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logo (13)In December, Autodesk made a big announcement: they would be creating a cloud-based platform and inviting developers to build applications and services on it. The Forge Platform was backed by a $100 million investment that would be used to support the developers and companies who signed on to build cloud-powered services with the platform. In the six months since its inauguration, the Forge Initiative has grown rapidly, and today Autodesk announced several major updates to the platform, as well as the first three investments in companies using Forge to develop solutions and services.

The announcements were made at Forge DevCon, a two-day conference aimed at the community of developers who have become part of the cloud platform’s development team. The event, which began today, was created as a resource for the Forge community to network, learn, and garner support and knowledge from Autodesk about building and implementing cloud-based services.

The Forge developer community has attracted professionals from across the world in the industries of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), manufacturing, augmented reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), and of course 3D printing. Out of the many companies using Forge’s open API to create cloud-based services and solutions, three have been announced as the first recipients of Autodesk’s investment:

  • 3dr_solo_1_1-1024x10243D Robotics (3DR): a drone manufacturer using Forge to develop an aerial data capture and analytics platform called the Forge Reality Capture API. Aimed at enterprise field professionals in the industries of construction, infrastructure, surveying, mapping, telecom and energy, the API allows users to convert photos taken by drones into engineering data.

“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: an online manufacturing platform that matches clients’ part orders to CNC machines offered by a network of suppliers. The Kentucky company is using a combination of Fusion 360 and Forge Viewer, Data Management API and Model Derivative API to connect engineers and designers to their virtual machine shop.

“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.”

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  • Seebo: creators of a Software as a Service (Saas) platform for developing smart products and IoT devices. Seebo’s platform connects Autodesk design apps like Fusion 360 and Fusion Connect, enabling users to more easily design smart products by dragging and dropping components such as sensors, GPS and Bluetooth into a design framework.

seebo_1d59c461-1275-11e5-af25-bda7f09f9989“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,”  said Lior Akavia, Co-Founder and CEO of Seebo. “The joint platform allows manufacturers to tap into the world of IoT simply, securely and cost effectively,”

In addition to the first three investments, Autodesk also announced that several updates have been made to the Forge platform itself. New and expanded tools include:

  • Viewer: displays 2D and 3D design files and data from over fifty file formats in a web-based viewer; also allows comments and markup
  • Model Derivative API: translates design files from one format to another and prepares them to be viewed online and shared with other applications
  • Design Automation API: enables developers to run AutoCAD in the cloud
  • Authentication: a secure tool that provides third parties with a “key” for limited access
  • Data Management API: allows users to upload and download data files from different Autodesk products using a single interface
  • 3D Print API: helps users quickly prepare models for 3D printing with a series of slicing and repair tools; also includes remote monitoring
  • Reality Capture API: turns photos into 3D data, including a geolocated orthographic view for any geotagged images; that data can then be accessed via Autodesk Cloud services or on a partner platform

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“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 of 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.”

You can check out some additional applications being developed by the Forge community at Bldng 360, simulationHub, and Vrok-it; also take a look at a demo of Autodesk Molecule Viewer, a Forge application for molecular modeling. If you’re a developer interested in building with Forge, Autodesk has made the platform available for unlimited free use until September 15. Discuss further in the Autodesk Cloud Platform for 3D Designers forum over at 3DPB,com.

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