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A question for Alibre/Geomagic/Rhino users

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  • A question for Alibre/Geomagic/Rhino users

    I've owned Alibre (personal edition with extensions) with continuous maintenance for about 9 years now (starting with version 8.2 in 2005). I'm currently running Cubify Design 2014/V15. In March I got the info about the free upgrade to the new version of Geomagic Design but I've not yet done it. Last summer they hit me for $200 yearly maintenance (a noticeable jump in price and what I originally paid for the software) and that is coming up again in mid-August. I've been pretty happy with Alibre and find that many of the modest things I want to do are not too hard to accomplish. But the yearly expense keeps going up and it is starting to seem like a case of diminishing returns.

    I've noticed a lot of angst about 3D Systems and the new version of Geomagic at the Alibre forum so I thought I'd ask here about the worth of doing the upgrade and maybe get some different takes from the people who usually post at the Alibre forum.

    I also have Rhino 5 and Visual Mill/RhinoCAM 2012 (Pro version). VM is now up to 2014 but I didn't upgrade when they went to a yearly maintenance plan. For my hobby use $700 or so every year to stay current on combined VM+RhinoCAM licenses with minor incremental improvements was too difficult to justify. An outlay like that once every 3 or so years when a new version of Rhino is rolled out has been easier to swallow as McNeel seems to put a lot of good new features in their major version updates.

    Cubify 2014 seems to be working OK for my small projects running on a 7ish year old Q6600/4GB/XP Home machine. I try to practice "if it isn't broken try not to break it" so if I do the Geomagic upgrade I'd build a nice Win7Pro machine for that, leaving Cubify on the old machine for "just in case". It doesn't sound like significant 3D/2D modeling upgrades were made in Geomagic, and it also sounds like there are problems that have been issues for a while that were still not dealt with in the new version.

    I have no plans for doing 3D printing and it sounds like more 3D printing features vs new mechanical drawing/modeling CAD stuff may be the intended course for 3DS in the future. I do have a NextEngine 3D scanner that I've yet to play with so tools for cleaning up scans would be nice.

    Would my low-level upgrade to Geomagic provide any significant (at this time I lack the experience to know what counts as significant which is why I'm posing the question) tools for 3D scanning that would make it be worthwhile to give them some more money for another year's maintenance in the hopes that there'd be even more improvements in the next year? Or are the surfacing tools in Rhino significantly more powerful than Geomagic (and likely to stay that way) to where saving the maintenance fees to 3DS and using them for the next Rhino upgrade would make more sense?

    I will admit that there are times when these three programs seem a case of tools so powerful they can only be used for good or evil . I like a cool upgrade as much as the next person but I'm not making any money with these programs and the current versions generally seem "good enough".


  • #2
    I've complained about Alibre / GeoMagic, and I am NOT taking any of that back.... but I still think they are the best value among the choices I was willing to consider.

    I think it is a bad idea for anyone new to CAD, but most any 3D parametric design program will be like that. I think Solidworks (independent of its high price) would be far worse, based on what I have done with that program so far. And I think AD/GD does have some missing features that would really help to sort out problems that almost any new user, and many seasoned users, will have, particularly with larger designs, on the order of a complex steam engine, a multicylinder IC engine, or a locomotive model.

    On the good side, AD/GD has a much more reasonable structure of commands, they work as I expect, and generally act like windows programs. This is good. Your conditioned reactions will likely be correct, which saves time.

    I have 2012, which is the last version which will run without problems on XP... The newer versions such as yours, are Win 7 specific... 3D systems does state that they may run on XP, but use on XP is not supported, as far as any problems that relate to the OS, so you are on your own. That's reasonable.

    It depends on your needs. I need the import/export capability. If you EVER want to be able to export your work to ANYBODY who does not use Alibre/Geomagic, you want the upgrade from "cubify". I do not think "Cubify" can do ANY exports of files with actual information in them other than Alibre format, so it's somewhat of a "locked world". (I have always had expanded input/export capability).

    As for RhinoCAD, I have very limited experience, and it was an older version. I didn't think much of it, but it may have changed.

