MCAD Tech News (#256)

10 Dec, 2008

AU 2008: Greening Las Vegas?p>

This year's Autodesk University in Sin City emphasized green, sustainable design and technologies.

By Jeffrey Rowe

Jeffrey Rowe photo

I'll say it up front, and without going into detail, Las Vegas is not at the top of my list of favorite cities to visit. However, the manufactured environment and the engineered life experience that is Las Vegas in a strange way seemed to provide a good venue for this year's Autodesk University (AU) 2008, held December 2-5 at the Venetian Resort and Hotel. I was joined by what I estimated to be more than 10,000 attendees who experienced some interesting keynote addresses, more than 600 classes, and 130-plus vendors in the exhibition hall.

Prominently displayed near the registration area was Autodesk's Sustainable by Design booth that featured demonstrations of its efforts and the results of its sustainability report with regard to its global operations. It also featured design products and examples across different industries for enabling more sustainable design decisions. Digital prototyping and 3D modeling were showcased in terms of visualization, simulation, and analysis to demonstrate how they could be implemented in sustainable design practices.

Here, from Autodesk's perspective, are the four basic tenets of its strategy for sustainable design:

  • Conduct business responsibly.
  • Minimize the environmental impact of operations.
  • Optimize design products for doing sustainable design.
  • Partner with companies that can maximize the sustainable effort put forth by Autodesk.

These are all impressive goals, but holding a conference like AU in Las Vegas with all the attendant excess, consumerism, and disposables (virtually no recycling that I saw) is hardly what I'd term green or sustainable. On the other hand, Las Vegas may be about the only venue in the country that can affordably accommodate a crowd as big as this.

What If vs. What Else
The opening general session for this year's AU was themed "Design Innovation." I feel the whole "innovation" thing is getting old, much like "paradigm shift," "totally integrated solution," and "seamlessly interoperable." That aside, the session was actually informative and entertaining. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Jeffrey Rowe is the principal of Cairowest Group, an independent industrial design, mechanical engineering, and technical communication consulting firm with offices in Colorado and Michigan. You can reach him by e-mail at or by phone at 719.221.1867.


Success Stories:
Sculpting Better Sound

Formerly known as Phoenix Gold, Rodin has specialized in sound engineering and system design since 1985. The company considers the design of speakers, amplifiers, and cables an art. Pushing the boundaries of innovation became easier once Rodin moved from 2D AutoCAD to 3D Autodesk Inventor software.

The Challenge
To reduce costs, Rodin relies on selected partners to manufacture its products. But when communicated as 2D drawings, the company's designs are often lost in translation. "With AutoCAD drawings, people must use their imaginations to 'see' the shape of a design," said Phil Eichmiller, industrial and mechanical designer at Rodin. "Before moving to 3D, we typically went through several physical prototypes before our manufacturing partners got it right."

Difficulty communicating wasn't the only thing clogging Rodin's design pipeline. Using AutoCAD for sheet metal design proved time consuming. "For example, to perfect bend deductions, you move things around by small degrees," Eichmiller said. "It takes a lot of diligence and manual manipulation to get it right."

The Solution
By moving from 2D AutoCAD to 3D Autodesk Inventor software, the company reports it has reduced manual design tasks, produced fewer physical prototypes, and now communicates more effectively with manufacturing partners. As a result, the company spends more time on creating its designs. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

Introduction to AutoCAD Electrical 2009
December 18, 2008
10:30 a.m. CST
During this webinar, from Applied Engineering Technology, attendees will learn how Autodesk Productstream can be used for file organization and search, design reuse with copy design, and design revisions and lifecycles. Read more »

RAPID 2009 Conference and Exposition
May 12-14, 2009
Schaumburg, IL
Attendees of the event, hosted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, can evaluate the latest materials and machinery, compare processes, talk to industry experts, and make valuable contacts. Read more »

Siemens PLM Connection Americas 2009
June 1-4, 2009
Nashville, Tennessee
PLM World's four-day conference is a forum for users of Siemens PLM products to exchange software knowledge in technical sessions, attend training sessions, and network one-on-one with other users and professionals. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on