How to Catch Design Problems Quicker With Geometric DFX

March 13, 2015 Leave a comment

If DFX sounds like a new product to you, it isn’t. For some time, it has been offered as an add-on product called DFMPro, which has been integrated into a number of high-profile CAD software solutions, including SolidWorks, Creo, and NX. DFX is the stand-alone product now offered by Geometric. While DMFPro works within a specific MCAD software package, DFX works with native models and assemblies in almost all CAD software programs. The cool thing about DFX is how easy it makes finding design flaws in the early design stages, helping to eliminate engineering change orders (ECOs).

What’s Useful About DFX?

ECOs are wasteful and expensive. It is estimated that ECOs are responsible for eating up some 20 to 50 percent of the total cost of designing and producing a product, and about 30 to 50 percent of the cost of engineering and research and development capacities. Some design flaws aren’t evident until much later in the development process, such as when the product hits the production line, during product testing, or when the end customer begins to complain.

DFX helps eliminate this waste of time and resources in a simple, user-friendly way. It automatically recognizes areas of the design that need special attention, such as the placement of holes and bends, how wide ribs and slots are, and the height of bosses. DFX as a stand-alone product can help eliminate cost overruns, and speed the time to market.

DFX combines the in-house knowledge base with industry best practices and automatically applies the design rules with just a few clicks of the mouse. It is also customizable for specific industry needs, as well as particular company or user needs and preferences.

How Does DFX Work?

It isn’t necessary to be an experienced CAD designer to leverage this product. DFX requires only basic CAD software knowledge to operate, such as how to rotate, zoom, etc. It combines a number of knowledge bases, including technical documentation, data from testing and analysis on previous projects, and known ways to improve efficiency and lower costs with designs.

Once the knowledge is added to the system and the program is configured according to needs and preferences, it looks for issues that might be found in production or during product use. This includes identifying issues like mold release when manufacturing plastic parts and pieces, bending issues often seen in sheet metals, and service access problems associated with making parts. It helps users identify design flaws at the earliest possible stage of development, when these issues are quick, easy, and cheap to resolve.

DFX Compatibility

Geometric DFX works in most CAD formats, including:

• SolidWorks
• CATIA
• Creo
• Inventor
• NX
• Solid Edge

It is also compatible with most neutral formats, including:

• IGES
• STEP
• Parasolid

DFX is useful for injection molding, sheet metal, machining, castings, and assembly. A free trial of the product, as well as demos and videos, are available at the Geometric DFMPro website.

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For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Read up on the latest product reviews, news, information, announcements, and more today at the Cadalyst website.

 

Categories: AutoCAD, Backup System Tags: ,

A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey, Part 6: Take Me to Your Mleader!

March 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Cadalyst’s blog series by Patrick Hughes, A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey into Modern Times. In this three-month series, Hughes chronicles his transition from AutoCAD R14 to v2015 and from an outdated PC to a state-of-the-art professional workstation. Follow along and enjoy!

In my last post I discussed Mleaders. I’ll make good use of them, but to my dismay I’ve run into a little stumbling block. Nothing insurmountable mind you, but forewarned is forearmed as they say. Perhaps my problems started when I first established my standards. Rather than load my drawings with custom styles, I simply modified the Standard styles. I set my standard dimensions to display dimension and extension lines to one color and dimension text to another color. These standards applied to leaders as well.

It became complicated when I began to work with the thousands of legacy drawings I’ve accumulated over the years. Now when I work in a legacy drawing and execute Mleader, the resulting object doesn’t conform to my standard. And, yes, I have updated Mleader’s standard style in my template files. This should solve it, right? Unfortunately, it proved cumbersome getting the revised standard style into the working drawing.

