CAD at a remarkable price
DesignCAD 3000 from Upperspace
DesignCAD 3000 has been launched by Upperspace Corporation.
It is available as a combined 2D drafting and 3D Boolean modeller or a 2D only Express version.
2D facilities are extensive from the range of 2D snap modes and line constraints through to paper space and dimension styles.
Snap types now include the essential tangent snap and a snap locator preview dynamically appears at the current snap point as the cursor is moved around.
New features are tweaks rather than radical new functionality.
Chamfers for instance can now be specified with unequal sides and a multiple trim command allows a single line to be used as a cutting edge.
The attention to such details is however an indication of the extensive existing 2D function set.
Specific applications may find the ability to calculate the centre of gravity of 2D shapes useful.
While in 2D mode, display can be toggled between 2D drafting and paper space views.
Multiple paper space layouts can be created within a drawing and each can be saved out as a template for subsequent drawings.
The zoom level and layer visibility can be set for each view frame to achieve comprehensive sheet layouts including detail views.
Although this method is fine for 2D only projects, laying out multiple projected views from a 3D model is cumbersome compared to best of breed modellers that offer automated drawing layout facilities.
3D performance is said to have been increased substantially including support for 3D specific hardware.
Although there is little doubt that complex models can be created, geometry access for subsequent editing is limited compared to features and history based parametric modellers.
An entity history tree is available from the help menu but this does not allow selection or editing of the entities.
Parts can be edited by stretching, Boolean operations or added features, but simple edits like changing the radius of a fillet are far from easy.
Functional limits are also apparent in the ability to only apply fillets to straight edges or to round a corner.
The range of Boolean operations is very good however with variants such as Exclusive Or subtracting the common volume and Segregate that creates a solid of the common volume.
Solids can be created from a range of primitives, or by extruding, revolving, sweeping or lofting sections.
Surface patches can also be created and be converted into solids using the Solid Define command.
A Hammer command allows surface patches to be interactively manipulated.
A curved surface can also now be used as a cutting tool to slice a solid and there is greater control over spiral constructions with variable pitch and radial offset settings.
3D volumes, centres of gravity and surface areas can be calculated.
Multiple orthographic and perspective views of a model can be displayed simultaneously.
The view toolbar provides tools to manipulate 3D but dynamic manipulation for visualisation is limited.
Materials can be assigned to parts and views displayed in flat or Gouraud shaded modes.
Light sources can be defined and key frame animations created and saved out as AVI files.
Models can be saved out as VRML files for viewing in web browsers and format support includes AutoCAD 2000 DWG and DXF files including hatch entities.
A batch convert feature enables multiple files in other formats to be converted into DesignCAD files.
Thanks to other technologies within the Upperspace Corporation there are also extensive bitmap import facilities including direct scanner support for Autotrace conversion into CAD friendly vectors.
DesignCAD 3000 is supplied with over 1000 2D and 3D symbols.
DesignCAD 3000 offers extensive modelling and drafting capabilities combined with free technical support by phone, web, email or fax.
Despite the level of functionality at a remarkable price, it is likely to prove difficult to be effective in applications where regular editing during the design process or design revisions are the norm.
If viewed primarily as a 2D tool with 3D capabilities for occasional use, a purchase decision will come down to personal preference for the interface and work method.