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View Full Version : A bit more on yak CAD software...



alanganes
05-14-2009, 10:10 PM
There was a thread here a short while back concerning Cad and 3D modeling software. I can't seem to find it now. I read through it all, as 3D modeling software fascinates me, and while I am not all that experienced, I find it really cool to use.

I had used Inventor for a while at work sort of fooling around, not really as part of my job. I no longer have access to that, so have looked around for something else, maybe even something that I could actually afford to buy. Pretty wishful thinking.

Anyhow, that thread got me to looking around again.

You occasionally see the Alibre lower end package "on sale" for 1/2 price, but that is still 500 bucks, and a bit out of my price range. Not saying it is not worth it, just too much for me.

One of the folks who replied indicated that if you are ready for a steep learning curve, there is a "personal" edition of Pro-E for around $250. I took a look and was surprised to find that there is even a student version for $129.

This all struck me as odd, because Pro-E is high end, and very expensive, but seems to be the only one offering such a low-cost version. It seems that the student or personal versions are not even "crippled", really, they have all of the stuff one would likely want. All of the other packages I found were either time limited, or left out things like the ability to generate drawings from your models.

Now I could about convince myself to cough up $250, and could certainly come up with 129 (utilizing a handy student) for such a thing.

A couple of questions:
Anyone familiar enough with Pro-E to say just how steep the learning curve is?
Are the 3D modeling and drawing parts much different from similar software out there?
Is purchasing something like this for a home shop environment a waste of time/money/ or just a dumb idea?

I'd appreciate any thoughts.

RobbieKnobbie
05-14-2009, 10:32 PM
I spent a few months with Pro E wildfire 2 a year or so back, including going to the official training for a week. I've since learned SolidWorks and use it every day.

ProE does indeed have a steep learning curve... but that's being nice. Theproblem is that the program is downright user-UNfriendly. I was distracted by the restrictions on how it made you work so much that the many inconveniences actually dictated how I designed.

Having switched to SolidWoks I see how a modeling package should work. The difference in usability really is night and day. So personally, I wouldn't go near it even if they were giving it away.

As for the student version... as I recall it was a fully functional installation... but any prints I made had a huge black watermark accross it that said PRO ENGINEER STUDENT EDITION all the way accross it. I thought that was really distasteful.

Pro E is loosing market share, and has been for years to both SW and AutoCAD Inventor... so they have good reason to (practically) give copies away.They need people to use their product just to keep in the market.

d1camero
05-14-2009, 10:51 PM
Solidworks is a fantastic tool. See if you can find an engineer student get you a copy. I think the student version might be $200. If you can get it with COSMOS, even better. COSMOS will allow you to perform stress modeling on parts using the computer.

Rookie machinist
05-15-2009, 11:49 AM
Just one thing about Solidworks, make sure your system can handle it. Have at least 4 gig of ram and a good processor. If you are doing small models and assemblys most newer systems will work. SW can have alot of unexpected crashes/slowdowns if your hardware can't handle it.

rubes
05-15-2009, 12:23 PM
A couple of questions:
Anyone familiar enough with Pro-E to say just how steep the learning curve is?
Are the 3D modeling and drawing parts much different from similar software out there?
Is purchasing something like this for a home shop environment a waste of time/money/ or just a dumb idea?

I'd appreciate any thoughts.
...lets put it this way...I learned Inventor (way back when it first came out) on my own with NO training or manuals and in the space of a week had a V8 engine model "running" with pistons, cam, valves rockers...all working as they should. Now the genius's at Honeywell decide that Pro-E is the corporate standard so I gotta learn that. After taking a 1 week intense, and expensive, training course, I still cant do half the things I could with Inventor. Now, that might be because I have over 10 years invested in Inventor, but still, like Robbie said it is VERY USER UN-FRIENDLY.

I dont know about the student version and the banner, but the personal use one has a small banner on the edge of the page, not across the entire page. I actually did buy it thinking I could work on projects at home and maybe use the resources and facilities to make parts at work. Unfortunately, the way they "crippled" these is that the files are NOT COMPATIBLE with the commercial version. I have not yet been able to determine if these versions work with any of the NC tools either.

So, my opinion is that the software is inferior (from a user friendliness standpoint) to others out there, particularly Inventor since that is what I know. It most certainly is capable of complex part and assembly creation, but it takes alot of head scratching. Maybe with no ingrained habits from something else you may have better luck?

As for purchasing something like this for a homeshop environment, I do not think for a minute that it is a bad idea. I believe it can help you create better designs, just like in the real world. Even if you dont interface to a CNC machine, it will allow you to get the part designs dead on the fist time. But look hard to find a way to get Inventor or Solidworks before dropping even the little money on Pro-E.

alanganes
05-15-2009, 01:47 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I looked at the Solidworks website and even downloaded their 90 day demo version. Have not spent much time with it, but looks a bit familiar, similar in concept to Inventor. They do have a student version, but it stops working after 12 months. Boo-hiss....