An Eon Ago

Long ago I wrote a simple AutoLISP routine, Reset, that resets all system variables and other working environments back to a known state. This is handy if a macro or other tool cancels a command and doesn’t reset certain sysvars and settings such as running OSnaps, UCSIcon display, Pickbox size, and the like. When AutoCAD added the Dimassoc variable, I solved the problem by adding that to my Reset command. Things were different with the MLeader standard style because that object type was not in my legacy drawings resulting in a variable search being none. Furthermore, there isn’t a command line alternative to the MLeader Style Manager.

One of AutoCAD’s shining strengths is numerous ways you can automate tasks, including its simplest form, the Script command. Before going in that direction, I tried the Action Recorder (introduced in AutoCAD 2009) that would hopefully allow a one-click solution. Unfortunately, the input into the Mleader Style Manager failed to be recorded — the recording merely displayed the dialog box and did not record my interactions within the dialog box. While this was disappointing, I do see some potential with the Action Recorder.

I also tried Design Center, another new tool, but that also proved fruitless.

Batch processing to the rescue!

Batch Processing

I chose batch processing to overcome my dilemma. I briefly looked into using ScriptPro, however ScriptPro would have to open and close an AutoCAD session for each drawing. That would not be good. There may be a solution available in the Autodesk App Store, but I grabbed my own CadTempo batch processor that I’ve wanted to put to the test. Again, I felt it was going to be problematic to import the Standard Mleader style.

Many years ago, a chief engineer I worked for advised me on a problem solving technique that I’ve put to the test on many occasions. Essentially it involves inverting an unsuccessful attempt at a solution. In philosophical terms, if you cannot bring Mohammad to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammad. In dinosaur speak it goes something like: Grrr gnash gnash, Riiip, tear… Rwar.

So, I created a script template that issued the following command sequence:

New

acad

-Insert

Filename

0,0,0

1

1

0

Zoom

All

Explode

Last

-Wblock

Filename

Y

*

close

y

My first attempt replaced the FileName with the selected drawing names and then created final scripts with all the files to be processed. Unfortunately, the resulting drawings didn’t contain the correct Mleader style. I revised using a SaveAs sequence. The resulting script template is as follows:

New

acad

-Insert

Filename

0,0,0

1

1

0

Zoom

All

Explode

Last

SaveAs

2013

Filename

Y

Close

Finally, success!

Rawrrr!

In closing, AutoCAD offers an enormous amount of customization in how you work with the software, as well as how your drawing appears both on screen and plotted. You can’t expect a dinosaur with a brain the size of a walnut to see millions of years into the future and make the right decisions. But if he chooses badly, there thankfully is always a good workaround.

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About the author: Patrick Hughes, machine designer and owner of Engineered Design Solutions in Rockford, Illinois, has worked with AutoCAD since 1991. He has developed a number of AutoLISP and other software solutions to automate his workflow and increase productivity, including the commercially available time tracking program, CadTempo.

Will HP Bring the Spark Back Into 3D Printing?

March 9, 2015 Leave a comment

It isn’t uncommon among new technologies. After the initial excitement lulls, sales slow and enthusiasm wanes. Sometimes innovations in the product can regenerate interest in the marketplace; sometimes those innovations don’t come or just don’t make a difference. It happened to fiber optic cables (everyone uses Ethernet for network connectivity instead), the Laserdisc (the predecessor to DVDs, which didn’t come along for another 20 years), and the QR code (developed in 1994, yet virtually unusable until the advent of social media just recently).

 

3D printing

3D printing was slated to revolutionize industries like medical science, construction, and manufacturing. What happened?

 

When 3D printing was first introduced, it was slated to entirely revolutionize manufacturing. No longer would design and production be centralized and reserved for the big companies; soon people would design and produce their own products at home or on the job site. Though the 3D printing industry saw gains during 2013-14, all of the gains were in a relatively small potential market: big business.

However, research completed by Gartner and Canalys points to a rapidly growing 3D printing industry in the very near future. Gartner expects the industry to double unit shipments in 2015, and again each of the next two years, culminating to a total of 2.3 million units by 2018, up from just 108,151 units sold during 2014. Canalys expects the market for printers, printing materials, and related services to expand from its current $2.5 billion to $16.2 billion by 2018.

