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Create 3D Models with MAP-21 Requirements Using Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler

November 20, 2012 1 comment

Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler, part of the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite, Premium and Ultimate editions, is civil infrastructure software developed to:

  • Enable planners, engineers, and designers to model existing infrastructure and import detailed models in order to create realistic 3D models of the environment;
  • Sketch early-stage designs directly into 3D models;
  • Create and manage multiple alternatives;
  • Communicate visually rich infrastructure proposals; and generate preliminary design models which can be used to create submittal documentation in civil engineering software, such as AutoCAD Civil 3D.

In the following post we’ll describe how to use existing information to create compelling 3D design visualizations with MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) requirements in mind.

If you are installing Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler for the first time, review the hardware requirements to ensure your hardware will run the software efficiently. (For more advice on the best hardware configuration for Autodesk software, review our series on AutoCAD 2013. Much of the same advice applies to other Autodesk products.)

Once installed, to create a realistic 3D model using Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler:

  1. Start Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler and click new from the start page.
    Start Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler and click new from the start page.
  2. Choose a directory and name for your project.  If you know the extents of your project you can also enter them in here.
    Choose a directory and name for your project.
  3. With the project started, data is imported and used as the basis for your 3D model. Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler allows you to combine 3D and 2D data in order to create a full 3D scene.  For this post, we will use a terrain model (DEM) as our base 3D layer, and all of the other contextual data, like imagery, roads, and buildings come in 2D formats.  Click on ‘Data Sources’ from the ribbon; on the ‘add file data sources’ dropdown, select ‘Raster’.  After import this data source shows up in the ‘Data Sources’ panel.  Double-clicking the data source allows you to modify the viewing properties of this data source.  Click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button at the bottom of the configuration window to generate a 3D visualization in Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler.
    Click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button at the bottom of the configuration window to generate a 3D visualization in Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler.
  4. Add imagery using the same procedure.
    Add imagery using the same procedure.
  5. Use the same process to add roads, but use SHP as the Source Type.  In this example, roads are stored in a 2D Shapefile.  After import, double-click on the newly imported data source to configure it.  Select ‘Roads’ as the ‘Type’ in the dropdown list.  With ‘Roads’ selected you can now configure the roads style and other properties based on the metadata that comes with the Shapefile.  For instance, you can choose a style rule to match the 3D road style (striping, sidewalks, median, number of lanes, etc.) based on existing metadata.  Click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button on again to generate the 3D visualization.
    Use the same process to add roads, but use SHP as the Source Type.
    Select ‘Roads’ as the ‘Type’ in the dropdown list.
  6. Lastly, we’ll add buildings to our scenes using the same procedure outlined in step 5.  Select ‘Buildings’ as the ‘Type’ in the dropdown list.  Since the buildings in this case are 2D footprints, we’ll select an attribute with a Z-value (elevation or height) from the ‘roof height’ dropdown.  Once again click the ‘Close & Refresh’ button.
    Since the buildings in this case are 2D footprints, we’ll select an attribute with a Z-value (elevation or height) from the ‘roof height’ dropdown.

Voila! You have just created a 3D model using Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler.  You can use this model to sketch preliminary designs of new infrastructure which includes roads, railways, city furniture, water areas, and even buildings.  You can also exchange information with Civil 3D – using the IMX file type – to maintain consistent data and context as the project is further developed.  This 3D model-based approach enables you to deliver on MAP-21 requirements for 3D modeling and visualization, on infrastructure projects of varying scales.

This 3D model-based approach enables you to deliver onMAP-21 requirements for 3D modeling and visualization, on infrastructure projects of varying scales.

Author: Justin Lokitz, Senior Product Manager, Autodesk.

Dell Releases Four New CAD Workstation Models

May 30, 2012 3 comments

Spring has arrived, and the annual release of new CAD hardware is as dazzling as the blossoms on the trees outside. This season marks new beginnings, and the sense of renewal makes the CADspeed editors feel like digging into the latest releases and watching our hard work grow into something new and spectacular.

We found much to admire in Dell’s latest CAD hardware release, which comprises four new models featuring Intel microarchitecture and eight-core CPUs for multithreaded applications; generation three PCIe I/O support for improved visualization performance with next generation graphics; and up to 512 GB quad-channel memory for running large data sets in memory. They also offer the new NVIDIA Maximus technology, which allows users to run visualization and simulation tasks simultaneously. A range of professional-class graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA is available, up to the AMD FirePro V7900 and NVIDIA Quadro 6000.

Systems are certified to support a variety of high-end design and engineering applications from companies including Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, PTC, Siemens PLM Software, Adobe, and ESRI.

