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hwingo
12-06-2009, 02:17 AM
Hi Guys,

I am looking to purchasing a CAD/CAM program. I am currently "test driving" a fully functional program .... Alibre Design Expert.

Do any of you guys own Alibre software or have knowledge of this company? They are currently offering a $2800.00 program for $999.00. My thoughts bring me to the following:

1. Have hard economic times befallen this company hence a "serious price reduction?
2. Are they about to go out of business ..... for whatever reason ..... thus selling as much as possible before "closing their doors"?
3. On the surface it appears that an Internet connection is required to run Alibre Design Expert CAD program. If after spending a bunch of money for the program, what happens if they go out of business thus no future Internet connection with this company?
4. Regarding quality and user-friendly properties, how does this program compare to other CAD/CAM programs?

Over all, is purchasing this program worth the time and effort involved in learning this program?

From what I gather when speaking with their representative, all drawings (file extensions) support all CNC machines therefore one can send a drawing to a CNC shop and the part can be fabricated.

Thanks,


Harold

DigiSnapMark
12-06-2009, 02:44 AM
I use Alibre for all of my mechanical designs... I've not regretted buying it for a moment! I think it's a great program.

I know nothing about the company, but they've had lots of great deals over the years... I wouldn't let that bother you.

Mark Hockett
12-06-2009, 03:35 AM
Harold,
I purchased Alibre V12 about a month ago when they had the $399 deal. I think the reason they are making these low price offers is to sell as many seats as possible so they can make their money back on the yearly maintenance fees. In a commercial shop like mine it makes sense to pay the maintenance fees so I always have the most up to date version and the support that goes with it. My friend bought Alibre V11 when they had the $99 deal. When he changed his operating system to Windows 7 and Alibre wouldn't work. He has since upgraded Alibre with maintenance.

I don't use Alibre for a CAM system, I have Mastercam X4. Mastercam has an Alibre file converter. I can draw in Alibre and then open the file in Mastercam and generate the tool paths from the drawing. In my shop CAD/CAM is one of the most profitable tools I own, my CNC machines would not be as profitable without it. Mastercam X4 has a system called Feature Based Machining (FBM) that allows you to take a solid model and let Mastercam decide how to machine it and what tools to use. I can take a complex Alibre drawing, open it Mastercam, answer a few simple questions and Mastercam will pick tools from my library and generate all the tool paths to make the part. At that point I send the code to the machine and cut away. It takes me less than 10 minutes to get the machine code for FBM type parts, without FBM it could takes hours on some complex parts to get code. I don't know about other CAM systems supporting Alibre files but CNC shops with Mastercam X4 can work with them.

I have only been using Alibre for a short time so I can't give an honest review yet. It does seem fairly easy to use although it is not Solidworks, nor does it cost the same as Solidworks. The customer service at Alibre has been good but I haven't used it a lot.

Alibre seems to have sold many seats lately so I don't think are about to go under. Many companies are offering deals right now, Solidworks called me on Friday and sent this email the same day,

"Dear Mark



I am writing to let you know that, due to the phenomenal response we had last month with our best deal ever on SolidWorks, the promotional pricing has been extended through December.

When you buy a new SolidWorks Basic license before December 29th, we’ll upgrade you to our flagship SolidWorks Premium package at no additional cost.

Simply pay for Basic SolidWorks to get SolidWorks Premium and save $4,000!"

Solidworks has some very high yearly maintenance fees and you pay for the level of program you have, so sure they want to give you the upgrade so they will make the money back in Maintenance fees.


I think Alibre is a good low cost choice for a CAD system.

hwingo
12-06-2009, 09:51 AM
Hi Guys,

Much appreciate that you took time to respond. Both have been helpful.

Mark I am especially interested in your reply and the CAM program you are using. I wouldn't doubt too much that a CNC machine is in my not so distant future. Thanks again for the information.

