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Think twice about the Alibre / GeoMagic design CAD program

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  • Think twice about the Alibre / GeoMagic design CAD program

    EDIT: The newer versions of the program, as of late 2015, are much much better, and this can safely be forgotten about. I have not had the sort of issue described below for a couple versions, now, unless it was my own fault. So don't take this as representative of current versions.

    And now, it is back to being Alibre, 3D Systems is out of the picture. Things should be even better soon.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 06-10-2017, 06:29 PM. Reason: new data
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

  • #2
    Many many people have the same issues. I've used mist cad programs available in the last 25 years up until I retired fsdt year from the dept of defence. The bottom line is you have to make it simple. Think of it like this: if you were looking at the TOP ASSY of a house, car, etc. You would have at the most 25 parts . For the car you would have an engine, transmission, exhaust sys, brake sys, elect sys, etc. Then going into detail you could look at the engine ASSY. That would consist of maybe a LONG BLOCK , the stuff that bolts to that, water pump, powersteering pump, alternator, car,. Then farther down looking at the long block. That may consist if a short block and head assy. Then farther down looking at the head assy. You may find head casting assy, valves, springs, rockers, etc. Then looking at the head casting assy you would see the head casting, valve seats, valve guides, studs, etc. Make many subassys. Make one for EVERY LEVEL of a part that you may want to buy separately.

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    • #3
      By doing it that way the PC won't have to regenerate all constraints at the same time and keep them loaded in RAM. WHERE I worked at the last, management hired newly degrees engineers that wanted everything on one drawing. This caused exactly the issues you describe. The more complicated your assys are the more complicatedRAM is required. Also don't have ANY ERRORS in any subassys. If you have a crack in theffoundation your house will fall down.

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      • #4
        I submitted this on a cell phone and AUTO CORRECT added a few extras words. So disregard them .

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ahidley View Post
          I submitted this on a cell phone and AUTO CORRECT added a few extras words. So disregard them .
          You mean AUTO CORRUPT?

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          • #6
            Yes the result is the same

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            • #7
              I am on SolidWorks 2014, and used SolidEdge before that, Rhino 3d before that, and Generic 3D even earlier. All of them can be brought to their knees by poor modeling practices. Here are a few biggies. Excess detail, especially on parts you get from manufacturers. Threads, draft, fillets, cooling fins etc. are mostly unnecessary to the design of assemblies, and simply consume processor power and memory. Families of parts, seem like a really great idea, but slow you down to a crawl, because the programs constantly check to see if a part is up to date. Purchased parts don't change, and you don't need the underlying geometry sketches in every bolt, nut, washer, valve etc. Find out how your program reduces a part to just surfaces and use it that way. Find out if it uses "released" parts. Released parts don't get checked ever time they are loaded, always release purchased parts that don't change. Break all links to the parent part. Keep one parent part that has all the geometry for making new parts. Use assemblies of assemblies of assemblies. A subassembly gets bolted on using a subassembly of a bolt nut and washer, and the subassembly is used five times in the main model for example.

              Learn how to use the large model capabilities of your program. Some programs can load just surface meshes of parts and assemblies that you are not actaully working on. They look the same but you have to activate/load them do editing. I design equipment skids for waste water treatment plants. The typical skid has hundreds of unique parts and sometimes thousands in total. I also do models of a complete plant, including about five skids and all the tanks and piping, with every nut bolt and washer in the whole job. I get a bill of materials that has every piece I need to purchase.

              I'll bet Alibre does a much better job than you think, when used properly. Also this one area of computing that really benefits from a badass computer. Lots of processor speed, tons of memory, solid state drives, dual monitors all make a very big difference. If you work for a company they should buy new computers for the 3D guys every year and hand down the old ones to other engineers, then down to the accounting, word processing people and so on. In my last job I got a new computer 3 times in ten years and the improvement was so great the payback was months at most each time. My new boss bought me a Dell M6700 laptop (I work from home 3 days a week), SolidWorks Professional, and AutoCad LT on my second day!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ahidley View Post
                By doing it that way the PC won't have to regenerate all constraints at the same time and keep them loaded in RAM. WHERE I worked at the last, management hired newly degrees engineers that wanted everything on one drawing. This caused exactly the issues you describe. The more complicated your assys are the more complicatedRAM is required. Also don't have ANY ERRORS in any subassys. If you have a crack in theffoundation your house will fall down.
                +1. I work with models daily that have thousands of individual parts. Not sure how many lines are in the average model tree window, but once I start having to scroll it I start looking to create another assembly. Aside from helping with processing speed, having huge models are also a PITA compared to smaller assemblies when you have to start working with them from a remote server or need to use the same arrangement of parts in a different model. Its a bit more work upfront to create multiple assemblies but can save you a lifetime on the back end.
                "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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                • #9
                  I am not a professional CAD designer nor do I play one on TV. I only use GeoMagic Design and that is the only program I know so I can not speak for any other software.

                  As Garyhlucas stated best practices is essential for large assemblies. One of the best practices is to constrain to axis and planes as much as possible. Add them as needed to get valid constraints. Also sub assemblies is the most important. If you just constrain part to part while you build your overall assembly you will get lost and have a nightmare to find your mistakes. And they will be your mistakes not GeoMagic's deficiencies.

                  Also you need a computer with a high clock rate on the processor. Multiple cores mostly only help when it comes to rendering. Mostly only one core is used so it needs to be a high clock speed. My computer is overclocked to 4.6 ghz with 32 GB ram all water cooled, a professinal SSD for operating system and programs with a very fast raid system built with SSD's for file and date storage.