System Specs

The Dell Precision T7600 is the most powerful and expandable workstation in the line, designed for working with massive data sets such as those integral to video, animation, engineering, simulation, and scientific analysis. It reportedly features some of the highest-performing CPU stacks, power supplies, and graphics power for a dual-socket system. It offers as many as two Intel Xeon E5-2687W 150-W processors with a total of 16 computational cores, a 1300-W, 90% efficiency power supply, up to 600 W of graphics, and up to four full x16 graphics slots.

The Dell Precision T5600 is designed for space-constrained environments that need substantial compute capability. The dual-socket workstation is built to support complex 3D modeling, creating film and video content, and performing complex engineering and analysis work. It features up to two Intel Xeon processors, each supporting eight processing cores, 128 GB of quad-channel ECC memory, and two power supply options of 635 W or 825 W.

The Dell Precision T3600 is built to carry mid-range workloads, offering a balance of performance and scalability for mainstream 3D, CAD, computer-aided-manufacturing, and digital content creation. Key features include Intel Xeon processor E5-1600 or E5-2600 family, two power supply options, and up to 64 GB 1600-MHz ECC or non-ECC memory.

The entry-level Dell Precision T1650 is designed for users who don’t need high-end power but understand the benefits and importance of running professional applications on a professional workstation, according to Dell. It will offer certified performance for professionals working with 2D CAD drawings and basic 3D models, editing photos, or developing web content. It will feature next-generation Intel Xeon processors, up to 75 W for graphics and new ISV and graphic certifications.

Pricing

  • Dell Precision T7600 pricing starts at $2,149
  • Dell Precision T5600 pricing starts at $1,879
  • Dell Precision T3600 pricing starts at $1,099
  • Pricing for the T1650 pricing starts at $649

Author: CADspeed editors

TurboCAD Pro v19 on 64-bit Operating System: A Case Study on Photorealistic 3D Rendering

May 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The release of IMSI TurboCAD Pro v19 this spring marked the first version of this CAD platform available in a 64-bit version. Previous versions of TurboCAD were only available as 32-bit, which limited the use of onboard memory for opening and manipulating large CAD files and for performing memory-intensive functions such as photorealistic rendering. No longer! Now TurboCAD users can experience the full capacity of the 64-bit versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

The Advantages of a 64-Bit Application

The advantage of a 64-bit application working on a 64-bit OS means the program can address up to 48 times more available RAM (memory) than with a 32-bit application.

TurboCAD user Ken Friend has been using desktop CAD to create model kit designs. Initially, Ken used TurboCAD for 2D plans but then quickly evolved in using it for 3D design, taking advantage of the solid modeling capability introduced back in TurboCAD v6.

At that time, he designed a radio-controlled glider, which used an electric motor to take the plane to altitude. Once at altitude the motor would be switched off and the plane would glide back to earth. Ken said that one of the advantages to using TurboCAD at that time was the great way you could design rounded corners (3D fillets) for the fuselage and wings.

Rendering with 64-bit TurboCAD

More recently, Ken has been involved in modeling an ocean liner, the Normandie, with TurboCAD. Ken is making the model as the ship was originally built in the early 1930s. The rendering below of Ken Friend’s cruise ship file (250 MB) was never even able to be opened with previous versions of TurboCAD, let alone rendered!

Model of the Normandie rendered in TurboCAD Pro v19.

Model of the Normandie rendered in TurboCAD Pro v19.

Ken has been working on this modeling project for the past 2 1/2 years. Back in 2009, Ken actually received a third place in one of the first TurboCAD Challenges put on by Don Cheke for an early version of this 1/350 scale model. Ken’s goal is to create a kit that can be sold to modeling hobbyists. Ken’s been able to reduce the size of the model from 250 MB in size to a more manageable 65 MB by converting much of the solid modeling detail to surfaces.

He’s also now taking advantage of advances in 3D printer technology, including the more affordable prices, in order to manufacture the ship’s hull in sections. He hopes in the future to also print out smaller, more detailed components of the ship as well.

3D print model of the Normandie.

3D print model of the Normandie.

With a 64-bit OS and TurboCAD v19, users no longer have to struggle to open large files or see that annoying message in the middle of your rendering that says the system is low on memory and may not be able to complete the operation. Instead, if your system has additional memory, the 64-bit version of TurboCAD Pro will fully utilize it and large drawings will open smoothly and can be edited or rendered without a significant fall-off in performance.