    I would choose to continue with AD/GD.... I don't think you HAVE to upgrade, once you are entitled to that upgrade, I don't think it goes away. I am entitled to an upgrade to V16, and have yet to do that because I have no win 7 machine yet....

    And, I THOUGHT that if you had the entry level version of alibre, you were supposed to get boosted a level right away.... I had a lower level of Alibre, and got boosted to the "PRO " version instantly and automatically when the upgrade offer became effective.

    If you HAVE TO HAVE powerful surfacing tools, I think that they are available, but only in the top level version of Geomagic, with options. So if that is your main need, you might need to go to whatever RhinoCAD can do for you.

    As for the "angst", there WAS a real "dog" version that came out (rushed out) at the time of the takeover by 3D systems. I am told that this has been fixed.
    But the real needs of "elastic constraints" and help sorting out constraints are not yet included, and may never be.

    New info I got today indicates that the newest version of PRO-E actually works the same way as both Solidworks and geomagic/Alibre, which is a relatively major change for them. So Alibre/geomagic seem to be on-board with an industry standard.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 06-17-2014, 07:39 PM.

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan


    • #3
      Let's see if I can address your questions.

      1) Sorry, the free upgrade offer expired 12/31/2013. I asked, and no, they won't honor it now. If you got a different offer, I'd love to see it. PM me please.

      2) Yes, the fees are really going up. 3D has taken a lump it attitude.

      3) You need a powerful system with lots of memory and Win7 or 8 to run GDE or GD.

      4) The upgrade from Cubify (nee Alibre, Geomagic PE) to GDE or GD gets you quite a lot - additional file formats, BOM creation, sectional view creation, broken views, etc.

      5) The GDE / GD track is still the 3D modeling / 2D drawing track. 3D Systems has other "integrated" software packages for the 3D printing side.

      More tools than sense.


      • #4
        I've been using Rhinoceros for about 7-8 years and have yet to spend any money on it. The reason is I've been using the Mac version which is a McNeel "Work in Process" product. It has limitations but for my stuff it's worked very well. There was a new beta release on June 10 that I uploaded today and it works great. If they release a golden version of it I'll probably to back to school to qualify for the student version. It is capable of far more than I'll ever need. Until this year I've always run it with 4 gig of RAM but I've up'd memory to 16G on all my Macs and it runs a treat in that.


        • #5
          KJ1I, the date on my email from 3DS about the upgrade to Geomagic is dated 11 March 2014. I think the 12/31/13 cutoff was for new purchases of the software to qualify for the upgrade, not for legacy users. I've downloaded the software, it has just been sitting dormant while I think about what to do -- install on my current PC (which requires uninstalling the working Cubify version which I'm loathe to do) or build a new PC (which wasn't in the plans since things were working OK).

          It looks like an i7, 16gb w/Win7Pro is probably what I'd go with at minimum for a new PC. I try to get something pretty nice when I do a new PC as I like to have them last for a long time. I'm no longer interested in messing with computers. I now want them to be appliances that don't burn my data when I ask for toast.

          4) The upgrade from Cubify (nee Alibre, Geomagic PE) to GDE or GD gets you quite a lot - additional file formats, BOM creation, sectional view creation, broken views, etc.
          Since this is all for my own use most of those features (some of which I've had for years as add-ons) are things I've never had a need to use. I'm doing models/drawings to then make things in my own home shop, not as a commercial proposition. Anyone who gets a copy of the model or drawing does so as a favor and they are on their own for turning that into parts.

          Rhino can read/open just about anything, though since it is not parametric a tree won't be imported. I've got Translate on Alibre and I've been able to open most IGES/SL_ files I've gotten from McMaster or GrabCAD.

          Alibre's parametric workflow makes sense to me. There's something about Rhino that just doesn't seem hugely natural and when I haven't used it for a bit I have to struggle some to get back in the swing or things. But there are things in Rhino that are very much easier to do than in Alibre and there are times when layers are easier to work with than suppressing sketches.

          Both Alibre and Rhino (and VM/RhinoCAM) have been working for years on my current PC. But this machine is getting kind of long in tooth and a new one with a more modern OS and lots more RAM etc is looming on the horizon. I'd hoped to delay reaching that horizon for a bit, but with maintenance on Alibre expiring 08/15 I figure that if I'm going to try to go with the Geomagic software I need to get a new PC and install the software in plenty of time before maintenance expires so that I can get things sorted out in case I don't renew.

