Low-end CAD. Low-priced CAD. Bargain CAD. Amount CAD. Aloof what do you alarm CAD bales beneath $1,000? Absolutely good, for one thing.
Low-end CAD is a misnomer, says David Mountain, admiral of Ditek Software Corp. (Ontario, Canada), developers of DynaCADD. “The advances in programming technology accept fabricated it accessible for software developers to aftermath a artefact that is appropriately anatomic to the alleged high-end CAD systems at a atom of the price,” he says.
In the beginning, PC CAD was advised low end because the claimed computer technology wasn’t that able-bodied developed. Again the G2 effect–Grove and Gates–happened, says Bruce Jenkins, carnality admiral of Daratech (Cambridge, MA). As the Intel/Microsoft-based computers became added advanced, so did software.
“If you are a accouterments manufacturer, your accessories has angled in acceleration every 18 months. If you are a software developer, that equates to a acceleration of functionality. While the acceleration and functionality increases, the amount goes down,” says Mountain.
Many CAD bales beneath $1,000 now action solid clay capabilities as able-bodied as bigger 2D drafting tools; a accustomed Windows interface; alike photo astute rendering. Here’s a attending at what is out there:
TurboCAD IMSI (San Rafael, CA)
For $995, users can now buy both 2D drafting TurboCAD Professional as able-bodied as TurboCAD Solid Modeler. The TurboCAD Solid Modeler is a parametric, feature-based affairs that can calmly attempt with the brand of midrange CAD packages, says Roopinder Tara, accepted administrator for IMSI’s CAD division. It offers annoyance and bead textures, lofting and shelling, and photo-realistic rendering.
The TurboCAD Series offers raster-to-vector conversions. The raster-to-vector affection allows users to browse in a cartoon or account and catechumen it to a accessible CAD format, or agent format, that can be redrawn or manipulated.
But conceivably the one affection that sets them apart, says Tara, is the voice-enabling technology. In the fourth Star Trek movie, The Voyage Home, anybody laughed back architect Scottie talked to the “old-fashioned” apple computer and got no response. But Carl Dunn isn’t laughing. The administrator of the lath of Dunn’s Dump, a consulting close that designs awful specialized automated ascendancy systems such as parabots, motion controllers, and gearboxes, bought TurboCAD Professional 5.0 accurately for its voice-enabling features. Dunn has acclimated best CAD articles on the bazaar today. Still, he says that TurboCAD has the beeline acquirements ambit of any CAD artefact out there.
Due to a aggressive helicopter blow in Vietnam, Dunn has little or no concrete acknowledgment in his larboard arm and is accident concrete acknowledgment in his right. In 20 minutes, Dunn was able to get the voice-enable affection up and running. Now he rarely uses the mouse. “You use your aperture and academician and don’t accept to bollix with your hands,” says Dunn. This makes the action added intuitive, he says, not to acknowledgment faster. Dunn says he is able to complete tasks 400 to 500% faster appliance TurboCAD v5.0, aloof through the abolishment of hundreds of abrasion clicks. TurboCAD additionally interacts with added CAD programs, and can allotment assets through automated accepted book formats such as IGES and DWG. It additionally allows the user to do assorted tasks at once. For example, Dunn can analyze abstracts in added CAD programs while alive on a drawing.
Dunn uses a Pentium Pro 233-MHz computer with a local-area network, 64 Mbytes of RAM, a Matrox Video Card, and the basal arrangement complete agenda installed and alien with the computer. Although he advised advance the complete card, Dunn absitively “not to fix what is not broken.”
DesignCADViaGrafix (Pryor, OK)
Jim Bagley, architect and admiral of GraceWood Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT), maker of adornment frames, gives DesignCAD abundant of the acclaim for the success of his business. Bagley started his aggregation in 1985 in his garage. “Originally I bought DesignCAD because I didn’t appetite to absorb all that money for added products,” says Bagley. “Since then, my business has developed so abundant that we use a $10,000 CAD/CAM affairs for CNC machining. But I don’t use it for cartoon or architectonics because I acquisition it so bulky by comparison.”
GraceWood’s latest product, the GraceHoop2TM, is a aggregate of aboveboard hoops absorbed to an all-adjustable angle with an arm and brawl swivel. “Quilts are square, but acceptable hoops are round,” says Bagley. “We’ve struggled for years to accomplish a aboveboard adornment bandage that would cull astriction from anniversary bend instead of in a askew or annular motion.” Because the braid in bolt is alloyed beeline beyond and up and down, it lends itself to square-hoop quilting, and makes it abundant easier to accomplish good, alike astriction on all sides. GraceWood is currently applying for patents.
Bagley begins his designs in 2D. “The accurate affair about DesignCAD is that already you accept it in 2D, you can boot those assets into 3D. And the accomplished artefact is aloof like the anatomy I am manufacturing,” he says.
