Autodesk Labs Serves up a Taste of Fusion

DN Staff

July 7, 2009

3 Min Read
Autodesk Labs Serves up a Taste of Fusion

Autodesk took thenext step towards making its InventorFusion a commercial product by offering up a free download of the directmodeling technology on the AutodeskLabs site and kicking off the process of eliciting feedback from users andCAD experts.

Inventor Fusion is Autodesk's answer to the on-going debateoverdirect modeling vs. parametric-based or history-based 3-D CAD modeling.Unlike other products in the 3-D MCAD arena, Inventor Fusion will ultimatelynot require users to choose between the two modeling approaches; rather, asthey make design changes, the system will figure out the most efficient way tooperate, according to Kevin Schneider, Autodesk's product manager of EmergingProducts & Technology for the Autodesk Manufacturing Division. "Currently,customers have to make a choice-there is a single modeling paradigm in theapplication they choose and they use that to do business," he says. "Wethink that customers desire to have both modeling paradigms in a singlesolution ... and we're trying to do that without having to make the user chooseone or the other."

The other main area of focus with this initial preview ofFusion is the user interface. Traditionally, direct modelers have beenrelatively easy to use, but in exchange for that straightforward operation,users have had to sacrifice functionality and intelligence when working withthe model, Schneider says. With Fusion, Autodesk is working to retain some ofthe intelligence associated with parametric or history-based tools. Forexample, in a history-based CAD program, when making a round or fillet bigger,the modeler makes the changes in order so the fillet knows how to respond whenthe model size changes. Not so in a traditional direct modeler, where theprogram doesn't retain the history to know how to direct the correspondingchange. "We're doing the work to keep the feature-based behavior, but do it ina history-free way," Schneider says. "That way, when you make a change to afillet, it stays the same size unless you ask it to change size."

The purpose of offering the Autodesk Inventor Fusion TechnologyPreview on the Autodesk Labs site is to engage customers in a discussionabout what works and what doesn't. Autodesk is encouraging Inventor users andother CAD tool customers to download the technology, work with it and providefeedback. Autodesk is planning a second technology preview of Fusion this fallthat will enable users to perform direct modeling for fast changes and see theirchanges updated in the model's parametric feature history-a key step in itsstated goal to offer direct modeling simplicity without losing crucial designintent. This release will also incorporate feedback from customers as a resultof this first preview along with additional capabilities Autodesk is refiningover the summer, Schneider says.

Deelip Menezes, founder and CEO of SYCODE, a developer of CAD plug-ins,co-founder and CTO of Print3D Corp., whichmakes a pricing plug-in, cautioned on his CAD industry blogthat the Inventor Fusion Technology Preview really only provides a look atreally strong direct modeling capabilities-not the holy grail of "fusing" thetwo modeling approaches. That's whereFusion's real differentiator will come, Menezes says.

In the meantime, any work that Autodesk and other CADvendors are doing in this area of simplifying modeling will be a boon to users.Says Menezes, "For users, the purpose of CAD software is to design. Modeling issomething that must be done along the way to arrive at the design. The easierthe modeling gets, the faster the design will be arrived at."

The Inventor Fusion preview showcases new direct modeling UI technology that retains some of the intelligence of history-based tools.

Autodesk Labs Serves up a Taste of Fusion A

Sign up for the Design News Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like