One of the factors driving greater acceptance and adoption of 3D printing in the mass market is the introduction of a machine developed and marketed by 2D printing giant and legend, Hewlett-Packard. What is the industry lacking, and what can HP bring to the table?

What’s Hindering the Excitement Over 3D Printing?

 

3D printing

HP entering the 3D printing scene may mean that it isn’t scrapped like fiber optics and the Laserdisc player.

 

3D printers are expensive. These machines aren’t easy or intuitive to operate. The process is extremely slow, taking anywhere from a few hours to a few days to produce a useful product (if, indeed, the product is actually useful post-production). Some people even question the safety of these machines, given that many of the common materials used are potentially explosive, the printers run at dangerously high temperatures, and operation can possibly adversely affect indoor air quality. In all, consumer adoption of 3D printing has been significantly slower than anticipated.

What Does 3D Printing Need to Bring Back the Market Enthusiasm?

Though a few 3D printers are available for less than $1,000, it’s hard to get a feature-packed machine for reasonable money. Combining lower costs with higher-end features would definitely spark sales and regenerate excitement over the potential of 3D printers. Making the software more intuitive and user-friendly would also help. With the right software and features, computer aided design could be within the grasp of even casual users.

Another factor that could drive mass adoption is printer heads capable of working with more than a single group of materials. Currently, printer heads are limited to a single group, such as polymers. With printers capable of working with other materials, such as wood, metals, and glass, more people would be willing to invest in the technology.

Additionally, 3D printers need to get faster and more accurate. Few users are willing to wait days to produce an item that’s inevitably inferior to its mass-produced counterpart. Expiring and soon-to-be expiring patents are also driving the market for 3D printing. The open source future of 3D printing means costs will go down as speed and printing quality rises.

What Can HP Bring to the Equation?

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, HP showcased its new Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer, a joint venture with Intel. Intel provided the Core i7 processor, to which HP added the printer, a culmination of more than three decades of research and development on 2D printers. The result is a surprisingly fast 3D printer, which is also stunningly more affordable.

The Multi Jet Fusion demonstrated ten times the speed of 3D printers currently on the market, at a price half that of the competitors. A company which has consistently shown its ability to generate revenue growth of 60 percent year-over-year shouldn’t have any difficulty catapulting the acceptance and sales of a red-hot commodity like 3D printers.

What else can HP bring to the table? Its marketing skills have the potential to spread awareness and longing for 3D printers, since HP is already a household name. Competitors like Stratasys, 3D Systems, ExOne, and voxeljet are primarily known by CAD pros, not by the average consumer. However, as other mainstream companies such as General Electric (GE) and 3M enter the 3D printing landscape, product awareness and acceptance could finally become widespread.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD.

Categories: Printers Tags: ,

A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey, Part 5: Can’t Turn Back Now!

March 6, 2015 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Cadalyst’s blog series by Patrick Hughes, A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey into Modern Times. In this three-month series, Hughes chronicles his transition from AutoCAD R14 to v2015 and from an outdated PC to a state-of-the-art professional workstation. Follow along and enjoy!

A CAD Dinosaur's Journey into Modern TimesIt has become clear that digging deeper into AutoCAD 2015 is going to take me away from how I worked in R14. Oh, I’ll be using much of the same approaches I’ve always used, but I will incorporate many of the best current tools 2015 offers.

I don’t know when AutoCAD originally introduced associative dimensions, but when I started with AutoCAD 10 they were already in place and I’ve used them from the start. Some colleagues refused to use them and their dimensions were un-associated and they ended up with simple text and geometry entities. When grip editing came along, finally I could demonstrate to my colleagues how easy it was to perform updates and edits, and they finally adopted associative dimensions.

