CAD Forums?

Just a quick poll of my readers. How many of you still use CAD forums? Which ones do you still visit often? Please respond to the poll below and add a comment or find me on Twitter or Facebook if you have any additional comments. Thanks all.

(you can vote for up to two of your favorites)

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What I would change about GrabCAD Partner Spaces

I’ve been playing around with GrabCAD Workbench Partner Spaces. If you’re not familiar with how they work you can read up on them here.

A Partner Space is a folder in your Workbench project that is used to show a selection of files to a Partner. Partners can view files in the Partner Space, but cannot see any of the other files in the project. This allows you and your collaborators to work privately on a project and deliver files when they are ready.

So basically, you can copy a file from your project folder into a partner folder (and think of partners as a supplier, machine shop, customer, etc). The copy isn’t really a copy, it maintains the link back to the original so changes stay in sync. Partner Spaces allow you to add comments to the file for your partner to see. This allows for some level of collaboration between you and your partner.

After using Partner Spaces for awhile, I came up with a list of things that I would change if I could wave my magic user interface wand. In reality, I know GrabCAD is very good at reading blogs like mine and taking suggestions to heart… so I’m waving away.

Here’s my list in no particular order:

    • Folder structure: A minor annoyance, but I would indent the sub-folder partner spaces below the parent Partner Space folder.
    • FolderStructure
    • Partner Space folder intelligence: When you create a Partner Space, it’s just a folder name. It would be nice to be able to assign contact information or any other pertinent information to keep track of the partner. A project with a lot of partners can get unwieldy.
    • File attachments: Yes you can add parts and drawings, but what about material specifications, or other required documents needed to properly fabricate or document the design? It would be nice to be able to attach these type documents in a nice, clean way where they don’t clutter up your partner space folder.
    • Quantity: Adding a model is great, but how many are you ordering? 1 or 1,000? Why not tell them right in the interface. Yes you can do with with a comment, but how awkward. This might not work for every space… see next item below.
    • Type of Partner: Is the space for a supplier or a customer? The requirements for both may be totally different.
    • Disable download: This should be an option.

If things change or I think of more, I’ll add some comments to this post.

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“Swift Prints” update coming soon

I’ve been working feverishly at getting the latest update to “Swift Prints” ready. If you aren’t familiar with Swift Prints, it allows you to create templates for common printer configurations that you can quickly access later for one click printing of Inventor drawings.

Here’s a few features new in the latest update:

  • A few bugs squashed and code optimized.
  • Ability to print full size (1:1).
  • New watermark capability beyond adding the date printed. This works by adding text to a custom iProperty field called “watermark”. You can customize the location and appearance as you wish in your drawing, Swift Prints will enter the text on your print.
  • Added Swift Prints to the drawing quick access toolbar by default… and it stays there unless you remove it.
  • Added Swift Prints to the drawing ribbon. All other add-ins will be utilizing this ribbon tab.


  • Lastly, a demo version will be available for free to everyone to try out Swift Prints before you purchase.


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Busy Week in the Cloud: GrabCAD and Autodesk 360

Whew… what a busy week in the cloud. GrabCAD started the week off on Tuesday by announcing Workbench is now out of beta. GrabCAD boasts Workbench has more than 20,000 registered users. That’s an impressive number for just losing the beta label. Workbench still has all the great features that made it 20,000 strong…

  • Desktop Sync – Users can link desktop files to files in online Workbench projects, ensuring local files are always up to date.

  • File Locking – Lock files for exclusive edit while letting the rest of the team know. Project owners can always override the lock.

  • Partner Spaces – Release product data to customers and manufacturers without them seeing all of your project data – or each other.

  • Visual version comparison – Visually overlay two versions of a 3D model to see what has changed.

  • Revision Management – Ensure that your team is always working off the right version to avoid wasted time and manufacturing mistakes.

  • Automatic version backup + restore – Automatically tracks file versions, browse version history, and instantly restore older versions.

…but it also comes with a surprise set of new functionality. Workbench now can be used directly from within your native CAD application. Workbench uploads , downloads and resolves conflicts within your CAD application. GrabCAD is first supporting SolidWorks with this functionality since they say it’s the most popular on GrabCAD. I do know SolidWorks makes up the lion share of CAD files on GrabCAD, but possibly this is because the alternatives are lacking for what the users really desire. Workbench also touts a generic CAD file format translator to export your designs to STEP, IGES or STL.


Pricing for Workbench with the full feature set starts at $59.00/user per month. Enterprise users will pay $89.00/user per month.

GrabCAD Workbench Pricing

Also this week, Autodesk answered back with some Fusion360 and Autodesk360 annoucements. The latest Fusion360 update allows you to capture the commands you use in a timeline while you edit your model. This brings the best of both modeling worlds together with a feature based solid model you can manipulate as you wish.

Fusion360 also has a refreshed version of the projects dashboard with the focus on productivity gains from the improved interface.

Lastly, Fusion360 lays in a new set of tools such as text as a sketch, as built joints, and sculpt pipe commands.

Fusion360 pricing starts at $40.00/month, $150/quarter or $300/annual.

Not to be left out, Autodesk360 annouced a technical preview for the next update. Currently by invitation only after you request access, the technical preview has quite a few new tools and features that will make it quite compelling to consider using if you do not already. Based on the teasers, it sounds promising.

Putting projects in the center…

All your people, data, and activities in one place. Projects are now centered around design and engineering workflows. Connect and collaborate with your teams easily, from wherever your work takes you. Data is easily viewable, searchable, and social.

Access for the whole team…

Not just for designers and engineers. Regardless of skill set or role, Autodesk 360 keeps everyone on your team aware of all activities related to a project. Keep everyone involved, informed, and aligned so no one is left out. And no training needed-it’s easy!

Every Kind of Data…

Autodesk 360 works with virtually any data type-not just design or Autodesk file types, data can come from anywhere. Securely store and control your data. You decide who gets access to it, where it resides, and how it is retrieved.

Any device, anywhere, any time…

Data that can live anywhere-and can be accessed by all who should have access to it-regardless of skills, tools, or location. Get to the latest designs as you need them, when you need them.

Searchable, shareable, beautiful.

Advanced search and viewing capabailities help users find critical design information quickly and easily. Streamline workflows and unlock new ways to innovate.

Autodesk360 is still completely free but comes with extra storage and access to Autodesk’s other 360 based products on subscription.

It’s been a busy and exciting week in the cloud collaboration realm. We are definitely on the brink of true maturity of cloud based CAD collaboration.

More Wine Please


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