San Francisco — Autodesk, Inc. announced several updates to its Forge platform, including new cloud application development tools and services and three investments at Forge DevCon, the company’s inaugural event for cloud developers. Since its inception last December, rapid progress has been made with early adopters of the Forge Platform in changing both how things are made and the nature of what is made.
“We are seeing Forge used to power the future of making things for a variety of applications ranging from part inspection to sub-sea surveying, from managing mines with drones to turning cost estimation into a competitive advantage, and building online design and manufacturing services and much, much more,” said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Products at Autodesk. “It is clear to us that there is an enormous demand for an easy-to-use and scalable platform to build all sorts of manufacturing and AEC applications. There are endless opportunities created by a combination of our web service APIs and entrepreneurial developer talent.”
The Autodesk Forge Platform is a set of cloud services that connects design, engineering, visualization, collaboration, production and operations workflows. Application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) enable small and large software developers alike to build intuitive cloud-powered applications, services and experiences for the people making the world around us.
New and expanded areas of the platform include:
• Viewer – Displays 2D and 3D design files and associated data from 50+ file formats in a web and mobile viewer for presentation and collaboration. Also allows comments, markup and measurement.
• Model Derivative API – Translates design files from one format to another, prepares them for online viewing, and extracts geometry data. The data can then be passed into other applications and communicate important design information.
• Design Automation API – Allows developers to run AutoCAD scripts on the Cloud. Early adopters are using it as a drawing generation engine for web applications. Other examples include converting thousands of DWGs to PDFs in batch.
• Authentication – Open standard used across the Forge Platform for authentication and authorization. Authentication is a secure method to provide a “key” to a third party that allows them only limited access to perform specific functions, which can be accomplished without having to divulge user credentials.
• Data Management API – Manages data across A360, Fusion 360, BIM 360 Docs, and the Forge native Object Storage Service. This API allows users to upload and download a data file from different Autodesk products through one consistent and unified interface.
• 3D Print API – Enables developers to quickly build customized 3D printing solutions from 3D print preparation to print management. This API helps users prepare models for 3D printing with a full suite of tools for mesh repair or slicing. Deliver files to 3D printers with remote monitoring and production management, or use sample apps to heal models for printing.
• Reality Capture API – Turns a series of photos into 3D data. If the photos are geotagged, as is typically the case with UAV/drone photos, the computed reality data also includes a geolocated orthographic view. The reality data is then accessible on Autodesk Cloud services or a partner’s platform, for consumption in web apps or in desktop apps.
Autodesk in-product integration for A360, Fusion and BIM 360 APIs continues to be available for developers to create new experiences and services that enhance product design, collaboration and construction industry workflows.
Investing in the developer ecosystem
The Autodesk Forge Fund invests in companies developing innovative solutions or services on or connected to the Forge Platform. The three initial investees include:
• 3D Robotics (3DR), a leading drone maker, is using the Forge Platform to develop one of the industry's most trusted aerial data capture and analytics platforms for enterprise field professionals within infrastructure, construction, survey, mapping, telecom, and energy industries. Leveraging the Forge Reality Capture API, 3DR customers can convert drone-captured photos into engineering data, enabling them to better manage sites and reduce risk.
“Capturing site data today is costly, time consuming, and often dangerous. Drones can easily go where it’s inefficient or unsafe for field personnel, making it easier to accurately measure our world so we can better manage it,” said Chris Anderson, CEO of 3DR. “We’re delighted to expand our relationship with Autodesk and use of the Forge platform to deliver a complete solution for site capture that will help professional customers save time and money, and more importantly take humans out of harm’s way.”
• MakeTime is an online manufacturing platform that matches projects from buyers to production hours on computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines from pre-qualified suppliers. The result is a simplified supply chain management and empowered expansion for both manufacturers and machine shops alike. MakeTime was an early adopter of the Forge Platform, leveraging Fusion 360 and the Forge Viewer, Data Management API and Model Derivative API to connect designers and engineers to MakeTime's virtual machine shop of scalable CNC machining and production services.
"For manufacturers and designers to maintain a competitive advantage, they need fast and flexible CNC machining that’s cost-competitive and delivers high-quality parts, on-demand. Leveraging MakeTime’s data-driven platform helps buyers overcome traditional manufacturing’s usual roadblocks such as supplier vetting and logistics management,” said Drura Parrish, CEO of MakeTime. "This combined with the Forge platform provides anybody, anywhere with state-of-the-art design capabilities and an expansive, world-class 21st-century machine shop at their fingertips.”
• Seebo provides a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for developing Internet of Things (IoT) and smart, connected products. Seebo’s technology intuitively connects Autodesk design apps like Fusion 360 and IoT platform, Fusion Connect, and enables users to drag and drop components (sensors, Bluetooth, accelerometers, GPS, etc.) into a product design framework to transform simple products into smart technology.
“Seebo is proud to be a part of the Autodesk Forge ecosystem. We know that the powerful combination of the Forge platform with Seebo’s platform for ideating, manufacturing and developing smart IoT products, will continue to bring innovative ideas to actuality. The joint platform allows manufacturers to tap into the world of IoT simply, securely and cost effectively,” said Lior Akavia, Co-Founder and CEO of Seebo.
Growing the Forge developer community
The Forge DevCon event is part of a comprehensive Forge developer program that provides learning, support, and business development resources for Autodesk’s growing community of cloud developers. This community includes developers and innovators from across the globe, representing a multitude of industries including Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) and Manufacturing as well as emerging areas such as Augmented Reality, Additive Manufacturing and Internet of Things – all supported by Autodesk expertise and experience with best practices for architecting and implementing cloud-based services. The majority of Forge developers are using multiple APIs to create services and solutions that fuel how products are designed, built and used.
To encourage developers to explore Forge, Autodesk is offering unlimited free use of the platform in eligible countries until September 15, 2016. More information and conditions, including pricing, can be found at forge.autodesk.com.