Editor's Window28 Feb, 2007 By: Amy Stankiewicz
Like other companies in today's CAD arena, Autodesk is pushing ahead with ways to get designs to market faster.
Autodesk continues to emphasize the importance of technologies that can help manufacturers and architects get designs to market faster than ever. And nowhere was that more apparent than during its World Press Day last month, when journalists from around the world traveled to San Francisco to hear about the company's latest innovations intended to streamline the design cycle. Particular focus was set on the cost benefits that manufacturers can realize by replacing many physical prototypes with digital ones.
Amy Stankiewicz, Editor-In-Chief, Cadalyst
Autodesk is striving to "redefine" digital prototyping, said Buzz Kross, vice-president of Manufacturing solutions, adding that such prototyping demands tools for digital modeling, integrated mechanical and electrical, visualization and full product simulation. Features that facilitate these capabilities can be found in today's latest 3D modeling software, including Autodesk Inventor.
Autodesk bundles Inventor with AutoCAD (the company's flagship 2D design solution), mainly to support the 2D/3D hybrid workflows seen in today's manufacturing sector. To reinforce its dedication to 2D users, Autodesk has also added a variety of new features to AutoCAD 2008, all of which can help get designs completed, analyzed, approved and to the shop floor in record time.
New innovations in digital design are affecting more than the manufacturing world. Jay Bhatt, Autodesk's vice-president of AEC solutions, took the stage at the beginning of World Press Day to note the various forces that are driving the need for greater innovation in architecture. Explosive population growth and the fact that one-half of the buildings that will exist in 2030 don't exist today mean ongoing demand for building designers, he said.
Enter Autodesk's building information modeling (BIM) solutions, technology designed to move the AEC market toward a fully digital workflow. Autodesk showcased an impressive reshuffling its BIM product line. Starting in 2008, Revit Building will be Revit Architecture 2008. Revit Systems is now Revit MEP 2008. And Revit Structure 2008, in Autodesk's words, makes it "easier for structural engineers, designers and drafters to design and visualize their structures."
According to Patrick MacLeamy, CEO of architectural firm HOK and a speaker at World Press Day, BIM is redefining relationships between architects and contractors. The technology is also enabling architects to move the majority of design iterations to the front end of the workflow, where it's least expensive and time-consuming to make changes. These are all positive changes, but how many firms are actually moving toward 3D? According to Bhatt, only 5–10% of AEC has moved to 3D to date. And according to Jim Lynch, Autodesk's vice-president of marketing for AEC solutions, "We believe that 2D processes are going to be around for a long time, and we're committed to supporting them."
It's shaping up to be an interesting year for designers. We at Cadalyst will be sure to stay up to speed on these new technologies and the industries that are adopting them throughout 2007 and beyond.