30 Aug 2013

Retopo Workflow between Autodesk Catch123D, 3ds Max and Mudbox

Autodesk’s Gary Davis has been a busy man over the past few days. In this video, he shows the basic concepts behind the workflow and interop of Autodesk Catch123D, 3ds Max  and Mudbox. Highlights include the FREE creation of high resolution, textured models using photogrammetry techniques in Autodesk Catch123D (3D models from real-world photography). The resulting, high resolution, triangulated mesh is cleaned up in 3ds Max and then, using the one-click interop between 3ds Max and Mudbox, a live link is created and the models is passed off to Mudbox.

Using the new Retopology feature of Mudbox 2014, a cleaner, quad mesh is generated with lower levels of detail, a normal map is extracted from the original high resolution mesh, and the final result is passed back to 3ds Max for use in tasks like rigging, lighting rendering or exporting to a game engine.

28 Aug 2013

New NVIDIA Quadro v320.78 drivers with Inventor Base Profile support


Quadro v320.78 WHQL

Windows 7


Windows Vista


Windows XP

Top Release Highlights*

Performance increase with Adobe Premier Pro CS7 Lumetri and AVID Motion Graphics.

Fixes application launch issues with NVIDIA Nsight.

Fixes application irregularity with Inventor when using Base Profile.

*May not apply to all O/S & Product configurations.

Note: Before downloading and installing a new driver, please check to confirm that your system includes a supported NVIDIA GPU (refer to the list of Supported Products in the Release Highlights section on our website). You can also use our automatic driver scan (refer to the Driver section on our website) to find the latest driver for your NVIDIA GPU. Download links in this notification will point to the latest driver available.

23 Aug 2013

Removing the 2500 object limit on the Ribbon in AutoCAD

If you've ever had an issue changing object properties from the ribbon, and you are working with a VERY large drawing - you've probably run into the 2500 object limit set by the AutoCAD development team.

2500 objects selected?  No problem.... but if you have 2501 objects selected?  Then everything goes wrong.

Dieter Schlaepfer (Autodesk) came up with a means of surpassing the 2500 object limit by setting the RIBBONCONTEXTSELLIM system variable. This (hard to remember) system variable can be set as high as 32767.

Note:  For performance reasons, the number of objects that can be changed at one time from the ribbon property controls is limited to 2500 by default.

If you're running into object limits with the standard Properties or Quick Properties command - take a look at the PROPOBJLIMIT system variable.  Same default, same limits apply here.

Posted by Andy (Application Engineer)

21 Aug 2013

Construction underway on world's largest offshore wind farm

Off the coast of Japan's Fukushima prefecture, the area at the centre of 2011's nuclear disaster, construction of the world's largest wind farm has started.  The first 2MW turbine has recently been installed and the entire project is aiming to be completed by 2020.

The move is intended as part of a 25 year initiative for Fukushima to be completely reliant on renewable energy sources, swinging themselves away from oil, gas and nuclear.  This will be a massive boost to the reduction of the entire country's their level of greenhouse gas emissions and should set them in good stead for compliance with the second commitment in the Kyoto Protocol.

The Fukushima farm intends to produce around double that of the London Array in the Thames Estuary, which is the current holder of the world's largest offshore wind farm crown.

Thanks to Inhabitat for the original article

16 Aug 2013

Autodesk Mudbox 2014 Service Pack 1

Mudbox 2014 Service Pack 1 addresses quality and stability issues with remeshing (retopology), Multi-Touch interaction, and other fixes across several areas including the Grab tool. For more information and a list of what’s fixed, please refer to the Release Notes.

Installing Autodesk Mudbox 2014 Service Pack 1

  • On Windows platforms, this service pack is designed to patch your existing Mudbox 2014 application. Do not uninstall Mudbox before installing this service pack.

14 Aug 2013

NVIDIA GRID - Graphics For Virtualized Desktops

In May NVIDIA announced their partnership with Citrix Synergy to roll out virtualised graphics solutions to industry with the release of Citrix XenDesktop 7.