          If 3DS is going to come out with some useful tools (or major bug fixes) in the next year then it might be worth paying for another year of maintenance to get those upgrades. But the "let's make our money off of maintenance" scheme means that my maintenance renewals are going to cease in the forseeable future. I'm not sure there's a lot of drafting-type improvements they can add, so I'm looking at "make it a more reliable platform" and maybe 3D scanning tools as justifications for giving them some more money.



          • #6
            1) the 12/31 deal was when you had to be "in the system" and "on maintenance"..... they didn't even DO the upgrade until sometime in March, so 12/31 didn't affect that..

            2) I'd pay the maintenance one more time..... at least, if I were you. If you let it lapse, you are "frozen" at your last authorized level, and have to pay a lot more if you want to upgrade, or even to get back "on maintenance". It's a "loyalty perk", of sorts. No maintenance, no new versions. My maintenance is over $300. I pay it, and I will continue to pay it (easy to say, not due until next April).

            Do they "make money" on it? I HOPE SO, because how else do you suppose they pay for the ongoing development? Yep, a good part of that is paid by maintenance contracts.

            3) If you have the full "translate" you are one step above me.... I thought I had that, but I had "enhanced I/O" instead, which will import a Solidworks part, but not export it. IGES, STEP, etc are all supported, though.
            Now, under the new system, that is only available with the full version, which costs a sizeable proportion of what Solidworks costs.

            Keep eye on ball.
            Hashim Khan


            • #7
              I use TurboCAD for 3-D modeling and it meets my needs, but I am interested in getting more capability such as motion analysis and animation which may require a program such as these you are discussing. I am able to export my solid models to STEP, IGES, 3DS, and ASAT (ACIS). Can you see if you can open any of these with the applications you have? I have converted my Toolpost_Grinder file to these formats and I have uploaded them along with my TCW file:


              If so, can you do other things with it, such as rotating the screw or determining its rigidity?

              Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
              USA Maryland 21030


              • #8
                I was able to open the IGES file version, but the STP seemed to have a problem..... it opened as text, and wouldn't download.... for me, those are set to automatically open into Alibre, so I do not think it is a file association issue.

                With Alibre motion, the screw may work. without, the screw cis ignored and the slider can be moved if not constrained.

                However, an STP file comes in WITHOUT any constraints... that is a format-related issue, not an Alibre issue. The IGES file comes in without separate parts... it is all one piece. Again, I believe that is format and not software specific.
                Last edited by J Tiers; 06-18-2014, 10:11 AM.

                Keep eye on ball.
                Hashim Khan


                • #9

                  I'm a member on the Alibre/GeoMagic forum so you may have read my thoughts & questions on the upgrade direction there.

                  So far as 3D print/scan enhancements, I suspect that they will be limited to directly supporting hardware that 3DS sells; if they also work with other companies products that will probably be by accident rather than intent. I just acquired a 3D printer made by someone else and it looks like the 3D print check enhancements in the new version will work with my printer, at least generally, providing I pick a 3DS printer that is close in capability. GeoMagic had a webinair recently to talk about the new (at that time) features and was asked live if non-3DS printers would be supported. The answer was essentially that they didn't know but that a similar 3DS printer selection might work.

                  My maintenance is due and I just re-upped. Each year it gets harder to justify for me. If the next major upgrade is heavy on 3D printer enhancements and light on mechanical CAD enhancements, it will probably be my last upgrade.
                  Mike Henry near Chicago


                  • #10
                    Here is another option. Take a class at a university. It only has to be one credit. Then you will have an email Addy from the school that ends in then you can get Autocad and inventor for FREE . But it cannot be used for commercial purposes but it does not appear as you are doing that. Anyone that has a email can get it free. Perhaps a son. Or daughter are in college? I think solid works offers this too.


                    • #11
                      Hi Mike,

                      I've certainly seen your posts at the Alibre forum, but I can't recall just what they were on the upgrade issue -- there have been a lot of posts on that subject!