Harold

aboard_epsilon
12-06-2009, 10:14 AM
hmmm
all those sums of money

if you download from them the free one and regester

then hang on ..
first you will get offers of $2000 plus

then a couple of hundred a week or two later ..

then you will get the 99 dollar one a week later again ..

i dont know whats going on ..guess they are after suckers ..

all the best.markj

Evan
12-06-2009, 10:31 AM
I cannot wrap my head around the idea of paying that much money for a cad program, or any software. For that sort of money it better sing, dance and take out the garbage while drawing what you want by reading your mind.

I have used some high end software of various types and have never seen enough difference to justify the cost. One example was the cost difference between Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop. Photoshop was around $800 and PSP was $150 or so. There was nothing about Photoshop that made it over 600 dollars better than PSP and in fact PSP was the better of the two in my opinion.

BTW, there is an import/export plugin now available for Sketchup that exports to CAM BAM.
http://www.cerebralmeltdown.com/cncstuff/page2/cambam_export/default.htm

There is also a plugin available free that generates G-code inside of Sketchup.

http://www.phlatboyz.com/the-process-creating-your-design/

It's GNU license but you must register on the forum to be able to access the download.

hwingo
12-06-2009, 12:25 PM
I cannot wrap my head around the idea of paying that much money for a cad program, or any software. For that sort of money it better sing, dance and take out the garbage while drawing what you want by reading your mind.

I have used some high end software of various types and have never seen enough difference to justify the cost. One example was the cost difference between Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop. Photoshop was around $800 and PSP was $150 or so. There was nothing about Photoshop that made it over 600 dollars better than PSP and in fact PSP was the better of the two in my opinion.

BTW, there is an import/export plugin now available for Sketchup that exports to CAM BAM.
http://www.cerebralmeltdown.com/cncstuff/page2/cambam_export/default.htm

There is also a plugin available free that generates G-code inside of Sketchup.

http://www.phlatboyz.com/the-process-creating-your-design/

It's GNU license but you must register on the forum to be able to access the download.

Evan,

Therein lies my issue .... of sorts. Currently, having but scant knowledge of *real* CAD programs, I find it difficult justifying the need for such expense. I've been using CorelDraw (various versions) since 1992 and over the years I have learned to draw most anything I desire. However, CorelDraw (at least the versions I own) do not communicate with CAM software. When faced with that fact, I do see need for a CAD program but only because of difference in function and end use; end products of CAD programs will likely be used for a "higher calling" than simply pictorial representations of "what is to come".

Having used Adobe PS since 1994 (and all updated version to date), I can draw a corollary between the use of Paint Shop Pro and Adobe PS (based on personal experience of using both) if comparing CorelDraw to a *real* CAD program. Vast potential (computing power) and undiscovered properties are yet to be unleashed in my darkroom if using Adobe PS. I find new "windows" each day I use PS. Naturally, I will NEVER harness the *total power* of PS such as I will never have full knowledge of CorelDraw but outwardly it appears that Alibre Design Expert is on a totally different plane than CD and PS. I suspect that Alibre Design Expert (or most any CAD program) is on an order far above CD and PS (which I have revered all these years).

Being TOTALLY ignorant of that which is required to cause drawings to communicate with CNC machines, it's a bit intimidating to embark on this journey. More accurately stated, based on Alibre's product that I am "test driving", the learning curve for powerful CAD programs scares the sh%! out of me. It's taken me years to become comfortably proficient with Adobe PS and CD and I *fear* the thoughts of possibly spending similar time learning a CAD program. Hell, if I buy a CNC machine I may never get to use it for spending years learning how to talk to the beast!

When it comes to CAD programs, I suppose having and never needing is better than needing and not having. That's the other issue .... the other side of the coin. Facing this in a positive light, assuming that running a CNC machine is not so "hairy", I would hate to purchase a lesser program then soon thereafter realize a need to upgrade to a more potent software. This would be costly!

Thanks for your response.

Harold

J Tiers
12-06-2009, 12:44 PM
There ARE factors that make it worth extra money, IF you need/want them. If you don't use CAD I couldn't possibly explain them, you just won't understand.

When Alibre had their super introductory deal, I didn't have an XP machine to run it on, and so couldn't try it. Now it has gotten very expensive and NO deals , so I keep using Autocad. Wouldn't mind Autocad Inventor, though, it is a good 3D... also expensive.

