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ViaCAD: a "new" CAD package with a lot of history and functionality
on June 4, 2007
ViaCAD 5 is the first release of Concepts 3D since their acquisition by Punch! software. While priced like a 2D illustration or CAD tool (TurboCAD 2D for Mac, for example), it is a 5th generation of the Concepts 3D CAD engine which has been used in their own products as well as OEM'd to firms like Ashlar Vellum and IMSI TurboCAD for Mac.
I'm a use of the Concepts Unlimited 3D version 4, a package normally selling for over $2K. The PDF available on the Punch! site highlights the differences in features, the main one no present in ViaCAD being more advanced 3D rendering capabilities with surface textures.
Folks, this package, either for Windows or the Mac, is a genuine bargain- I bought it to have a license install of the full 3D editing capabilities on a new MB Pro, while the "high end" Concepts Unlimited sits on my G5 PowerMac. This is NOT the kind of limited functionality 2D illustration program you usually wind up with for under $100- this is a full featured 3D CAD program that is quite easy to use (in part due to the user interface, including what ViaCAD now calls "Logicursor", which was/is called "Drafting Assitant" in Ashlar Vellum products. Advanced construction and snap features combined with parametric editing after the intial entry make object creation and basic drawing quite easy and fast with just a little practice.
Additionally, there are a number of UI modifications and refinements in this ViaCAD version 5 compared with Concepts 3D version 4, including how switching between 2D and 3D views is handled, rotation of view point in 3D, and some other tweaks which streamline and simplify the user interface.
Standard features include extensive Import and Export format support, including IGES, SAT, STEP, ACIS, AutoCAD, Rhino3DM, and 3D Studio.
3D support includes surface modeling and solids modeling. The solids modeling using the most current ACIS kernel is quite powerful, and supports fast editing of complex 3D objects, with an emphasis on mechanical design support needed for castable or machinable parts. Extrusions, swept solids with curves, bosses, shelling, etc, this is a real production capable tool- too many useful features to list.
Currently I'm only using this as a hobbyist, for 3D design for HT and high end loudspeakers.
Though the package has some tools making it interesting for architectural design, that's not really it's intent- furniture design, now that it would do well.
Documentation is a manual that's a standard paperback size about 7/8" thick, ~340 pages, and two double sided reference cards the same size as the page size of the manual.