30 Sep, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Behind the scenes in the world of CAD.


Before you dismiss the iPhone as a wasteful new gadget, you might want to see what Patricia Stough and her staff at the small boutique firm, Patty the Architect, have been doing with it. According to Graphisoft, they've been accessing their full library of design and construction documents and 3D virtual building models with Apple's new toy. Soon, Stough plans to use ArchiCAD and iPhone to bring cinematic fly-throughs of ArchiCAD BIM models on site and directly access drawings on her Web site via Apple's Safari Web browser.

"The days of hauling scrolls of paper drawings to job sites only to discover I forgot a critical document are over," said Stough. "I can now carry even the largest, most complex and detailed ArchiCAD models in the palm of my hand. The ability to bring 3D digital drawings on site is a huge advantage, enabling me to better communicate and coordinate with everyone involved in the project."

Push and Pull

In September, Alibre launched the latest version of its industrial design software, Alibre Design v10. Among its latest features are "direct editing tools [that] let you push and pull faces precisely to where you want them and also allow you to model conceptually," the company announced. This design method is expected to be a hit with people who regularly deal with "imported geometry with no design history," Alibre points out.

Those who are familiar with SpaceClaim, a relative newcomer to the CAD market, likely will recognize the same push-and-pull mechanism in SpaceClaim Professional 2007 software's modeling interface.

Playful Simulation

Where will the next architectural or civil simulation technology come from? It may come from the entertainment and game-development sector, judging from SIGGRAPH 2007. Among the exhibitors was Massive Software, which licenses its AI engine to drive computer-generated crowd behaviors in film and game. The engine was available on Linux only, but now, beginning with version 3, the technology can be implemented on the Windows platform as well.

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If it can be configured to work with CAD-built environments, the same engine that once animated the vehicles in King Kong and the orcs and elves in Lord of the Rings could prove a good fit for studying inner-city traffic flow in civil engineering or evacuation efficiency in facilities management and architecture. (For more, see "Animation Possibilities for AEC," AEC Tech News #208, September 9, 2007.)

Freeware in India

If you're an Indian engineer who can't afford AutoCAD, what are your options? One of them might be f2D, a full-featured commercial 2D CAD package from think3. Part of the company's free2Design campaign, f2D is available as a free download for the first time in India.

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The company began distributing f2D in China in October 2006. To promote the use of f2D, think3 is partnering with the Beijing University of Technology, the Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology, and other institutions in China and India. think3's efforts are preceded by Autodesk's. In April 2006, the AutoCAD giant began establishing centers of excellence in schools across the Asia Pacific region to promote the use of its software overseas (see "Auto-desk's Passage to India," "Tech Trends," Cadalyst, June 2006, p. 14).

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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