MCAD Tech News (#303)

24 Mar, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

Inventor Professional 2012: Little Things Mean a Lot

The seemingly small changes in this release can make a big impact on your productivity.

By Bill Fane

When I first saw the "What's New" list for Autodesk Inventor Professional 2012, announced on Tuesday, there didn't seem to be much to it. There were only 65 entries (as opposed to the usual 200 or so for most new releases of almost any software), of which 20 had to do with "Tooling" (aka Moldflow), and 9 involved Simulation. Most of the remaining 36 entries involve part modeling, with little or no attention paid to assemblies. None of the new or enhanced features seemed to be real attention-grabbers that would make a good headline for a product review.

Closer inspection revealed that Autodesk's Manufacturing Solutions group has gone for quality instead of quantity. The individual changes may be small, but they have been thoughtfully chosen to help increase your productivity one step at a time, and collectively they really add up.

Autodesk Inventor Professional 2012 will begin shipping in early April. It is available as part of the familiar AutoCAD Inventor Professional Suite and the new Autodesk Product Design Suite Ultimate ($9,995).

And On Today's Menu We Have

Inventor Professional 2012 sports a new Marking Menu system.
Inventor Professional 2012 sports a new Marking Menu system.

The first of these challenges was complexity of form. Although it may appear to be roughly spherical, a football helmet in fact has a complex set of curves to optimize safety, fit, performance, and eye appeal. Adding to this complexity are cooling vents that keep the wearer comfortable and help prevent heat stroke.

Let's start with the new Marking Menu functionality. Instead of foraging through the ribbon for commands (and Inventor's ribbon is still better than most applications), all you need to do is right-click anywhere in the graphics menu. This brings up a context-sensitive halo of common commands surrounding the cursor, plus a panel listing of secondary commands. Move the cursor toward the command you want, click on it, and away you go! My use of the ribbon has dropped almost to zero. Read more »

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Bill Fane is a Cadalyst contributing editor, a registered professional engineer, and a close personal friend of Captain LearnCurve.


AutoCAD 2012: Who Says 2D is Dead?

The majority of the latest enhancements beef up 2D functionality, including two new commands for generating 2D working drawings from 3D models.

By Bill Fane

There are two kinds of designers in the world: those who design in 2D and those who design in 3D. The software companies keep saying, "The world is 3D. Why are you still working in 2D?" and make it sound as if the 2D people are veritable Neanderthals. They may be right, but that's not the point. A couple of articles I have read recently indicate that the use of 3D software is far from being all-pervasive in the design world — in fact, 2D users still seem to be in the vast majority. Well, Autodesk has not forsaken the 2D crowd.

The "What's New" document for AutoCAD 2012 runs 54 pages, the majority of which are devoted to explaining 2D enhancements. On top of that, many of the 3D additions and enhancements are there to help you produce 2D drawings from 3D models.

Reversing the sequence of the "What's New" document, let's take a look at some of my favorite 2D enhancements in AutoCAD 2012, announced today and shipping in early April. The product is available standalone or as part of one of the many new Autodesk Design Suites for 2012.

Hip, Hip, Array!

Consider something as mundane as the Array command. What could they possibly do to improve it? Quite a bit, as it turns out. For starters, they have eliminated the dialog box and gone back to make it command-line driven. Say what? In this day and age of icons, ribbons, and GUIs, they've gone back to the command line? Read more »

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Bill Fane is a Cadalyst contributing editor, a registered professional engineer, and a close personal friend of Captain LearnCurve.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


Webinar: Create AS9102 Forms and PPAP Reports from CATIA Drawings
March 30, 2011
2–3 p.m. ET
Extensible CAD Technologies will offer a free webinar that will show CATIA users how they can save time by creating inspection drawings and report forms using InspectionXpert for CATIA V5. Read more »

Webinar: Direct Modeling with Autodesk Inventor
March 30, 2011
10 a.m. PT
In this webcast hosted by Autodesk, Daryl Corelli will demonstrate basic use of the heads-up modeling interface, import and edit of 3D data from many CAD systems, and the ability to bidirectionally edit Inventor parametric data. Read more »

Hagerman Technology Showcase: Atlanta
March 30, 2011
Atlanta, Georgia
Autodesk technology evangelist Lynn Allen will be the featured presenter at the Hagerman & Company Technology Showcase. Allen writes a regular column in Cadalyst magazine called "Circles and Lines" and is the voice behind the Cadalyst videos "Tips and Tricks Tuesdays with Lynn Allen." Read more »

Webinar: Transforming PLM for the Economic Recovery
March 30, 2011
11 a.m. ET
This webinar from Aras, Kalypso, and Tech-Clarity will discuss how to transform your organization's approach to PLM (product lifecycle management) to anticipate changing needs, leverage the latest technologies, and thrive in a dynamic global market. Read more »

CIMdataPLM Vendor Forum
March 31–April 20, 2011
Various cities
CIMdata's 2011 PLM Vendor Forum is designed for PLM (product lifecycle management) solution suppliers of all sizes. During the forum, CIMdata and the attendees will collectively explore the issues facing the PLM market. 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


Autodesk Unveils 2012 Product Line
New product suites will support specific design workflows, and Inventor Fusion goes mainstream. Read more »

Bentley Launches New Licensing Model and Interoperability Software Portal
Portfolio Balancing and the iWare Apps site offer users new ways to manage their software investment — and to access some tools for free. Read more »

For Tait Towers, AutoCAD Rocks
Complex and spectacular concert sets emerge from a 3D AutoCAD–based workflow. Read more »

Austrian Agency Automates Sound Propagation Modeling
Urban planners process volumes of optical, laser-scanning, and GIS data using INPHO and eCognition software. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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