Now in 2015, imagine my surprise (note, flailing wee arms) when examining the properties of existing drawing dimensions that they were reported as non-associative. Upon further investigation I discovered that way back in R2002 DIMASSOC came onto the scene. This new variable truly associated the dimension to the geometry. This means that any change to the geometry affects the dimension as well adding new intelligence to the dimension. (It blows my walnut-sized brain!)

Original placement of each dimension type: autocad-dinosaur-part5-01 Awesome, new way: Intelligent associated dimension after moving the geometry. autocad-dinosaur-part5-02 Old school way: Non-intelligent associated dimension after moving the geometry. autocad-dinosaur-part5-03 You might not be able to tell that there is an inserted block made up of a circle and two centerlines. I performed a Move operation by grip editing the insert. I was pleased to note that when I performed a Scale operation on the insert, the dimension maintained the intelligent association.

I know I’ll get a lot of benefit from this. I don’t have to select the insert and the dimension nodes with a poly crossing window. Now, I can just pick-and-go. There may be occasions when the intelligent association breaks, but not to worry — they can easily be re-associated. Even this Dinosaur can figure it out.

Take me to your Leader, QLeader, or MLeader

Back in the day, we had leaders that would vaguely associate text (sorry, annotation) to an arrowed line and landing. I haven’t explored what they have to offer such as adding geometric tolerances or blocks, I’ve only used them in their basic form. That’s changing — starting now. (Insert dino foot stomp here.)

Although QLeaders were included as a bonus tool in R14, I didn’t use them. Now, as I take a look at the options available, I can see the advantages of the MLeader object which was introduced in AutoCAD 2008. In the past, when ballooning an assembly drawing or an exploded assembly illustration, it was a pain to position the labeled balloon. Back in the dark ages, I used a little AutoLISP routine the let me pick the leader start, the text location, and then finally place the balloon. It worked just fine as long as I didn’t need to reposition it. It got even more complicated if I had to re-align the balloon and text to an opposite quadrant from the pick point. On top of it all, the annotation wasn’t associated to the leader.

Now with MLeader at my command I can see that substantial time savings and improved appearance are in the cards for me. I’m able to reposition my annotation at will and the leader follows it around, properly realigning when I move across the leader start point.

I find it helpful to keep the Properties palette available. Just a quick double-click, I can easily modify all the settings that affect the display of my annotation. It’s also very convenient to immediately see the effect of modifying via the property palette as you scroll through the options.

Something else new to me (well, most things are) is the Selection Preview (new since R2006). When I first encountered it, I found it distracting. But, I’ve come around and now find that it allows me to make quick and accurate selections. A related item that is new to AutoCAD 2015 is the Command Preview that provides visual feedback to certain editing operations. When chamfering, filleting, trimming, and extending, you can see the results before committing to the edit. It’s like having your very own time machine to look into the future. How cool is that?

Rawrrr!

In closing, there’s an old saying that I know you’ll relate to: The only thing that is constant, is change. I think one of my old fossil cousins coined that phrase. I’ve found it to be true and confirmed on an almost daily basis. Whenever I “finish” a model or a drawing, there seems to be a never-ending march to “improve” upon it. The newer functionality of associated dimensions, easy maneuvering of MLeaders, quick and easy changes to properties, and automatically seeing my edits are an awesome way to cope with this constant change.

_________________

About the author: Patrick Hughes, machine designer and owner of Engineered Design Solutions in Rockford, Illinois, has worked with AutoCAD since 1991. He has developed a number of AutoLISP and other software solutions to automate his workflow and increase productivity, including the commercially available time tracking program, CadTempo.

A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey, Part 4: Get the Lay of the Land

March 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Cadalyst’s blog series by Patrick Hughes, A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey into Modern Times. In this three-month series, Hughes chronicles his transition from AutoCAD R14 to v2015 and from an outdated PC to a state-of-the-art professional workstation. Follow along and enjoy!

Live Long and ProsperEarlier I mentioned that the most obvious difference I’d discovered between AutoCAD Release 14 and modern-day AutoCAD was the ribbon interface. In truth, that difference only scratches the surface of what’s in store when you update AutoCAD. Some users dislike the ribbon (undeservedly, in my opinion), there are several significant changes that are of great value.

