July 17, 2006
Autodesk AliasStudio Offered As Free Trial For ID
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
Each MCAD Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the MCAD industry, MCAD product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by MCADCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Autodesk announced the availability of the latest version of the AliasStudio Personal Learning Edition (PLE), a special non-commercial-use version of the industry-leading industrial design software. Previously released versions of the PLE software have been downloaded more than 100,000 times by students and industry professionals eager for access to the latest AliasStudio software. Autodesk has continued this important product program so that the industrial design community can explore, learn and become productive to realize their ideas with this leading industrial design software. Autodesk AliasStudio software is known as the industry's premier industrial design tool — used by
virtually every major automotive company, as well as leading design consultancy and consumer product companies around the world.

With this latest release of PLE, acclaimed industrial designer Gray Holland has contributed tutorials, lessons and a customized interface that demonstrate personal workflow techniques he honed from his years spent in the automotive industry and his design agency, Alchemy Labs. AliasStudio PLE provides students and industry professionals the opportunity to explore the main toolsets of AliasStudio including sketching, surface modeling, interactive visualization, rendering and animation tools.

With AliasStudio PLE, users will experience a professional customized user interface and tutorial movies which highlight the techniques and tools required to start using AliasStudio software.

"In 1991, I picked it up AliasStudio while working at General Motors on the EV-1 electric car and it has been my primary tool for developing my ideas from concept to production ever since," said Gray Holland, principal of the design firm Alchemy Labs. "I partnered with Autodesk to create this special version to help students and working designers leverage my professional and teaching experience by producing a customized version of AliasStudio's interface design to focus the user on the task at hand. It is the same customized version I teach in my design classes at California College of the Arts and use everyday at Alchemy Labs."

"Autodesk has a history of commitment to providing the most advanced and creative 2D and 3D software tools possible for the engineering community. With the addition of AliasStudio to Autodesk's product portfolio we can now offer the best in conceptual design integrated with the best in engineering," commented Robert "Buzz" Kross, vice president of the Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions.

AliasStudio Personal Learning Edition builds on Autodesk's tradition of offering the most outstanding tools by enabling design professionals and students to learn and familiarize themselves with AliasStudio at their own pace to become more successful in their profession.

To download a copy of AliasStudio PLE, visit:


by Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

As an industrial designer myself, I have followed and used several versions of AliasStudio (formerly known as Alias StudioTools before Autodesk acquired it last year) over the years. Admittedly, it's not the easiest software program in the world to learn, but once you get the hang of it, you can conceptualize and design some pretty amazing 3D forms. Its greatest strengths, surface creation and manipulation, are the primary reasons that, historically, it has been somewhat challenging to learn.

The ability to handle conceptual design is relatively new to Autodesk and this announcement is by far the loudest noise the company has made about AliasStudio. AliasStudio PLE is based on Based on AliasStudio 13, the most current version of the software.

Until recently, many traditional CAD vendors didn't pay too much attention to the ID segment of the design software market because they perceived it as too small to bother with. However, over time, the practice of industrial design has received more respect and notoriety as a way to really distinguish products, especially consumer products, in a competitive marketplace.

I estimate that in the U.S alone there are approximately 30,000-35,000 people engaged in what can be termed industrial design. Many of these users are not degreed industrial designers, but they do perform most or all of the functions requisite for industrial design - aesthetic form, optimized function, and user interaction. Worldwide, I'd estimate this number could be expanded two or three times to the 75,000-100,000 range, so ID is not such a tiny niche after all. While these aren't huge potential customer numbers in the eyes of some MCAD vendors, several of them have begun to target the relatively "small" industrial design sector of the design software market.

Keep in mind that Autodesk is dealing with different animals when it comes to AliasStudio and Inventor. AliasStudio is a computer-aided industrial design (CAID) package, whereas Inventor is a computer-aided design (CAD) package, and they are not the same in purpose or function because they address different needs. Historically, CAID has occupied the conceptual front-end of the product development process, while CAD has been better suited for the engineering and manufacturing portions of the process. Typically, CAID packages have been used by design specialists (usually industrial designers) and the CAID data has been exported to CAD packages for physically producing a design. This process
is often negatively referred to as "throwing a design over the transom," where designers are accused of creating designs that are either not practical or impossible to economically manufacture; while the more technical, engineering types are accused of destroying design intent.

Obviously, industrial design and mechatronic engineering are very different disciplines with very different tool requirements. Industrial design is art-centric, while engineering is math-centric. Of course, there are some common traits found I both disciplines and the respective tools they employ, namely, they both design physical objects, while attempting to compress the product development cycle, albeit with distinct methodologies and expectations.

With Autodesk's acquisition of Alias still relatively new, it will be interesting to see how and how well AliasStudio connects with Inventor for conceptualizing, engineering, and manufacturing products.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Geometric Software has released a free plug-in, eDrawings for Google SketchUp. The new utility allows a SketchUp user to share models so that others can view them-with full zoom and rotation-in a Web browser without other supporting software. To share a model, a SketchUp user must first download and install the plug-in, which works in both Google SketchUp and SketchUp Professional 5. The model owner must select whether to convert the SketchUp model to a stand-alone executable (.exe) file, or to HTML. The executable version requires no external software. For HTML viewing, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later is recommended. When used for the first time, the browser will request to
download an ActiveX Control. A converted model can also be viewed in the open source Firefox browser.

A Canadian designer used SolidWorks and COSMOS software to develop and optimize a human-powered vehicle that will attempt the 24-hour distance record in July. Capable of more than 60 miles per hour, the machine is essentially a recumbent bicycle - one where the rider lies on his back - encapsulated in an aerodynamic carbon fiber fairing. The "Critical Power" resembles an eight-foot long bullet and will be the pilot's mobile home for at least 22 hours during the record attempt. The vehicle's shape resembles that of a fish. Greg Kolodziejzyk, a top 10 age-group finisher in several Ironman triathlons, will assail the 11-year-old record of 1,021.36 km (634.6 miles) sometime between
July 19 and 24, depending on weather. "SolidWorks and COSMOS software helped us develop the design from aerodynamic, mechanical, and ergonomic standpoints," said Designer Ben Eadie, owner of MountainWave Design Services in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Long touted as a panacea, product lifecycle collaboration is now paying off. According to a new Aberdeen report, best in class companies — those that meet time-to-market, cost reduction, revenue, and quality targets 80% to 100% of the time — engage in more forms of collaboration; work with more external partners; and use more specialized collaborative PLM tools — across the product lifecycle. Aberdeen's "The Product Lifecycle Collaboration Benchmark Report: The Product Profitability 'X Factor'" examines manufacturers' challenges, goals, and approaches for five forms of collaboration. The five forms analyzed are design collaboration, value chain collaboration,
project collaboration, real-time meeting collaboration, and 3D publishing. The report also identifies "X factors" or best practices — organizational structures, processes, and technologies — that differentiate best in class companies and deliver competitive advantage. These include:
  • Collaborating externally
  • Collaborating across the lifecycle
  • Developing a collaboration platform

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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