We’ve seen iPad apps that allow you to view your 3D models, but nothing adding the cranial crushing aspects of collaboration. Except for one…

We first caught a glimpse of the CADFaster iPad app at SolidWorks World 2011. Since then they’ve lit the switch on development and added features on par with the desktop version of CADFaster | Collaborate. It launches from the iTunes store this month and starting off, it will be absolutely free. Details and videos after the break.

Better than the rest?

CADFaster has one advantage over other 3D app developers. They’re not interested in only supporting their formats. They have no format, no interest except where the market share is. For now, they support SolidWorks, Autodesk Revit and Bentley Microstation. Now, word is, Autodesk will be adding support for other formats on their Inventor Publisher app and the other developers are bound to bring in support as it’s requested. But even with support for multiple file formats, the CADFaster iPad app is adding collaboration to those models that the other CAD companies have yet to demonstrate. Here are two videos showing how the collaboration works and how the real-time viewing between different computers and devices functions.

The downside (for those who like free iPad apps) is that the iPad app is free, but requires a plug-in that allows the models to be sent to the iPad. The plugin runs $799 for individual use per year. Kind of a bummer if you’re use to buying $1.99 game apps, but this is a good example, and CADFaster is showing us a first here again, of how apps for 3D product development may be priced out. I would still prefer tiered pricing based on quantity of models or pay-per-use pricing instead of a being stuck into a single priced yearly subscription. Options people! All the details below.

  1. Availability of conversion plug-ins
  2. Availability of the iPad app
    • Common app for all above-mentioned CAD platforms. You can preview all your CAD files from single dashboard. You can follow all markup threads from one dashboard. You can add new markups, reply to existing ones, and take part in co-viewing sessions both as host and client.
    • Includes full 3D viewer that can open large 3D models.
    • CadFaster will add support for additional CAD formats within 2011.
    • App will be released in June. It will be free.
    • You need to purchase a plug-in to be able to send your CAD models to iPad. App will include some pre-installed models.
  3. Pricing
    • MSRP for all plug-ins is $799 in the US. This is an annual subscription for individual user. Plug-ins are available through Novedge with a 5% discount.
    • In the UK annual subscription is £499 through Jigsaw Systems.
    • In rest of the Europe annual subscription is €599 through CadFaster on-line store.
    • On-line resellers have package prices for 5 and 10 users as well. For larger quantities please contact the reseller or CadFaster directly.
    • Initial version of the iPad app will be free. CadFaster may introduce a subscription-based more powerful version later this year but we will keep a free version in the App Store as well.

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.