On May 1, 2007, Autodesk launched Inventor LT, a subset version of its Inventor 2008 3D CAD package, as a technology preview. A technology preview is an interesting marketing/product-development tool that Autodesk uses to test-market and refine potential products. The way it works is that Autodesk makes a test product available for download at not cost through its Test Labs website. A user fills out a minimal questionnaire and provides an email address where an enabling serial number for the downloadable software is sent. The user then downloads the software, activates it using the serial number received in an email from Autodesk, and then has free use of the downloaded software for some specified period of time. During that time users provide feedback to Autodesk on how they use the software, what features they would like to see added or changed, and what their experiences with the software are. Autodesk can take that feedback and use it to make final refinements to the software before releasing it as a for-sale product.
In the case of Inventor LT, the downloadable software will work until May 1, 2008, and then it will stop working. By that time Autodesk expects to have the for-sale version of the software available. Users who participate in the technology preview, whether they provide feedback or not, will be offered a discount on the product that Autodesk says will be significant (the actual word used to describe the discount was "sweet").
So how does Inventor LT compare to Inventor 2008? "I can describe the main difference in two words, ‘no assemblies'," said Sam Antos, Autodesk product manager for the Inventor product line. "While Inventor 2008 is a complete 3D product design package, Inventor LT is a 3D part modeler for people who only work with parts and not assemblies. Inventor LT has no assembly capabilities, nor does it have all the assembly-related features that Inventor 2008 has, but you can use Inventor LT to easily create, share and edit 3D part models. You can model one part and model another part but you can't put the parts together in one model. However, any part you create in Inventor LT can be used by Inventor 2008 in assemblies," added Antos.
Other limitations of Inventor LT compared to Inventor 2008 include the absence of data management, specialty design tools such as sheet metal fabrication, content center and all of the Inventor Professional capabilities.
At the same time that Autodesk made Inventor LT available it also released a number of translation capabilities add-ins for Inventor 2008 that include the ability to import and use native format files from UGS and Pro/Engineer software, the ability to import and export parasolids and granite kernel files, and the ability to open and save native DWG files. These add-ins will also work with Inventor LT.
Autodesk believes Inventor LT will be a useful, easy-to-learn, cost-effective 3D CAD tool for people in manufacturing supply chains who have to deal with just parts and do not want or need the full featured Inventor 2008 package. Offering it as a technology preview gives potential users an opportunity to get it, learn it and use it to do real work at no cost other than the time it