Autodesk University (AU) 2014 was held in Las Vegas, December 2-4, at the conference center of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Featuring 793 classes, 822 speakers, and 183 exhibitors, AU 2014 offered seminars, training sessions, and activities for several key industries, including architecture, infrastructure, automotive manufacturing, education, construction, and reality computing. Here is a wrap-up of this year’s Autodesk University, along with the key takeaways of the event.
Autodesk is Now Free to Educators and Students
Autodesk earns around $2 million USD on education licensing each year, but is now making their products free to all schools, teachers, and students, according to Autodesk president and CEO Carl Bass. While the gesture does have a philanthropic result, it’s not entirely generosity driving this decision. If a large majority of students receive their CAD training on Autodesk products, there will be a larger market for the products in the future due to simple brand loyalty. This educational initiative is offered to schools around the world.
Autodesk Now Offers Open Source 3D Printers and Software
Autodesk is also attempting to dominate the market via open source code software and printers. This initiative began with the Spark Investment Fund, which offered $150 million USD to entrepreneurs, new companies, and researchers who were pushing 3D printing technology to its outer limits. Later, Autodesk furthered this program by announcing Spark, its first open source 3D printing software.
At AU 2014, Autodesk unveiled the Ember 3D printer, an open source printer for which Autodesk is offering the design specs to anyone who wishes to develop a new 3D printer based on Autodesk’s designs. Bass announced that this initiative was intended to show how integrated hardware and software could benefit the 3D printing process. Currently, as many as 75 percent of all 3D printed designs are failures. With open source code hardware and software, Autodesk hopes that new ways of doing things can be developed to improve the success rate of 3D printed products.
The Cloud is Becoming More Crucial to the 3D Printing Industry
Autodesk was the first 3D software company to offer cloud-based support. Now, Autodesk is improving their cloud offerings, hoping that the move away from expensive perpetual licensing opens the doors to 3D printing for smaller companies, startups, and those without the resources to support hefty licensing fees.
Generative Design is Now Becoming Available to Smaller Companies
Generative design is the concept of beginning with an intention for the design and exploring numerous solutions through a series of “generations” until the design is perfected. While generative design isn’t new to the industry, it’s usually been the property of those working for governments or large enterprises with access to sizeable databases or research institutes. Now that more cloud resources are available to designers along with HPC (high performance computer) centers, Autodesk hopes that the concept of generative design can be employed by smaller companies and startups to advance the industry as a whole. When designers no longer have to start from scratch with each design, 3D printing designs can improve more and improve faster.
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- 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:
- Start Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler and click new from the start page.
- Choose a directory and name for your project. If you know the extents of your project you can also enter them in here.
- 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.
- Add imagery using the same procedure.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Author: Justin Lokitz, Senior Product Manager, Autodesk.
In Part 3 of this series, I showed you some of the collaboration functionality of Autodesk 360. We are now going to look at how we can synchronize our documents and drawings using Autodesk 360, using a fixed location (PC on a network) and a mobile location (iPad on a remote site with Wi-Fi), like in Part 3.
Your Documents Are Ready To Go, What Happens Now?
In Part 3 of this series, I mentioned that your documents were already synced. The synchronization tools you get with Autodesk 360, either in your fixed location or your mobile location, give you great flexibility. Especially if you are mobile on a tablet such as an iPad. Any changes you make using AutoCAD WS (for example) can be synced up to Autodesk 360. Be aware, though, that you can store ANY kind of document on Autodesk 360. We are talking MS Word or Excel docs, not just drawings and models.
So like in Part 3, you’re logged in with your Autodesk ID and you have synced your existing documents from your fixed location (PC on the network) to the cloud (Autodesk 360).
