A few weeks back Autodesk announced four new cloud-based tools, all added to their cloud initiative “Autodesk 360”. One of these products, Autodesk Mockup 360, has been designed to view large amounts of data for project review and project collaboration. If you have experience with Autodesk Design Review, Mockup 360 is going to seem very familiar.
Autodesk’s tagline: “Digital mockup tool for 3D design”
“Mockup 360 is a real-time collaboration and digital design mockup tool that enables engineers and project managers in manufacturing environments to work with suppliers and customers in a simple, cloud-based environment”
Mockup 360 is a web-based tool used to collaborate on models. It is:
- “Open” for collaboration as you can invite anyone to not only view but markup and comment on your projects.
- “Built for Large 3D visualization”, supporting many common 3D CAD file types.
Like most web-based tools it is easy to install and setup however it does require an install of some components locally. It is not just browser based as some of the other 360 offerings. It updates automatically on launch if a new version is available.
Mockup 360 provides tools for getting information from your data, including a measuring tool and clash type analysis. If you’ve used Navisworks you’ll find some similarities, especially the navigation tools, and could almost consider this Navisworks “lite”. I don’t think it takes much to see that this one day will be a cloud based alternative or probably even replacement for Navisworks.
Adding collaborators to a project is also easy, as long as they have an Autodesk ID. Since there are components of Mockup 360 to download and install you, there’s a concern you might have issues with people who work in organizations where they need IT involved to get programs installed on their system.
With Mockup 360 you import files to build the “digital mockups”. DWF (.dwf & .dwfx) are the primary method of working with data, but you can also directly import *.step, *.stl, *.nwd, *.jt, & *.sat. You can reposition geometry once it’s imported including snapping and offsetting to & from other models in the mockup.
Working with the models and browser is limited. At this stage the “little” things are missing such as; no isolate option or no shift/ctrl-selecting in the browser to select multiple components. For Markups you are limited to note annotations, since there are no leaders, arrows, or revision cloud type tools. The notes are just text, you cannot embed images. The product itself has no right-click options, but this could be due that it is a mostly browser application.
Autodesk 360 has support for a wider range of CAD formats including, ProEngineer, SolidWorks, NX, Catia, and IGES. However, it’s not clear that you import files of these types into your Autodesk 360 account, in fact it had me stumped for a bit. What you need to do is upload the non-Autodesk 3D models into your 360 account and then insert the models into Mockup 360 from there.
The add-in for Inventor publishes the open model to DWF(x) and imports it into your Mockup. With smaller models I had very mixed results publishing to Mockup 360 directly from Inventor. Based on prior experience I feel this isn’t due to Mockup itself, but due to ‘Publish to DWF’ failing. However, the error messages / result log is lacking and I do not know why the models that failed to publish, failed. In one instance it said it failed to upload the model but when I returned to Mockup 360 it was there!
Take for example a 12581 component Inventor Assembly which took over 60-minutes of “processing” to tell me that it failed to import the model. Even worse my Inventor was locked processing and I could not use it for anything else as the publishing was occurring.
To be honest, I didn’t really expect better results based on my past experiences with creating DWF from Inventor. I would not recommend anyone to use the Inventor add-in to publish to Mockup, except with smaller assemblies. At least when uploading via Autodesk 360 you can continue to use your Inventor for other things.
Once I got the models into Mockup 360, it was actually very easy to reposition the models. The UI is very straightforward and I was able to reposition everything I imported quickly and accurately. This is an area that Autodesk did a very good job of with Mockup 360. I didn’t try it, but you can also position models based on global positioning.
What impressed me more than anything else, is when I posted a question & comment on the Mockup 360 discussion forum, I got a private message from one of the Product Managers. After some dialogue I received a phone call, in which he asked me questions regarding my thoughts on the product, how I thought it could work better, and we discussed Autodesk’s plans for the future for Mockup 360. I think this shows a real commitment by Autodesk to not only getting the product out but gaining insight on how they can make it better.
In the initial release the measuring was horrible, even worse than Design Review. The only object snapping was to faces and points and there was no way to select an edge or the center of a hole. Also you couldn’t rename the annotations, meaning you were stuck with the default A0, A1, etc.
I’m going to keep telling myself it was all because of me (ok seriously I know there were many who asked for the improvements) but with subsequent builds of the product they improved the measuring. Now it is far easier to select edges and you can select the center axis of holes to measure from (hooray!). They also added some improvements in that you can delete and rename annotations. Check out the video below to see it in action:
Right now it’s free for a 90-day trial, which I think is about right for this just-out-of-beta product. Until I know what this will cost (I’m assuming it will be a monthly subscription fee) and see some more improvements I will not be using this in “production”. I will however continue to test it as I see the potential. Updates are expected early and often, and I would expect we’ll see the pricing structure late fall.