MCAD Tech News (#320)

11 Jan, 2012 By: Heather Livingston

Mass-Produced Design

Trendy crowdsourcing is fueling product innovation — and the disapproval of some professionals.

By Heather Livingston

Let's assume you're a CAD operator working in an engineering office, harboring enthusiasm for the all-American automobile. Maybe you've tried to break into the automotive design field, but found it difficult to do so — not to mention risky, given the still-questionable health of U.S. car manufacturers. Still, your dream of designing a car persists, and you often find yourself absentmindedly doodling on a napkin. If you had the opportunity to be part of a community that offers design input on a new car — on your own time and without the promise of any compensation — would you participate? For many, the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

This act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to an unrefined large group of people or community is called crowdsourcing, according to the definition on Wikipedia (which, by the way, likely is the most widely used crowdsourced product in existence). Typically accomplished through an open call for participation, crowdsourcing is becoming increasingly popular in the design world thanks to the Internet and easily accessible CAD technologies.

By the Masses

One U.S. company is going all-in on the crowdsourcing trend. Local Motors, based in Chandler, Arizona, is said to be the first car company to crowdsource all aspects of its design process. The company relies on an open community of contributors — mostly designers, engineers, and car enthusiasts — to create its products and components through competitions on its web site. Its first vehicle in production is a Baja racer called the Rally Fighter. Although street legal, the car is designed for off-road and desert racing in the American Southwest.

Local Motors relied on crowdsourced design to create the Rally Fighter off-road race car in 18 months' time and at a production cost of
Local Motors relied on crowdsourced design to create the Rally Fighter off-road race car in 18 months' time and at a production cost of "a couple million dollars." Image courtesy of Local Motors.

The brainchild of Jay Rogers and Jeff Jones (who no longer is with the company), Local Motors was created in 2007 to design higher-quality vehicles for niche markets more quickly and cheaply than a traditional car manufacturer by engaging a community of enthusiasts in the development process. At first glance, crowdsourcing auto design might seem like a great way to kill a car company. In Detroit, after all, automakers stay competitive in part by keeping new models and body styles close to the vest. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Wichita, Kansas–based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology.


IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Recognize and Simplify Features

The Find Features and Simplify tools can improve your productivity in Autodesk Inventor Fusion.

By R. Eric France

Recently there has been a great proliferation of Inventor Fusion installs, mainly through its inclusion in Autodesk Design Suites. With that, I think it's important to bring your attention to a couple of tools in Fusion that can significantly improve your productivity in some common scenarios. First, we'll look at the Find Features tool, which helps users recognize and edit features in a Base Solid. Second, we'll learn how to use the Simplify tool to remove selected features from a model in preparation for analysis.

Find Features in a Base Solid

I'm sure that like most 3D CAD users, you occasionally work with base solid parts that have been imported from another modeler. In doing so, there are probably times when you need to modify those solids and could benefit from an efficient workflow to make the edits you need quickly.

You want a streamlined workflow? Well, here it is! Open the base solid part in Inventor Fusion, either directly or by using the Edit Form option in Inventor. Next, initiate the Find Features tool (located on the Manage panel), choose the solid in the Browser, and click OK. Just like that, the features are identified and appear in the Browser; from there you can edit the features. Read more »

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R. Eric France is a solutions consultant for IMAGINiT Technologies.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


Strength and Deflection Simulation with Scan&Solve
January 18, 2012
11 a.m. PT
This webinar will detail the basic steps of using Scan&Solve, explain how to select and apply appropriate restraints and loads, and demonstrate its visualization capabilities. The webinar is intended for designers, architects, engineers, educators, and students interested in structural simulation of solid models. Read more »

The Fundamentals of PLM
January 25, 2012
1 p.m. ET
Attend this webinar from Siemens PLM Software to learn about the key building blocks for end-to-end PLM, including building a solid product data management foundation in engineering, expanding the flow of information to manufacturing, and integrating strategic business operations. Read more »

CIMdata PLM Certificate Program: Atlanta
February 6–10, 2012
Atlanta, Georgia
The CIMdata PLM (product lifecycle management) Certificate Program prepares PLM professionals at several levels to address the challenges inherent in PLM implementations. This assessment-based certificate program includes an intimate classroom experience, individual and team-based exercises, and individual evaluations of achievement. 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


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CADspeed Blog Post:
Technology Makeover Supplies CAD Hardware/Software to Deserving Small Business

Autodesk awards Alan Mascord Designs with eight seats of Autodesk Building Design Suite 2012 and more. Read more »

User Profile: Designer by Destiny
Looking back, Dawid van Rensburg's unpredictable journey into architecture was always in the cards. Read more »

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