The premise is that users will have access to immense graphical power through their laptops and desktops without the need for powerful GPUs, and that the claim is that this can be accomplished feasibly with "deep compression techniques" in XenDesktop 7.  Given the increasing strain being placed on the data communication speeds of companies who are adopting more and more cloud-based services and remote data servers, the compression will have to be in orders of magnitude if they hope to be able to run this seamlessly within existing IT infrastructure.

With the introduction of new HDX GPU sharing and deep compression techniques in XenDesktop 7, NVIDIA and Citrix customers can immediately take advantage of the hosted-shared form of desktop virtualization to deliver rich, graphics-intensive applications. Using the Microsoft Windows Server RDSH and XenDesktop 7 platform can enable the sharing of GPUs across multiple user sessions.

Furthermore, the combination of Citrix XenServer and NVIDIA GRID vGPU technology allows customers to efficiently share GPUs across multiple virtual machines. This allows businesses to address a broader set of users with their desktop virtualization infrastructure across a spectrum of verticals, including:

  • Architects, engineers and contractors using computer-aided design (CAD) tools, like Autodesk BIM.
  • Manufacturing businesses that want to automate the connection between product design and operations using PLM tools, like Enovia 3DLive, PTC Windchill PLM Connector and SIEMENS Teamcenter software.
  • Digital-content creation workers using video and photo editing tools, like Adobe® Photoshop® software.
  • Health-care specialists using picture archiving and communication system (PACS) applications, like GE Centricity EMR. 

Read here for the full press release

13 Aug 2013

Vault Ribbon disappears in Inventor 2014

There is currently an issue that the Vault Ribbon in Inventor 2014 disappears after doing some interactions in Inventor 2014:
Open the Add-In Manager in Inventor 2014 and "Show Hidden Members":Addin-Manager

You will see that there are 2 EDM Addins.

Go to the EDM Addin with the location mscoree.dll and untick the Load Automatically option.
Restart Inventor and double check the EDM Addin (mscoree.dll) the "Loaded/Unloaded" and the "Load Automatically" should be unticked.
Now the issue should be resolved.
Thank you very much to Daniel Stockinger who shared this workaround!
This was originally posted (in German) here.

12 Aug 2013

AutoCAD DWG Viewers

This is a very common request and need. People receive a DWG file and do not have AutoCAD to open the file. There are only a two that are actually 100% DWG from Autodesk and totally free.

Two Great Free 2D & 3D DWG Viewing Options:

Autodesk DWG TrueView (Windows Desktop): 

2D DWG in the free DWG TrueViewYou can download the DWG TrueView. DWG TrueView is under the hood the the same exact code as AutoCAD. You can view, measure, plot with plot styles, and also convert files. It is a full Windows desktop application that you must download and install.

Get the free Autodesk DWG TrueView http://www.autodesk.com/dwgtrueview

AutoCAD 360 (Cloud Based): 

free AutoCAD 360 in the Chrome BrowserThis is where the power of the cloud is great. With AutoCAD 360 there is nothing to install on you desktop, just go to https://www.autocad360.com/ and then view, markup, and collaborate on the DWG file. You can control the people you invite to view it can do in the DWG and even save it as other file types or versions of DWG. You can even use the mobile version apps on Apple and Android platforms and view and markup your DWG files, even offline when you are in the field.

Check out AutoCAD 360 https://www.autocad360.com/

Posted By Andy (Application Engineer)

9 Aug 2013

Dell Precision M3800 workstation with 3200x1800 display

Information suggests that Dell will be launching an Ultra HD (UHD) workstation in the near future although specific details on the screen have not yet been confirmed.

