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Inventor LT Review

Autodesk Inventor LT Aims to be 3D Design Editor

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Full article is available for a fee

Randall S. Newton, May 14, 2007

Autodesk this week launched a free “technology preview” version of Autodesk Inventor LT. The target audience is those who work with 3D model data but do not necessarily create it. This placed the new product in the category of 3D design editing, where several companies are already trying to build a market. The product is free during its preview period, but will eventually be sold for around $1,000.

The Product

Inventor LT is a streamlined version of Inventor, which Autodesk claims is the world’s top-selling 3D mechanical design software. (A close analysis of units sold leads some to dispute that claim and give the top-selling award to SolidWorks instead.) The feature set focuses on users who need to edit and share 3D models -- and sometimes create them. Along with the free download, users are encouraged to download a separate set of “translator add-ins” that allow Inventor LT to import/export in Parasolid and GRANITE (from PTC), and to import UGS NX and Pro/E files.

Key capabilities from full Inventor not found in Inventor LT include 3D assembly modeling, many specialized tools such as for sheet metal design and dynamic simulation, an API, and a copy of Autodesk Vault. If a user attempts to open an assembly in Inventor LT, the product prompts the user to open the assembly in Inventor View, a free viewer included with Inventor LT that offers view, measure, and plot capabilities.

Inventor LT also ships with photorealistic rendering, an important feature for its intended market of users who will primarily use 3D data created by others.

Autodesk Inventor LT includes photorealistic rendering.

The Launch

Inventor LT is hosted on Autodesk Labs. The site started as a unbranded, renegade outreach by Autodesk developers to get interesting new technologies into users hands much earlier than possible in traditional development cycles.

The Market

My first impression is that Inventor LT is a quick-strike response to the sudden rise of interest in the ability to directly edit 3D models without using the original authoring CAD tool. While any of the current crop of history-free CAD modelers can do this to some degree, they are also CAD and thus suspect by those who only want to edit or enhance 3D models. By definition, we have to include new Inventor LT in this category.

The full article is available for a fee at CADCAMNet.

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