Manufacturing Collection Upgraded for the Stretch Run

Not sure if it is more than just a coincidence, but Autodesk just announced upgrades to the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection and it coincides with the non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball. Just like the New York Yankees did this year stocking up for the stretch run and the playoffs, Autodesk had equally big news in upgrading one of their “teams.”

 “We’re excited to let you know that beginning August 7, 2017, both Autodesk® Nastran® In-CAD and Autodesk® HSM will be included in the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection.”

That’s right, Autodesk just stepped up the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection to include Autodesk Nastran (FEA) and the full HSM (CAM). Note the newly expanded name to include “Manufacturing.”

OV-510-Impressive Sky

OV-510-Impressive Sky by Rod Brazier

All I can say is, wow! This is significant.

I am not surprised that Autodesk added more to this collection. From the onset, there have been grumblings about how much better the AEC Collection was in comparison, even with its higher cost. Autodesk has also stated that the Manufacturing Collection will contain more value than the Product Design Suite, and up until these additions, it did not.

So here is the updated line-up of the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection

  • Inventor Professional
  • AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, and AutoCAD Mechanical
  • Fusion 360 (Note, not Ultimate)
  • 3DS Max
  • Navisworks Manage
  • Factory Design Utilities
  • Vault Basic
  • ReCap Pro
  • Nastran In-CAD
  • HSM
  • AutoCAD Mobile App, Rendering in A360 (still no Inventor support), and 25GB Cloud Storage

A very impressive lineup!

What Does This Mean to Existing Subscribers?

What’s equally big news is that both Nastran In-CAD and HSM will no longer be available on their own.

With these changes, Autodesk Nastran In-CAD and HSM will no longer be available as stand-alone subscriptions. As a current subscriber to Autodesk Nastran In-CAD or HSM, you will receive access to the expanded set of products in the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection later this year—and enjoy a lower annual subscription price at your next renewal.”

Existing HSM and Nastran In-CAD subscribers can continue with their version, continue to renew your maintenance plans and receive all product updates. You will not, however, be able to add new stand alone seats, but will need to add Manufacturing Collection licenses. For those on either of these products, you’ll want to read the FAQ here.

For those already on the Collection, you do nothing but just reap the rewards. All existing subscribers should now have access to both HSM and Nastran In-CAD.

For those on the Product Design Suite (like me) you are stuck until renewal time. There is no upgrade path and the only method to get the Collection is make the switch at subscription renewal time. You will also be giving up your perpetual licenses in exchange for subscription licenses if you make the switch from the Product Design Suite to the Manufacturing Collection.


Autodesk HSM is 2.5-axis to 5-Axis Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software built to run inside both Inventor and SOLIDWORKS. If provides support for milling, turning, and mill-turn.


Autodesk acquired HSM a few years ago, before the DELCAM purchase. By no means is this as powerful as the DELCAM stuff (see FeatureCAM here) but it is no slouch. Considering it is now part of the Manufacturing Collection, this will more than serve a lot of companies and their CAM needs. Want to see more, check out Scott’s Instagram feed.

HSM contains an extensive library of tooling and Autodesk is always looking to add more. The product requires very little in the form of setup, other than the setup of your tooling library. Most users will find the integration quite simple and should be up and be running in a few hours.

Key Features of HSM:

  • Adaptive Clearing
  • Multiprocessor/multicore CPU support for toolpath calculation
  • 5-axis machining
  • 3-axis milling and 3+2 positioning
  • Multi-axis operations
  • Turning and mill-turn
  • Slope machining

At my day job, we were actually evaluating HSM, FeatureCAM, and EdgeCAM as a replacement for our quite old and inefficient CAM software. With the addition of HSM to the Collection, the evaluation is over!

Nastran In-CAD

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD came about via Autodesk’s acquisition of NEi Software in 2014. John did a couple posts regarding the NEi acquisition, one of which you can read here.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD UI

Nastran In-CAD provides your standard structural and modal analysis as well as Heat Transfer, Linear Buckling, Static Fatigue, and Bolt and Connection,

I think the writing is on the wall for the Inventor-Pro-Built-In FEA, as Nastran In-CAD is superior. By no means do I think Autodesk will drop the Inventor-Pro version, but I cannot imagine any future enhancements.

Questions I Still Have

No immediate price increase to the Collection, but I can see one coming. So, the question is, how much? My money is the Manufacturing Collection bumped to match the AEC Collection.

For those in the structural detailing / plant / factory space the Manufacturing Collection still will not cut it, nor do I think the AEC Collection is quite it either. Although the AEC collection seems like the best with Revit, Plant 3D, Navisworks, and Structural Analysis, it does not have Inventor, the Factory Design Utilities, nor Advance Steel. I know Autodesk wants to keep it simple with only three collections, but this seems like one under-served area. My question, what is the best path for people in this space?

Nastran In-CAD appears to be the current replacement for the now-retired Autodesk Simulation Mechanical. However, the current incarnation of In-CAD does not provide the same level of functionality as Sim. Mechanical. Also, there is something to be said for a standalone (non-CAD based) FEA environment. My question is, what is the actual replacement for Simulation Mechanical? Or are we going to see more of the Nastran product built into In-CAD?

What is Next (My Wishlist)

At one point in Autodesk’s history, they provided “free” CD-ROM drives with the purchase of AutoCAD. As Autodesk was delivering AutoCAD on CD for the first time, and they knew not everyone had access to a CD-drive, they simply included one. So, Autodesk could provide an Ember 3D Printer with a new subscription of the Manufacturing Collection? Or one per site? A boy can dream!

The next logical product for inclusion is Autodesk TruNest. There are three levels of TruNest, so just like with Vault, why not include the most basic level, TruNest Contour? This version providing nesting for Laser, Waterjet, and Plasma cutters.

With Autodesk’s focus on additive manufacturing, another logical addition would be Netfabb. “Netfabb additive manufacturing software has tools that help streamline your additive workflow and quickly get from a 3D model to successfully printed parts.” Again, the Netfabb Standard version appears to be a great addition to the Manufacturing Collection.

The Verdict

During the day, I work for a mining equipment manufacturer, and these additions hit the bullseye on two of our biggest needs. Both of these are a significant addition to the collection, better than most of the “fluff” added in the past (I’m looking at you AutoCAD Architecture). Both HSM and Nastran In-CAD provide real-honest-to-goodness Product Design and Manufacturing functionality. Even if you disagree with the move to subscription based licensing, few of Autodesk’s competitors offer this level of functionality at the price of the Manufacturing Collection.


Feature Image “Cheese Manufacturing by Kevin Dooley