Decisions, decisions....

What to buy?
We need a few of seats of a feature-based solid modeller here soon.
Our main area of interest is sheet metal punching & folding, but some
extrusions, spinnigs and springs.
Most of the drawings at present are done in 2D (in rel14 and LT2000), but we
are committed to moving into 3D solids. (most of the sheetmetal dwgs are
exported as 2D dxfs or dwgs to the CAD software for our Salvagnini and Amada
machines).
We have the choice of Solidworks, ProE, Inventor or MDT.
We have demos/presentations arranged from the resellers/vendors, but we need
to ask the right questions to enable to make the right choice for the
future.
Has anyone here had to make a similar choice?
Advice, pros/cons and links greatly appreciated.
Many thanks,
JB
Reply to
JB
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Best Regards, Devon T. Sowell
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What to buy? We need a few of seats of a feature-based solid modeller here soon. Our main area of interest is sheet metal punching & folding, but some extrusions, spinnigs and springs. Most of the drawings at present are done in 2D (in rel14 and LT2000), but we are committed to moving into 3D solids. (most of the sheetmetal dwgs are exported as 2D dxfs or dwgs to the CAD software for our Salvagnini and Amada machines). We have the choice of Solidworks, ProE, Inventor or MDT. We have demos/presentations arranged from the resellers/vendors, but we need to ask the right questions to enable to make the right choice for the future. Has anyone here had to make a similar choice? Advice, pros/cons and links greatly appreciated. Many thanks, JB
Reply to
Devon T. Sowell
From your list, I think SolidWorks is the best for sheetmetal. ProE is good as well, but expensive and unfriendly. Not exactly certain about Inventor, but I think it is somewhere behind SWX. MDT is rapidly becoming ooutdated. I worked with someone who switched from MDT to SWX. He said SWX is MUCH better and would never want to go back.
If I may, I would also suggest looking at SolidEdge. I have never used it, but I hear it has very good sheet metal capabilities and is very comparable to SolidWorks. Perhaps there is a reason it was not on your list though....
Reply to
Arlin
Here's my opinion:
SolidWorks: Used by more companies; better communication with vendors, suppliers; excellent support; good value. ProE: Too expensive. Inventor: Who uses it? MDT: Outdated, clunky.
Fair comments. Thanks for your help. JB
Reply to
JB
No reason at all. Just no knowledge of the package. I'll have to have a looksee.... Thanks for your comments, JB
Reply to
JB
JB- Do look at SolidEdge, it's OK, just not widely used, so communication with others is poor. Ask for specific demos of sheetmetal parts. You'll be blown away when you see SolidWorks create sheetmetal parts in 3-D so fast. Then, with one mouse click, see the part unfold and display the bend lines and corner relief's. Then just drag the 3-D model onto a blank drawing sheet, see the 3 views, and your done. If you want some examples, just send me an e-mail and I'll send them to you. Best Regards, Devon T. Sowell
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Here's my opinion:
SolidWorks: Used by more companies; better communication with vendors, suppliers; excellent support; good value. ProE: Too expensive. Inventor: Who uses it? MDT: Outdated, clunky.
Fair comments. Thanks for your help. JB
Reply to
Devon T. Sowell
I don't know whether Alibre has sheet metal capability, but from their agressive advertising comparing themselves to SolidWorks I'd be surprised if they didn't. The price is amazing ($695 for Alibre Pro, I think) and you can download a free trial. Worth a try, I would think. If it has everything you need you could make yourself a hero by saving mucho dinero for your company.
'Sporky'
JB wrote:
Reply to
Sporkman
Yes, Alibre is another option. I believe Alibre now has sheet metal capacities (perhaps only in the Pro Version).
Alibre is quite cheap. But, when I toyed around with v5.0, I found SWX to be a much more robust and capable program. I think you get what you pay for, but if that is all you need, go for it. At least check it out.
Reply to
Arlin
Version 6.0 is what costs $695 (I looked it up). Alibre Pro is $995, still lots less than SolidWorks.
Arl> Yes, Alibre is another option. I believe Alibre now has sheet metal
Reply to
Sporkman
Version 6.0 is what costs $695 (I looked it up). Alibre Pro is $995, still lots less than SolidWorks.
Arl> Yes, Alibre is another option. I believe Alibre now has sheet metal
Reply to
Sporkman
Might be an interesting package to watch.
Is anything known about the background of the publisher?
Bill
Reply to
bill allemann
I would look at Solid Edge if your primary purpose is sheet metal.
My thoughts:
Solid Edge - best sheet metal of the choices, but no user base or support. Solidworks - strong package, good user base Inventor - Better at detailing, especially now it's being packaged with ACAD Mech DX. MDT - You get it with Inventor anyhow. Pro-E - Has everything. Hard to learn, expensive.
Keep your appointments coming in and get a trial cd. Maybe go try a "hands-on" event to see how it works. All of the programs are buggy and you'll hear trash being talked on all sides, so try it out for yourself. At this point they're all pretty much the same, and if there's functionality that's lacking, there's always 3rd party software that will do the job (ex: SPI, PDM, etc.)
Reply to
hoser_71
To clear up a mistake everyone keeps posting.
Pro/e WildFire includes sheetmetal and is NOT more expensive ($4K) then either of the products mentioned, except Alibre Pro ($1K).
