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Product Review: IMSI TurboCAD Mac Pro 7

Architosh reviews IMSI / Design’s latest TurboCAD Mac Pro now at version 7. The venerable TurboCAD product line is a key rival in the overall CAD market to noted heavy-weight Autodesk and is particularly strong on the Windows side. But since 2006 the company returned to the Mac platform to address an expanding overall CAD market. This latest version is powered by the same underlying technology in SolidWorks and contains photographic realistic rendering options. In this review we take a look at what is new.

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Viewports

Many CAD programs provide multi-screen or viewport viewing within the main program window. But not all of them allow you to start drawing in one view (say the top view) and finish the drawing in another view (say the axon view). New in version 7 is the ability to display multiple views of your drawing at one time, with different orientations. You can even add a floating viewport. (see image 08)

08 - You can add a floating viewport which can become a nice option for doing renders in.

08 – You can add a floating viewport which can become a nice option for doing renders in.

09 - Flexible viewports enable different types of views at the same time. This is a great feature addition to version 7.

09 – Flexible viewports enable different types of views at the same time. This is a great feature addition to version 7.

This is one of those features we have wished existed for many years in many of the other leading CAD programs on the Mac. It is nice to see IMSI/Design implement such a feature. The truth is this is very useful to the intuitive design process. Getting back to our direct manipulation of the spline curve in the glass stemware example above, having a side view and multiple iso views at the same time allows the designer to more easily adjust the curvature. Moreover, once the manipulation is accomplished the designer gets more views to review the feedback of the change. The whole design process is sped up. (see image 09).

Other Key New Features

New in TurboCAD Mac Pro v7 is a brand new Redlining Markup toolset. The tools include lines, circles, text, text in boxes and cloud. The user can set the line thickness and color (e.g.: bright red!) and all such markups go by default onto a new “markup” layer automatically. (see image 10)

11 - The new Markup tools allow the user to select a pen color, thickness and place an attached note using an array of markup items.

10 – The new Markup tools allow the user to select a pen color, thickness and place an attached note using an array of markup items.

Also new is a new Gripper tool. The Gripper tool is accessed from the Inspector palette and comes with several settings. One key setting is the location of the gripper itself–object center or user-defined. The latter is key for when you may wish to rotate the object around a particular point, as rotation happens at the intersection of all three axis. (see image 11)

The Gripper tool operates similarly to other such tools in many programs, and includes three axis color coded handles, arrows and rotation ribbons. You can scale, translate move or translate rotate an object by clicking, holding and moving the appropriate item on the gripper itself. Dimensional input is enabled at the top of the user interface in the status bar–definitely not where we would prefer it to be. (see image 12)

10 - The new Gripper tool is accessed from the Inspector palette and offers the user easier object manipulations such as translations.

11 – The new Gripper tool is accessed from the Inspector palette and offers the user easier object manipulations such as translations.

12 - The Gripper Tool is on the Inspector palette, a good location, and includes several settings options.

12 – The Gripper Tool is on the Inspector palette, a good location, and includes several settings options.

The Gripper tool can be customized to your needs at the Inspector palette level. There are visibility options for scale, move and rotation, as well as a planar option for the rotation planes, visibility and so forth. (see image 12) We would also like to point out that transparency (not a new feature) is set at the object level on the Inspector palette. (see image 12 for transparent object)

While we will not cover every single new feature in this update we definitely want to mention some remaining modeling updates. Users now have a new Conic tools set which allows them the ability to obtain the curve generated by the intersection of a cone with a plane. This tool works in two, three and four point modes. Another new feature is the ability to project a curve to a plane. And there are new improved surface utilities that calculate intersections of an infinite plane  and a curve, surface or solid.

Architecturally TurboCAD Mac Pro v7 gains a new Roof tool and new Slab tool for automating the 3D production of hip and flat roofs over walls and for generating slabs with offsets and controlled thickness.