In my case I know what I'd like, but it isn't worth the money to me.

nheng
12-06-2009, 12:51 PM
Evan, Glad to find another long term fan of PSP. I've been using it forever.

Regarding Alibre vs others, I bought Alibre a few months back for a sweet price and within a month, the bottom dropped out of the price with a $99 offer. Alibre was very good about it and satisfied my need for some sort of adjustment.

We run 3 seats of SolidEdge at work at around $6k per seat. I wouldn't think of handing my mechanical designers Alibre or other "low cost" package. Don't confuse "low cost" with "low end" either. Alibre is very capable but if you are going to work it hard all day long on parts and assemblies ... for profit ... you want SolidEdge or SolidWorks.

After a month or so of adjusting to Alibre, I can see that even with V12, it has a long way to go in fixing bugs and removing many quirks that exist.

You just can't have people working all day long on work-arounds to what should be straightforward part creation and design entry.

From what I've seen of Alibre Design, there is no way I would want to manage design revision with it. That's where the revision managers in the higher cost packages really show their worth. Nothing is perfect, but the higher cost packages have had a lot of time spent making them the workhorses that they are.

I love Alibre for home use and would use it for a one or two man business. Hopefully, their experiments in marketing pay off and they remain a healthy viable CAD company.

Den

Evan
12-06-2009, 01:07 PM
I will offer one piece of advice about learning to use any sort of 3D CAD software. A very large part of the learning curve is realizing that there is an order of magnitude more information that must be given by the user to the program about the "drawing". In 3D CAD you aren't creating a drawing, you are creating a computer simulation of the object. I have been working with variations on this concept since I bought my first computer in 1979 so my learning curve is now going on 30 years.

Objects in 3D space have a location expressed by the X,Y and Z parameters on a 3D cartesean coordinate system. They also have an orientation expressed by roll, bank and yaw expressed by angles in a polar coordinate system.

The 3D CAD system must know these values and the better systems will try to deduce what you intend by making assumptions based on how you draw the part. This is where the major catch lies and is the part that is hard for many people to grasp at first.

There is no way for the software to read your mind. If it uses assumptions that aren't what you intended then you will be fighting to make it work and it won't. That is why every CAD program has some sort of facility to always enter these values manually from the keyboard. That includes values of X, Y and Z plus the roll, bank and yaw. It is by entering such values with exact numbers that the program is then able to calculate precise values for everything else it must do.

Start by imediately using the keyboard commands and data entry system. It's there in every program. Learn to use it first and the rest will make a lot more sense.

nheng
12-06-2009, 03:59 PM
Objects in 3D space have a location expressed by the X,Y and Z parameters on a 3D cartesean coordinate system. They also have an orientation expressed by roll, bank and yaw expressed by angles in a polar coordinate system.

That is why every CAD program has some sort of facility to always enter these values manually from the keyboard. That includes values of X, Y and Z plus the roll, bank and yaw. It is by entering such values with exact numbers that the program is then able to calculate precise values for everything else it must do.

Start by imediately using the keyboard commands and data entry system. It's there in every program. Learn to use it first and the rest will make a lot more sense.

I hate to disagree but this would keep most designers away from 3D solids packages today.

Not to oversimplify either but if you realize that when you squeeze your toothpaste tube (with 1/4" ID) you're going to get a 1/4" solid cylinder as long as you squeeze for, you're a candidate for 3D solids.

Once the concepts of extruding (either a solid or a cut), revolving (to create a solid or a cut), poking a hole in something and the basics of positioning of entities are grasped (even lightly) you can start making parts.

In general you're only working on one sketch at a time so if you can read the views of a part blueprint, you've got a fighting change of generating a feature of that type.

Some analogs between 3D solid and machine world are helpful to get started:

< 3D Solid = Machine equivalent >

end mill = extruded cut
round over mill = fillet
ball mill = fillet

revolved cut = lathe turning or rotary table work
feature pattern = DRO hole or feature pattern

swept feature = lathe taper attachment (pretty loose comparison :) )
helical sweep or cut = thread or cam cutting

shell = roughing out

In general, starting with the softwares tutorials, no matter how boring, are a good idea to get the feel for where "tools" are that you need or expect to have available somewhere in the package.

