Decisions, decisions....

Well, IronCAD is basically non parametric. Despite that, there is the possibility to use a command called the mate align constraint tool. Moving
a hole then carries the screw with it, if it was constrained with that tool. This is an alternative positioning possibility that many IronCAD users may not use, since the Triball moves everything so swiftly to where ever you want it. And then there are those "smart dimensions" too... In my opinion there are too many copycat parametrical cad systems, and too few constraint free cad systems on the market. The up side with no-constraints, is that it never stalls because you haven't put in the last constraint. This speeds up conceptual work tremendously. And you can always change or remove any part or feature from anything in the assembly model no matter whats in the history tree, before or after the changed part or feature. The tree will never get those red berries. And with parametrical, it may be close to impossible to foresee what a change will bring, especially when someone else has set those parameters up. The downside with all the freedom is very much the same as the upside. Its very (maybe too) easy to make changes in the parts, and also unlink them, from within an assembly. Just like when somebody else explodes all your blocks in an acad dwg. Anarchy could prevail if you dont watch out carefully. For companies making small series of machines, all very different with a few hundred parts or so, a non-parametric, constraint free cad (read IronCAD) would probably be the best way to go, but for companies designing a range of products with similar and a foreseeable layout, a parametric cad system is of course superior. Then there are all the different shades of grey between. This is when choosing the right CAD system becomes so very difficult. One thing I really miss with IronCAD, aside from large model drawing performance, is a mechanism movement simulation module. /per

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Thanks for the claification. That is pretty much what I thought. I use (and move) mechanisms quite a bit and really like it when an assembly automatically updates when component dimensions change, so it looks like IC would not really fit the bill for that.
I understand how lack of history tree and constraints can be a good thing. It can also be extremely useful.
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Why are the following packages not being considered ?
SolidEdge
IronCAD
VX's Vision
jon

we
Amada
need
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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
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Not at all long-winded. Very useful and concise appraisal form someone who actually drives the SW. Many thanks indeed. I'll keep you all posted. regards, JB
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Definitely check out Solid Edge. SE's sheet metal capabilities are excellent. UGS PLMsolutions provides direct software support as well as support through the VARs for the best of both worlds. They also produce UG NX, SDRC NX, TeamCenter products as well as the Parasolid modeling kernel that is used by all of UGS PLMsolutions products as well as SolidWorks (Yes, every sale of SolidWorks lines their competitors pocket with cash) I believe that you can get an eval copy of Solid Edge if you contact them. Here is the link to their site: www.solidedge.com
Ken

we
Amada
need
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