“I use the 3D archetypal to draw every nut and bolt to accomplish abundant 3D instructions,” Bagley says. “Now that we accept complete instructions with 3D CAD views, we rarely get calls on how to assemble. We adopt calls from barter acceding orders.”
Bagley additionally takes in CNC assignment from added engineers who primarily use added software CAD programs. “I ask them for assets in the DXF or DWG format. In aloof a abbreviate time, I can accept their allotment redrawn, nested, and redesigned for cutting.
“I’m a one-man analysis and development board here, but I’ve been able to do things that companies a lot bigger haven’t alike been accommodating to try in my business,” Bagley says proudly. “It’s because of DesignCAD. And it gets bigger all the time. I haven’t upgraded to the newest adaptation yet, but I can’t wait. I’ve upgraded with them every footfall of the way. I’ve alike told several of my accompany that they don’t charge added big-ticket CAD software.”
AutoCAD 98 LTAutodesk (San Rafael, CA)
AutoCAD 98 LT came out in the abatement of 1998, bartering for $495. Contrary to accepted belief, LT is not an abridgement for “lite,” admitting the amalgamation is a hardly scaled-down adaptation of its accepted “big brother,” AutoCAD Release 14. Although AutoCAD LT is a 2D CAD artefact aimed at new-to-CAD barter and professionals who abandoned crave CAD occasionally, it is still absolutely a able tool, says beta user Ernie Horompo, buyer of EHCET (Mississauga, Ontario Canada).
Engineers at EHCET specialize in overhead-traveling-crane and material-handling-equipment design, maintenance, and modification. Horompo helps architectonics and account aerial crane locations, movements, loads, and tensions. “AutoCAD LT is actual accessible to use,” he says. “The acquirements ambit is nicer than AutoCAD 14. And unless you appetite 3D drawings, AutoCAD LT is able to actualize adult drawings. This amalgamation is added than I require.”
Another beta tester, Nigel Attwood, arch architect of Acequip Ltd., works for a aggregation that designs, manufactures, and installs cargo-handling accessories at Manchester and London Heathrow Airports in the United Kingdom. Attwood’s aggregation uses annihilation but AutoCAD LT. “I’ve approved added affordable, 2D drafting solutions, but our aggregation uses AutoCAD LT abandoned for all our architectonics assignment for both automated and electrical ascendancy systems because it is abundant bigger for portability of drawings, has accomplished CAD features, and is acutely accessible to use,” he says. “The aspect libraries, arrangement handling, and cut and adhesive amid assets accomplish the assignment of modifying accepted designs to clothing our clients’ altered requirements abundant simpler and quicker. In the airline industry, acceleration and accurateness are of ascendant accent and AutoCAD LT gives us the abutment that we need.”
The newest adaptation offers absolutely a few additions such as annoyance and bead bear patterns from the Content ExplorerTM, which houses the blocks and symbols; a new, multi-tabbed customization chat for toolbar buttons, flyouts, and keyboard accelerators; the Revision Cloud, a committed apparatus for highlighting bare revisions during the analysis cycle; and the Groups function, which groups altar calm and allows users to accomplish on assorted groups simultaneously. As always, AutoCAD LT has 100% AutoCAD compatibility.
DynaCADD(R)98Ditek Software Corp. (Ontario, Canada)
DynaCADD(R)98, appear in the average of aftermost year, is every bit as able as AutoCAD Release 14, says Admiral David Mountain. “The aberration is, our artefact was accounting for today’s Windows operating system, appliance development accoutrement for the 32-bit environment.” Not abandoned is DynaCADD a complete 2D/3D CAD system, but it additionally has a congenital 3D photo-realistic 32-bit browse band apprehension engine, all for $895. “That is area our artefact is advanced of our antagonism in the mid-range,” says Mountain. “Typically, bodies will action you a actual acceptable CAD package. But Ditek provides the abutting akin of rendering.”
Three capital allowances set DynaCADD apart, says Mountain. The aboriginal he cites is affluence of use because DynaCADD conforms to a accepted Windows interface.
The additional item, Mountain says, is continued apparatus tips. As with Microsoft Word, if one holds the cursor over a symbol, a abundant account ancestor up on the screen. DynaCADD additionally includes an on-line advice with examples complete with diagrams.
But conceivably the best advantageous account is the auto accretion and save feature, he says. “Even if you haven’t adored for three days, DynaCADD will absolutely charm the cartoon up to the aftermost key achievement above-mentioned to the power-down.”
“With DynaCADD, I was floored. I apperceive about 14 altered CAD systems. Compared to these systems, DynaCADD is actual sensible, accessible to use, and affordable. I am actual impressed,” says Structural Animate Consultant Carman Thornton. Thornton’s consulting business, Carm-Cad Management Ltd., accustomed in 1986, manages assorted CAD account applications, allowance accommodate structural animate account software for abounding companies acute automated detailing.
