. Which type of card to choose from this type series? This decision depends on the expected load and application type. You can estimate the requirements from the following table:

What are the benefits of this scenario and when to consider it?

  • Workstation purchase costs - you don't need to invest in multiple expensive workstations
  • Service and maintenance - internal or external IT staff does not need to service this local hardware
  • Access from anywhere - CAD tools are available not only on-site but also remotely - designers can work from home
  • Multiplatform access – the client access works not only from Windows, but on any platform with Citrix XenApp clients (Android and iOS tablets, Linux and Apple computers)

We know how
CAD Studio in cooperation with AutoCont is ready to implement this platform at their customers.

The real customer experience with Autodesk Inventor can be assessed from the attached videos – comparing always the same task first on a standard mobile workstation and then in a virtualized Inventor session:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Autodesk Stingray - architectural visualizations in real-time

CAD Studio is a member of Autodesk AEC Blogger Council and so it can bring you exclusive information about upcoming Autodesk products. On August 19th, a new product will be released for attractive 3D visualizations generated in real-time - Autodesk Stingray.

Autodesk Stingray is originally a gaming engine, coming from the Autodesk's last year acquisition of the Bitsquid technology. It is now used by Autodesk not only for gaming applications but also for architectural visualizations. Stingray is linked with Autodesk Revit and 3ds Max. With these tools you can create interactive models of interiors and exteriors, which can be viewed by customers from any view in fully rendered style - on a PC, on mobile devices and through 3D glasses for virtual reality - Oculus Rift.

Stingray is not a classical plug-n-play application but rather a set of Windows tools for creating interactive visualizations. You can control the scene behaviour either by interactive tools or by the programming scripting language Lua. This application will be available through Desktop Subscription (rental, for 30$/month or 240$/year). Revit, or Revit linked with 3ds Max allows to make fixed rendered views and animations, which you can hand over to your customers. But with Stingray you can hand over models of the same scene in a similar quality, and this scene can be walked through and displayed from any view choosen by your customer. The LiveLink function will update the Stingray view on any change of the BIM model.

Using Stingray:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Google Trends - is Revit more popular than ArchiCAD?

It is like taking large scale internet polls on arbitrary themes - Google Trends uses historical search data (since 2004) to measure popularity of a given keyword, how often are people searching for that particular term, worldwide or in a specified region. The Google Trends service was updated last week to include real-time, minute-by-minute trending data from more than 100 billion searches that take place on Google every month.

Try any theme you like and enter one or more keywords related to this theme to see how is it trending among other people in the whole world. Watch big data at work. Just pay attention to the language you use and filter out noise-words by selecting the appropriate category (e.g. "Inventor" as software vs. "inventors" in science).

So let's try to compare popularity of the BIM software Autodesk Revit vs. ArchiCAD (last 5 years, category: software):

Or the 3D CAD modelers Autodesk Inventor vs. SolidWorks (last 5 years, category: CAD/CAM):

Or a more complex dogfight - how the recent popular buzzwords in CAD and IT are trending - BIM vs. IoT vs. 3D printer vs. big data vs. PLM (since 2004, category: computers & electronics):,IoT,3D+printer,big+data,PLM&cat=0-5

The results are pretty objective due to the large number of "voters". Power to the people...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Improved "AnyCAD" viewer - Autodesk A360

The weekend update of Autodesk's project management application - A360 Team - brought several bug fixes, easier changes of e-mail addresses or more detailed notifications of project changes. But it also brings a useful new feature in the web 3D viewer.

The CAD viewer embedded in A360 Team can handle virtually any CAD format. Now it supports also interactive sections on 3D models. Just click on the section icon in the viewer bottom toolbar and choose a X-Y-Z section plane or a section box to cut your model. Use the displayed color arrows to drag the required position and rotation of the section plane. The viewer will automatically add hatches for section areas cutting the model mass. You can still interactively orbit and zoom the cut model - so you can easily peek inside large assemblies.

Leaked images promise also one new function of the A360 Viewer to be relased shortly - measuring on 3D models.