Many of you coming from a more recent AutoCAD version are more familiar with these features, but 2015 improves on them. One such feature that I’ve been eager to sink my teeth into is the Multiple Document Interface (MDI). The MDI was introduced in AutoCAD 2000 and lets users work on several drawings within one AutoCAD session. You no longer need to close one drawing to access another. Previously, many advanced users opened two or more AutoCAD instances to switch between drawings — never more. Now, if I could only figure out how to toggle with my tiny arms!

AutoCAD 2014 brought forth file tabs. File tabs let you easily navigate between your open drawings. When you hover above a file tab, it displays thumbnail images of the various layouts that are contained in the tabbed files. As you move your cursor across the thumbnails, the main AutoCAD window displays the content. Plot and Publish icons appear above the thumbnail and open the selected layout when clicked. Clicking into the desired thumbnail brings the selected layout into editing focus.

AutoCAD file tabs show thumbnails of files within them.

AutoCAD file tabs show thumbnails of files within them.

It might not be clear above, but I was focused on the 015-….DWG file, but because I hovered over the 025-….DWG file, those are the thumbnails that displayed. Hmmm, looking over my drawing name, I see I erred in excluding an underscore in the name — I’m only a mere dinosaur, you know. Perhaps there are tools that will help me prevent these types of mistakes; I’ll keep you posted on that.

The Layout tabs are also new to me and I’m just beginning to learn how I might want to use them. For the time being I primarily use them for viewing purposes, but I can see the potential for a much more efficient workflow. I’ve likely developed some bad habits (Bad Dino!) over the years, so I hope I can learn to use the layout features as they were intended.

As you can see, I conduct my machine design work with 3D solid models. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get to use all the new 3D visualization tools that are a part of AutoCAD 2015. 3D Orbit was introduced in AutoCAD 2000 and enhanced in 2007. For viewing purposes, this is a huge improvement over the Dview command. Additional viewing tools were added with the ViewCube, introduced in 2009, which makes it painless to navigate around a model. I look forward to trying the Steering Wheel more — it looks like it has some great navigating capabilities.

Visual Styles also made its appearance in 2007 and I’ve found the Conceptual style to be especially helpful in a densely populated model, as well as quite helpful in communicating the design. Check out these next two images for examples.

AutoCAD 2015 offers greatly improved visual display styles

AutoCAD 2015 offers greatly improved visual display styles compared to Release 13’s limited wireframe display.

 

Conceptual visualization brings a model to life.

Conceptual visualization brings a model to life.

Rawrrr!

In closing, being a dinosaur my needs are simple. Most often I work in AutoCAD’s wireframe view so I can select points on solid objects that are behind other solid objects. There are times when I need to view the model from an opposite side or 3DOrbit to a different vantage point and my frame of reference becomes disoriented. On these occasions, I find it quite useful to switch to the conceptual visualization to reorient myself and select points as needed. There are a slew of visual styles available and I’ll experiment with them as time permits. Well, that and getting these dino-eyes modernized.

_________________

About the author: Patrick Hughes, machine designer and owner of Engineered Design Solutions in Rockford, Illinois, has worked with AutoCAD since 1991. He has developed a number of AutoLISP and other software solutions to automate his workflow and increase productivity, including the commercially available time tracking program, CadTempo.

A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey, Part 3: Installing AutoCAD 2015

February 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Cadalyst’s blog series by Patrick Hughes, A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey into Modern Times. In this three-month series, Hughes chronicles his transition from AutoCAD R14 to v2015 and from an outdated PC to a state-of-the-art professional workstation. Follow along and enjoy!

