Autodesk Fusion will take modeling to the next level

A “technology preview” from Autodesk claims to combine parametric, history-based modeling with the flexibility and ease of use of direct modelers. See screen capture.

By Control Engineering Staff February 26, 2009
3D models may become more interactive with the introduction of Autodesk Inventor Fusion technology.

Direct modeling or history-free CAD has grabbed its share of headlines in the 3D design world this past year, and Autodesk recently made its splash with a preview of its new Fusion technology slated for a future version of Inventor.
Inventor Fusionodesk officials. The company has opted to unite the two modeling techniques in one packaged application based on the belief that both approaches have relevance for different types of design functions, officials there say.
Parametric or history-based modeling, traditionally the focus of Inventor and most modern 3-D MCAD programs, uses parent/child relationships, parameters and features to build intelligence into a model. This kind of tool is typically well suited for working on complex, highly engineered products and families of products. In comparison, history-free modelers, sometimes referred to as explicit modeling tools, create and tweak models through direct interaction with the geometry, adding parameters and features only when needed. This approach, considered to be much more flexible, is considered highly effective for companies creating new products from scratch, along with those that require a relatively quick and easy way to come up with conceptual designs on an on-going basis.

While both categories of 3-D CAD tools have been around for decades, direct modeling has grabbed much of the spotlight lately thanks in part to the entrance of players like SpaceClaim , a newcomer whose value proposition is based solely on the perceived benefits of direct modeling. Long-time CAD stalwarts have also planted a stake in direct modeling ground. Some, like SolidWorks , have added direct modeling features to their parametric-based tools, while others have gone further, like PTC, which acquired CoCreate last year and is offering its direct modeling package as a complement to its existing Pro/ENGINEER product.

The Autodesk Fusion strategy perhaps most closely mirrors Siemens PLM Software , which announced Synchronous Technology, used in both SolidEdge and NX. Like Fusion, Synchronous Technology claims to marry the best of both direct and history-based CAD tools. It provides direct control of a model and immediate feedback, an approach Siemens officials say delivers a new way of interacting with parametric, history-based models without being constrained by the way a model was constructed.

Autodesk officials declined to say exactly when or in what Inventor release the Fusion technology will surface. The company will, however, offer a free download of Inventor Fusion Technology Preview on Autodesk Labs later this year.

Original reporting by Beth Stackpole Design News, Feb. 10, 2009

– Edited by Renee Robbins , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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