Author: Bob Mayer, Chief Operating Officer, IMSI/Design

Hardware Requirements Released for AutoCAD 2013

April 24, 2012 2 comments

Autodesk has released the platform and system requirements for AutoCAD 2013, which was launched on March 27, 2012. You can review the system requirements on the Autodesk website.

Below are a few frequently asked questions about AutoCAD 2013.

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support 64-bit operating systems?

Yes. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support Windows Vista?

No, AutoCAD 2013 does not support the Windows Vista® operating system.

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support Mac OS X?

AutoCAD 2013 for Mac supports some versions of Mac OS® X. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)

What are the differences between AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD 2013 for Mac?

AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD 2013 for Mac are based on much of the same source code; however, AutoCAD for Mac 2013 has a look and feel that is familiar to users of other Mac software. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support multiple CPU systems?

Yes, AutoCAD 2013 software supports multiple CPUs. The performance of AutoCAD graphics and rendering systems benefits from multiple CPU systems.

Technology Makeover Supplies CAD Hardware/Software to Deserving Small Business

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Autodesk Building Design Suite 2012Autodesk and Lenovo have recently teamed up to help create Technology Makeover, a program that supplies hardware and software to a deserving small business.  For the first ever award of this program, Autodesk reseller Ideate was asked to recommend a customer. That customer turned out to be Alan Mascord Designs.

Alan Mascord Designs is an architectural design firm in based in Portland, Oregon. They were an early adopter of technology when founder Alan Mascord went cold turkey from the drafting table to an AutoCAD equipped PC back in the 1980s. For the next couple of decades, the company grew as did their reliance on current hardware and software technology. In the mid-2000s however, as the economic crisis hit, Mascord was forced to make some tough choices. Staff was reduced by half and company morale was at a low point. It was also during this time that Mascord avoided making large investments in hardware and software.

This is where Autodesk and Lenovo came in this year.  As a result of the Technology Makeover, Mascord received eight seats of Autodesk Building Design Suite 2012, five new Lenovo workstations, one new Lenovo server, a Lenovo tablet, two 3D mice, and twenty five Autodesk training guides — all free of charge.  Autodesk reseller Ideate also provided three days of training for five employees.

“Lenovo and Autodesk were excited to team up on this Technology Makeover,” said Amy Bunszel, vice president of AutoCAD Products at Autodesk.  “We know many of our customers are still struggling through this down economy, and both Autodesk and Lenovo wanted to do something that could make a significant impact.”

Other than the obvious, Mascord has witnessed a boost in morale among employees and a very tangible benefit, an increase in business due to the new 3D design services they now offer.

Gary Higginbotham, Director of Marketing, Graphic Design and Green Building at Alan Mascord Design Associates says, “Autodesk’s generosity and fantastic new tools and resources give the staff a huge morale boost and provides our business an opportunity to innovate and redefine what we can do for our clients — which will help us recover from the economic turmoil the residential construction industry has experienced in a more efficient, streamlined and much faster fashion than we would have otherwise been able to do.”

If you are wondering about future awards of the Technology Makeover, Melissa Christensen, Director of AutoCAD Marketing says, “Due to the positive response from Mascord and the public, Autodesk will soon be launching a contest to find the next small business for a Technology Makeover. Look for more information on the AutoCAD Facebook page in the coming weeks.”

For more information on this story, catch the five part series on YouTube at:

Author: R.K. McSwain

Installing Autodesk 2012 Software? Prep Your System First!

November 1, 2011 2 comments

Autodesk has released it’s juicy new 2012 software upgrades, and you finally have that software license in your hand. Here’s a few tips from the Autodesk folks on preparing your system before installing Autodesk software.

Installing your Autodesk software consists of the three main steps shown in the diagram below. This guide will take you through the first step of preparing your system before beginning the installation process.

Installation process for Autodesk 2012 products.

Installation process for Autodesk 2012 products.

Before you begin your installation, it is important that you first prepare your system. Preparing your system is essential to a smooth and successful installation of your Autodesk product and consists of five simple tasks. Click on the tasks below for further explanation.

The concepts and procedures apply to all Autodesk 2012 products.

What Type of Computer Do You Use for CAD Work?

September 23, 2011 6 comments

Since early August, Cadalyst.com has been running a poll asking users, “What type of computer do you use primarily for CAD-related work?” As this post went live, 905 people had voted.

As every user knows, CAD software isn’t your standard PC software. It takes some horsepower to work with these heavy-duty programs. Add 3D rendering, design analysis, or other high-end tools, and you’ve got to have a machine with some muscle behind it. So we aren’t too surprised that our poll results show that desktop professional workstations are, so far, the most common among our readership (37%). The standard desktop PC is a close second (35%).

