Autodesk Manufacturing Tech Day – Surface Modeling in AutoCAD

Guillermo Melantoni, the man entrusted with the job of getting more 3D features into AutoCAD, gave a presentation on the new surfacing capabilities of AutoCAD 2011. The presentation included a demo which involved importing an Inventor model of an electric shaver in AutoCAD and modeling the product packaging for it using surface modeling. The Inventor part came in as a solid. Guide curves were extracted from which surfaces were lofted. The continuity between adjacent surfaces were appropriately set. He also used the surface trim and patch commands to trim portions of the surfaces and later fill them to suit the intended design. Finally a zebra analysis was carried out which pointed out undesirable continuities which were later adjusted to get the final surface model. The model was then sent back to Inventor where ribs were added as necessary to complete the model.

Here are a few pictures of the work flow. Click the images for larger views.

Extracting guide curves

Lofting surfaces

Trimming surfaces

Zebra analysis showing undesirable surface continuity

Zebra analisys after setting the desired continuity yielding smooth and sexy surfaces

Packaging modeled in AutoCAD imported into Inventor

Ribs added in Inventor

Shaver with the packaging

After seeing this, it is hard to think of AutoCAD as a 2D CAD system alone. Needless to say, Autodesk intends to add more 3D features into AutoCAD as time progresses. Love it.

  • kellings

    What is wrong with this scenario? You take the part created in the flagship 3D design product for Auodesk and then bring it into Autocad to do the surfacing work?

    Is the surfacing work created in Autocad associative to the Inventor model? I know we have disagreed about adding more 3D capabilities to Autocad before, but I don't understand why they keep adding them when the have Inventor and Revit.

  • The workflow does seem a bit odd. But it may make some sense when you
    look at how all the presentations were set up for the day. Almost all
    of them had some kind of a tie in to Inventor, as can be seen from my
    other posts. Of course they could simply show surfacing from scratch
    in AutoCAD. But they were also trying to show other things as well.

  • kellings and Deelip – you missed the point entirely. This is all about creating tools in Autocad to help (entice?) traditional, manufacturing, 2D users transition to 3D. From Autodesk's viewpoint, workflow, however convoluted and bizarre, is not as important as exposing the 2D users to 3D concepts.

    Autodesk's dream of digital prototyping requires everyone to be on 3D – eventually. But having companies move to and use 3D, which should be as easy as eating pie, has instead morphed into a sneak attach, where Autodesk retrofits Autocad with 3D fnctionality.

    Autodesk hopes that a Autocad user with ever-increasing exposure to 3D will at some point down the road move to a (3D) richer product like Inventor. Only time will tell if this strategy will work. Autodesk has no choice but to push this. 2D alone isnt going to keep Autodesk a billion dollar software vendor in the CAD space for very long.

    For manufacturing companies, the writing is on the wall – move to 3D soon and use all the tools that come with it, giving you the best chance to lower the cost and improve the quality of your product or risk being left behind.

    For Autocad 2d-only users, your days are numbered if you dont embrace 3D. Any Autocad 2d-only user under 50 years will find their job in jeopardy in the next few years, if you dont start working with 3D.

    Anyone from Autodesk care to comment?

  • kellings

    Valid points, but I don't think it is the correct way to do it. 3D has been in Autocad for a long time. 3D use in Autocad isn't very high from what I know. So the tools are there, but they aren't being used by the majority.

    Now lets say that I have been using the 3D tools in Autocad. Am I going to look at Inventor or Revit knowing that I am going to have to learn something new when 3D Autocad is working for me currently? And I keep getting improved 3D capabilities with new releases. Why make the switch?

    So I guess my point is that 3D has been in Autocad for a long time but it isn't widely used. Giving people better additional 3D tools isn't going to get them to use 3D in Autocad and if they do, they may not see a reason to move to Inventor or Revit.

    Autodesk has a lot of great products, but they are maybe giving the user too much choice. I would like to see the overlap in the products reduced or removed. Make it easier for the consumers to focus on the right product for the job. Right now it is kind of like buying a laptop from the Dell website compared to buying a laptop from the Apple website. Make the choice easier.