Pro/ENGINEER Import for AutoCAD Released

Today we released another plug-in for AutoCAD called Pro/ENGINEER Import for AutoCAD. As the name suggests, it imports Pro/ENGINEER files into AutoCAD. This is different from Pro/ENGINEER 2D Import for AutoCAD, a different plug-in that imports 2D drawings created in Pro/ENGINEER into AutoCAD. This plug-in imports Pro/ENGINEER parts (.prt) and assemblies (.asm) as 3D solid objects in AutoCAD, which can then be further edited using AutoCAD’s solid modeling tools. You can see the press release here.

Over the past few releases, Autodesk has been morphing AutoCAD from a drafting and documentation solution to one which is also capable of doing modeling and analysis. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the data exchange capabilities of AutoCAD remain fairly the same.

In a recent interview I asked Autodesk CEO Carl Bass about AutoCAD and how it fits into the idea of Digital Prototyping. This is what he said:

Generally speaking, 3D is usually the better way to do design work. That said, AutoCAD is also quite capable at 3D modeling – many people would be very surprised at the 3D work done in AutoCAD. Our analysis tools, Inventor Pro, Algor and Moldflow all work with 3D solid models created in AutoCAD as well as, of course, Inventor.

As an Autodesk partner, SYCODE would like to give AutoCAD users the extra freedom to edit solid models created in other CAD systems, not just create solid models from scratch in AutoCAD itself. We released Inventor Import for AutoCAD yesterday and if all goes well tomorrow we intend to release another AutoCAD plug-in that import parts and assembly files of another very famous MCAD system.

I must admit that people have mostly been asking us for an AutoCAD plug-in to read Inventor parts and assemblies. Rarely do we get requests for AutoCAD to read parts and assemblies from other MCAD systems. However, I believe that as users begin to use AutoCAD for 3D modeling, that will change and plug-ins like the ones we are releasing this week are designed to help AutoCAD users make the change.

A year ago, in a post titled “AutoCAD 2010” I wrote:

It is my prediction that a version of AutoCAD in the not so distant future will have 3D direct modeling capabilities equivalent to (or probably better than) what we see today in SpaceClaim and Solid Edge ST.

Inventor Fusion has shown us that Autodesk already has direct modeling technology. They simply need to plug it into AutoCAD. I see that they have already started doing that. In the same post I also mentioned that Autodesk had hired a Product Manager for AutoCAD called Guillermo Melantoni whose sole job was to focus on advanced 3D functionality in AutoCAD. Guillermo has a blog called What A Mesh on which he extensively talks about the 3D capabilities of AutoCAD.

I believe that the future of AutoCAD lies in 3D. The fact that it also has excellent 2D drafting capabilities will only be a bonus.