May 14, 2007
Autodesk Inventor LT Free Download Launched
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Autodesk announced a technology preview release of Autodesk Inventor LT software, a new member of its Autodesk Inventor family of software products. Inventor LT will help customers enhance their communications with suppliers and manufacturing partners by making it easy and affordable to create, share and edit 3D part designs.
"Inventor LT eliminates many of the headaches associated with moving files between different CAD systems," said Robert "Buzz" Kross, vice president of Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions. "As a result, customers can realize the benefits of 3D part design and AutoCAD interoperability to get their jobs done faster and easier."

Inventor LT Technology Preview is available only as English language software and is available for download only in the United States and Canada. Additional countries may be added at a future time.

Inventor LT helps customers improve their communications with their supply chain by making editable 3D part design data more accessible than ever before. Rich functionality available in Inventor LT enables:
  • Multi-CAD translation capabilities for leading native and neutral 3D
  • CAD file formats
  • 3D part model creation and editing
  • Automated mechanical drawings
  • Genuine DWG interoperability with DWG TrueConnect technology
  • Photorealistic rendering of 3D part designs
  • "By supporting multi-CAD interoperability in most leading file formats, Inventor LT provides a tremendous solution for the entire manufacturing supply chain," said Kross. "We are thrilled to make this one-of-a-kind product available to the extended manufacturing community."

    To learn more about Inventor LT, or to download a copy of the software, visit the Autodesk Labs site at

    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    I’d heard rumors and rumblings of an LT (“light”) version of Autodesk Inventor for several weeks before the announcement was made. I even approached a couple of Autodesk employees about substantiating the rumor, but got nowhere there. It turns out that only a very small group was privy to the information and development plan, thus the difficulty in learning anything regarding Inventor LT, even among Autodesk employees.

    As most of you know, Inventor LT is not the first or only free download in the MCAD world, as other companies, such as Alibre, CoCreate, and UGS’ Solid Edge also offer free 2D and 3D tools. Inventor also won’t be free forever, as the product, currently known as Inventor LT Technology Preview, has a license that expires on May 1, 2008. After that time, and should Autodesk ultimately decide to take it retail (which it very likely will), the SRP will be approximately $999. Autodesk is saying that customers who participate in the Technology Preview will receive special purchasing incentives when it goes retail. The free download is available right now only in the
    U.S. and Canada in the English language, but that will surely expand over time.

    The day the launch was announced, I met with Kevin Schneider, Senior Solutions Evangelist, Autodesk Manufacturing to discuss it. He and I happened to be in Detroit at the Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing conference sponsored by SME. He was delighted to talk about the launch in terms of generalities, philosophy, and some technical details. It was a pleasant conversation between just he and I with no PowerPoint slide presentation detracting from the event.

    He explained that Inventor LT is the newest member of the Autodesk Inventor family and is intended for those users who regarded 3D CAD as beyond their means, either from a cost or complexity standpoint. Inventor LT shares a number of things with Inventor, with a few notable exceptions. Inventor LT can be used for part modeling only, assembly modeling is not part of the package, nor are sheet metal design and dynamic modeling. In other words, Inventor LT does not support Inventor assembly models (.iam), Inventor assembly drawings (.idw or .dwg), of Inventor sheet metal parts (.ipt). If you try and open an Inventor assembly file with Inventor LT (and this is the first thing that
    I tried), the program prompts you to open the assembly with Inventor View, a free viewer that is part of Inventor LT that lets you view and measure assemblies.

    Inventor LT also does not include AutoCAD Mechanical or Autodesk Vault, and there is no formal technical support for Inventor LT, but there are a lot of online resources available, as well as Inventor forums that are quite active and helpful should issue arise. However, beyond these limitations, Inventor LT includes exactly the same 3D part modeling, import/export (and these are pretty extensive), rendering, and documentation capabilities available with the other senior members of the Autodesk Inventor 2008 product family.

    Not too surprisingly, since Inventor LT uses the same core technology and UI as Inventor 2008, everything learned and created in Inventor LT is transferable to Inventor 2008. As far as files go, using DWG TrueConnect, Inventor LT is interoperable with AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Inventor LT also includes Autodesk Design review, so it can publish 2D and 3D DWF files.

    More than anything, it will be interesting to see how Inventor LT affects the 3D MCAD industry, and if any of its competition will respond, and if so, how. Although it’s just about a year away, it will also be interesting to see if Autodesk does, in fact, take Inventor to the retail channel. Finally, I’ll be interested in seeing what types of new customers Inventor LT attracts and what these new users will do with it. All in all, it makes for an interesting year as Inventor LT comes out of the gate and into the 3D MCAD fray.

    The Week’s Top

    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.

    UGS Corp. announced Solid Edge Version 20 that improves supply chain collaboration through integration with the new Teamcenter Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This allows improved access to the central database from remote locations via WANs. A new "Auto-constrain in Assembly" feature adds parametric intelligence to imported data regardless of origin or translation method. In addition, a new dynamic reviewing capability for direct editing provides real-time feedback when editing imported models. Solid Edge V20 also introduces new translators to help users transition from other MCAD products to Solid Edge, collaborate with CATIA V5, and read the STL file format for file sharing with
    a variety of systems. Solid Edge V20 adds more than 170 enhancements to part design and drafting, including:
  • Goal Seeking to solve 2D engineering scenarios that are more easily expressed graphically than with equations in real time. Knowing the target value of an engineering calculation, goal seeking allows users to set certain parameters, while the system varies other factors to achieve the desired result. Results can be used to drive 3D geometry.
  • Advanced Feature Libraries, including Part Feature grouping to reuse common features.
  • Tabulated drawings to create a single drawing for an entire family of parts.

  • UGS Corp. announced the close of its acquisition by Siemens AG effective May 4. As a result, the business will go to market as UGS PLM Software, a global division of the Siemens Automation and Drives (A&D) Group. The companies announced on January 25 a definitive agreement for Siemens AG to acquire UGS for US$3.5 billion, including assumption of existing debt. Most recently, the European Commission announced on April 27 that it had approved the planned acquisition of UGS by Siemens AG, thus completing the standard anti-trust reviews of the transaction. UGS PLM Software also announced the additions of two senior leaders from Siemens - each of whom is relocating to UGS PLM
    Software's global division headquarters in Plano, Texas - to its management team:

    PTC announced that in the past 12 months, 173 organizations have licensed PTC PLM solutions to support electronics product development. Today, all 30 of the top electronics and high tech customers by revenue use PTC solutions. The PTC Product Development System (PDS) provides the following capabilities:
  • A single, comprehensive PLM system that helps prevent late-stage changes by supporting the entire process starting from early-stage product development
  • Process-centric solutions that tie technology to best practices in high tech product development
  • Synchronization of electrical, mechanical, software, and technical publications development, and collaboration across these disciplines
  • Component management solutions that enable designers to design for environmental regulatory compliance and supply chain from the beginning
  • Collaboration with distributed development, suppliers and customers with a single, scalable solution.

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    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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