AUTODESK U: AutoCAD 2009 gets on-demand 3D printing

Enhanced PDF handling and on-demand 3D printing capability are two essential upgrades added to the recently released AutoCAD 2009 bonus packs.

With the new capabilities, designers, engineers as well as business users can now easily share, publish and print designs and projects created on the design software developed by Autodesk Inc.

Release of the two new subscription bonus packs was announced Tuesday at Autodesk University 2008 in Las Vegas, where some 9,000 design professionals from 74 countries met to try out new Autodesk products in some 650 classes and hands-on sessions.

For several years more robust PDF file format capability has been on the wish list of the Autodesk user community.

The new PDF import and underlay features of the product now allow users to import PDF files as an underlay. This provides users with access to a variety of tools such as the ability to snap designs to lines and better object controls when using display layers.

The enhancement is also effective in easing move, scale, rotate and clip functions with PDF underlays.

The improved capability to reduce file size eases file-sharing when publishing PDF files from AutoCAD. TrueType font support also provides better control over how fonts are displayed.

“The snap-to-lines capability speeds up the design process because it’s much easier to spot design conflicts,” according to Garry Simeunovic, an AutoCAD, AutoPlant and Vision software user and trainer at the Colt WorleyParsons, an Edmonton-based engineering firm serving the hydrocarbon industry.

The ability to determine whether a proposed beam might interfere with a another component of a structure before construction begins is essential in saving time and cost and delivering designs to clients, according to Simeunovic.

Effective file size reduction is also vital, he said, when project models must be shared and worked on by various stakeholders.

Engineers and customers also need to see how various parts are going to mesh or interact with each other, according to Lars Lindskog, mechanical enigineer for cyclotron operations at Covidien AG, an imaging firm in Maryland Heights, Mo.

“It’s very hard to help clients see how gears or arms will actually work if you’re working with static drawings,” he said. With the Autodesk tools, designers can add motion to their drawings to actually make gears turn, Lindskog said.

“After more than 25 years of development, Autodesk continues to improve AutoCAD by responding to customer needs and incorporating innovative technologies,” said Guri Stark, vice president, AutoCAD and Platform Products.

Adding on-demand 3D printing capabilities to AutoCAD 2009. This allows users to quickly produce physical 3D models and prototypes by connecting to 3D printing service providers or directly from within AutoCAD or by printing with their own 3D printer.

Autodesk has entered into agreements with RedEye, a business unit of Stratasys Inc., and Z Corp., two leading 3D printing manufacturers, to make 3D printing available to AutoCAD 2009 users. Connecting online with the selected service provider, AutoCAD users can now have 3D printed models shipped directly to them.

“Having 3D printing capabilities at our fingertips in AutoCAD has provided our business with the effortless accessibility to print a model that our design team and customers can touch and manipulate,” said Matt Little, CAD manager and engineer with Water FX LLC, a Las Vegas aquatic design and contruction firm. “In turn, we actually bought a 3D printer to seek maximum ROI with the 3D printing capabilities.”

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