Installing AutoCAD 2015When AutoCAD 2015 arrived at my desk I eagerly ripped open the cellophane wrapper with my sharpened claws and inserted the 64-bit install CD. I had previously uninstalled the 2014 trial copy and was relieved that there were no conflicts during the 2015 install. The support files, block libraries, and customization files I had copied previously remained in place since they resided in a folder structure independent of the Autodesk files. I merely needed to adjust my file paths within the Options dialog box.

Upon initial startup, as was true when I used the V2104 trial version, I was greeted with the default dark drawing background, but this time AutoCAD also displayed the new dark scheme interface for the ribbon and other elements. Being the crusty old dinosaur I am, I figured I should explore my options and set the scheme to light and the background to white. I do think the new dark scheme is attractive and perhaps I’ll give it a more thorough try at some point. For now, these old dino-eyes are grateful once more for AutoCAD’s easy customization.

I updated from the default dark screen scheme to the white background. Oh, so much easier on my Dino-eyes!

Change Color Scheme in AutoCAD 2015

I updated from the default dark screen scheme to the white background.

Changing Color Scheme of AutoCAD 2015

Oh, so much easier on my Dino-eyes!

 

Speaking of customization, since I began using AutoCAD roughly 23 years ago, I’ve written my share of AutoLISP routines and integrated them into custom menus and toolbars. Upgrading from R14 to 2015, I now had a whole new set of tools to learn and a mental shift in how to put them to use. One feature that I am enjoying is the new Customize User Interface (CUI).

Up until AutoCAD 2006, customizing menus and toolbars required creating and editing MNU and MNS text files. The CUI Editor replaces the need for editing those files in a text editor and provides a rich graphical way to add and arrange elements by dragging and dropping them into place. With AutoCAD 2010, the CUI became XML-based CUIx.

I’m by no means fully up to speed in making my desired changes via the CUI, but I’m eager to make good use of the tool. In some ways, I miss the simplicity of right-clicking on a toolbar icon and entering a new command sequence, but I’m rather certain that those of you who are responsible for a large group of CAD operators appreciate the more refined control the CUI offers.

Rawrrr!

In closing, when Autodesk first introduced the ribbon interface I worried that it consumed too much drawing real estate. After all, I’ve always thought you could never have enough drawing area. Now that I’m used to it, it’s not a major hindrance. As I continue to make modifications, I now realize how flexible it is. My biggest challenge is arriving at an efficient grouping and placement of the commands I most commonly use. However, as I discover the latest tools AutoCAD 2015 has to offer, those tried and true (but tired) methods will likely be replaced with new approaches. I already feel my T-Rex reach lengthening; soon I may even be able to scratch my nose.

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About the author: Patrick Hughes, machine designer and owner of Engineered Design Solutions in Rockford, Illinois, has worked with AutoCAD since 1991. He has developed a number of AutoLISP and other software solutions to automate his workflow and increase productivity, including the commercially available time tracking program, CadTempo.

A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey, Part 2: Getting Started in AutoCAD 2015

February 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Cadalyst’s blog series by Patrick Hughes, A CAD Dinosaur’s Journey into Modern Times. In this three-month series, Hughes chronicles his transition from AutoCAD R14 to v2015 and from an outdated PC to a state-of-the-art professional workstation. Follow along and enjoy!

A CAD Dinosaur's Journey into Modern TimesMy new CAD workstation arrived! I threw my T-Rex arms up in delight! The trouble is that they’re so tiny that no one noticed…. I really need some arm extensions. Maybe with time they’ll grow.

Due to my office remodel, I delayed setting the new workstation up for a week or two. Plus, after an anxious wait, Autodesk agreed to supply a new AutoCAD license in exchange for my writing a blog about my journey out of the dark ages of hardware and AutoCAD software. Now, I had to decide if I wanted a license to 2014 or wait for the soon-to-be-released 2015?

I decided to download the free 30-day trial version of AutoCAD 2014 to get familiar with it, and then move to the full version of AutoCAD 2015. (As you might recall from Part 1 of this series, I was using AutoCAD R14, so I had a LOT of catching up to do.) Reviewing the product selection on the Autodesk web site, I choose to go all in and sample the Autodesk Product Design Suite Ultimate to get a taste of the product offerings related to my machine-design needs.

