More Low Cost CAD

Welcome to AECWeekly! IMSI, the makers of TurboCAD and DesignCAD, have just released the latest version of their DesignCAD 3D Max v16 and DesignCAD Express v16. What makes this release special, according to Bob Mayer, executive VP of Precision Design, is its new underlying CAD drawing engine, which is actually the TurboCAD engine that is faster and more robust than what DesignCAD had before. Read about IMSI in this week's Industry News.

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Industry News

More Low Cost CAD
By Susan Smith

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IMSI, the makers of TurboCAD and DesignCAD, have just released the latest version of their DesignCAD 3D Max v16 and DesignCAD Express v16. What makes this release special, according to Bob Mayer, executive VP of Precision Design, is its new underlying CAD drawing engine, which is actually the TurboCAD engine that is faster and more robust than what DesignCAD had before.

“In DesignCAD 3D Max you can now create more complex 3D objects without slowing down the performance of the application, so we felt this was the way to build a better foundation on DesignCAD without changing the interface at all,” explained Mayer.

DesignCAD 3D Max is a true 3D and 2D drawing CAD product, while DesignCAD Express has all the same functionality as 3D Max except with all the 3D functionality turned off.

IMSI uses the Open Design Alliance “OpenDWG” code libraries to be able to read and write DWG files from AutoCAD, IntelliCAD, TurboCAD and other popular CAD programs. In addition, TurboCAD will read DesignCAD files, but not vice versa. The reason for this is because the TurboCAD products have a superset of CAD drawing and visualization features including photorealistic rendering and radiosity, true solid modeling, and a constraint management system.

What DesignCAD 3D Max v16 has besides the new CAD drawing engine, are the following features:
  • Ability to name objects and select/search allowing you to name objects as you design, and select objects or search for the object by name or partial name.
  • New nested groups give you the ability to place one group of objects inside a larger group.
  • Improved layer handling lets you associate layers so that groups of layers can be turned off/on with a single click.
  • True unit conversion allows you to rescale a drawing to match when switching units of measurements. When you switch from meters to feet, for example, 1 meter will convert to 3.28 feet rather than 1 foot as would occur previously
  • Improved rendering supports OpenGL rendering, is faster, and has improved export to 3D formats
  • New line styles, multiline styles, improved hatch fille and display grid included.
I also took this opportunity to get a handle on where DesignCAD 3D Max, Express, TurboCAD Pro and TurboCAD Deluxe-and AutoCAD-stand in the marketplace. TurboCAD Pro competes very well against AutoCAD, according to Mayer, who just completed a comparison of AutoCAD 2006 against TurboCAD Pro 11.

For $100, TurboCAD Deluxe competes straight across against AutoCAD LT.

DesignCAD 3D Max is in a somewhat similar market niche as TurboCAD Deluxe. “Although DesignCAD 3D Max does not have as many professional drawing features as TurboCAD does, I would say it's a consumer product for hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers as well as some small businesses owners,” noted Mayer. “There's a bit of an overlap between DesignCAD 3D Max and TurboCAD Deluxe. They're both priced about the same. DesignCAD sells for a little less in retail stores such as CompUSA and MicroCenter. DesignCAD has a strong international following, particularly in Europe,. In some places of the world, DesignCAD sells for a premium over the U.S. retail price.”

What helps contribute to DesignCAD 3D Max's success is that an SDK is available for it, and some plug-ins are shipped with the product. Soon, IMSI will start selling a finite element analysis (FEA) plug-in for 3D Max. Other applications have been designed for swimming pool building, irrigation systems and other specialized areas.

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“Next year we intend to take TurboCAD and create a TurboCAD Pro AEC version so we can enhance architectural drawing features, and can see more architectural content, and templates for at least residential housing,” Mayer said. Similarly, a lot of the new and improved features in DesignCAD lend themselves to the AEC world, such as layer handling, ability to nest groups, name objects, etc. They're a more traditional architectural type of CAD user, ” Mayer noted.

Historically, the company focused on architectural drafting tools, but in version 6 of TurboCAD, IMSI began to promote the mechanical 3D aspect of TurboCAD. Like many AEC firms who suffered after 9/11, IMSI has put more mechanical 3D modeling features into TurboCAD over the past three releases. Now all that has changed, said Mayer. “40% of the TurboCAD user base are still using it for AEC related reasons, mostly architectural in nature. As such, we're going to try to swing towards AEC again in order to maintain a 'middle of the road' functionality,” Mayer noted.

History of IMSI

In 1988, DesignCAD was originally called ProDesign, developed by what was then American Small Business Computers, and was strictly 2D, as was TurboCAD. IMSI was founded in 1983, went public in 1988 and developed and published a wide range of consumer software products throughout the 80 and 90's. TurboCAD was first sold by IMSI in 1991. By the end of the 90's however, the company was nearly bankrupt. IMSI was able to hold off its creditors and by the fall of 2001 had secured financing that allowed it to restructure its debt and begin regrowing its business DesignCAD 3D Max retails for U.S. $99.95, while the 2D only DesignCAD Express retails for $49.95.


DRS Technologies, Inc. announced that it has acquired WalkAbout Computers, Inc. from Scorpion Holdings in a stock purchase transaction. The terms were not disclosed.

WalkAbout Computers was established in 1990 and is headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, with sales offices in the U.S. and Europe. Walkabout is a leading designer and manufacturer of industrial rugged tablet computers and docking stations for mobile users operating in harsh environments. It also develops custom solutions for special market needs, and provides aftermarket service and support for an extensive installed base of products.

Graphisoft, Inc., developer of Virtual Building solutions, and RCMS Group, LLC (RCMS) have signed a strategic partnership agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, RCMS Group, a leader in the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) professional services industry, will become a Graphisoft-authorized Center of Excellence, providing Building Information Modeling (BIM) and outsourcing services to commercial and government clients who are looking to accelerate their use of ArchiCAD on key projects.

AEC CADCON, a provider of enterprise-wide engineering solutions and systems integration to the AEC marketplace, is one of the few Autodesk Value Added Resellers of the new Autodesk Revit Structure in the mid-west. The first customer shipment date for Revit Structure was June 7th.

Announcements Bentley Systems, Incorporated celebrated the grand opening of its new Bentley Civil headquarters in Sunrise, Fla. with special presentations and a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new facility.

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