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Features List 13
From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 15 No 02 - FEBRUARY 2002
TurboCAD Pro Version 8 provides a total design solution, integrating 2D and 3D modelling accompanied by professional quality rendering and visualisation.
Over the last couple of years, TurboCAD, developed by IMSI (International Microcomputer Software Inc.) has earned itself an excellent reputation, particularly amongst its’ flourishing TCUG User group, for providing plenty of ‘bangs for the buck’. Despite its’ price, a tenth of other leading 2D and 3D Design software, it now includes most of the functions available in the more expensive packages, including surface and solid modelling functions such as shelling and lofting – and also earns plenty of soubriquets for being easier to get into to start designing.
TurboCAD is suitable for both Mechanical and Architectural design, in both 2 and 3 dimensions. It comes with a host of standard symbols and blocks that can be dragged and dropped into drawings, uses simple editing procedures and has a range of flyout toolbars, floating palettes that offer over 250 2D and 3D design tools. Mechanical CAD users are able to construct advanced and complex assemblies from simple 2D profiles and 3D shapes. The latest version, based on the widely used ACIS solid modelling platform, includes a Part Tree feature that adds essential design management capabilities needed to develop large models. Mechanical tools also include extrusions, shape creation, shelling, lofting, blending and users are able to create and edit complex meshes.
Architectural users, on the other hand, have a wealth of specific tools for creating self-healing walls, into which doors and windows from the extensive architectural object library can be inserted. Building plans themselves can either be initiated from TurboCAD itself, or from FloorPlan 3D, which comes with the programme. FloorPlan designs are then easily converted into TurboCAD drawings.
3D designs can be viewed in wire frame, or with hidden lines removed, from any angle. Once completed, simple commands convert the designs into Draft or fully rendered images to produce life like simulations, using full ray-traced and radiosity based rendering, the ability to apply materials and luminescence, lights, shadows, reflections and textures – complementing this with dynamic scene rotation and walkthroughs.
I am a Camera! When users click into Model View – all drawings, whether 2D or 3D can be viewed as drawings or in 3D space – users are presented with a flyout toolbar for selecting viewing angles. By clicking on the appropriate image a viewpoint is selected, and multiple clicking rotates the viewpoint in incremental steps around the model. Alternatively, and probably more acceptable, users can ‘fly around and through the model using the mouse cursor.
On loading TurboCAD, the user is presented with a large drawing area with standard toolbars at the top of the screen, a range of drawing aids down the left hand side, and a series of palettes on the right that can be left open, or retracted to increase the size of the drawing area. The palette section includes such design aids as colours, symbol display etc., At the bottom of the screen is the Inspector Bar, a useful and often used area that changes as each function is accessed, allowing the user to key in accurate figures for precision drawing, such as precise dimensions and angles of objects.
On the right is a set of co-ordinate fields that establish the position of the cursor.
During the drawing process co-ordinates can be re-established at any point on the screen to provide a relative reference point for the design.
As the drawings progress, layers need to be established to differentiate between the different objects to ease future development of the drawing. This is easily achieved, using a single key drop-down menu that allows the user to label and assign a colour to each layer as it is created. An unlimited number of layers can be thus defined (colours can be used more than once).
A feature that possibly requires a little more time to become familiar with is the use of SKE – Single Key Entries, where, instead of using drop down menus, users can select certain functions by single key depressions – character or function key. You can move forward or backward, step by step, through the drawing by using the F6 and F7 keys. Copying objects, for instance, is simplified by selecting the object, choosing Make Copy from the drop down menu, clicking on the object reference point to define what is being copied and then moving to the point where the copy is to be created – then simply depressing the ‘V’ SKE or character. All very straightforward once you get the hang of it. Another operation that requires a bit of practice is to turn off the function (Make Copy) after you have finished using it. You soon learn to conform to the software’s rules, as failure to do so inhibits the next few instructions – your problem, not the software!
Boolean operations have been enhanced with the latest version of TurboCADS. There is a Boolean drop down menu that allows the user to combine two or more 2D or 3D objects to create single components, and to create the 2D and 3D views of drawings with hidden lines removed, volumes combined and other drawing functions that require some mathematical calculation to be completed – and to produce fillets, rotations, radial copies and so on.
Rotating an object is achieved by first selecting a point around which the object is to be rotated. TurboCAD selections indicate the reference point that needs to be grabbed by the cursor to achieve this and to perform other similar movements of the object. The Inspector Bar can be used to key in more precise rotation angles, or for the radius dimensions of fillets – or for defining the number of copies and the angle between each when making radial copies (e.g. placing screw holes around the perimeter of a disc)
Besides the numerous tools for creating all manner of 2D and 3D profiles and shapes from the toolbars, users can create editable irregular shapes using the Spline Tool on the Curves flyout toolbar. Inserting extra nodes on the shape, using Select Nodes, provides a ‘grabbable’ area that can be dragged out to the required shape.
I would suggest that it is the more experienced designer who would find it slightly more difficult to adapt to TurboCAD - having to accommodate the minor differences in the way that the software operates from the one that they are used to. Those on an upward path would rapidly accustom themselves to its’ mannerisms –the location of each function, and, particularly, the use of Single Key Entry for many operations – enabling them to concentrate on the design process instead.
The limits to its’ design capabilities are merely bound by the experience of the user – the functions that are still lacking lying mainly in the higher realms of specialist design.
As an alternative
to AutoCAD, the software could save a company quite a bit, replacing
a number of seats with this lower cost software package. One particular
feature that is remarked on by many is its’ ability to absorb and
use AutoCAD DWGs without a trace of a hiccup! CU
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