On March 30th, 2011 a room full of journalists and I got to experience Autodesk’s manufacturing 2012 design firehose, where we break out in groups and they hose us down with more information than we can possibly collect.  Among other topics discussed were:

  • Digital Engineering and Documentation
  • Digital Simulation
  • Digital Factory
  • Product Data Management
  • AutoCAD
  • Digital Concept

The Autodesk vision for the 2012 release surrounds industry user workflow enhancement throughout the Digital Prototyping process, and is integrated throughout their products this year.

Inventor Fit and Finish

Inventor 2012 received numerous touch-ups and enhancements that were requested by industry professionals to make their day to day jobs easier. Mold Tooling received a lot of attention, and multi-core CPU support for High-Speed Drawing Views and substantially faster application starts, and iLogic form development are some examples.

Numerous common industry workflows like Ribs and Bosses have been combined inside a single function to make your job easier.  The help Wiki is fully implemented throughout the products, and seems to be the future for the Autodesk help system. There is a huge list of enhancements that can’t be fit into this article. My comments and the complete list of enhancements can be found in the upcoming release of AUGI magazine, due out next week.


IMAGE_490Industry workflows have overtaken the products so that the stand alone applications are a portion of the product design workflow. Industry Suites are now the cornerstone of the Digital Prototyping concept.  Product interoperability has been enhanced tremendously, to create a platform where data moves smoothly from application to application, and permits everything from concept sketching, into modeling, visualization, and full-on non-linear stress analysis. The key here is how smoothly the data is transitioned from application to application.

While you can still purchase a stand alone copy of Inventor, the Suites offer a substantial savings over all the products in the suites. I think I heard up to 68%.

Subscription members will receive a nice gift in their mailbox for no additional charge. More details to follow.


image Fusion has graduated from Autodesk Labs to be implemented as a release product. The thing is that it is linked to almost every design product in the Autodesk 2012 Suites. That’s right, even AutoCAD has Fusion attached to it.

“You can’t swing a cat without hitting a copy of Inventor Fusion”, Kross noted as he reflected on the saying that had developed within the office.  One of Fusion’s most popular combinations is with Autodesk Simulation, formerly the Algor Simulation product. The pair gives the analyst and engineer the ability to rapidly modify components while developing a suitable prototype in the simulation environment.

Kross went on to add “Fusion delivers the ability to explore shape and form, without the rigors of parametric modeling, because it has such an easy format” This would also be quite evident with one interesting addition this year. Alias Design for Inventor 2011, which could only be purchased with the full license of Alias Design, has transformed itself into a portion of Inventor Fusion 2012. Not only did Fusion receive excellent free-form modeling capabilities from Alias, but you can reach these directly from the Inventor modeling environment.

That’s Free-Form editing in Inventor, without the purchase of Alias Design. 2012 also brings precision to free-form modeling in Fusion, with entry fields for exact dimensions to be applied.

“This is going to fundamentally change how our customers model, hands down” said Rob Cohee during the demonstration.

Eco-Materials Library

EMA, Updated Assembly 01 Autodesk recently announced it’s partnership with Granta, in order to provide it’s customers with optimization in three ways: environmental impact, cost, and performance.

Granta is the worlds largest organization dedicated to the science and technology of materials. The advisor gives a great situational awareness to how material selection is affecting the final product, and your bank account. Not only is the selected material evaluated, but also the process related to that material’s manufacture and sustainability. Additionally, every material is linked to Granta’s database, so that you can review more information about the material proposed. This is something that Inventor has been missing and I really happy about this arrangement.


IMAG0514 Autodesk spent quite a deal of time discussing the landmark that the 21012 Product Design Suite represents. Simulation is tied into everything to give their clients the best Digital Prototyping solution available. They have spent a half-billion dollars over the past six years on developing and acquiring power simulation technologies to make them one of the broadest simulation providers in the world.  We see this in the Simulation environment of Inventor, as well as the Mold Flow and Autodesk Simulation. Autodesk recently purchased CF Design, and while not part of the 2012 lineup, was definitely a perfect match to help customers in both Manufacturing and AEC optimize their designs. Nothing has been said about a release date, but it might be nice to see during the mid cycle release as an add on for Autodesk Product Design Suite Ultimate.

Algor received a facelift and enters the Autodesk Product Design Suite as Autodesk Simulation 2012. Numerous enhancements were added, including multi-physics, mechanical events, and thermodynamics. Moldflow received quite a bit of attention with substantially improved workflows and capabilities. All Simulation products have been streamlined to provide a consistent manner and workflow to move into and out of the simulation and modeling environments.

Product Data Management

Allen Gager joined us to talk about how his company is using Vault to save upwards toward 60% in lost productivity. 60%, that’s huge. During the discussion, it was said that one operation was reduced from 21 mouse clicks, down to 3.

Vault is now tied into every aspect of digital prototyping and is fully integrated throughout the Product Design Suite. As I continue to use Vault, I am finding new things that it can do for me, and it’s ability to visually organize dependencies is brilliant.

Vault will go a step further in 2012, by introducing a centralized interface to manage the entire Product Design Suite from one location. Projects are being introduce in order to reduce unnecessary navigation as well.

IMAG0528 image


There was quite a bit to say about the 2012 products, and there is no way I can do them all justice in this article. It is difficult to interpret how all the broad improvements go together, until you look at interoperability and industry workflows. Everything has revolved around grouping products together that fit the needs of designers and engineers, in order to provide the best Digital Prototyping capability: from concept to simulation, and everywhere in between.

I’ll be looking to test a lot of instances in the Product Design Suite for function and interoperability, and to see just how smoothly the model transitions from modeling to simulation and back again. Look for some better insight into Suites coming up next, and the AUGI magazine’s what’s new in Inventor 2012 coming out next week.