MCAD Tech News (#292)

14 Oct, 2010 By: Robert Green

First Look Review: Autodesk Inventor 2011

Adding direct manipulation, better visualization, and the terrific new Assembly Snap tool, this is no ordinary upgrade.

By Robert Green

Editor's note: This article was originaly published in the Summer 2010 edition of Cadalyst magazine.

I'll go ahead and state it right up front: Autodesk Inventor 2011 is a very good upgrade of an already good product. Being the flagship 3D mechanical CAD product from Autodesk, Inventor typically rolls out a lot of new features each year. This year is no exception, although ease of use really has been achieved in this release. I know, I know, every software vendor says its new products are easier to use, but this version actually delivers — while also adding lots of meaty features. Let's dive in.

User Interface

The user interface (UI) for Inventor 2011 is different from prior versions, yet it remains familiar. The main screen still features an assembly browser along the left-hand side, the view cube and view control tools along the right-hand side, and the quick-access toolbar and ribbon controls along the top. The big difference you'll notice right away is that your model now displays as a rendered design preview that updates in real time. New users may take this graphically rich environment for granted, but veterans who always had to click back and forth between wireframe and rendered levels of graphics will appreciate the better visualization immediately.

Another, more subtle UI upgrade is the ability to see the feature type when you select a feature of the assembly, along with a Help display that gives contextual information about commands relative to that feature. As is the trend with most CAD tools these days, the software has more and more context-sensitive guidance via right-clicking, and the new heads-up display (HUD) puts editable parameters on the screen, right where the mouse can make input an almost click-free procedure. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Robert Green performs CAD programming and consulting throughout the United States and Canada.


Siemens PLM Software Announces Solid Edge ST3

The latest version upgrades synchronous technology to further improve design, validation, and collaboration.

By Cadalyst Staff

Siemens PLM Software has announced the new ST3 version of its Solid Edge 2D/3D CAD system. Solid Edge ST3 uses what the company calls synchronous technology to deliver new functionality that accelerates product design, streamlines revisions, and simplifies importing and reusing third-party CAD data. The new release also includes enhancements related to simulation, design data management, and more than 1,000 customer-requested improvements.

Siemens' synchronous technology is designed to help users perform a wide variety of CAD tasks in a fraction of the time it takes with a traditional approach. It promises significant time savings and lets users shift focus to the actual design tasks instead of thinking about how to use the software.

In addition to supporting the part modeling and sheet-metal design delivered in earlier versions, synchronous-based models now can be used directly with all assembly applications such as piping, frames, wiring, and assembly features. The software also provides synchronous-based part-to-part associativity that lets users establish and alter design intent before, during, or after the assembly design process. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


CIMdata PLM Certificate Program: California
October 18–22, 2010
Cypress, California
CIMdata's PLM (product lifecycle management) Certificate Program comprises an intimate classroom experience, individual and team-based exercises, and individual evaluations of achievement. Read more »

Vectorworks 2011 Test Drives
Through November 19, 2010
Various cities
This free, hands-on training session from Nemetschek Vectorworks allows users to experience the Vectorworks 2011 software, ask questions of a Vectorworks trainer, and explore the features of the new release. Read more »

Siemens PLM Connection Americas User Conference 2011
May 2–5, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
This annual event, organized by PLM World with support from Siemens, is designed to help attendees prepare their PLM (product lifecycle management) investment for the future, expand the value of product and process knowledge, and learn from Siemens PLM Software's developers in hands-on training sessions. 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


Cadalyst Launches Webcast Series with an Edge
Premiere presentation to air live today! "Overcoming Environmental Performance Anxiety" will convene a panel of distinguished experts to discuss how "going green" can drive product innovation — and make money. Read more »

CAD Manager's Survey 2010
How much money do CAD managers make? How old are they? Do they work part-time or full-time? How has the economic roller coaster affected their jobs? These questions and more are answered with the help of your fellow CAD managers! Read more »

User Review: Bonzai3d v2
The 3D modeling tools you need are simple, powerful, and a snap to learn. Read more »

NVIDIA Expands Quadro Line with Mid-Range and Entry-Level Graphics Cards
New Quadro 2000 and 600 round out the family of graphics solution offerings launched earlier this year. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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