Thursday, February 23, 2012

Materialized mathematics - print math expressions in 3D

The 3DPlot AutoCAD add-on utility we have released a couple of days ago can be used to "materialize" (print) math expressions describing interesting 3D surfaces. This can be used both for educational purposes and for manufacturing nice pieces of technical art.

3DPlot generates 3D mesh surfaces from any math expression of the type Z=f(X,Y) that you encode in AutoLISP. The generated surface models can be visualized in DWF, VRML or in other 3D formats. You can also smooth and thicken most of these surfaces using the AutoCAD modeling commands (MeshSmooth, Thicken) or using the 3DPthicken command. The resulting solid models can be 3D-printed directly from AutoCAD or exported to STL (stereolithography) files. STL files can be used e.g. in the free fabrication tool Autodesk 123D Make to produce cardboard models. So you can materialize your 3D math equations in multiple ways.

Here is an example of Enneper surface cut in cardboard in 123D Make (the source DWG drawing and the STL model can be downloaded from the 3DPlot homepage):

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New AutoCAD WS 1.4 with 3D, GPS and HP ePrint

Users of the mobile phones and tablets based on the Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems can now download an updated version of the mobile/cloud DWG editor - AutoCAD WS 1.4.

This free application is a DWG/DXF file viewer and editor, connected with the desktop version of AutoCAD 2012 and running on almost all OS platforms. The new version 1.4 comes with three new features:
  1. 3D - unlike the previous versions, AutoCAD WS can now display also 3D drawing entities; you can display them in a wireframe or shaded mode, navigate with pinch gestures or choose from preset view orientations
  2. GPS - you can display your current position inside the displayed DWG (e.g. a map); quite surprisingly, WS does not use the GEOGRAPHICLOCATION setting in your DWG file, you have to specify the reference point manually
  3. HP ePrint - if you have access to an HP printer connected online through the HP ePrint functionality, you can plot your drawings wherever you are, directly from AutoCAD WS (plot goes to the cloud and then to the printer/plotter in your office); besides that, WS also prints to PDF and DF files

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Localized versions of the free mobile CAD viewer - Autodesk Design Review

Autodesk has released a new version of its free mobile viewer for 2D and 3D CAD data - Autodesk Design Review Mobile 2.0. The new version of this fast and easy-to-use viewer is available in multiple languages, including Czech. The language selection is automatic.

Design Review Mobile - iPad - Czech

Autodesk Design Review allows fast interactive viewing of drawings, 3D models, and complete project books from AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit and other CAD applications (not only from Autodesk). You can not only view the data, but also review and comment the contents by adding text notes directly to the corresponding locations in the drawing. Design Review Mobile uses - similarly to its desktop version - the efficient CAD publishing format DWF, which is supported in most CAD applications (you can also install a Windows virtual printer). The DWF documents are opened for viewing on the mobile devices from the web online repository Autodesk Cloud (the last used documents can be also used off-line). They can be also saved back to the cloud, along with any comments which you can then easily sync back to the original CAD design application. And if you need also to edit your design data on the go, use another free mobile application - AutoCAD WS.

Autodesk Design Review Mobile 2.0 is currently available for Apple iPad and iPhone (iOS), a separate version for Android smartphones and tablets is in the works. Supported languages​​ are: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Hungarian, and Czech.

Design Review - 2D with markups

You can download Autodesk Design Review Mobile from the Apple App Store.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hidden gem in AutoCAD DGN file import

An interesting functionality extending the standard AutoCAD linetype mechanism is hidden (almost unnoticed) in the DGN Import command. This functionality is available since AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011, plus in all versions of the AutoCAD 2012 family. The DGN import allows to convert and use special linetypes which were otherwise unreachable in AutoCAD.

Microstation defines these complex linetypes in the .RSC files. And just these files are interpreted by AutoCAD during the DGN import -- the linetypes used in the DGN drawing are converted into special, extended AutoCAD linetype definitions. With these enhanced definitions you can use exotic linetypes which were not available so far in AutoCAD. Examples:

Lines and polylines with these linetypes behave like standard DWG entities but their extended linetype definitions do not translate back to older versions of AutoCAD, nor can be exported to .LIN files with our LinOut utility.

More information in the CAD Forum tip Unusual AutoCAD linetypes from RSC.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

So long, Vista...

After Autodesk announced the end of support for Windows Vista (only for the upcoming 2013 family), I understood that it is time to say goodbye to my good old installation of Windows Vista 64 and upgrade it to a standard Windows 7 64-bit. The 2013 versions are close enough.

If you have - like me - your system bugged with dozens of applications, you definitely don't want to reinstall them individually. Therefore, it is out of the question to perform a clean installation of Windows 7. Fortunately there is an option to do an "in-place" upgrade to Win7 - it maintains all the installation and settings from the original Vista operating system.

Here is my fresh experience from such upgrade. The whole process is very simple. From the installation DVD "Windows 7 Enterprise 64 SP1" start SETUP.EXE (as a standard Win Vista program), choose the type of installation (in-place) and then just wait. Wait a lot. I have expected the upgrade will take about two hours, after all my workstation (HP xw4600 Quad-Core 2) is no longer the youngest horse. But waiting took longer, much longer than that - the whole upgrade process eventually lasted 7 hours! Yikes! I recommend to perform the upgrade overnight -- after the initial prompts, the process is fully automatic, it does not ask for anything, reboots itself as necessary -- and you won't get nervous from its multiple apparent "hangups". The messages like "20% completed" and "40% completed" and "72% completed" can hang on screen for tens of minutes. Do not give up. And when you reach for the reset button (even this is quite safe, the upgrade will reportedly roll back to "Vista"), hold on and really do not give up. This upgrade can be simply slow.

The result of these 7 hours of hard work is exactly the same looking and same working Windows 7 operating system (see the picture), all applications running, network networking, printers printing, user settings are retained, desktop icons are in place, you will have even more free disk space (probably the old restore points were deleted). Just beware, Autodesk local licenses may be deactivated (Error 5.2.2) - it can be easily remedied by online activation, or by e-mail to the factory.

I must admit that the new system seems to behave much faster and responsive, but I do not overrate this - every OS is faster just after the installation and then gradually deteriorates ...