Autodesk acquires MechSoft technology for Inventor

22 Feb, 2004 By: Sara Ferris

(2/24/2004) Autodesk announced today that it plans to acquire certain assets of MechSoft. MechSoft’s add-on product, also called MechSoft, provides more than 50 calculators and design wizards for creation of components such as shafts, gears, cams, and springs. In addition, it contains a drag-and-drop library of 1.5 million parts and a mechanical engineering handbook. MechSoft is currently available as an add-on for Autodesk Inventor as well as SolidWorks, Solid Edge, and other applications.

Autodesk describes the MechSoft tools as functional design (not to be confused with functional modeling, a concept promoted by ImpactXoft). Functional designs are based on mechanical relationships and engineering principles, not geometric constraints and parameters. For example, you can design a gear set based on loading and reduction ratios rather than size and placement. Given your input, MechSoft generates the geometry. The engineering and relationship data is stored in the part file. Autodesk plans to make the MechSoft technology available to Inventor subscribers and eventually incorporate it into the Inventor Series and Inventor Professional products.

In regard to whether Autodesk will continue to offer MechSoft for competing MCAD applications, Buzz Kross, vice-president of Autodesk’s Manufacturing Solutions Division, said Autodesk “will try to be a friendly partner when we can.” Autodesk did not divulge the terms of the agreement, but Kross said the company will retain the MechSoft development team, which is based in the Czech Republic.

As an example of the benefits of functional design, Kross cited a project that is modeling the XH44 (experimental Hiller 1944) helicopter on loan to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California. The XH44 was a pioneering helicopter for Hiller Aviation, but plans no longer exist and access to the actual helicopter is limited. A team led by Charles Bliss modeled the airframe in Inventor, then used MechSoft to generate models of mechanical components contained in inaccessible housings. They entered known data into MechSoft, which then automatically created gears, bearings, and shafts. By changing design variables and updating the components, the team quickly determined which gears could both handle the load and fit into the casings.