Mobile workstations (11%) and standard PC notebooks (8%) are making a respectable showing in our poll. Mobile computers offer a great deal of flexibility, especially for those who travel, and in recent years have evolved to offer power that’s comparable to that of a desktop system. However, that mobility comes at a price. Whether opting for a mobile workstation or standard PC notebook, the user can expect to pay a premium for mobility. This may be the greatest factor behind most companies’ decisions to opt for desktop systems.

Last, but just as intriguing, is the number of Mac users (7%) who have responded. Mac OS owns about 10.7% of overall PC market share as of summer 2011, according to research firm Gartner. However, fewer Mac-based software solutions are available for the Mac user vs. the PC user — in fact, AutoCAD for Mac was absent from the market for nearly two decades until its reintroduction

last year — which likely explains the nearly 4% lower adoption rate indicated by our poll. As Mac continues to grow in popularity and software developers continue to introduce more Mac-based CAD products, this number will no doubt increase.

So, what type of computer are you using for CAD? Are you part of the desktop crowd, going mobile, or having a Mac attack? It’s not too late to chime in. Vote today!

Test your powers of prediction and comment below on any hardware trends you see in the CAD world!

What type of computer do you use for CAD work?

Current poll results

Detect AutoCAD Type: 32-bit or 64-bit?

September 21, 2011 3 comments

Mathew Kirkland has put together a routine that will determine whether the version of AutoCAD installed on a particular machine is 32-bit or 64-bit. This is useful if you manage various machines in a mixed environment, because some third-party routines require different files to be loaded depending on the version.

View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Want more information about upgrading to a 64-bit operating system? Check out Curt Moreno’s series on CADspeed!

Speed Up Civil 3D with a 64-bit Operating System, Part 3: Selling to the Boss

September 8, 2011 1 comment

Windows 7 64-bit Operating System for Civil 3DSo far, we’ve covered the advantages of upgrading a 64-bit operating system for Civil 3D and other CAD applications as well as the benefits in non-CAD tasks also.

All of these benefits are driving the PC market to embrace 64-bit operating systems like never before. Last year the Windows Blog reported the installed was approaching 50% and NPD recently reported that over 75% of computer systems on retail shelves were being sold with some flavor of Windows 7 64-bit pre-installed. All of this makes it clear that the 32-bit OS is a thing of the past and prime for extinction soon.

The best way to future-proof that Civil 3D workstation for tomorrow is to recognize this trend and migrate to 64-bit today!

Benefits versus Costs

Since almost any new CAD system you order from a big manufacturer will come preloaded with Windows 7 64-bit, the real decision lies in updating your old systems. Costs for licenses will vary depending on your software source and your licensing relationship with Microsoft. But it is safe to assume that the change will cost a few hundred dollars to install Windows 7 64-bit on each machine.

While that may seem like a hard pill to swallow consider this: Assume a man year is over 2000 hours. Billing at an average rate of $60/hour, if your employees could improve renderings, processing, and files open/save procedures to save just one minute per hour that would equate to $2000 of billable time a year! That means your 64-bit investment would pay for itself in a single year! Now those are numbers worth taking to the boss.

If after all of this you are still set on keeping your old, tired 32-bit system, we understand. Change is scary. Drop us an email and let us know how things are back in the 1990s. You can address it to “the future of Civil 3D.” We’d love to hear from you.

Author: Curt Moreno

Speed Up Civil 3D with a 64-bit Operating System, Part 2: Non-CAD Tasks

September 7, 2011 2 comments

Windows 7 64-bit Operating System for Civil 3DWe’ve been discussing Civil 3D and other CAD applications up to this point. But the average CAD workstation has to do so much more than CAD. Well if you are running a 64-bit operating system you are going to see benefits in these non-CAD tasks also.

Thanks to the aforementioned improvements in memory and computational management, even the most boring tasks will be improved. For instance Microsoft Office Excel will be able to open massive workbook faster and easier since it no longer has to break the data into “manageable” 2GB chunks. Microsoft Project will handle huge projects with greater ease and fewer stalls/crashes when multiple sub-projects are involved. Adobe Photoshop will render and perform file open/save functions much faster. And that is just to name a few of the great things that 64-bit operating systems can do.

But if CAD is really all you are concerned with then here is the best news of all. Many modern CAD applications are available in native 64-bit versions. These newly improved releases sport better reliability, data management, and memory utilization. What does that all mean? It means you will be rocking you CAD drawings at maximum velocity!

Next, we’ll sell it to your boss.

Author: Curt Moreno

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