Event Report: Autodesk University 2006, Part 4

4 Dec, 2006

Continuing our look at products that debuted in Las Vegas last week, we find several new tools for manufacturing and AEC

In yesterday's edition of Cadalyst Daily, I offered a glimpse at some of the new hardware and general-interest software that debuted last week at Autodesk University 2006 in Las Vegas. In today's tour of the exhibit hall, I'll briefly note new and interesting applications specific to manufacturing and AEC users. Space here is limited, so please watch the New Products announcements in upcoming editions of Cadalyst Daily for additional product updates and releases.

New for Manufacturing
In manufacturing, new add-ons I saw were for data management tools, not for core design software. For Autodesk Productstream, Avatech Solutions introduced Product Browser to provide downstream access to information stored in Productstream. The browser is aimed at functions such as purchasing, field engineering, shop floor work and customer support.

Avatech Product Browser provides Productstream information to users in sales, customer support, production and other downstream areas.

Synergis announced the debut of two additions to its Adept 7 data management product, scheduled for first quarter 2007. The Adept 7 Web client provides browser-based access to the Adept database for downstream users. The browser uses technology from Cimmetry that supports 300 file formats. Adept PrintWave is a server-based batch printing and publishing tool for Adept users who need to produce plots or PDFs. It uses each file's native application to ensure print quality. Applications supported in the first release include AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks and Microsoft Word and Excel.

Building Boom
Though Autodesk is positioning Revit as its BIM (building information modeling) product and Architectural Desktop as "AutoCAD for architects," some of its third-party developers apparently didn't get the memo. On the AU show floor, I viewed several add-ons that not only extend Revit's functionality, but implement (dare I say) BIM-like capabilities in Architectural Desktop.

Expect to see more developer activity around Revit now that Autodesk has finally finished its API (application programming interface). I remember the good old days (a mere 3-4 years ago) when Autodesk scoffed at the API as a characteristic of CAD applications. Revit didn't need one because it provided ODBC export of the model data.

ADS (Architectural Data Solutions), for one, is not afraid to use BIM and ADT in the same sentence. It offers a Web-based tool for integrating specifications and product catalogs with a Revit or Architectural Desktop model. Its online ADSearch enables designers to search 900 different product catalogs.

U.S. Cost offers Success Design Exchange to facilitate data transfer between a Revit model and Success Estimator. Design Exchange lists all objects in a Revit building model so that they can be linked or mapped to commercial cost databases such as R.S. Means.

Project specifications are kept in sync with the building model via e-SPECS from InterSpec. The application also includes a browser that helps with selecting actual products that meet the specifications. Versions are available for Revit and AutoCAD/Architectural Desktop. With the Revit version, users can automatically publish the entire project to Autodesk Buzzsaw.

AmeriCAD positions its VisionREZ software as the BIM choice for residential design. The product runs on Architectural Desktop and implements specialized tools, including a custom roof tool that makes it easy to implement changes. The next release will add links to Simpson Strong Tie, the company reports, enabling users to add that company's products directly to ADT models. Links with other manufacturers are planned.

COINS Framing from Construction Industry Solutions runs on Architectural Desktop 2005-2007 to convert existing walls and linework to timber and lightweight steel framing models. The free program creates dimensioned manufacturing drawings, with schedules, that can be exported to cutting saws. When the framing model is changed, the drawings automatically update.

COINS offers a free utility for Architectural Desktop 2007 and Building Systems 2007. It searches for and selects objects based on their attached property data.

Aimed at the offsite construction industry (timber frame, steel frame, log homes), hsbCAD is a module-based application that integrates with AutoCAD/Architectural Desktop. Users create a single model using wall, floor and roof objects. hsbCAD can link to Microsoft Excel and Access for materials takeoffs and cost estimating, and it provides data export for manufacturing equipment such as framing stations and automated saws.

IES grabbed the spotlight in various Autodesk presentations with its energy analysis tools, which can work with data from a Revit building model. The IES Virtual Environment helps architects evaluate designs for energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, occupant comfort and LEED criteria. Support for accreditations such as California Title 24 and LEED/ASHRAE Performance Rating Methods are in the works, according to the company. Presentations demonstrated how BIM can facilitate what-if scenarios: On its initial pass through an IES analysis, a building failed to meet LEED daylight standards. Back in Revit, the building was rotated 15 degrees, reanalyzed and given a passing grade.