overhauled its digital prototyping software portfolio with its 2011 release which
brings a consistent look and feel, more integrated simulation functionality,
along with improved visualization capabilities to manufacturing customers.
At the core of Autodesk's new Manufacturing 2011 lineup is
Inventor 2011, which features new direct manipulation capabilities designed to
improve the mechanical design process. The features, which allow engineers to
directly manipulate component parts within the parametric MCAD environment, can
help accelerate design times on common tasks such as assembly modeling by as
much as 40 percent, according to Autodesk officials. In addition, the software
features new design visualization capabilities, including Autodesk Alias Design
for Inventor 2011, a new addition that integrates freeform shape modeling
functionality within the Inventor environment. Using Alias' shading, lighting
and material properties capabilities, engineers can create a photo-realistic
representation of their designs.
Any time a design tool can offer more realistic
visualization capabilities, there are dividends in terms of better
collaboration, customer engagement and "general delight" in using tools that
better embody the physical world, according to Roy Wildeman, a senior analyst with
Forrester Research Inc. "With Inventor
2011, Autodesk is starting to capitalize on the synergies between its recent
trail of acquisitions, offering connections to Alias Designer and other design
automation tools," he says.
For example, Inventor 2011 now incorporates the Inventor
iLogic technology for simplifying rules-based design. The new iCopy feature,
for instance, lets engineers customize commonly used assemblies by automating
the process of copying and positioning similar components.
Beyond new visualization and automation capabilities,
Inventor 2011 has improved simulation functionality, including new frame
analysis features that let users test responses of frame models to gravity and
other loads, while recording animations of displacement and stress results. The
Algor Simulation 2011, part of the extended digital prototyping suite, is
now integrated with the Moldflow 2011 software, allowing engineers to leverage
Moldflow simulation results and the Moldflow material database when performing
structural simulation on plastic parts.
There are also enhancements to Inventor Tooling 2011,
supporting dynamic simulation of mold assemblies and the ability to
automatically generate the mold core and cavity for a broader range of plastic
parts, whether within the native Inventor environment or using imported files.
As part of the 2011 upgrade, Autodesk also announced
the commercial debut of Inventor
Publisher, new easy-to-use software that is compatible with multiple 3-D
CAD tools and can be used to create assembly instructions or repair and
maintenance manuals. The new tools let users leverage the same digital model to
create interactive, 3-D product documentation in the form of exploded views or
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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