Den

beanbag
12-06-2009, 04:32 PM
somebody had also suggested Wildfire Pro E or pro engineer. Somewhere on their website they have a $250 "personal use" version. I may try that at some point...

A while back I had asked about a free or nearly free CAM program, but had pretty much come up empty handed. The main problem is that most of them are way too limited, or come up with retarded tool paths.

A lot of the people around me just pirate an expensive program, and nothing bad seems to happen to them. Sheesh, why pay $1000 when you can get something for free?
Wildfire also has a "student version" of Pro E for $89, which, as far as I can tell, is the same as the personal use version. Why don't I just use my old student ID or get a student to buy it for me if it can save $161?
A real ethical dilemma.
No wonder software piracy or cheating is such a problem.

In my case, my parts are simple enough that I write g-code by hand.

loose nut
12-06-2009, 05:47 PM
Why are there great deals on cad software, the cad market is saturated.

Companies like Autodesk and Solidworks make most of there money these days on annual maintenance fees etc. instead of selling copies of software.

Alibre is one of the newer cad companies and to break into the market they have to make deals that attract new buyers away from the other companies and hope to make more profits in the future off of these people, again more maintenance fees.

The reason Autocad became a big name in cad years ago, not because it was the best in it's class but because they didn't copy protect their software and it was widely spread around, many people became proficient at it on pirated copies and therefore a supply of trained drafters was available so companies bought Autocad.

The free Alibre version is good enough for most home applications, unless you have seven grand to spare.

Evan
12-06-2009, 06:55 PM
I have the original free Alibre version and just now tried to install it. No go. It complains that it can't register a Java class even though I have Sun Java running and updated. I was going to have another look at it but looks like I won't.

Evan
12-06-2009, 07:00 PM
The reason Autocad became a big name in cad years ago, not because it was the best in it's class but because they didn't copy protect their software and it was widely spread around, many people became proficient at it on pirated copies and therefore a supply of trained drafters was available so companies bought Autocad.


That was intentional and achieved the desired result according to John Walker, main founder of the company. He still does programming and has a variety of applications and tools that he gives away with absolutely no strings attached by placing them in the public domain.

John Stevenson
12-06-2009, 07:10 PM
Just tried to install the free Alibre version on one of the CNC machines.
Installed OK,

Can't check it on the laptop or my desktop as they have v11.2 on them.

If you want a cheap but good program, have a look at the free Solid Edge 2D program. Full parametric and has quite a few tutorials plus a free user support site.

.

Evan
12-06-2009, 07:12 PM
Is the machine running XP service pack 3?

John Stevenson
12-06-2009, 07:43 PM
Is the machine running XP service pack 3?

Yes, we install XP SP3 to all the machines for the CNC's.
Bought a job lot of Dell computers off Ebay for a pittance and each one had a genuine windows hologram licence on them.
Can't say much more about it as I don't understand computers in depth as you do. I normally get small son to sort any problems out.

philbur
12-06-2009, 08:57 PM
If a person is not sure if they should splash out on a $1,000 ++ piece of CAD software then the clear answer is - don't. Even free CAD these days is far more sophisticated than the average user will ever need. Pay top dollar and you will be buying bells and whistles you will never even find let alone hear.

Look for low cost, with some form of user support and tutorials, end of story.

Phil:)

rollin45
12-06-2009, 09:55 PM
I've been using Alibre for about three years now, I was hooked on Sketchup as an easy 3D program, which with some paying attention will do most anything in the way of drawing one wants to do. However, I gave Alibre a try and was very impressed. If one can use Sketchup, then Alibre is about the same amount of effort to learn.

Once one learns that the model creation is as nheng has stated, much like machining and that one starts with a 2D sketch it goes pretty easily. One sketches on a plane or face, and then extrudes. The solid shape is then further refined by cutting etc.etc.