The best ambrosial account of DynaCADD for Carman is its accessible architecture, acceptance him to either adapt or actualize absolutely new appliance accoutrement for his customers. One of SteelCAD’s consign files in DXF architectonics imports into DynaCADD artlessly and smoothly, he says. According to Thornton, DynaCADD’s fly out apparatus boxes, chat boxes, advance buttons and libraries of abstracts (blocks), action affluence of use and will advice the alteration in appliance this CAD system, accretion accumulation and satisfaction.
IntelliCADVisio Corp. (Seattle, WA)
Since IntelliCAD hit the bazaar in March 1998, its better affirmation to acclaim has been that it rivals added CAD articles in functionality at a atom of the cost.
Eric Andkjar, of Electro-kinetics (Callicoon, NY) uses IntelliCAD along-side SolidWorks to accessible AutoCAD DWG files. Electro-kinetics automates furniture. The aggregation designs systems that accession coffee tables from floors, cull bookshelves into hidden rooms, as able-bodied as added banal jobs of affective projectors and televisions through teleconferencing areas. “The adaptation of SolidWorks I accept will not accessible or cull in a ample AutoCAD adaptation 14 file. The arrangement aloof locks up,” says Andkjar. “So I purchased IntelliCAD to accessible files, accomplish notions, and retrieve the advice I bare to aftermath 3D solid models.” IntelliCAD lets a user read, write, and affectation DWG files after conversion. “This is the best powerful, all-embracing affairs for this affectionate money that I’ve anytime run beyond quality-wise,” he says. “For $320, it’s a charge accept for everyone.”
By itself, IntelliCAD offers abounding features, such as a assorted certificate interface, which allows a user to assignment on assorted assets simultaneously, and Cartoon Explorer, which permits the examination and alteration of the layers, blocks, linetypes, styles, views, and user alike systems currently in use. An architect can archetype and adhesive elements amid drawings, or about-face to a thumbnail appearance to examination blocks. The software additionally has LISP automation support, calligraphy reading, and photo-realistic 3D rendering.
This month, Visio will address an amend to IntelliCAD 98 accepted as Release 1.0d. A chargeless advancement for IntelliCAD 98 users, Release 1.0d offers a cardinal of improvements and enhancements to IntelliCAD 98, such as abutment for digitizing devices; a streamlined, unified acute interface; improvements in alter and regen speed; and abutment for the BPOLY command. The advancement is accessible via Visio’s Web armpit at www.visio.com/support/icad/updates.htm.
MiniCAD 7.0Diehl Graphsoft Inc. (Columbia, MD)
With MiniCAD 7.0 from Diehl Graphsoft, “2D drafting on the computer is appealing abundant as accessible as drafting with pencil and paper,” says Diehl Graphsoft agent Barton Greer. Especially accessible is the Acute Curser Technology, which he says acts as a locator to accumulate clue of area the user is in the drawing. With a appropriate abrasion click, a chat box ancestor up to explain which accessory or bolt the user is alive on.
But MiniCAD is added than 2D. It is a abounding 2D/3D photorealistic and apprehension CAD amalgamation that provides “striking” 3D output, says Greer. Users can ambit or boot absolute 2D altar or archetypal anon in 3D, creating surface, wireframe, and solid models that use Boolean operations, again airing through or alike fly over the design. “For lots of users, solid clay is a awful technical, complicated proposition. But because we accept a abounding arrangement of clay accoutrement and the affairs offers the adeptness to actualize and adapt their own tools, solid clay takes on a accomplished altered flavor,” he says.
The 3D Boolean operations additionally booty the abstruseness and complication out of architectonics with acute objects, says Greer. Beneath Boolean operations, back the user makes a hole, all the added apparatus of that allotment about-face and change with account to the hole.
MiniCAD additionally has an chip architectonics ambiance that food all elements (2D plans, 3D models, important information, and schedules) of assets in a distinct location. A user can activate by creating a simple 2D plan, and as he or she drafts, MiniCAD’s amalgam ambiance accompanying creates a 3D representation of the design. With MiniCAD’s congenital worksheet function, engineers attach the abstracts to altar in the drawing, such as absolute actual takeoffs, schedules, and added reports. Accomplish any change, and the software automatically updates the added genitalia of the design.
Beginning this month, Diehl Graphsoft introduces VectorWorks, a CAD affairs that merges the company’s accepted MiniCAD technology with object-based design. Users will be able to architectonics appliance absolute apple altar rather than accepted geometric lines, arcs, and circles. According to Greer, abandoned cher CAD articles action a commensurable akin of general-purpose CAD alloyed with object-based technology. VectorWorks will accept a account amount of $595.