                  Do you name your constraints as you build your assemblies? Also very descriptive part names are a big help. A final overall assembly should only have sub assemblies constrained to each other not extra parts to parts when ever possible.

                  Did you just "pick up" your CAD knowledge or have you had any formal training?

                  GeoMagic works fine for large assemblies if you actually know how to use best practices and correct modeling procedures.
                  Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                  How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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                  • #10
                    Well, the replies are all along the lines of "you are screwing it up".

                    How you COULD know that I have no idea. It's a lot of assumptions about how I "might" be doing things. It may be news to you, but I am not an absolute cretin. Apparently the problem here is all the things YOU know for sure that actually ain't so.

                    EDIT:

                    There are poor practices which WILL cause problems, for sure.

                    I keep projects and parts in ONE directory each.... and do a "save-all-as" when a new incarnation of it needs to be created off an older version. You simply CAN NOT do any OS-based swapping and changing, that will break everything in a big hurry.

                    With Win 7 and 64bit latest version, the same "utterly stupid" operator is no longer havig the issues that used to occur.

                    Nothing to see here, move along, folks.
                    Last edited by J Tiers; 01-01-2017, 03:46 PM.
                    1601

                    Keep eye on ball.
                    Hashim Khan

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J Tiers View Post

                      7) Unlike a real program, such as AutoCad Inventor, Pro-E, etc, AD/GD has no manual. What passes for a manual is essentially a compilation of the "help" messages. There is very little depth to it compared to others, and while "operation" is covered, the details are often left out entirely.

                      What's this then ?

                      Click image for larger version

Name:	manual.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	36.4 KB
ID:	1797625

                      All 844 pages of it ?
                      .

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



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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by John Stevenson View Post
                        What's this then ?

                        [ATTACH=CONFIG]481[/ATTACH]

                        All 844 pages of it ?
                        What THAT is, is "not very useful".

                        I have the PDF.....

                        It's THERE, but when you look stuff up in it, what you need to know is not where you think it is, is under titles you don't expect, and when you DO find it, it isn;'t helpful.

                        THAT's what that is, then.
                        1601

                        Keep eye on ball.
                        Hashim Khan

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have to admit I was kind of chuckling to myself reading all the replies saying you're doing it wrong.

                          I've been designing via CAD for about the same amount of time, pencil and paper before that. Most of my early designs were small and done via a CAD/CAM program though, I didn't start using CAD programs until the last 20 or so years.

                          We use Soiledworks 2011 on 3 year old Thinkpads where I currently work. We design and manufacture absolutely ENORMOUS assemblies with it. The machines we build with it have between 8,000 and 13,000 components to them of every imaginable type. There are considerable motion, thermal and visual components that require flow testing, stress testing, heat distribution (via highly customized ceramic elements), liquid nitrogen coolant systems, condensing units, etc etc.

                          We've got scores of engineers using it (Soiledworks) all over the world and I have to tell you, some of them are truly idiots. There are a plethora of design conflicts in the assemblies but they almost never cause the program to lock or hang.

                          I can't say for sure what we do that allows us to run these giant models without crashing, but I know it's related to the way they build in sub assemblies. For the biggest machine we make (13,000 parts) there are probably several hundred (thousands?) sub assemblies. It's rare that we load up the finished machine but we do it and it works using both regular mode AND large assembly mode. It's obviously much slower in regular mode.

                          Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                          W
                          3) The biggest usual offender is fasteners.... it's easy to use the McMaster (or other) vendor models, but when you are using a bunch of them, it's far better to make your own.... Alibre / GeoMagic allows a thing they call (for some unknown reason) a "cosmetic thread", which is essentially like the old draftsman's rectangular box showing where threads 'would be". Using that is highly advisable, and that's what I do.
                          We use fasteners, both the library and custom. We don't always use all of them though, and definitely do NOT use the threading features. In a pattern of 4 bolts we'll typically use one to define the size then leave the others out.

                          6) Constraint naming.... with well over 400 total constraints in the design, one would run out of names.... and I do not even try to do that. The program gives names, but does not separate by subassembly
                          We have thousands of constraints. We don't name any of them. Sometimes we ignore them and yes, sometimes we pay for that.

                          7) Unlike a real program, such as AutoCad Inventor, Pro-E, etc, AD/GD has no manual. What passes for a manual is essentially a compilation of the "help" messages. There is very little depth to it compared to others, and while "operation" is covered, the details are often left out entirely.
                          See Sir John's post, maybe he can help you get your paws on a good manual. Otherwise seek help on an Alibre forum for help with specific issues like you've done here.

                          8) Many people suggest just leaving out fasteners.... That's a stupid idea. If you do that you will never find the interferences in parts which may move, or fold up, you will have to do your BOM by hand, relying on memory, and you are losing over half the benefits of CAD, IMO.
                          See my reply to #3 above and add the last part of my reply to #6 above in that yes, we sometimes pay for that.

                          Hope you either find a fix or at least a work-around. Sometimes you just have to give up and move on with the design so you don't get dragged down.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by John Stevenson View Post
                            What's this then ?

                            [ATTACH=CONFIG]481[/ATTACH]

                            All 844 pages of it ?
                            It's the manual for the 2012 version of Alibre Design. Since then there have been 2 major upgrades and a name change to GeoMagic. So far as I know GeoMagic has never released a manual for the most recent version of their software, though the help file can be useful.
                            Mike Henry near Chicago

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                              I have come to the conclusion that this program is not particularly suitable for large assemblies, over say 25 parts or so.
                              Are you the JST from the GeoMagic forum?

                              Mike
                              Mike Henry near Chicago

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