Evan,, I'm thinking the problem with the Java is that Alibre moved away from Java in version 11 ... they now are using a .net framework. I think, I'm a long way from being an expert on this stuff, but that is my understanding and if you wish to give it another try,, here is the link for the download.

https://www.alibre.com/

I still use Sketchup for some things, I designed my shop with it, and for things like that it can't be beat, but for small mech type parts, Alibre is much better.

regards
rollin'

Evan
12-06-2009, 11:50 PM
I found the problem with the install. Talk about obscure...

I am using an original version of XP that I have had since day one. It is fully upgraded but it still instals by default something that was eliminated as of service pack 1 in XP. That is the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine.

This was the subject of a major lawsuit by Sun against MS and Sun won a billion dollars for breach of contract by MS. MS retaliated by removing Java from XP. The original poses a version conflict and Alibre makes the assumption it isn't there because it came after the MS java machine was removed.

Anyway, blah, blah, blah....

Answer is to go in to c:\windows\system32 and delete msjava.dll

Then reboot and start the install again.

rowbare
12-07-2009, 01:26 PM
There ARE factors that make it worth extra money, IF you need/want them. If you don't use CAD I couldn't possibly explain them, you just won't understand.

When Alibre had their super introductory deal, I didn't have an XP machine to run it on, and so couldn't try it. Now it has gotten very expensive and NO deals , so I keep using Autocad. Wouldn't mind Autocad Inventor, though, it is a good 3D... also expensive.

In my case I know what I'd like, but it isn't worth the money to me.

Alibre currently has another deal on. $199 for V12...

SmoggyTurnip
12-07-2009, 01:47 PM
I have had Alibre Pro ver 11 for about a year now. I am starting to catch on to it now. It is easy to use. One thing I don't like about it is that you can't add dimensions to 3D assembly's. It takes no time to create simple part drawings once you have got it figured out. The user forum is great too. I have asked questions there several times and usually received answers in less than 5 minutes. Also the OP said you need an internet connection which is not true. I have a 3 seat licence and on one of my computers I have no internet connection. You just need to get a special key from them.

RTPBurnsville
12-07-2009, 05:43 PM
I tried about a dozen CAD packages earlier this year and finally settled on a program called VX (www.vx.com). Most of the CAD programs had bits and pieces of what I liked but not enough to spend my cash on until I discovered VX. You won't find alot of info about them on the web but it's a first class program and their support staff is great. My recommendation is to try all the CAD demos until you find something that fits your thought process.

I did try a couple different versions of Alibre but did not like the interface among other things. I also developed a real dislike of their marketing and sales model.

clutch
12-07-2009, 08:04 PM
I'm fairly fond of Alibre, it runs on my XP laptop and my W2k desktop. That is both V11.2 and the current V12.

Bit of a mind bender since I've been an AutoCad guy since 2.6 .

Clutch

DeereGuy
12-07-2009, 11:09 PM
I used Corel Draw for years and while I as able to get the job done it was slow going and no way to check for part interfernce and dimensioning was a pain.

I purchased Alibre in August and have made some great head way with it. It was about the only Cad program I had found that had great tutorials. I just devoted time to go through the tutorials and am now able to drawup pretty much anything I need now and I can go into the part assembly and check for interences.

I have and still would highly recommend this for a hobbiest. I can't speak for a production envoirnment because I am not a machininst by trade and therefore not aware of the short comings of Alibre when used in a production shop. I am now using version 12 to run on my new Windows 7 laptop.

hwingo
12-08-2009, 02:04 AM
Well Guys,

You've provided a wealth of information and even a greater amount to ponder. I appreciate all your replies and suggestions.

