We currently use both Mechanical Desktop 6.0/(latest autocad version)
The Inventor program is great for fast developing a project, but you
will still need autodesk auto cad/mechanical desktop to be able to
send vendors drawings etc. Inventor is good, but you will need both.
It works well and does save alot of time and money making models.
Are you currently designing in 3D? If you are designing even reasonably
complex assemblies you will find Inventor pays for itself. I'm basing
this on my experience with SolidWorks, which is pretty much equivalent
to Inventor, although perhaps with a few advantages. Once you have
learned to deal with parametric design -- which will require you to drop
the majority of your old AutoCAD habits -- you will not want to go
back. One of the big benefits is in reduction of errors. I've heard
people brag that they never make design errors using 2D AutoCAD
resulting in fit problems. I don't believe any of the ones who do
anything but the simplest kinds of work. Another benefit will be in
total time to complete new design. A third will be in the quality of
the presentation you can show customers (including your management). A
fourth will be in the time needed to maintain Bills of Material. And
there are numerous other benefits too complex or too esoteric to explain
BUT there can actually be a slowdown in the time you take to manage
files. Because of the nature of parametric design there is a link
between part and assembly. And although I don't know anything about
Inventor's drafting package I presume there is also a link between part
and drawing or assembly and drawing (and I also strongly suspect Daniel
Lee is incorrect in his assertion that you will need both Inventor and
AutoCAD or MDT to have good output for vendors, etc.). If you change
one, the other changes. Thus one must be careful about revisions,
especially after sending drawings out anywhere. And one must be
cognizant when a part is used in multiple instances that changing it for
one instance also changes it for all other instances. Typically
companies use PDM software (Product Data Managment software) which is a
form of software configuration management/control software. It helps
you prevent "user collision" (two users making changes to the same file)
and also helps with revision control and with other ramifications of
making changes. Such software isn't free (by a long shot) and isn't all
that easy to implement and get everyone using properly, and the hard
disk space necessary to keep archives of revisions can take up huge
amounts of hard drive space (depending on how you decide to address
revision history). There are other alternatives to using PDM and ways
to archive history without taking up many gigabytes of file space, but
the bottom line is that there are other concerns about additional
"overhead" when using parametric CAD than just the learning curve.
You'd be foolish to believe AutoDesk (or any other vendor of software)
about the ease of transition. For almost everything but the simplest
mechanical engineering applications IT'S DEFINITELY WORTH IT (and then
some), but it's not like falling off a log.
Mark 'Sporky' Stapleton
owner, WaterMark Design, LLC
Remove or replace capitalized MUNGE info in the email header to reply
Alan O'Neill wrote:
Like Sporkman said, you might be able to finish a project faster with
AutoCAD, but there are some thing you simply cannot do as easily as
you can with Inventor. If you have any type of complex assembly or
part the quality will improve in 3D. Motion analysis, FEA,
renderings, and 3-views are much easier in 3D.
With the new version of Inventor 8 and AutoCAD 2004 DX you can take
your Inventor parts and detail them in AutoCAD and keep the link
between the files. This could help the transition to Inventor.
If you don't plan on going to Inventor, I'ld suggest looking at
AutoCAD Mechanical. It's a very good program with many time reducing
items. I suggest finding the closest VAR and take a test-drive of
Inventor to see if you like it.
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