The rumoured specs are:
  • Intel Core i7-4702MQ (Haswell) processor
  • 2GB NVIDIA Quadro K1100M GPU
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB mechanical drive / 512GB SSD
  • 15.6 inch screen
  • 3200x1800 resolution
  • 18mm thickness
  • 2kg
Features not expected to make it in to the build are:
  • Ethernet port
  • Integrated docking

The CPU is certainly cutting edge as it's the latest 4th gen i7 offering from Intel which benefits mostly in the realm of reduced power-consumption (as opposed to speed improvement) over their previous generations.  The GPU is a mid-level card and exceeds the Autodesk minimum recommendation for Inventor 2014 with more than 1000 parts, but doesn't quite make the grade with our own Micro Concepts recommendation.  Furthermore, factoring in the screen resolution it might make for a difficult productivity experience on your CAD applications at maximum settings, but that's only if you want to utilise high-density across such a relatively small screen - I struggle enough at 1920 x 1200 if I sit more than half a metre from my 17" screen. 
When I started with Micro Concepts I would have said that the memory was more than ample but having seen a few of you close to maxing-out your 16GB during remote sessions, I think 32GB would give that extra wiggle room.

Ultimately we'll have to wait for further information before we know exactly which kind of creative professional this workstation is targeted at.

Dell is introducing the thinnest and lightest workstation ever later this year. The Dell Precision M3800 is the first mobile workstation that is less than ¾ of an inch, at 18mm, weighs only 4.5lbs and offers certified performance and dependability for creative professionals. We are not releasing or confirming any additional details today but stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Thanks to tweakers.net for the original information.

8 Aug 2013

Moving a part to the origin

Curtis Waguespack has a great article over on his website that details the procedure for moving a part to the origin of your drawing. 

While he places emphasis on the use of this for imported parts, it's also extremely useful if you have created a part in an assembly with respect to other parts and then want to re-use it in other assemblies (parts created with reference to other parts assume the origin of the parent part/sub-assembly).  It doesn't make a huge difference to the assembly process - you can constrain parts easily enough regardless of where they are with respect to the origin - but being able to use the origin planes as constraints without having to create more workplanes has its benefits.

In short, either make a copy or derive the original part and then take note of the location of its centre of gravity from iProperties.  Then use the Move Bodies command and enter those values as negatives in the offset dialogue.

A similar result can be achieved with the moment rotation, except you don't invert the values.  There is only one prompt here for the angle, leaving you manually pick the axis around which to rotate.

A couple of things to note:
- Doing this with the original part (as opposed to a copy or a derived part) will affect its position in the main assembly.
- If you intend to do both a rotation and a move, do the rotation first as it affects the positional CoG.

Of course those of you who attended this year's Micro Concepts Technical Learning Academy, will have seen this demonstrated by Peter Barker in his popular Inventor Tips and Techniques session.

If this is the kind of process you would like to see automated in our MC Tools package, please let us know.

7 Aug 2013

Researchers Build 3-D Structures Out of Liquid Metal

The potential of printing 3D metal took another step forward this month with the release of information from North Carolina State University, in which they claim they can produce free-standing metal structures from droplets of liquid metal at room temperature.

By using an alloy of gallium and indium whose surface reacts with oxygen at room temperature to form a skin, they are able to produce 3D structures which retain their shape.  The beads can be patterned in plane quite easily, but they can also stacked on top of each other much like 'oranges in a supermarket'.

The original article can be found here and the link to the official paper can be found here.

6 Aug 2013

3ds Max / 3ds Max Design Service Pack 1 (SP1)

Service Pack 1 for Autodesk® 3ds Max® 2014 / 3ds Max® Design 2014 includes fixes for issues with stability and performance based on customer feedback.

