Forward Migration Kit: Woodworking software, part 1

(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs -- or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)

This week we're serving up part one of our two-part roundup of woodworking software for the Mac.


GraphiSoft, a company that develops software solutions for the design, marketing and maintenance of buildings, has a product called ArchiCAD that uses an interesting "Virtual Building" concept and which has been Carbonized for Mac OS X.

The Virtual Building is a 3D digital database that tracks all elements that make up a building and which makes it possible to administer and manage a building throughout its entire life cycle.

Unlike a simple 3D model on a computer, the Virtual Building contains a great deal more information about the building's materials and characteristics, according to GraphiSoft This information can include surface area and volume; thermal properties; room descriptions; price; specific product information; window, door and finish schedules; and more.

According to GraphiSoft, the Virtual Building model is useful for all professionals connected to the building industry -- architects and residential designers, interior designers, real estate agents, facility managers, and marketing staff. Working from the same Virtual Building as the architect, the real estate agent can obtain exact room dimensions and area calculations, present perspective views from any vantage and even invite prospects on a virtual tour of the building. Interior designers can begin working during the planning phase on the same Virtual Building model. After construction is complete, building managers are able to use the comprehensive materials list and integrated 3D partition plan to track building assets and modify spaces.

The authoring tool for the Virtual Building is ArchiCAD, which lets you work from an intelligent 3D computer model (a simulation of your building). When you design in ArchiCAD, you automatically create a simulation of the real building: the Virtual Building. Instead of drawing lines, ellipses and arcs, you raise walls, add windows and doors, lay down floors, build stairs and construct roofs.

While you build elements on your floor plan, ArchiCAD creates a central database that can simultaneously handle 3D model data with plan and section views, dimensions, material finishes, component lists and more. Because all of the information about the building comes from a single project file, the building model remains integrated and up-to-date as you work, according to GraphiSoft. Changes made in one view are automatically updated in all others, including floor plans, sections and elevations, 3D models, and bills of materials.

Cabinet Explorer

Cabinet Explorer is a design and production tool management of panel based furniture, directly out of a 3D image. The software, from M.T.D. Software, allows high level of flexibility and efficiency with great deal of simplicity, Oren Reuven, international sales and marketing manager told MacCentral.

Cabinet Explorer is a C++ Object oriented software and is developed specifically for carpenters. You design the rooms and the software takes care of the production automatically. Cabinet Explorer generates detailed and optimized parts lists, assembly drawings with automatic measurement system, automatic calculation of production costs, customer quotations, detailed parts drawings, position of hardware and drills, connection to CNC machines, connection to computerized beam saw, import/export of DXF files and many more.

Cabinet Explorer isn't drawing software, and its operator doesn't need to have computerized drawing capabilities, Reuven said. In order to be a good Cabinet Explorer operator, you need only two days, he claims. The software uses database of raw materials which furniture is built of so any kind of non-standard furniture can be built and produced in a standard way.

M.T.D. Software is a privately owned Israeli software house specializing in the development and marketing of 3-D imaging software for furniture design, manufacturing, and marketing and for interior design simulation. The basic Cabinet Explorer module includes all the basic design functionality and costs €5,200. It can be upgraded by adding more software modules.

DenebaCAD 2

Cabinet maker John Weidner finds DenebaCAD 2 from Deneba useful.

DenebaCAD 2 integrates design, modeling, and rendering functions into one application. It can be used to produce 3D models, 2D working drawings, photo-realistic renderings, animations, and virtual-reality scenes. It has an AutoCAD 2000 import/export filter and external referencing system. Plus, its cross-platform DXF, DWG and DWF file translation capabilities let you communicate across the broad spectrum of computer-aided drawing programs.

"It is the closest thing I've found to being able to sketch in 3-D," Weidner told MacCentral. "Of course, it can also do the same precise drawings as other CAD programs, but It is also more oriented to use in design. Typically I make a 3-D line-rendering in DenebaCAD, and then paste it into Canvas [also from Deneba] to add captions and explanations."

Next week: part II.

This story, "Forward Migration Kit: Woodworking software, part 1" was originally published by PCWorld.

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