30 Apr, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Behind the scenes in the world of CAD.

Personal CADSpace

After establishing its presence on the video-sharing site YouTube (see "CADTube," Cadalyst, April 2007), the CAD community is moving into the MySpace social network. Pioneers include Cad Mechanics, a team of drafters and designers.


The profile template's limitations forced Cad Mechanics to assume the identity of a 28-year-old male. Pro/ENGINEER Training, an online tutorial provider, similarly set up shop as a 26-year-old male.

Studio Modu, a budding industrial design firm, signs on as a 29-year-old single male, looking to meet "industrial designers, product designers, architects . . . graphic designers, CAD gurus, machinists, punks."

The profile of Melanie, "Mistress of the Dorkness," reveals that she's "all about AutoCAD, Autodesk Map-3D, FMDesktop, ABS and Revit Systems." When not reading thrillers by Dean Koontz and J.R.R. Tolkien epics, Melanie also runs the local chapter of the Gateway Autodesk users group.

Rebuilding Rwanda

It appears that outsourcing can be an act of sociopolitical benevolence. Relying on the growing engineering talent pool in Rwanda, Solid- works has partnered with the Rwandan government to launch Gasabo 3D Design. Set to open between May and July 2007, the company will provide "large manufacturers a cost-effective and fast way to convert vital 2D files into accurate 3D models," said SolidWorks CEO John McEleney.

Contracting Gasabo to do your conversion will provide employment to the students at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and the École Technique Officielle Gitarama secondary technical school, both local partners in the joint venture. It'll help a population struggling to recover from nearly one-half century of civil wars and genocides as well.

Talent's Closer than You Think

Roopinder Tara, editor-in-chief of, is now the president and CEO of Innovate3D as well. Tara launched the new firm to provide 3D modeling services to those in need of solid models and online 3D catalogs.

For promotion, the company is offering to give away the first 500 parts (limited to one model per company per month) for free. So far, 358 have been distributed, Tara said.

When asked to verify a report that says Innovate3D relies on low-cost Indian labor to deliver its services, Tara replied in good humor, "We've always had Indian talent -- as you know, I'm Indian." In fact, he recruits talent wherever he can find it, because "physical location is not so important. Our people make use of phones, e-mail and IM [instant messaging] to stay connected," he clarified. The entrepreneurial newsman is even considering subcontracting Gasabo, the SolidWorks-supported CAD service provider in Rwanda mentioned above, to do some of the work.

Lease, or Leash?

Most analysts and reporters are quite dazzled by SpaceClaim, the brainchild of CAD veteran Mike Payne and his colleagues. But its unorthodox pricing has raised a few eyebrows. Mimicking the SaaS (software-as-a-service) approach now catching on in the PLM (product lifecycle management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) sectors, SpaceClaim's makers are offering the new 3D modeler under lease agreements. A one-year lease is $1,700; a three-year lease is $4,500. When the lease expires, the software converts into a viewer.

On CAD software developer Deelip Menezes's blog, one visitor wrote, "I'm not thrilled by the fact that if you stop paying, the software stops working. It would be nice to always have access to functional software."

However, according to SpaceClaim's Elizabeth Vassiliou, "Technically speaking, the software does not stop working . . . you can get access to view your designs."

Kenneth Wong explores innovative use of technology as a freelance writer.

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About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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