Making And Syncing Changes In A Fixed Location
I have selected one of the Word docs I have uploaded, which are the three previous parts of this series. The selected document is “Intro to Autodesk 360.” You will notice I have control over comments (right-hand side) and I have commented “This document needs to be archived.” Currently, this document is NOT set to be shared. Public sharing is switched OFF (bottom). If sharing was on, the comments function is a great way to add “unofficial” comments on any document, drawing or otherwise, almost like you would talk to each other on social media, a bit like Windows Live Messenger, for example. It is a superb way of working in a fixed location and letting the staff on a site know what needs to be done, aiding productivity. There is also the facility to download the document, which I will discuss in a moment.
So, if I clicked on DOWNLOAD now, Internet Explorer (IE9 in this case) prompts me to Open or Save the document.
I am going to OPEN the document and as I have MS Office on my laptop at my fixed location, Windows will open the file for me and I can then get on working, regardless of where that document came from, which could have been a remote site on the other side of the world, again aiding productivity.
If I go back to my overall list of Autodesk 360 documents (just click on Documents at the top of the Autodesk 360 screen), and I hover over the document, you will see small icons highlighting that I have made a comment on the document.
When I click on the Actions icon (arrowed) and click on Versions on the sub-menu, Autodesk 360 give me a chronological order of the versions of the same document, allowing tracking of the document and its various versions.
The versions of the document are displayed on the browser screen as shown below:
I can upload a new version of the document, or if I click on the small clock icon, I can revert to a PREVIOUS version if required. Autodesk 360 prompts you about this if you decide to do it.
Making And Syncing Changes In A Mobile Location
So let’s look now at our mobile location. I am running Autodesk 360 and AutoCAD WS on my iPad, and I am going to change a drawing using AutoCAD WS.
Upon logging in to Autodesk 360 on my iPad, I see the recent history of the MS Word document. So, my changes have already been synced live in the cloud in Autodesk 360. This speeds up collaboration time, especially when working together as a team on project drawings where the masters are stored on Autodesk 360.
Using the same process as above to find a drawing this time, but using the iPad remotely on a Wi-Fi connection, I have downloaded the drawing A3 Training.dwg in to AutoCAD WS for the iPad.
If some changes are made to the drawing on AutoCAD WS REMOTELY, these changes will be synced to Autodesk 360 immediately when the drawing is saved. I have added two red circles to the drawing, as shown below.
After selecting Done in AutoCAD WS, the drawing is saved. I then need to select Sync in the drawing list and the new revisions to the drawing (the red circles) are then saved to that version of the drawing in Autodesk 360 as well.
Once the remote sync is complete (on AutoCAD WS), the fixed location can then check the changes on their Autodesk 360 back at the office.
By clicking on the Actions icon like we did before, and selecting Document Activity, you can see that the drawing was synced in Autodesk 360 only minutes before.
If you refer back to Part 2 of this series, I showed you how to use Autodesk 360 to work with updated drawings and how you can collaborate with your stored documents in Autodesk 360. With the addition of AutoCAD WS on a mobile device (in this case, the iPad), you now have the ability not only to collaborate, but design on the fly, using a mobile device and show the document changes in Autodesk 360 as you go. I stated that this leads to faster implementation of your design on site or on the factory shop floor.
Faster implementation and, as you now see, easy remote syncing of both drawings and regular documents makes for a much slicker workflow. The remote location using Wi-Fi and any kind of enabled tablet (not just an iPad, it could be an Android device, even a Kindle Fire) allows any organization to work GLOBALLY and almost anywhere.
The cloud is here and it is being used in many ways already. Autodesk are providing some superb tools that can be used with some of the cutting edge devices that are out there, such as the iPad, the Motorola Xoom (amongst many others). This technology WILL (and already is) revolutionizing the way we work with not only CAD, but with all the documents used in the design process such as specifications, OEM manuals and the like. A typical example was the MS Word document in this part of the series.
This is Part 4 of 4 for this series, so I bid you farewell for now but keep an eye for further blogs about tablet devices and mobile workflows!
Author: Shaun Bryant