Gigabytes Are Large

I’m not sure what I was thinking. Maybe I wasn’t thinking. I’m a dinosaur, you know, so there’s not a lot of room in my brain for such things. At any rate, I didn’t immediately realize that 33 GB is somewhere around 1,000 times more than 33 MB, which doesn’t sound too bad. But I did come to that realization shortly after I started the download process at 6:45 p.m. After 10 minutes, I checked on the download progress; the system indicated that 1 day, 14 hours remained. Oh, no! I finally gave up around 11:30pm and retired for the night. The download completed overnight, and upon snooping around I noted the last file timestamp was 12:50 a.m. That put the total download time at just over six hours. Compare that to a calculated download time of 40 minutes for AutoCAD 2015 (3.9 GB), based on a rate of roughly 17 Mbps.

Getting Acquainted

Installation went smoothly — a very nice surprise. I have etched in my tiny memory the pain of installing software during the Microsoft Windows 95 era, so there is always a certain amount of trepidation when it comes to installing a hefty program.

I anxiously launched AutoCAD 2014 and was greeted with the default dark background. Long ago I had accustomed my eyes to a white background and adjusted my display and linework colors accordingly. Changing defaults was no problem — setting options is still a right-click in the command window, so I simply adjusted the settings in the Options Display dialog box to my color preferences. Whoa, you can see by the two images that AutoCAD includes a much greater number of optional settings, and the dialog box is even resizable. I started by saving the default settings to a separate profile and made a new one for changes. (Note that images shown are from 2015)

Difference in options for AutoCAD 2014 versus AutoCAD 2015

AutoCAD Release 14 Preferences (left) versus AutoCAD 2015 Options dialog box (right). Note that 2015 offers MANY more options.

The grid is turned on by default as of AutoCAD 2011, although I prefer to work with the grid turned off, so adjustments also were in order. Hmmm… I didn’t see a specific setting in the Options dialog box, so I have to dig around. Once I start banging around with my stubby appendages, I finally discover that <F4> brings up the Drafting Settings dialog box where I can turn off the grid and updates other settings.

Options in AutoCAD 2015

I think it might take me a while to get to know all of the new options and how they will improve my workflow, but I’ve got a feeling they’re going to benefit me in many ways yet to be discovered.

Next up was copying my support files, block libraries, and customizations to the new workstation along with some current project files. I anticipated that some of my customization files would need modifications to work properly, but I wasn’t under any sort of tight schedule to do so. That turned out to be a good thing, too, as there was much to get up to speed with.

The most obvious difference between R14 and 2014 was the ribbon interface along with tool palettes and other sundry display and input options. I had become somewhat familiar with the ribbon interface, having previously used DWG TrueView, Inventor Fusion 2013, and other Autodesk software. I was determined to further acquaint myself and commit to its use.

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Dinosaurs

I had hoped to get more familiar with AutoCAD 2014 and the plethora of software included in the Autodesk Product Design Suite before my trial expired. As it turned out, I was able to only dabble with several programs, including Inventor, one of my greatest interests. Surprisingly, 30 days goes by rather rapidly — in fact, it was over in what seemed like no time at all.

But soon AutoCAD 2015 would be on the scene, and I would begin my journey out of the swamp.

_________________

Interested in giving the AutoCAD ribbon a(nother) go? Check out “Give the AutoCAD Ribbon a Second Chance,” a four-minute video from Cadalyst and Lynn Allen, Autodesk evangelist, that illustrates the advantages of moving to the ribbon and offers tips for making the transition as easy as possible.

_________________

About the author: Patrick Hughes, machine designer and owner of Engineered Design Solutions in Rockford, Illinois, has worked with AutoCAD since 1991. He has developed a number of AutoLISP and other software solutions to automate his workflow and increase productivity, including the commercially available time tracking program, CadTempo.

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