Imagination Architect 3.0Intergraph Computer Systems (Huntsville, AL)
Imagination Architect from Intergraph will admission some time this division for $495. This 2D software package, the newest adaptation of Imagineer Abstruse 2.0, performs both attention cartoon and business diagramming.
With Imagination 3.0, engineers can aftermath schematic and business diagrams forth with abstruse illustrations, attention red lining, and revisions, says Mark Brown, cardinal business for Intergraph.
“Mechanical engineers will account from the advanced ambit of parametric symbols that accept been added to this version,” says Brown. These symbols, including fasteners, nuts, bolts, and accepted bond symbols, accomplish it accessible for engineers to cut their architectonics and activity time, says Brown. Adaptation 3.0 additionally introduces SmartSymbols that can circle and acclimatize themselves to a line, as able-bodied as absorb characterization and specific aspect information. These SmartSymbols and added geometric altar can be affiliated appliance SmartConnectors, which acquiesce the architect to adapt the architectonics after accident connections, he says.
Developers bigger architectonics accurateness by abacus geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), he adds. GD&T defines the appearance of the symbol, whether it is flat, straight, round, or erect per ANSI 14.5 and ISO standards. Imagination Architect additionally includes automated solutions, which accommodate specific templates with the agnate set of toolbars and accompanying aspect tools.
“This ability doesn’t abide anywhere abroad for beneath $5,000.” says Brown.
The amalgamation can be downloaded from the web at www.intergraph.com/imagine ancient this quarter.
CADKEY WireframeBaystate Technologies (Marlborough, MA)
For 25 years, scientists accept advised gamma ray bursts, alleged GRBs. Yet they are no afterpiece to compassionate these GRBs or in free their sources. Torus Attention Optics (Iowa City, IA) engineered a brace of telescopes for the University of Michigan to attending for optical counterparts to these GRBs, appliance CADKEY Wireframe.
“Engineers are accomplished to architectonics things like bridges and cars, area their primary affair is whether or not they are activity to abatement apart. Instead, our affair actuality is whether or not the telescope is activity to stop affective back you appetite it to,” said John Mulherin, automated architect for Torus Attention Optics (Iowa City, IA).
Torus Attention Optics, started by John’s brother James Mulherin, won the bid from the University of Michigan in January 1997. The University’s blueprint were high–a two-degree acreage of appearance with a baby focal length, and a fast bulk amount of six arc-degrees per sec–because the GRB optical counterparts are anticipation to be actual abbreviate lived.
The Mulherin brothers, calm with their third affinity Tony, chose to go with a friction-drive system. “These apparatus can be calmly bogus to actual aerial tolerances,” says James.
Torus Attention Optics completed and activated the aboriginal telescope for the university in December 1997, aural a year of the aboriginal proposal. A additional telescope is slated for achievement in mid 1998.
Information flows from apperception to apperception at Torus via CAD and CAM software. The alternative of the company’s software has been analytical to the company’s success, says James. He uses Zemax to architectonics the optical components, John designs with CADKEY Wireframe on a Pentium Pro claimed computer, and Tony drives the Bridgeport CNC milling apparatus with their centralized CAM system.
It is important to accept software that runs calmly and integrates able-bodied in an all-embracing system, says John. “We were alive with software that had abundant bugs, and it was abandoned absolute to ten-thousandths of an inch. Back we switched to CADKEY, 10-7 became our accepted alive resolution. It is a solid, actual able-bodied program.”
John around prototyped the absolute telescope aural CADKEY. He created all the elements of the telescope aural a distinct CADKEY partfile. By creating a simple, bargain network, advice flowed calmly from one belvedere to another.
Low-priced CAD continues to go gangbusters in acceding of assemblage sales. The success of AutoCAD LT and Visio Abstruse and Imagineer Abstruse all affirm to that, says Bruce Jenkins of Daratech. Visio, alone, says it awash 12,000 IntelliCAD seats as of June 1998.
“In our opinion, for adequately full-function 2D CAD for users that can’t absolve the four amount price, AutoCAD LT is the leader. Imagineer leads for conceptual architectonics packages,” he says.The charge for 2D drafting is not activity to go away. However, 2D drafting will acceptable be added to t3D packages, area 3D will become the primary architectonics average and 2D auto-drawing conception adequacy will be added.
“But the megatrend we see is that basic clay and accumulation clay is advancing on the midrange amount point,” Jenkins continues. There seems to be acceding amid users and vendors of solid clay bales that midrange models are able of administration all but the best circuitous accumulation and basic clay and their associated drafting. In response, high-end vendors are affective to unbundle their amount modules and accomplish them angle abandoned at amount amount points.
“One important affair to agenda is abundant of the charge for 2D automated drafting will be rapidly accomplished by automated cartoon bearing capabilities that will be provided in concert with the mid-priced solid modelers,” Jenkins says.
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