TurboCAD 10.1 Professional
From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 17 No 08 - AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2004
TurboCAD, from IMSI, is now a comprehensive CAD tool for both the mechanical and the AEC markets, providing powerful 2D drawing and 3D model building
TurboCAD, from IMSI, is now a comprehensive CAD tool for both the mechanical
and the AEC markets, providing powerful 2D drawing and 3D model building,
supported by advanced rendering tools from LightWork design.
Of all of the budget CAD tools on the market, TurboCAD is probably one of the
best known, and most widely used. It has been around for a number of years, now,
and is regularly being updated – incorporating new features and tools – that
enables it to compete with many, far more expensive, packages. TurboCAD is
available in two versions – Standard and Professional – the latter offering a
powerful 2D and 3D design and modelling tool that is intuitive and easy to use.
Despite having some of the more expensive packages on my PC, I regularly switch
back to TurboCAD if I need to produce a model, or some drawings, in a hurry, as
it has the shortest re-learning curve of them all.
TurboCAD Professional can also be used to extend the design to manufacturing
process, using the CAD/CAM module that allows users to develop software to drive
2 axis drilling and milling machines from their designs (CAD User October 2002).
IMSI has now released Version 10 of the software, with which TurboCAD
Professional offers some significant enhancements, justly earning it its
reputation as a tool for the CAD professional. The software is now based on the
latest ACIS Geometric Modeller –Release 11 – and is priced 60% below competitors
offering similar functionality, providing powerful 2D design capabilities,
advanced 3D modelling, including NURBS based objects with deformable modelling
and the ability to handle both solids and surfaces. It also comes with
photorealistic rendering using the latest rendering tools from Lightworks. It
costs around the same as AutoCAD LT, which has neither 3D modelling or
ACIS has been driving the 3D modelling market since 1989. Developed by Spatial
Corp., the object-oriented, open architecture kernel is used by a wide range of
software developers, including mid-range CAD systems suppliers. The software
kernel provides powerful 3D modelling capabilities, and can be used for
developing hybrid modelling features, as it incorporates wireframe, surface and
solid-modelling functionality, amongst other advanced geometric options.
TurboCAD has used this functionality to enable users to build models in both
solids and surfaces, allowing users to convert solids to surfaces and
It also takes advantage of ACIS’ Deformable Modelling, an alternative method to
surface modelling techniques that use control point manipulation and lofting.
Instead, surfaces are deformed by applying uniform pressure to a face, the shape
being constrained by its boundary (imaging end-capping a solid 3D beam). More
complex shapes can be created by applying points within the surface to constrain
the deformation. IMSI, the developers of TurboCAD, consider 3D deformation
modelling a more powerful tool than traditional surface modelling methods. It
requires fewer operations, is more intuitive, and allows less experienced users
to produce higher quality designs. The deformation algorithm optimises the
construction of the curve, producing clean lines, allowing complex shapes to be
created using series of constraints to sculpt curves that would be difficult to
produce using control points – producing, in effect, the sort of free-form
shapes that are essential for modelling cars, aerofoils, and the latest styles
in consumer goods.
Advanced Covering, one of the deformable modelling tools, allows users to fit
surfaces onto circuits – the collection of edges that form a closed loop in
solid or wire-framed models. It is commonly used for end-capping, and providing
surface definitions from curve data, or, for correcting surface errors after the
model has been created.
It goes much further than that, though. Wrapping surfaces around shapes can lead
to unsightly surface boundaries – image two free form surfaces coinciding at 90
degrees – that can only be smoothed into one surface by using the positional and
tangency tools in Advanced Covering to ensure continuity over the edge of the
model. The tool also allows auxiliary point and curve restraints to be applied
to increase control over the curve, and can also be used as a diagnostic tool
after the surface has been created to find gaps left in the surface in complex
Another powerful new feature is axis scaling of all ACIS models, allowing users
to parametrically rescale an objects size by dragging selected points on the
model. Facet editing of ACIS solids and surfaces has also been improved.
With the powerful new Drafting palette, you can also create 2D layouts of 3D
models and assemblies in seconds. The software allows users to create drawing
layouts with multiple projections, complex sectional views, and even derivative
sectional views, with just a few clicks – and even import bitmap and JPEG images
on to the same sheet.
Professional versions of TurboCAD have always included rendering from LightWork
Design. The latest version of the software (Version 7.3) has now been integrated
within TurboCAD, providing even better rendering and photo-realistic
visualisation. This enables TurboCAD models to show materials and textures with
added light effects. Luminescence can also be assigned to objects, or render
scenes environments can be created in the back or foreground of the model.
Version 7.3 adds hidden-line rendering and new colour selection and creation
tools. It also allows users to work in 2D or 3D without leaving render mode.
TurboCAD also handles OpenGL rendering, which creates lower quality renderings,
but at greater speed than LightWorks. Users can toggle between each type of
rendering, including hidden-line.
TurboCAD gives users complete control over the different types of lighting
available, including luminescence, which can be applied from a single, or
multiple light source. Luminance comes with an additional palette that retains
the types of luminance that have been created, enabling them to be used on
TurboCAD Professional is now well established as a CAD tool for both
professionals on a low budget, and for the semi-professional market – home users
serious about their use of CAD for their own purposes. Its compatibility with
the leading CAD brands enables it to be a serious consideration for design
companies using such software to consider increasing the number of seats they
can afford to install, as it supports the most popular file formats, including
AutoCAD DWG and DFX, Microstation DGN, 3DS, IGES and the new STL. Users can also
publish their designs in HTML, JPG and MTX formats.
The 3D InterOp Translators module now includes Inventor Reader for viewing
Autodesk Inventor files, as well as STEP and IGES translators. The ScanPro
raster-to-vector converter is now integrated into TurboCAD for greater ease of
In addition to this, TurboCAD professional version 10 includes a software
developers toolkit and a VisualBasic macro recorder.
TurboCAD Professional is quite a hefty package now, considering the price it
sells for, and it’s worth checking out the website for a complete overview of
all of the software’s features. Befitting a widely used piece of software, the
website also provides a lot of support for its users. IMSI has also provided a
couple of course books, and is due to release some Learning Editions of the
software – cut down versions of the software that come complete with a series of
tutorials to get users up and running with the most common and useful features
of the software - ideal for learning the basics of 3D modelling.
Click here for a Print Friendly Version