March 27, 2006
AutoCAD 2007 Launched
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Autodesk, Inc. made it easier for engineers and designers to more fully realize their ideas with the release of AutoCAD 2007 software.

The new AutoCAD 2007 software allows users the flexibility to work in an integrated environment for conceptual and detailed design, as well as create, manage and share in one environment. The conceptual design features make it fast and easy to explore design alternatives and then reuse that information as a basis for the documentation drawings needed to build the design. AutoCAD 2007 is ideal for professionals who are doing conceptual design manually, or when used with external software tools, speeding up the design process and enabling more effective presentations. See link for a full list of AutoCAD 2007 features and benefits,

The new AutoCAD 2007 software is sophisticated enough for the most complex of projects, and yet approachable for beginners. The AutoCAD 2007 platform delivers a powerful and intuitive interface for quick and easy shape creation and modification, as well as new features that enable customers across multiple industries to fully explore their design during early project phases, providing faster feedback and more opportunities for design exploration. More than 1,000 beta customers around the world have tested and helped shape this latest version.

Autodesk's vertical products will also take advantage of AutoCAD platform improvements and deliver marked improvements to their already robust 3D modeling environments. For customers who use multiple Autodesk design tools, such as AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit or Autodesk Inventor software products, data exchange and interoperability have been significantly improved. By standardizing technologies across the product lines, clients can take advantage of these vertical-specific applications and take the 3D environment to the next level by adding intelligence to the data, as well as interconnectivity of the design elements.

"For more than two decades, we have evolved AutoCAD software to meet the demands of our customers and take them one step further. Our customers have told us they want sophisticated yet easy-to-use tools integrated into their familiar AutoCAD environment. With AutoCAD 2007, we now have a comprehensive tool that addresses the entire design process, from conceptualization all the way through documentation," said John Sanders, vice president of Autodesk's Platform Technology Division.

Autodesk also launched AutoCAD LT 2007 software, the world's No. 1 selling 2D drafting application. This release features productivity improvements related to everyday drafting tasks and features Dynamic Block authoring and integrated Layer Management tools. The product includes DWF underlay for enhanced secure access to data and continues to support native DWG file format compatibility. See link for a full list of features and benefits,

AutoCAD 2007 and AutoCAD LT 2007 was made available in English, German and Japanese on March 23, 2006. Additional languages are planned to be released in the future.

AutoCAD 2007 is release 21 of Autodesk's still-flagship product. Yes, it is still primarily a 2D tool, but has received some significant enhancements this time around for dealing with 3D. As a matter of fact, the focus of this release definitely seems to be focused on new features and enhancements to 3D capabilities. Many of these 3D capabilities seem to be borrowed from Autodesk Inventor, and it's no coincidence. This release of AutoCAD is really starting to have an Inventor-like look, feel, and behavior. I saw the first evidence of making 2D AutoCAD users more comfortable in a 3D world a couple of years ago with AutoCAD Mechanical's structure - a capability that sort of mimicked
Inventor's feature tree. Anyway, Autodesk must feel that a customer that is comfortable and familiar with at least some aspects of a 3D user interface and feature set is more likely to ultimately transition to the more 3D-capable (and higher priced) Inventor product line. What this all means, though, is that AutoCAD 2007 with its 3D, textures, and lighting capabilities can be used for true conceptualization and visualization more than any previous version.

AutoCAD's 3D capabilities do come with a cost, however, with regard to graphics cards that will fully support them, so you would be well advised to check the Autodesk Web site to see if you'll need to invest in a new one. On the other hand, if all of your design work is 2D, the graphics card that you use currently with an earlier version of AutoCAD, and you're satisfied with the performance, should perform just fine.

The 3D interface is probably where you'll notice the first and biggest changes to AutoCAD 2007 because it's actually a 3D environment where you use a new 3D template, and not just a workspace. The Dashboard is a one-stop palette of control panels that contains well over 100 commands and associated options. Here you'll find just about everything you'll need for 2D and 3D drawing, modeling, editing, and rendering. This is all well and good, but the Dashboard is quite large in the graphics window and will probably take some getting used to because it contains a lot of stuff.

Creating and editing 3D solids (and even some simple 3D solids) has come up several notches in AutoCAD 2007, thanks largely to some geometric handling capabilities brought over from Inventor. Creating and editing solids is interactive with previews present all along the way. Converting a 2D shape into a 3D form is a relatively easy process. For example, via commands on the Dashboard, a 2D shape can be converted into a surface. Add thickness to the surface and you have a solid. While this obviously isn't unique in the CAD world, for AutoCAD it is, and a big step forward that I think many users will appreciate and use.

There are a lot of other things we could cover here, but suffice it to say, at first glance, AutoCAD 2007 looks like a good release, especially where 3D is concerned. But let's not forget that AutoCAD's legacy is 2D, and there's still a lot of life left there for a lot of types of 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.

Dassault Systemes announced the availability of next-generation PLM sourcing solutions, ENOVIA V5 Collaborative Enterprise Sourcing (CES). The CES product suite brings together engineering and sourcing functions into one collaborative environment. It builds upon Dassault Systemes' V5 PLM platform and embeds i2 Technologies' sourcing technology components. ENOVIA V5 CES is a comprehensive sourcing product suite. Four key functional areas enable companies' engineering and sourcing departments to collaborate when choosing, introducing, or managing components, suppliers and manufacturers:
  • Cross-functional Enterprise Catalog
  • Sourcing immersed in 3D
  • Supply for Design and Design for Supply
  • Comprehensive component management

  • PTC announced that the Volkswagen Group has expanded its deployment of PTC solutions into all powertrain divisions across the Volkswagen Group to enable global standards for integrated product creation processes within the different brands. Volkswagen expects Windchill to drive improvements in real-time monitoring and documentation of projects. The PTC solutions will be used by more than 3,000 Volkswagen Group employees around the world who will work on a single integral platform for visualization, content and process management, both within the engineering department and throughout the extended enterprise. The Windchill deployment is an expansion of Volkswagen's current use of the PTC
    Product Development System, which includes Pro/ENGINEER for 3D design, ProductView for visualization, and Windchill for content and process management and collaboration. The roll-out starts simultaneously within AUDI and at Volkswagen followed by Skoda in the Czech Republic, the Americas Region of Volkswagen, and further international brands such as Seat and Lamborghini.

    IBM and Dassault Systhmes announced that Airbus has chosen the DELMIA V5 Robotics digital manufacturing solution to simulate, validate, and program the robotics assembly lines for the new Airbus aircraft programs. The first program to benefit from these solutions will be the A400M, the first Airbus aircraft entirely designed with CATIA V5 and simulated on DELMIA V5. This acquisition will enable Airbus to optimize programming time as well as fine-tune its production resources without disruption through Off-line Programming. The solution is enriched by the FASTIP-FASTRIM tools from Dassault Systhmes's technological partner, CENIT, that work on the CATIA and DELMIA V5 data-model to
    provide trimming, drilling, and riveting capabilities. In addition to these robotic aspects, Airbus is using the ergonomic and assembly simulation tools of DELMIA V5 HUMAN and DELMIA V5 DPM Assembly to meet the increasing need for simulation in the field of digital manufacturing.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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