Final Details

TurboCAD Mac Pro v7 now works with AutoCAD 2013 files (DWG) as well as AutoCAD LT files of the same vintage. It also has some great new import and export options. New are EPSP, Facet, PDF, Photoshop and SketchUp. And you can now export to OBJ and VRML.

There are nearly 2000 new materials added to the material library for photorealistic rendering and over 3700 new decals and over 25,000 new symbols. That constitutes a giant update in the area of objects and utility for existing TurboCAD users.

And while we are on the subject, TurboCAD Mac Pro v7’s photorealistic rendering abilities are solid. We ran several test renders on the sample files and explored the UI for settings and results and speed. On our test machine (circa 2010 Mac Pro) we noticed that TurboCAD Mac Pro v7 does indeed support multi-threading for its rendering. Our quad-core Xeon based machine sped through quick render tests. (see image 13)

13 - A Fence Render scene shown here with the Material library showing background options.

13 – A Fence Render scene shown here with the Material library showing background options.

The Render Library palette shows foregrounds, backgrounds, materials and decals in a grid array. You simply drag these items to your object or scene to apply. Options include things like Apply Normal, Apply Body and Apply Similar.

Closing Comments and Recommendations

As we said in the beginning, it has been a very long time since we reviewed the TurboCAD Mac product line in any version. This is the first time we have reviewed the Pro version and our general feeling is that the product is a strong 3D CAD application very suitable to mechanical, industrial, product design and other similar markets. It’s ACIS R22 modeling geometry kernel technology gives is quite a range of capability and future possibilities. From what we know of modeling kernels there are likely near or over 1000 functions under the hood and its up to the application developer to expose these through a UI/UX for the user.

In this version 7 release we were impressed with the solid range of advanced modeling options. The program shipped with sample files and we saw things like MP3 players, phones, compasses, furniture and other advanced curved form industrial items–all modeled beautifully in TurboCAD Mac Pro v7.

What we like in this product is the direction it seems to have taken with the Parts Tree. While it is not as advanced as other similar history or parts trees in other programs, it is a very good start. As an architectural CAD program we do not feel that this program is a competitor to the range of tools on the market that include ArchiCAD, Vectorworks and Revit. But those tools are much more expensive. This is a good option for the person who needs to produce AEC industry shop drawings or the builder or general contractor. In short, we think on the Mac side of the market in particular TurboCAD Mac Pro v7 is stronger on the MCAD side of the CAD equation rather than the AEC side. TurboCAD Mac Pro v7 is a worthy upgrade with tons of new features, a great new editable Parts Tree, nice new push/pull and other modeling features and you get solid rendering and animation capabilities built directly in. Lastly, the way in which viewports work and the automatic ability to bring in a 3D model and auto-generate a sheet of 2D and axo views on that model, which you can then annotate and dimension, is really quite cool. —- ANTHONY FRAUSTO-ROBLEDO, AIA, LEED AP.

Pros: Excellent viewport auto-generation of 3D models from AutoCAD files; superb viewport and screen layout options, including viewport overlays; nice UI with customization and tear-out palettes; solid learning tools and built in video instruction; robust ACIS-based 3D CAD modeling; new Parts Tree with editable features; new Gripper tool; built-in rendering and animation; built-in markup tools, print by layer command, value-pricing and very good import/export options

Cons: Not a very strong architectural 3D CAD tool, anemic 3D feature set in this area, no BIM interoperability, no IFC (industry foundation classes) support; Parts Tree could benefit from more robust editing options; program could also benefit from batch rendering, GPU-bound rendering, et cetera. No Microstation import/export option.

Advice: For the price TurboCAD Mac Pro 7 is likely not the best choice if your primary work need is 2D drafting. For that TurboCAD Mac Deluxe is a much better choice. For users who need primarily 3D MCAD abilities for parts, assemblies, product design, mechanical design, et cetera, TurboCAD Mac Pro 7 is a very good value especially given its good photo-realistic rendering options and animation. It is also an excellent option for users who need to import in many DWG 3D files to further work on or produce annotated drawing sheets. 

Cost: 499.95.USD (new license)

45-rating

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