Thanks Greatly,

Harold

brian Rupnow
12-08-2009, 11:37 AM
I am going to weigh in on this one. I am a professional design engineer, and I use Solidworks 3D Cad. It is outrageously expensive, at about $6000 for the software and another $2000 for a computer with enough balls to run it properly and a BIG monitor. The annual subscription fees run to about $1600 a year. Now remember, I'm in canada, where everything costs more. In the USA I suppose you would get it for about 75% of the prices I listed. This cost pretty well puts it out of the range of "do it yourself" home hobbyists. Its not nearly so bad for me, as I can write it off as a business expense, and the cost ultimately gets passed on to my customers. However, the point that I want to make is how easy it is to use. You don't have to be concerned about Cartesian coordinates, nor any other difficult and esoteric procedures. You simply draw the part profile and dimension it to what you want it to be---the dimension you enter on the numeric portion of your keyboard is what "drives" the lengths of the line or angle you are dimensioning. This means that as long as you can use the mouse and draw the general shape of what you want, you can then define it to the correct size by simply using the dimension tool on any of the lines you have drawn and then enter the dimensional value of what you want it to be, and it will automatically change for you. Once you have fully "defined" the object which you have drawn (Fully defined" means that you have entered a dimensional value for all of the lines, angles, circles, etcetera on the part.) The lines are blue when first created and are "underdefined", however once you have "defined them they turn black, so that at a glance you know whether or not it is defined---Then you use the "extrude" command to extrude the part into the third dimension and create a solid part. When you want to make a drawing of the part, the software will do that for you automatically, and will even dimension a drawing of it automatically, because you have already created the dimensions when you created the part. I worked on a drafting board for 32 years, then went back to college for 2D Autocad which I used for a couple of years. I have been working in 3D for 10 years now, and I can't believe how easy it is to use. To be fair, I understand that Pro Eng and Autocad Inventor have essentially the same capability as Solidworks. I have no experience with the low end CAD packages that are available.---Brian

rollin45
12-08-2009, 12:28 PM
The procedure is the same for Alibre, I'm not saying the two packages are the same, but the way one goes about modeling is the same.

It really is not all that difficult once one gets the idea behind the process, heck if I can do it most anyone can. There are of course some shortcomings compared to the high end products in Alibre, but for the price I think one would be hard pressed to beat it.

Happy customer here,,

rollin'

loose nut
12-08-2009, 06:42 PM
Most of these cad packages use the same drawing "engine" so they operate in the same basic way, just different interfaces, packaging and bells and whistles.

alanganes
12-08-2009, 07:18 PM
There are of course some shortcomings compared to the high end products in Alibre, but for the price I think one would be hard pressed to beat it.
rollin'


And as I understand, that is precisely the thinking behind Alibre. I recall reading someplace the president of Alibre saying, (loosely paraphrased) that a significant percentage of users that could use a package like Inventor or Solidworks will utilize only a small part of their capabilities. Alibre's idea is to go after that part of the market. they aim to provide a package that gives you those more common capabilities, and leaves out more sophisticated features that many will never need, with a proportionally lower price. I don't think they believe that they are a substantial competitor to Solidworks and other similar high end packages.

I learned solid modeling on Inventor at work, though never used it to the level that guys like Brian Rupnow do. I was away from it for a while and recently did the Alibre Deal-of-the-month a while back. As it is only for my personal hobbiest home use, i have found it to be good value for the money. The modeling process is pretty much like Inventor, though it does lack some of the niceties. Not surprising considering the cost difference, and no deal-breakers for my purposes thus far.

The only way I was ever going to get my own copy of Inventor would be to bootleg one, and I have no interest in doing that. Alibre does what I need and I could afford it. I found them very nice folks to deal with as well.

Standard disclaimers; just a customer, nothing in it for me, do not point at the sun...

clutch
12-08-2009, 07:36 PM
Most of these cad packages use the same drawing "engine" so they operate in the same basic way, just different interfaces, packaging and bells and whistles.

I think a number of solid modeling packages use the same ACIS engine as their kernel.

I'm learning my way with Alibre and I've noticed that the learning transfers to using the copy of Solidworks at work on my PC. Gotta love floating licenses.

Here is a link where I go to understand error messages.

http://doc.spatial.com/index.php/ACIS_Error_Messages

Notice the logo? Looks like that of the makers of Solidworks. Alibre also uses ACIS.

Clutch

S_J_H
12-08-2009, 07:43 PM
Alibre Design Expert looks pretty good so far. :D
it's out there..

Steve

Evan
12-08-2009, 09:49 PM
I haven't been able to make Alibre Express do much of anything so far. It has no help files and the link to the online help files is broken. No matter what I have tried I cannot figure out how to make it copy and paste something. That's pretty basic and should be intuitively obvious, especially since I am at least somewhat familiar with a dozen different CAD packages.