Please select the correct version and readme before installing:

5 Aug 2013

Autodesk 3D Print Utility

Delicate Arch 3D PrintAutodesk has just released the Autodesk 3D Print Utility (A3DP) for free. You can use this free standalone utility when installing Autodesk’s 123D Design, 123D Make, or 123D Catch and selecting the option to install the standalone 3D Print Utility or go to the 3D Print Utility download page: http://apps.123dapp.com/3dprint/install.html

The 3D Print Utility optimizes the 3D printing of a model for best results and making it super easy to get a good 3D print by making sure the model is oriented the best way to print and support, healing the model of bad surfaces or holes as your model must be “watertight” closed to print in most cases, and also optimizing the material usage. You can print from within some of the free 123D Apps, or use the stand alone 3D Print Utility to open a STL or OBJ and print them.
In addition to the healing, the 3D Print Utility also allows you to change options like thicken thin regions or hollow the 3D print. It auto-magically adds support material so you to print more complex objects with overhangs like the Delicate Arch model of mine.

Delicate Arch 3D Model in Autodesk 123D Design and the Print 3D Button->Delicate Arch 3D Model in Autodesk 3D Print Utility
The Autodesk 3D Print Utility is compatible with all MakerBot Replicators, the Objet Connex 500 and Alaris 30, or OBJ and  STL file export.

For more info on the Autodesk 3D Print Utility check out the 123D Team’s blog post:
Introducing the Autodesk 3D Print Utility

Where do I get more Autodesk 123D Free Apps? –> http://www.123dapp.com/

Posted By Andy (Application Engineer)

1 Aug 2013

Friction Stir Welding

Several years ago I watched a technology show on BBC2 about a new kind of welding process that bonds two sheets of metal without the need for melting, thus leaving the final structure without a heat affected zone and no need for post-weld heat treatment.  The show described the process as the excitement of the atoms into mixing with each other, like mixing grains of sand together.  The effect of this is that the bonded metal sheets appear to be one contiguous extrusion and consequently have superior strength in the area of the weld.

Having spoken of the weld-type several times to anyone who cared to listen, yet having forgotten the terminology used to describe it, I struggled to find examples of it's use on the internet and was ready to file it under the category of conceptual work that had subsequently been binned.

So after a recent visit to TWI (The Welding Institute), I was pleasantly surprised to learn hat not only is the technology actually in existence and being used, but it was developed as far back as 1991 and was not actually as new as I had thought.  And the name is friction stir welding.

From wikipedia:

A constantly rotated non consumable cylindrical-shouldered tool with a profiled nib is transversely fed at a constant rate into a butt joint between two clamped pieces of butted material. The nib is slightly shorter than the weld depth required, with the tool shoulder riding atop the work surface.

Frictional heat is generated between the wear-resistant welding components and the work pieces. This heat, along with that generated by the mechanical mixing process and the adiabatic heat within the material, cause the stirred materials to soften without melting. As the pin is moved forward, a special profile on its leading face forces plasticised material to the rear where clamping force assists in a forged consolidation of the weld.

This process of the tool traversing along the weld line in a plasticised tubular shaft of metal results in severe solid state deformation involving dynamic recrystallization of the base material.

A number of potential advantages of FSW over conventional fusion-welding processes have been identified:
  • Good mechanical properties in the as-welded condition 
  • Improved safety due to the absence of toxic fumes or the spatter of molten material. 
  • No consumables — A threaded pin made of conventional tool steel, e.g., hardened H13, can weld over 1 km (0.62 mi) of aluminium, and no filler or gas shield is required for aluminium. 
  • Easily automated on simple milling machines — lower setup costs and less training. 
  • Can operate in all positions (horizontal, vertical, etc.), as there is no weld pool. 
  • Generally good weld appearance and minimal thickness under/over-matching, thus reducing the need for expensive machining after welding. 
  • Low environmental impact. 

However, some disadvantages of the process have been identified:

  • Exit hole left when tool is withdrawn. 
  • Large down forces required with heavy-duty clamping necessary to hold the plates together. 
  • Less flexible than manual and arc processes (difficulties with thickness variations and non-linear welds). 
  • Often slower traverse rate than some fusion welding techniques, although this may be offset if fewer welding passes are required.

If you would like to see some examples of the weld for yourself, TWI has an impressive gallery of exhibits in the foyer of their Abington site, and even have an entire section of wall comprised of square sheets that were bonded using the process.