DWG is of course one of the main CAD formats supported by the cloud-based A360 Viewer. But it handles not only AutoCAD drawings but also DWG projects containing special AEC objects from AutoCAD Civil 3D, Plant 3D or AutoCAD Architecture. Even these projects can be viewed anywhere, without installing any viewing software. It is not only about viewing, A360 Viewer offers concurrent online team discussions on the model, accessing its properties, displays structure of model, explodes assemblies, searches inside the model, etc. All of this just with your internet browser.

live model:

You can use the free A360 Viewer either as a pure unbundled viewer - see, or as a part of the cloud storage service Autodesk A360 Drive, or as a part of the project management and team collaboration service Autodesk A360 Team. Try yourself viewing of CAD data in almost any file format - more than 70 formats are supported. A360 Viewer works in all web browsers supporting HTML5/WebGL - e.g. Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari. A360 can be used also on mobile devices (as an app or in some mobile web browsers).

The next new feature relates to the mobile version of A360 - "A360 Mobile". This free app for tablets and smartphones running on Android or Apple iOS can now connect also to other cloud services so you can work with CAD data stored e.g. on Dropbox, OneDrive and others. In this way, you can also use your mobile device to access data (2D, 3D, office) in your Autodesk Buzzsaw projects. Just specify your ProjectPoint credentials.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Autodesk Print Studio - 3D printing not only from Inventor

One of the new functions in Inventor 2016 and Inventor LT 2016 is the direct 3D print environment. Any created or associated model from other CAD formats can be printed from Inventor on a connected 3D printer, or a STL file can be generated for a custom 3D print service. You can modify - independently on the editing of the original model - the orientation and placement of the model before you print it, or you can split the model to multiple printable parts. An auxiliar geometry of the selected printer is created in the browser tree.

Besides the direct 3D printing, you can also forward your model through the ribbon function to the Autodesk Print Studio application. You have to install it before its first usage from the offered link. Print Studio is a part of the 3D print platform Autodesk Spark, which contains not only software componens for 3D printing but also a reference device - the 3D printer Autodesk Ember. The Spark Server (on port http://localhost:9998) is installed with the Print Studio application, so other print jobs can be directed through it.

In the Print Studio application, you can select the type of 3D printer, print material, precision, types of supports and detailed parameters of print layers (time, velocity, geometry...). The print preparation functions allow to check and fix or cleanup model geometry (holes), place the supports manually or automatically, set exact size, placement and rotation of the model of the 3D printer bed. You can also export the individual print layer slices as a series of PNG images. The settings combinations can be stored as print profiles.

You can also use Autodesk Print Studio separately, to preprocess any STL or ONJ file before printing. So you can e.g. load a STL file (parametric surface Enneper from 3DPlot) and add automatic supports:

You can also download the free Autodesk Print Studio from

Sunday, March 22, 2015

AutoCAD 2016 - a zero day localization

Good job, Autodesk! Users of older versions of Autodesk's CAD products were used to several weeks- or even several months- delay between the FCS release of the original English version and the release of a localized version. Despite the fact that this delay was shortening in last few releases, nobody has expected - neither us who are participating on the Czech localizations - that this delay will be finally just about 8 hours. All 14 language localizations of AutoCAD has been released the same day - i.e. AutoCAD 2016 in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian.

All subscribers can now download the released AutoCAD 2016 (and also AutoCAD LT 2016, AutoCAD Mechanical 2016, AutoCAD Architecture 2016, AutoCAD MEP 2016, AutoCAD Electrical 2016 or Vault Basic 2016) from their accounts on the Subscription Center, resp. now on tne new "Autodesk Accounts" portal (and also as Trials). All versions are available since March 20th. So if you are an AutoCAD user with active Maintenance Subscription or Desktop Subscription (rental), download the latest "2016" version from Autodesk Account in your favourite language. You can also download the English version plus the appropriate Language Pack (add-on localization) and run AutoCAD in multiple languages.

You can find the download link on the page "Products and Services" - look up "AutoCAD" in the product list and on the version "2016", click on the "Install" link. In the "Install now" dialog, choose the preferred language in the "Language" list and click on the "Install now" button.

Please note that the method "Install now" is the fastest way of download and installation (downloads only those components neccessary for the particular PC), but it may collide with some company firewalls (see tips on In this case, use alternative download methods available through the link "More actions" on the right side.

If your account does not list AutoCAD 2016, your subscription is probably not active (pending renewal), or the product download is available for your Subscription Manager only.

The overview of new features in AutoCAD 2016 (including the new render, smart dimensioning, PDF enhancements, smooth graphics, point cloud geometry, sysvar monitoring, Navisworks/BIM360 coordination, etc.) can be found in the AutoCAD 2016 Preview Guide (PDF) or in the article "AutoCAD 2016 - whats new?" (in Czech). All new commands and variables are listed on