CAD package handles architectural and mechanical design

Aug. 10, 2006
TurboCAD Professional has let me create models for architectural and mechanical projects throughout the years, providing professional 2D plans and fully rendered 3D solid models.

The D-Cubed geometric and dimensional constraint manager lets users quickly convert 2D TurboCAD and AutoCAD designs into fully constrained solid models. The manager includes more than 15 constraints for lines, arcs, circles, splines, and dimensions.

A new bend tool in the separate Mechanical Pack program lets users create complex, multiplanar 3D objects with a few clicks of the mouse. Users can set the axis, angle, and radius of the bend.

In a technique known as "sweep selection," users first make sure the Selection Info palette is displayed, then press the left mouse button and drag around a group of objects. This displays information on the selected components. Lavender highlights indicate the tubing has been selected.

Version 12 delivers several improvements.

The revamped interface, for example, is a vast improvement. Prompts at the bottom of the screen remind new users of steps to follow for using unfamiliar features. Experienced users, on the other hand, can group frequently used tools into custom groups, while hiding the rest. This frees-up screen space for designing. Users can even reorganize the entire workspace with a variety of icons, menus, and toolbars.

V12 also has plenty of new tools, such as several context-sensitive ones, that make intelligent assumptions about users' intentions. Additional notable features include:

A highly effective geometric and dimensional constraint manager lets users easily convert files generated in 2D TurboCAD or AutoCAD into solid models and lists of associated parametric features. Users can adjust design dependencies and constraints with a simple series of palettes.

Additional libraries for Light-Works 7.5, a third-party tool that works inside TurboCAD, gives users access to advanced lighting and photographic effects. The Archives already had hundreds of customizable architectural materials and brand-name interior textures. I have always gotten great-looking results from Light-Works and the new libraries are a welcome addition.

A new bend tool in the separate Mechanical Package program is helpful in sheet-metal modeling. Previously, I had to put bends in models by first creating a 2D profile and then extruding it into a 3D entity. The new tool lets users specify the bend location and radius directly on the 3D model. Users can also move the location of the initial bend, instead of having to repeat the whole process.

The double-extrude tool is so useful I can't imagine how I did without it. The tool comes in handy when an extrusion started from the center of an entity must extend in opposite directions. Before, I had to extrude the 2D profile twice, once in each direction, and then add the two extrusions together. The new tool does this in one easy step. I tend to create a lot of extrusions this way, so the direct method saves quite a bit of time.

Lastly, the program includes a new parametrichole generator, a facet-offset tool, and an evenmore powerful and editable part/history tree. Each area gets ample attention, making TurboCAD a flexible, affordable, all-purpose CAD package.

TurboCAD comes from IMSI Inc., 100 Rowland Way, Novato, CA 94945, (415) 878-4000,

— David Mullins

David Mullins is a designer in Melbourne, Australia, at Relativity 3D and Continuum Audio Labs,

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