S_J_H
12-08-2009, 09:54 PM
Is their site down right now? I can't log on.

Evan
12-08-2009, 10:05 PM
It wasn't down when I tried to use the built in link to the help files. It just informed me that the page doesn't exist. I guess if you are trying to use Alibre Express you are out of luck. Perhaps they regret giving away so many copies.

loose nut
12-09-2009, 12:11 AM
When you think that 20 or 30 years ago a cad system with a fraction of what Alibre can do cost as much as $100,000 plus the cost of a dedicated computer, I don't mean a PC but a mini computer ($20,000 to $100,000 more) then a couple of hundred for Alibre is a bargain.

The main problem from our point of view, for most of us HSM'ers, is that there isn't anyone making a decent 3d parametric cad software (like Inventor, Pro E, Solidedge or Solidworks) package for the hobbyist.

The Lite versions are too limited and the student version aren't available for us. The best we can get is Sketch-up or Alibre express and they both have limitations that can be very annoying. The big companies wouldn't be able to sell software at several thousand dollar a seat if they also sold a good package at a price we could afford.

This leads to software piracy, which is about the only way someone can get a better package. It's hard to say if these companies are to worried about people using there cad programs for hobby use. These are commercial based programs that don't have much use in the mainstream world.

gda
12-09-2009, 09:03 AM
I'll also weigh in as a professional machine designer. I have used Autocad, Autocad 2004, and Autocad Inventor (hated them all), and have also used Unigraphics since version 9 (most proficient, but seat license would choke a horse). I've used Solidworks, but am not very good at it (I don't like having to make a sketch for every feature I add). (I also used ARIES - back in the 90's before they went out).

My "engineering laptop" that I currently run Unigraphics NX, Autocad, and Solidworks is around $5000. Then you can add accessories like a "spaceball".

The first question I have before I would recommend a CAD system is what are you going to use it for?

- Onesie/twosie parts?, subassemblies?, large assemblies?
- Do you need to keep the files archived for a long time?
- Will you make prints for others or just you?
- Will you want add-on modules like a GD&T callout library?
- Are you going to use full top down parametric modeling?
- Are you going to create parametrics that control more than one part in an assembly?
- Designing from scratch complex assemblies, or just making a model of something exiting to export to a CAM package?
- Will you be making "static" assemblies, or will you want to do kinematic or kinetic analysis?
- How much "seat time" do you expect to have (this will make some of the extra steps that some packages require add up - i.e. draw a sketch, dimension it, then extrude it vs. a pick box like "add boss").
- Do you plan to do and complex surfaces like 3d-cams or mold cavities? Some systems may be limited.

If you find yourself skewing on the answers to these questions on the high end you might want to look to some of the "stripped down" versions of the high end ones - like Solid Edge. Otherwise you should be OK with a smaller version.

I agree with the comment that another poster made that if you don't use them, it is hard to explain that they are not all the same. It is like saying that all cars are the same. Different packages have nuances on layer and object control that make then annoying to power users.

Yes I know that this is a home shop forum, but identifying your needs first will help to make the best decision.

MikeHenry
12-12-2009, 04:16 PM
It wasn't down when I tried to use the built in link to the help files. It just informed me that the page doesn't exist. I guess if you are trying to use Alibre Express you are out of luck. Perhaps they regret giving away so many copies.

Evan - you seem like someone who is already happy with the CAD solution they have and not really interested in exploring alternatives. That's fine but it can lead to things like the last comment above and that seems beneath you.

John Stevenson
12-12-2009, 04:52 PM
Evan,
Try here

http://www.alibre.com/forum/

I have found these very helpful no matter what the problem.

.

