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3D CAD on the cheap...

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  • #16
    Yep, I downloaded the pro trial last weekend which is working without a glitch, It's just the inbalance of the offer that nurfs me ofrt. Having a bit of a struggle at times with it, but having used A-cad.

    Regards Ian.
    You might not like what I say,but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.


    • #17
      I've lit several candles while in wait for a reply on price protection but hopefully they will honor the 30 day return policy and fix the price imbalance with several upgrades that are of use to me

      Circlip, best thing to do is forget A-cad and just think extruding to either grow or cut a shape, a sketch for each group of features on a face, revolve a basic shape (square, triangle, etc.) to create shoulders, grooves, or entire shapes (just did a small cannon with it on July 3rd) and a biggy ...

      What irked me the most for the week of evenings it took me to ramp up with the program was the lack of readouts when creating line entities (i.e. readout of diameter while dragging a circle or length when dragging a line to size) and difficulty in snapping to other object features not given visibility on a sketch. There is a tool for the latter but it doesn't always get you there.

      So, you will find that the dimension and constraint tools are your best friend. The sooner you automatically reach for them, the sooner you will smile during Alibre use For instance, you drop that circle anywhere and forget size. Immediately drop a dimension on it and the entry box for dia. pops up. Then drop a constraint to make it coaxial with a point you want to place it on (assuming a round part). Bingo, its placed and sized perfectly.

      At work using SolidEdge, these steps are unnecessary but at a cost of about $7k per seat (with some options).

      V12 is supposed to have many improvements and I'm hoping some placement and some readouts might be part of that. After several weeks of use, the extra steps seem painless though.



      • #18
        Has any one tried google sketch up? I down loaded it and gave it a plug in for exporting in a language free mill can read. I was able to get a tool path, but I hear it's obsolete. I'm just learning all this stuff but if it helps any one well there you have it!
        I'll have to look for the name of the plugin I down loaded if any one's interested.
        so far it's been free


        • #19
          I have been messing with Delta cad. How does Alibre cad seem to be to learn. I am just learning this to play around with my mill. Thats it. Just want something easy to pick up. For 99 bucs I would giver a try if it is simple enough.



          • #20
            Originally posted by j king
            I have been messing with Delta cad. How does Alibre cad seem to be to learn. I am just learning this to play around with my mill. Thats it. Just want something easy to pick up. For 99 bucs I would giver a try if it is simple enough.


            No idea what Delta CAD is, so can't compare with anything.

            If you have no CAD experience to speak of, Alibre's 3D will have a very steep learning curve. They do have nice tutorials included though, plus a user forum.


            • #21
              Jim, Here's a quick and dirty example of the type of part you can design with Alibre.

              As you look at the screen, you are seeing the same view you would get in front of a $4k and up 3D solids program. Once you have created your part in 3D, you can very easily drop a 2D drawing out of it, including some, but not all, of the dimensions you used during creation.

              Once in 2D, pulling out cross section of parts, dimensioning, etc. is pretty simple. You won't generally find this in low end packages at all.

              Learning it is kinda fun but if you want tool paths out of it, I don't think it will happen for $99. Alibre's Alibre CAM lists at $1000 but they may have a deal on that.

              DR, I'd have to agree with your statement about the learning curve except for 2 things. If you are good at machining methods, that's a definite plus and if you do not have exposure to older CAD, that could actually help too since you have a clear mind Look at the kids who pick up these packages in a matter of a few days.

              One thing that really affects the learning curve is how quickly your brain acquires and retains basics from tutorials and translates your ideas into the operations the package needs (i.e. extruding = create raw material and shape, extrude a cut = milling or punching, add hole = drilling, chamfer/fillet = same, etc.) Of course, using helix paths, lofting, etc. gets a bit trickier.

              added - if you're not familiar or comfortable with windows, heavily icon/tool driven operations, etc. that would have a definite impact on the learning curve

              Last edited by nheng; 08-15-2009, 01:38 PM.


              • #22
                Thanks Den. You mean I cant export it to lazy cam in mach to get the g code?