                      I just looked at the NextEngine site and they say their "Rapidworks" CAD tools is Geomagic's "Design X" (formerly Rapidworks XOR)


                      If 3DS is going to push Alibre towards supporting scanning and printing instead of a straight CAD program maybe they'll add some of the features from Design X. I've got an older version of the NextEngine RapidWorks and at $2-4K I'm unlikely to spring for the current version. So if the Geomagic Elements 16 adds some scanning functionality over the oder version of RapidWorks AND it sounds like there might be some additional improvements in both scanning and CAD (and bug fixing) in the next year then $300 for another year will not be too hard to justify. But as you mention, it is getting harder to justify each additional year of maintenance since the price went up so much.

                      When the case is delivered tomorrow I'll have all the components on hand to build my Win7Pro 64bit PC so I should be able to take a look at GM-Elements16 in a few days. With 30-45 days to play with it I'll have a better idea about whether or not to upgrade. I may throw caution to the winds and just do another year of maintenance anyway on a "this is their last chance" basis and hope that they get their act together in the next year.



                      • #12

                        WRT the recent upgrade, I was annoyed that all of the major enhancements were oriented toward 3D printing and disappointed that GeoMagic staff wouldn't comment on whether future upgrades would be more balanced or not between mechanical CAD and 3D printing feature additions or enhancements. The new GM management seems to be a lot less forthright than Alibre management was and I have the sneaking suspicion that they have a much different vision for the product than most of the current users do.

                        The Design X stuff looks good if reverse engineering is your bag. GMD 2014 will import scans from 3DS's Sense, but that's the only scanner they support so far. I'd guess that they will only support directly 3DS scanners and printers, though the GMD will probably work to some extent with other scanners and printers. For example, I had no problem printing a GMD-designed part on a competitors 3D printer.

                        As J. Tiers said - GMD is probably still the best 3D CAD product for the money. Hopefully it will stay that way.

                        Mike Henry near Chicago


                        • #13
                          Mike, I installed GM16 yesterday. It successfully loaded an .obj scanner file I found online so while it may accept direct input from their iSense scanner it seems fine with importing scan files from other scanners (based on a sample of 1).

                          I asked at the Alibre forum if the scan/mesh commands are a part of Elements or just the 15 day "everything unlocked" trial I'm noq in and I've yet to see a response about that. If those commands don't go away when the trial is over I might re-up for another year's maintenance in the hopes that there are some reasonable upgrades in that period. But if they aren't a part of Elements I'm not sure that hoping they fix a few bugs in 2D/3D drafting over the next year is going to be worth several hundred of my dollars. If I do any 3D printing it will be handing a 3D model over to a printing service, so 3D printing features are not a big attraction for me.

                          If I do another year of maintenance and they don't come out with much that will very likely be the end of the road for my sending money to 3DS.



                          • #14
                            If you have Rhino 5 CAD/Rhino CAM, Why do you waffle between Alibre and Rhino? I would think sticking with one format , if it does what you need, would eliminate the familiarity issue when you don't use it for a few weeks. Rhino import/exports almost every file type so would seem to be the most flexible.
                            If neither does what you need, there are other options that probably do what you need for a little more than your spending on the other software combined.
                            I would welcome your thought process on using so many different platforms; I find myself where you are often!


                            • #15
                              Regarding the last maintenance fee for Alibre.....

                              I've had Alibre since day one..., the initial free download with enhanced import/export. Apparently, purchasers of the PE didn't get the enhanced import/export. It was nice of Alibre to allow me to keep the import/export even though it was not included in the then current PE.

                              I've paid for the annual maintenance since it came into effect.

                              I probably got the upgrade when 3DS gave it. I don't use the program much anymore so not sure exactly what I have.

                              Funny thing, last time the maintenance was due I got an email saying it was $200 (or was it $199). No indication of how to pay it. I called Alibre/3DS to pay and was told the email was a mistake, the cost was $300 (or was it $299). I asked if one hand knew what the other was doing. The guy said this one time they would honor the $200. So, what's the deal? Did you guys pay the high or low price?

                              And, what actually happens if you don't renew? Does the software quit working at some point or do you just not get upgrades? Then, at a later date if you do decide to renew do you have to pay for all the previously unpaid maintenance fees to catch up?