MCAD Tech News (#291)

23 Sep, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Extend the Reach of Product Information to the Enterprise

SharePoint-based solutions for CAD can facilitate collaboration and accelerate development.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Product lifecycle management (PLM), at its most basic, is valuable as a structured repository for CAD data. But it's no surprise that much of the information that contributes to product development is created outside the structured system, in formats such as e-mail, instant messages, blog posts, and the like. Software developers are building solutions on Microsoft SharePoint that aim to collect this information and give it structure as well — that is, capture collaboration and correspondence, integrate it into the product data history, and make it accessible to everyone in the organization who can benefit.

"PLM is a great tool for tracking and managing transactions, but there's a lot of value in the information that is exchanged that is not very structured and that isn't managed very well by a traditional PLM system," said David Opsahl, CEO of Actify, which develops the DesignShare collaboration tool.

Another common challenge is that many people in a product-development organization, such as managers or those who check engineering work, need access to CAD data but lack CAD expertise or CAD software. SharePoint-based solutions can make this information easily accessible to all types of users across an organization.

Collaboration Engine

Simon Floyd, Microsoft's director of technology strategy, enterprise solutions, described SharePoint as a backbone for sharing any information, including documents, drawings, e-mail, and social media content (such as personal blogs, content tagging, and activity feeds) with anyone, including immediate staff, downstream users, and customers. "It is a facilitator of business processes," he said, adding, "We're working very hard for SharePoint to be a decision engine, to surface more and more information to support decisions." Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.


Avatech Tricks Tutorial:
Constraint Limits in Inventor 2011

Reach new limits with Inventor constraints by using the new capability to define limits to constraints.

By Rusty Belcher

Assembly constraints determine how components in an assembly fit together. As you apply constraints, you remove degrees of freedom, restricting the ways components can move. Autodesk Inventor 2011 allows you to assign maximum, minimum, and resting position values that specify the allowable range of motion for a constraint.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate the process of adding constraint limits to new and existing constraints.

Identifying and Applying Constraint Limits

For the first part of this demonstration, I will be focusing on this actuator and defining the allowable stroke motion. As you can see, I have a hard limit at the back of the cylinder, and another limit where the linkage will collide. Read more »

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Rusty Belcher is a senior applications engineer for Avatech Solutions.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


RTP Product Design Street Faire
September 25, 2010
Morrisville, North Carolina
The RTP Product Development Guild seeks to improve the regional economy in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina, by providing a framework for product developers and startups to work together on products in a collaborative environment. Read more »

World Maker Faire
September 25–26, 2010
Queens, New York
The Maker Faire event series from the producers of the MAKE project-based magazine showcases a community of do-it-yourself enthusiasts who share their projects and skills. Read more »

Webinar: How Tyson Foods Develops Better Products
September 28, 2010
2:00 p.m. GMT
Kimberly Glenn, director of research and development for Tyson Foods, will lead this webinar from Oracle. Attendees can learn how the company leverages PLM (product lifecycle management) to achieve accelerated time to market and decreased ingredient and packaging costs. Read more »

3D Insiders' Summit 2010
September 28–29, 2010
Westminster, Colorado
At the Summit, Spatial Corp.'s developer community will learn how to best utilize and implement Spatial's 3D software components, see what the future holds for Spatial's products, and network with industry colleagues. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


First Look Review: BOXX GoBOXX 1640
Blindingly fast mobile workstation sets a new record in Cadalyst Labs. Read more »

Vectorworks 2011 Makes Leaps in Rendering, BIM, and 2D/3D Modeling
New Service Select subscription program rolls out to U.S. customers. Read more »

Take CAD to the Next Level
Data management systems make good use of design information — within their boundaries. New SharePoint-based solutions deliver data across the AEC workflow. Read more »

SolidWorks 2011 Measures Up
The latest release from Dassault Systèmes features automatic dimension re-arrangement, a part de-featuring tool, and simple sharing of parameter values and equations between parts. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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