Evan
12-12-2009, 05:07 PM
You don't have to be concerned about Cartesian coordinates, nor any other difficult and esoteric procedures. You simply draw the part profile and dimension it to what you want it to be---the dimension you enter on the numeric portion of your keyboard is what "drives" the lengths of the line or angle you are dimensioning. This means that as long as you can use the mouse and draw the general shape of what you want, you can then define it to the correct size by simply using the dimension tool on any of the lines you have drawn and then enter the dimensional value of what you want it to be, and it will automatically change for you. Once you have fully "defined" the object which you have drawn (Fully defined" means that you have entered a dimensional value for all of the lines, angles, circles, etcetera on the part.) The lines are blue when first created and are "underdefined", however once you have "defined them they turn black, so that at a glance you know whether or not it is defined---Then you use the "extrude" command to extrude the part into the third dimension and create a solid part.

This is exactly what I was referring to in my earlier statement about defining a part where I wrote: "Start by immediately using the keyboard commands and data entry system. It's there in every program. Learn to use it first and the rest will make a lot more sense."


Evan - you seem like someone who is already happy with the CAD solution they have and not really interested in exploring alternatives. That's fine but it can lead to things like the last comment above and that seems beneath you.

Huh? It is very common for software to be released in an early version as freeware or unrestricted shareware. Then, when it becomes popular the author(s) start selling it and very commonly try to discourage use of the free version by whatever means they have available.

edit: Even Google isn't immune to this issue. Up to version six SketchUp had the ability to import AutoCad dwg and dxf format files. They have removed that from version 7.

DR
12-12-2009, 05:48 PM
Did you guys all receive the email from Alibre about the $147 upgrade from the $99 V11 to V12 plus a years maintenance including their next major release in summer 2010?

Looking at the new stuff in V12 for my standard version there isn't a whole lot for me. I think I'll go for it anyway.

S_J_H
12-12-2009, 06:10 PM
duplicate post.

S_J_H
12-12-2009, 06:11 PM
As a total novice to 3d cad take my thoughts with a big shaker of salt. This is a HSM forum and I think I fit the bill.
I have tried several of the free 3d cads over the years.
I have been getting by with emachineshops free cad for several years as it was very fast and easy to use. It was fine for creating single 2.5d parts I could use for my cnc machines. Now I want to move up though.
I found Alibre somewhat hard to learn as well as CoCreate, both good powerful 3d cad you can get a free version.
Then I was able to try Solidworks. WOW! is my initial impression!

Solidworks I found MUCH easier to get a handle on. The tutorials are just excellent A+, and I like the work flow a lot. There was nothing I found confusing about it.

I know the cost of Solidworks puts it totally out of reach for all but the wealthy Home machinist/hobby level. It's also way overkill.
But man it is a great software.
It would be nice if they had a stripped down version for the hobby guy like Alibre does that was not to pricy.
Just my .02 as a HSM guy.
Steve

PaulT
12-12-2009, 07:19 PM
I purchased and use Inventor LT and like it a lot. Its a stripped down version of the full Inventor package, the main limitation is it doesn't support assemblies, basically you can only design one part at a time.

But for what I do it works really well. It takes a while to become effective and efficient with it, but once I was there it dramatically improved the kind of things I was able to design and build.

The price on the LT version is around $1000. or so, I got suckered into buying the annual support for an extra $300. but that really hasn't done anything for me so far.

Paul T.

beanbag
12-12-2009, 07:35 PM
Solidworks currently has some kind of program where you get a free trial version for 90 days or so

http://www.solidworks.com/sw/esp/engineering_stimulus_package.html

Never tried it, so I don't know if there are any strings attached.
I learned Solidworks from the tutorials in the student version. I think tutorials are the best way to start because it shows you how to make parts the way the programmers envision.

DeereGuy
12-12-2009, 10:01 PM
Did you guys all receive the email from Alibre about the $147 upgrade from the $99 V11 to V12 plus a years maintenance including their next major release in summer 2010?

Looking at the new stuff in V12 for my standard version there isn't a whole lot for me. I think I'll go for it anyway.

Yes I got this also and am going to do the $149 upgrade.

hwingo
12-13-2009, 01:21 AM
Well ....... the deed is done. I purchased Alibre Design Expert. It normally sells for around $2800 and I got it for $999 with 13 hours of tutorial on DVD, printed manual, and one year free maintenance.

An old friend has purchased the same program and since he is a "brain" using such programs, most likely he will help me learn to use the program or at least help me when I get "stuck".

Harold