I rather like Inventor, I did not really spend enough time at it to become very
proficient, but was still able to produce useful output. Maybe I need to beg the boss to get me a copy...

I found it most useful for even my home projects. I find that I end up with a more refined design before I cut any real metal.

Thanks for the insight. I guess the search goes on...

-Al

sansbury
05-15-2009, 02:40 PM
Alibre has a free edition, too, which seems pretty reasonable--good for assemblies of up to 5 parts IIRC, and has a basic CAM plugin to go with it. Another thing, any product that is sold by human salespeople, don't totally write it off as unaffordable until you've yakked a little. I run a small software business and have a few clients who pay a lot less than retail because they called, explained how they were a small user, and asked if we could make a deal.

rubes
05-15-2009, 05:47 PM
...Maybe I need to beg the boss to get me a copy...
Well, in reality each purchased seat of Inventor does in fact allow two installations. It may say something like "if you are the primary user at work, you can install it at home..." or something like that;) ;) ;) The online registration procedure does allow two activations of the same serial number. After that it will not activate additional installations.

HMMM...I wonder what they are doing with all the unused licenses now that we have to use pro-e.:rolleyes:

Cheeseking
05-15-2009, 08:01 PM
Pro E??? :eek: Forget about it. Only a matter of time before it's a dinosoar like so many other CAD packages. SW and INV are eating PRO e's lunch due to price and ease of learning and use.

Agree with everyone re: solidworks Used Inventor since the day it came out up until 3 yrs ago. I made the decision to switch my dept over to SW
MUCH more capable although that's not to knock Inventor, it is very good also. Both packages are reasonably easy to learn and have tutorials and help files built in so you can learn on your own.



If you know someone that has a stand alone seat that will allow you to utilize the home licence activation, you could get it that way. Check out the licence agreement posted on their website. The details and restrictions are buried in the print somewhere. Primarily, they just don't want two seats active at the same time.

Evan
05-16-2009, 10:45 AM
I have been messing around with Google SketchUp. It's a pretty powerful program. The thing is that as downloaded it only has basic capability. It is sort of a software "kit". There are a slew of add on utitlities that are available both from Google and third parties that extend the capability very significantly including modules for parametric design and many other plugins. The free version has major limitations on export formats but they can be extended using third party add ons. In particular a plugin is available that allows exportin to OBJ format which nearly all CAD software can read.

There are also plugins to export to several popular ray tracing programs that allow for very high quality rendering.

SketchUp can handle very complex 3D models but like other software you need a very well equipped machine to use it to it's maximum capability.

The other main drawback is that Google has chosen to use "user friendly" terms for most operations instead of the more or less standard terms mostly introduced by AutoCad. The big advantage of course is that it is free. If you just want to learn about 3D modeling SketchUp is a fun place to start.

Here is a very complex model which I did not make although I modeled the rest of the scene and also made the animation.

http://ixian.ca/pics6/sku0.jpg

http://ixian.ca/pics6/sku1.jpg


http://ixian.ca/pics6/mclaren.gif

John Stevenson
05-16-2009, 10:56 AM
http://ixian.ca/pics6/sku1.jpg




That's typical, leave it parked for 10 minutes and some twonk will nick the wheels off it.........................

.

DICKEYBIRD
05-16-2009, 11:13 AM
You could try TurboCAD. There are good online forums and tutorial videos (YouTube) available plus the price is good.

Older releases of the Pro version (must have Pro for 3D) are available cheap and are still very powerful. I use v9.02 (v16 is out now) since I have older, less powerful computers and it works great for my needs. I recently moved into the 3D world and could not have made it without the free online tutorials and articles. Free support, unlimited number of installations and an inexpensive program are a necessity for me & my hobby budget.:)

garyphansen
05-16-2009, 09:31 PM
You can get a FREE 90 day Solid Works package right now. I think they call it their Stimulus package. If you want to invest the time they are even offering certification. Gary P. Hansen

loose nut
05-18-2009, 03:46 PM
Alibre Free has about the same drawing capability as Inventor or Solidworks but doesn't have all the "bells and whistles" and refinements that the expensive programs do. If you can do what you want within the limitations (assembly limits is the biggest one, there are work arounds for this) of the free version it's your best bet on the cost vs capability basis.

alanganes
05-18-2009, 04:33 PM
Alibre Free has about the same drawing capability as Inventor or Solidworks but doesn't have all the "bells and whistles" and refinements that the expensive programs do. If you can do what you want within the limitations (assembly limits is the biggest one, there are work arounds for this) of the free version it's your best bet on the cost vs capability basis.

That seems to be the conclusion that I keep ending up at. I have not yet looked into Google SketchUp and the associated add-ons that Evan pointed out.
Have to do that.

Thanks again for the input.

-Al

Evan
05-18-2009, 08:28 PM
This is modeled in SketchUp and rendered in PovRay.

http://ixian.ca/pics6/newshop.jpg