                • #23
                  I'm not familiar with LazyCAM but from Alibre 2D you can export .dxf and several Autocad .dwg formats directly. A quick export and import of an Alibre created 2D drawing was very clean as far as the part view goes, only minor font and dimension style changes. I think I tried to bring in a more complex .dxf (exported from SolidEdge) several weeks back and there were numerous font and dimension style and size issues. Don't recall if the part itself was correct or not. And, part of those problems could have been in the SolidEdge export to begin with.

                  Just checked the 3D export menu and it includes:
                  a variety of image formats (JPG, BMP, etc.)
                  SolidWorks Part
                  Parasolid Part

                  I always take import and export capabilities of ANY design package with a very large grain of salt. Many times, the companies that created the formats themselves do not always get it right.

                  Import of IGES solids seems to work ok as I have imported several fairly complex firearm parts without problem. Just a quick test, mind you, but they looked correct and a number of measurements pulled from them were correct (this is a statement on the abilities of the guy who drew it AND on the ability of the IGES to bring it in properly.
                  Last edited by nheng; 08-15-2009, 02:48 PM.


                  • #24
                    So, can the experts fill me on on a basic question: If I use this $99 Design package, can I use it to design a part that can then be exported to Mach 3 to make the part on a mill? The specs say that export is limited to 2D so there is an obvious limitation there but being able to design 2D and thengetting to a toolpath without any software between Design and Mach 3 is the question I don't know enough to answer.


                    • #25
                      If it's a simple 2 1/2D shape then the answer is yes.
                      You draw in Alibre, either 2D or 3D, if 3D you get the 2D drawings from that.

                      Export from the 2D as DXF file , import dxf into Lazycam inside Mach and get this to generate code.

                      If we are talking about 3D then save as STEP or STL and then you will have to import into a third party program to generate the code which is then sent to Mach.


                      Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


                      • #26
                        Thank you, John. So, without using another, 3D third party program to which you refer, I can use Alibre Design in conjunction with Mach3 to design and cut a part in which X and Y can describe a complex two dimensional shape as seen in plan view, with Z used only to get a specified DOC.

                        I am just taking the initial steps toward CNC and it looks as if Design may be too good to pass up no matter what hardware I end up with.

                        By the way, I sent you an email a day or two age inquiring whether you are still making X3 conversion kits. That route seems attractive to me unless I can rationalize a Novakon machine at greater expense.



                        • #27
                          David. Post has been filed as we are about to resurrect the X3 CNC kit again.

                          We stopped it when the KX series came out and stock was gone thinking that the KX would take over.

                          Unless it's the greater travels or the fact that some already have the X3 but we are getting quite a few enquiries now about the kit again for some reason.

                          It's not a priority for me as I have other projects on the go both in the UK and China.

                          Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


                          • #28
                            I'm just trying Alibre,but the tutorials don't look like what appears on my screen.I can only get a blue background and things appear in a different orientation to the tutorial.

                            I realise it's a steep learning curve but I'm lost with it at the moment.



                            • #29
                              Allan -

                              Stick with it - Alibre is a good package for the money and it rewards an investment in its learning curve. The tutorials do help but I think the biggest hurdle is to understand the 'philosophy' that sit behind the package. Sketching is the key to starting work and the tools for this are simple and need to become second nature, so perhaps just start off by sketching simple shapes and then extruding or rotating them to create full 3D models. This will take you a surprisingly long way. I found it very useful to go on from here to model everything that I was working on even when I had good conventional drawings already. This will help you by working with parts that you are familiar with and you will begin to work out easy ways to model parts and equally important to avoid a sequence of steps that will require a lot of work. Nheng has it absolutely right, modelling a more complicated part requires planning in a very similiar way to planning machining steps - get it right and it is much easier. This will become instinctive after a while.

                              Once you have the basics of modelling working well you will find that you will want to start using some of the more complex tools but you don't need these for simple parts.

                              I started with the free Alibre and have now updated my license twice to get more features and capability. It has been one of the best investments I have made. I have no connection with Alibre in case you wondered.

                              If you are stuck on one of tutorials post some details, perhaps a screen shot and I am sure thatwe can sort out the problems very quickly.


                              • #30
                                How do you pan, zoom, and rotate the part you're working on?