December 05, 2005
Autodesk Inventor Surpasses Half-Million Mark
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Engineering teams and product designers are adopting Autodesk Inventor software, the fastest-growing and best selling 3D mechanical design application in the world, in record numbers. Autodesk, Inc. announced that it has sold over 500,000 seats of Autodesk Inventor, continuing to exceed that of all competing 3D design software applications. A rising number of mechanical engineers and product designers have selected Autodesk Inventor as their software platform of choice for realizing ideas. Using the integrated 2D drawing with 3D modeling capabilities in the Autodesk Inventor application makes it easier than ever before for engineers to leverage their years of expertise with AutoCAD while
taking advantage of the superior 3D modeling and functional design capabilities found only in Autodesk Inventor.

"Our research shows that as more manufacturers make 3D modeling a priority in their product development initiatives, they are growing increasingly savvy about choosing tools," said Gisela Wilson, director at IDC Research. "They're looking to take advantage of 3D without sacrificing years of engineering expertise captured in 2D drawings -- and we believe that's driving growth in Autodesk Inventor use."

A September 2005 study by Wohlers Associates, Inc., in partnership with Cyon Research found that the mechanical CAD and product lifecycle management market grew to nearly $4 billion in 2004, with Autodesk Inventor leading the way in commercial mechanical design seats.

"Achieving the milestone of 500,000 seats is further validation of the Autodesk Inventor market leading status. The product's unmatched functionality continues to outclass competitive solutions," said Robert Kross, vice president, Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions Division. "From designing cars for manufacture in China to watches in Europe, engineering teams around the world are using Autodesk Inventor to communicate design information seamlessly so that their organizations can respond quickly and cost-effectively to changes in consumer demand."

There are many reasons why Autodesk Inventor continues to be the best selling 3D design software:
  • It is the best choice for AutoCAD users because it is designed to make use of both 2D drawings and 3D modeling capabilities in an easy and intuitive design environment
  • Offers unparalleled integrity and compatibility between 2D AutoCAD DWG files and 3D Autodesk Inventor models
  • Provides leading-edge functional design capabilities, enabling mechanical engineers to focus on designing functionally rather than by geometric parameters
  • Delivers built-in, easy to implement data management tools
  • Institutes disciplined methods for sharing design data across the engineering workgroup and to users beyond the design team
  • "Autodesk Inventor enables us to create products more quickly, make changes more readily, and document them instantly," says Pat Leonhardt, product development manager for EASI. "As we continue to branch out into new product lines, Autodesk Inventor will be instrumental to our business as it definitely gives us an edge in a competitive environment."

    OK, 500,000+ seats sold is an impressive number, but one I think needs to be qualified - namely, how many of these seats are commercial and how many are installed in various levels of education? This is an age-old question, and one that all of the major vendors use to their advantage - total number of seats without a breakout of how many are installed in each segment. In any case, and as I said, 500,000 is an impressive number, especially knowing that Autodesk was little late out of the gate with Inventor compared with some of its competition. At the time it launched, Pro/ENGINEER was already well established and SolidWorks was creating a buzz with a good number of early adopters, so
    Inventor has done well in the crowded market space.

    Unlike its competition, you can't purchase Inventor by itself, as it comes bundled in the Autodesk Inventor Series that also includes AutoCAD Mechanical and Mechanical Desktop. This packaging scheme makes it difficult to discern just how many seats of Inventor are actually used, versus those sold. Very difficult indeed. However, knowing that the number of Inventor seats sold is a fraction of the AutoCAD seats in the world (Autodesk estimates somewhere around seven million "legitimate" users), its numbers are increasing at a good clip, definitely making it a force to be reckoned with in mechanical design.

    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.

    UGS Corp. announced it is in the final development stages for porting NX software to the Linux operating system on x64 technology. UGS in cooperation with AMD, has provided significant support during the development process to ensure compatibility and performance. Linux offers a migration path for NX UNIX customers looking to move to the price-performance benefits available with x64-based systems. 64-bit applications running on AMD64 technology have the ability to address large amounts of memory, allowing the development of large, complex models and improving the time-to-market for design. As an added benefit, these systems are backward-compatible, allowing customers to run the latest
    64-bit applications along with any existing 32-bit applications on the same machine. UGS plans to announce NX availability on Linux by the end of this year.

    Autodesk announced the Autodesk Manufacturing Supplier Content Center, an online portal resource that will provide catalogs of time-saving models and parts directly to user desktops of Autodesk Inventor software. The Manufacturing Supplier Content Center is directly linked to content through strategic relationships with PARTsolutions, a leading provider of solutions for the management of standard, commercial and proprietary parts. The portal contains information from more than 100 of the leading manufacturing component providers and will continue to grow with new catalog offerings from partners and manufacturers' developed content. To access the Manufacturing Supplier Content Center, or for
    more information, visit:

    Prior to purchasing Alibre Design parametric solid modeling software, Joe McGlynn had no 3D modeling experience, only a passion for souped-up hot rods and choppers. Learning Alibre Design in his spare time, he turned his ideas into designer motorcycle parts, and started Crime Scene Choppers, the hottest new boutique business for custom bike mechanics. Although McGlynn had a lot of experience in fabrication and was no stranger to computer technology, he had no prior experience in CAD. The software allowed McGlynn to turn his Harley concepts into manufacturable realities.

    Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC) announced that its new ModelPress Desktop is now shipping. ModelPress Desktop is a low-cost application that views a variety of 3D file formats. Supported formats include AutoCAD 3D DWF/DWG/DXF, Inventor, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, IGES, STL, VRML, OpenHSF, XGL, SAT, 3DS, and IGC's content secure 3DF format. Pro/ENGINEER, Wildfire and STEP formats are provided via the ModelPress Granite option. ModelPress Desktop is available for 15-day trial download from the Web site. The pricing for ModelPress Desktop is $99/license and the Granite version is $195/license.

    TransMagic Inc. announced that it will partner with Autodesk to provide shared customers with the ability to publish 3D-translated CAD drawings into DWF format through the Autodesk DWF Partner Program. DWF is a format for sharing complex design information throughout the project lifecycle because file sizes are often one-tenth the size of other file formats yet still maintaining the integrity of a CAD model. DWF offers TransMagic customers the ability to produce translated 3D designs in a format that is small, fast and secure. Designers can collaborate on designs easily and effectively when using DWF, eliminating paper trails and cutting printing costs. By using the free Autodesk DWF Viewer
    in conjunction with TransMagic products, customers can merge and share design information.

    Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached
    here or 408.850.9230.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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