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Live from AU2008: Day 2: WOW

Published 03 December 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: autodesk, technical publications, technical illustrations, sketching tech preview, au2008

Yesterday I showed you some pics from the keynote sessions at Autodesk University. Today I’ve got some really grainy, shakey* videos of the new technology that the company showed off during the Manufacturing specific Keynote this very morning.

#1: This stuff looks absolutely incredible. Honestly. I sat there, open mouthed, in shear, awe of what this product looks to be shaping up into. It hasn’t got a name, there’s no confirmed release date. But this HAS to come to market. Things to look out for are the slick sketching interface for concept work, the way curves are accurate, how you can set up mirror planes, deform portions of sketches. The refinement interface method for curve sketching is amazing as is how it interprets view, your input and creates 3D networks. And the last point. It’s running on a Mac. Natively. I think Autodesk just made the best decision they’ve made in many many years.

#2: Next up is the ‘possible’ future Inventor user interface. Things to look out for are the new UI, the direct editing of geometry, the marking/radial menus. Things are shaping up nicely from first looks. There’s going to be a tech preview available soon - more details @

#3: Finally, some forthcoming technology for creating Technical Illustrations and Publications directly within Inventor. Natively in the interface, no external applications, set-up explodes, all that good stuff and create the view/presentation style you want. Then publish it, either statically as images or digitally and interactively.

*come on, I’ve been in Las Vegas since Sunday peeps

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AU2008: Future Tech and the next Inventor UI?

Published 02 December 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: simulation, autodesk, inventor, autodesk university, user interaction, future technology, anlaysis

Experts, Like you - AU2008’s strap line - loving the branding scheme.

Autodesk are hosting their huge, annual user event at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas this week. As with all such events, things kick off with Keynotes from the executives and a special guest. For AU2008, this meant CEO Carl Bass, CTO (that’s Chief Technical Officer to you, punk) took the stage with Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO. Kelley gave a very foreshorten speech based on his book, “the Ten Faces of Innovation”, combined with Bass’ empassioned whistlestop tour through how Autodesk products are being used to enable innovative design, meant that Jeff Kowalski took the stage to show off some of the future technology that the company is working on. Among the many things shown, a few things lept out.

For those Inventor users out there, a chunk of modelling technology was shown that ‘might’ be the future look and feel of Inventor - the video shown was cropped out so you can’t tell what the application was, but it’s pretty clear where this is headed.

What we can see here is a stripped back ui, a feature tree that’s integrated into the modelling window and some telling geometry manipulation. Whether its Direct Editing, Sync Tech, the 3D design world is going ape for the ability to directly manipulate geometry - this shows this working inside an Autodesk product - an intriguing thought.

Here you can see Marking Menu (something that Alias mastered years ago) being used to extend the operations available at the cursor, on the model and ready to go when you need them.

Secondly, Kowalski offering the thought that we should not think about what we can do with the computing technology now available (which he stated is currently being vastly unused due to legacy code issues across the IT industry). This image shows a concept of having a multi-core workstation or perahps across a cloud, running multiple simulation analyses. What’s displayed appears to be a chart showing results from design optimisation runs, displayed as a strength vs. weight chart, with live previews of FEA results.

The last was something I thought was very cool indeed. It showed a very sparse sketching interface, with tools that interpret your inputs to create not only explicit sketch strokes, but also to create smooth splines. That’s impressive alone, but the demo went further to show how that same workflow and data could then be flipped into a 3D environment and the same sketching-style inputs could be used to generate surfaces (we don’t have an image of that just yet). Looks a lot like this:

ILoveSketch from Seok-Hyung Bae on Vimeo.

Final thing isn’t particularly new (SolidWorks did it a while ago), and the idea of online rapid prototype order certainly isn’t, but Autodesk has signed up with Z Corp (who in turn have created the Zprint service in partnership with and Stratasys (presumably using its RedEye bureau to enable print and delivery)to offer a direct link between AutoCAD and Rapid Prototyping service providers. Available from a File/Menu pick, the tools convert your 3D AutoCAD data to STL and communicate it with the chosen vendor.

This whole bike was built on Stratasys’s FDM machines

Details are sketchy at the moment, but its due to be delivered with the next Bonus Pack (the goodies provided to Subscription customers). No word yet of whether or not this is going to roll out to Inventor and Revit, but its a smart move, for both Autodesk and the service providers involved.

NOTE: Autodesk went to great lengths to ensure that we all understood that what’s shown here is based on technology in development and maybe not even make it to final products and that attendees shouldn’t base purchasing decisions on the back of what was shown. And you should do the same.

But having watched this, it would be a damn shame if it doesn’t.

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Modelling moves into the mainstream

Published 28 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: shapeways, philips, ponoko

Online open 3D print site Shapeways has been around for a few months now, but has now added its own Creator engine, allowing anyone to go online to design, model and print.

The latest step towards making 3D design more mainstream, Shapeways, the offspring of Philips Research sponsoring bills itself as ‘the next generation of consumer co-creation’. It joins a number of sites, including the impressive laser-cutting based Ponoko, that offer anyone the chance to grab their mouse and create anything onscreen to be built and shipped to them.

CMO of Shapeway Jochem de Boer, said:“In today’s world, consumers are universally less and less satisfied with the choice that the usual shops offer. Instead, they are looking for ways to reflect their personal identity in the objects that they choose to have around them.”

The sites gallery shows this clearly, with the greatest uptake beginning to produce seasonal items; Christmas Tree decorations, Nativity scene candle holders and snowmen ornaments hoard the pages and fill the niche of the personal gift, with the benefit of having someone else make it and having a 10-day shipping period.

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3D design battled out to the death*

Published 27 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: autodesk, autodesk university, cutandpaste, au design slam

I might be missing out on the weather, the casinos, the showgirls and something called Autodesk University in Las Vegas next week, but the AU Design Slam by the guys behind Cut&Paste is something I’d really have loved to have seen.

The live on-stage design competition is going to be the first to feature 3D design, with teams hacking out designs against the clock using Autodesk Maya, AliasStudio, SketchBook Pro, and Revit Architecture software.

20 minute rounds mean competitors are pushed to use their wits and showmanship to entertain the crowds as their progress is projected in real-time onto massive screens.

In an interview in the build-up to AU, Cut&Paste executive director John Fiorelli, said: “It’s a live battle between industrial designers and between architects, it’s very similar to the digital design series we do for graphic designers around the world. We’re working with Autodesk University to bring it to industrial design and architecture for the first time this year.

“The idea is to do in 3D what we do in 2D: Give people a chance to see what the creative process is like; give people a chance to see what industrial designers and architects do in real-time,” explained John. “In essence the show is pretty straightforward. We put designers on stage, we give them a theme or a brief and they create work alive in front of your very eyes on LCD projectors. You can watch every brushstroke, every mistake, every scratch-out, every revision, and it gives you the chance to see what people do using Autodesk tools.”

The design briefs are issued to contestants a week or so in advance to allow for concepts to begin developing, but organisers throw in extra elements just before the battle begins, adding a bit more spice to the events.

In case you’re wondering where I’ll be while the rest of the D3D team apply their factor 30, bare their pale flesh, and delve into the 3D battles in Vegas; I’ll be reporting back from deepest-winter Frankfurt. Chilling.

*might not constitute actual death

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