Personally, I would suggest IronCad (very easy to use for a first time 3D user, drap/drop sheetmetal) or SolidEdge (this is one area they seem to have been proud of over the years.) And then, SolidWorks last few releases of sheetmetal have been very good.
Otherwise, Alibre (w/sheetmetal), for the first time 3D user is very hard to beat. (but you get what you pay for,. limitations, and that depends on your needs now and later) You almost can't loose with it being a 3D introduction and it's basically a SW, SE or Inventor clone type of interface and a good set of translators.
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JB wrote:
Reply to
Paul Salvador
Why are the following packages not being considered ?
SolidEdge
IronCAD
VX's Vision
jon
Reply to
jon banquer
Alibre is smart enough to use ACIS rather than Parasolid as they want to offer a complete solution rather try and marry surfacing routines to Parasolid.
With ACIS it's all done inside the kernel rather than outside of it.
You might want to take note of what Autodesk, think3, VX, etc. have had to say about trying to create surfacing routines outside of a kernel. It obviously doesn't work very well. You might also want to review the threads in this newsgroup for proof of how poorly it works in SolidWorks.
Alibre tells me that they will make use of the surfacing routines in ACIS in Alibre 8.0 due in the second quarter of next year.
jon
Reply to
jon banquer
any one know anything about catia i was surprised it only cost about a grand more than sw
is it as easy to live with as sw
Reply to
mikemcdermid
Hello there JB.
I can say from experience with at least 1000 models for sheet metal that solidworks can adequately handle most sheet metal applictions quite nicely.
It's great strength is configuration management which allows you to show the part in ANY of it's manufacturing stages and show it in multiple states from a single model. It can do incremental unfolding, meaning it can unfold any 1 of 4 given bends.
For example if you wanted to, you could unfold only the bends needed and easily make an accurate drawing with dimensions that the brake operator can inspect to for each step in the bending sequence. You can also make a bending sequence drawing if that helps.
It is very robust, easy to use, easy to control bend allowances and will let you create very clean 2D geometry for your turret/laser CAM applications.
It will not in any way develop drawn features automatically or allow you to unfold something with anisotropic (2 direction) deformation. This is it's main limitation in sheet metal. Personally I suspect ANY software that claims to do this accurately as (from my experience), draw development is a refinement process and not 100 per cent emperically predictable.
In my former life, we used SolidWorks for part development side by side with autocad R14 & LT which we used for tooling design and CAM pre-prep. The 2D "speedy" capabilities for autocad outweighed (and still does in my opinion) what solidworks can deliver in 2D. Undoubtedly SolidWorks 2D surpasses autocad for accuracy, ease of view creation and general use, but you do not have the kind of direct control over EVERY entity in a drawing like autocad, and the layering and block management is not as strong.
With that said, each tool has virtue and together, for a fabrication environment, you will have absolutely everything you need to get parts made quickly and efficiently. It is possible that autocad may still be useful to you, but hopefully not as a "crutch".
In my experience, moving to 3D will reduce your error rate on part development by 80 percent easily. After using solidworks for a few years at my present position, I can remember only a few models out of hundreds that we got drastically wrong. It helped us overcome the wrong material thickness side, the mirrored part problem that comes up, etc.
If you take in 3D models from outside vendors, you will have many cases where you can unfold and decrypt their files directly. If this is the case, look into featureworks, which is a solidworks "add-in" that will let you make "dumb" imported geometry "smart" and therefore changeable, but don't feel compelled to buy a copy for each seat. One will usually do.
If I were buying today, I would look very closely at SolidWorks, followed by SolidEdge which had a really strong sheet metal module included, next by the Pro-e Wild Thingee or whatever its called today followed by Inventor, but in that order (also alibre, ironcad, think3, but perhaps consider these are "upstarts" - still getting established userbase etc.).
Price is semi-irrelivent in this range generally when weighed against the labor wasted on unproductive software - I.e. get the best product that will help, not simply the cheapest, which is not always the least expensive. Don't forget to ask about yearly maintenence and companion products which mostly all of these systems require depending on your needs. The upgrade scheme is more like yearly payements than the periodic autocad upgrade concept.
Sorry for the long winded response - I hope this helps a bit.
Regards-
SMA
Reply to
Sean-Michael Adams
I've been dealing with a company in my area who has IronCAD and isn't happy at all. They say it's REALLY poor with large assemblies, which to them are substantially less than 1000 unique parts.
Mark 'Sporky' Stapleton Charlotte, NC
Paul Salvador wrote:
Reply to
Sporkman
Well, don't know about large assemblies, never used it for that and I do not generally work with large assemblies and the guy asking is a new 3D user who most likely is not going to be doing large assembly sheetmetal designs soon?
IronCad was not that bad when I work with version 4.0 on I opened and converted some 100 plus part assemblies and for what I used it for it was ok. I would guess 6.0 is as equal or better than 4.0? It really depends on a persons modeling style but from what I know about IronCad, if someone knows there way around it, it's a very fast modeling environment, especially for prismatic parts.
I'm only suggesting what seems like a good fit based on the little information we have from his post. And I see IronCad as a good starting program and something which is easy to use or grow with at this point.
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Sporkman wrote:
Reply to
Paul Salvador
Nice to know you think 3dinkies is a pile of crap now. What's a kernel, clueless?
Where do YOU get all this idiocy?
Reply to
Cliff Huprich

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