Evaluating Toolbox

Hello Geniuses (or Genii, according to Webster),
We're re-evaluating Toolbox, and I'd like to solicit opinions and help
on it. Some context: We mostly design machining
fixtures and gages. Currently we use home-grown design table driven hardware. We've had our most common fasteners done for some time, but it
never fails that we need some new thing that might be hard to get data on.
1st: What is the general opinion of Toolbox? To me, it seems to be a halfway decent hardware library, plus Smart Fasteners. Smart Fasteners don't seem to be all that smart, but I would use it whenever it would be effective to do so. If I used a lot of bolt and washer stacks, I think I'd love it.
2nd: Is there any way to get proper custom properties into the Toolbox parts? From what I've been able to discover, I have to manually add custom properties for each new item I use. Of course, this is necessary for a complete BOM.
3rd: Smart fasteners seems to be completely incapable of dealing with dowels. Am I right? Default mate references for dowels make no sense. I have established that I can modify the mate reference once the file exists. Are there no pull-out dowels? What else is missing? Don't o-rings count as standard hardware?
4th: I can add parts to Toolbox; can I add parts for Smart Fasteners?
5th: We stay current on subscription, but have customers who are still using 2003. Are therer any issues with using toolbox on parallel installations? I'm evaluating Toolbox on 05, will I find anything missing in 03?
Here's my overall take on Toolbox then: Smart Fasteners advantages over our configured fasteners seem minimal. If we used more bolted connections, the washer stacks would be very useful. Unfortunately, we almost exclusively use SHCS in c'bores and tapped holes. Some hardware that seems very common to me is missing. There is no mechanism other than manual entry for adding custom properties and filling the BOM. So for us, we have to balance the one-time cost of Toolbox against the occasional bearing, gear, sprocket, or structural profile. OF those, bearings and structural profiles are the only thing I've come up short on when searching for free data or models on the web. Any sources?
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no genius, but here's my view. note: we do not fabricate our parts, so our use of toolbox could/will vary from other users.

we use toolbox as fastener generator (shared toolbox). works well for us. you are correct, smart fasteners aren't that smart. you're better off to create your own stack and then pattern it

not sure on proper way. we issue p/n's to all fasteners except pems (issuing p/n's solves the problem of how to deal with material & finish).
so for pems, we add the custom property (desciption only). the property will be used for that group of pems (e.g standoffs are "standoff, blind, self-clinching"). so you really don't add the property for each size. we use the default config name for p/n. with pems, material and finish is identified by the pem p/n, no need to add these properties.

a) no b) several classes of pems, most notable, panel fasteners & inserts for plastics c) dosen't seem that way

i don't "think" you can add to smart fasteners (we don't use 'em)

a) yes, need matching parallel toolbox 03/03 & 05/05 b) don't remember
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Thanks for the feedback.
Unfortunately, your solution to the custom properties problem won't work for us. glad it works out for you though.
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I'll just add my 2 cents worth here. We don't use Toolbox, but instead have all of our fasteners as read-only files on the Z: drive. That way we all just reference the existing models. Separate part files for GR5, GR8, Nuts, Washers, etc. all built with design tables. Those items don't change and are always there.
WT

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have
Nuts,
Likewise, but we still use the ToolBox browser for selection. Gives everyone a visual (GR8 are red, GR5 are blue) and you don't have to know the part number to get the fasteners. We used the "add my parts wizard" - makes for a pretty slick interface.
Richard
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Ah, Toolbox. This is my favorite rant. In my last job I was CAD Admin among other things, and I tried to get my money back for Toolbox. If you like, you can do a search for other posts of mine about Toobox to get some specifics I may leave out in this one.
My first comment is that Toolbox really isn't a "Library" as such. It's more of a configurator. You tell it what you want, it looks in a database, and it creates it if it can. That sounds nice, but what it means is that you are looking for a LIBRARY and SW offers a PROGRAM. There is a big difference, since using a LIBRARY is something brainless that everyone knows instinctively how to do, but the PROGRAM has *a lot* of nuances that you don't know about until you've lost a fair amount of work.

There is a way to get custom property information into Toolbox parts, but it is on a size-by-size basis. You can add drop down lists for custom properties, but again, there is no way to mass paint properties like you might be tempted to do in a design table. Assuming you use configurations, you could make every size of every part you are going to use, and then auto-create a design table and populate things that way, but that's a lot of work.

SF only works with screws, afaik. The mate references on the dowel pins all seem to be on chamfered or tapered surfaces, which is quirky to be sure, but it still works. It only gives you a concentric relation, you have to establish the depth yourself. Diamond pins, circlips, material / finish are the things that I would miss most if I used it. Also, if you use metric, there is a smaller selection of hardware.

No. Not now.

Toolbox, despite (or possibly because of) a truly heroic effort by developers, has massive problems with sharing data between users, especially remote users. This is a complicated issue. The worst part of it is that it is the PROGRAM part of TB that creates the complication. Using a LIBRARY should be brainless, right?
Here's the deal:
- TB installs out of the box in such a way that every part only has a Default configuration, which is usually the biggest size available.
- All of the size information for all the parts is contained in a 50 Mb database
- New configs are created as you ask for them, pulling data from the DB to size the part
- If you send your assembly without your TB parts, and you are using configs, the other end may not have the same sizes created, and if so, will get the "Huge Screws" or Default configs. This happens very frequently to TB users sharing files. Even TB users on the same network. If you send your TB parts, you have to make sure that the other end knows how to make sure that SW uses your parts instead of their parts.
- If you make a mistake when upgrading and overwrite your TB parts with the configurations, you've got to go back through and create all the configs again.
And then there's the issue of sharing the TB parts on a network... SW has done a better job of documenting this with 2005, but you have to wonder why using this LIBRARY is such a forbidding task.
Setting up Toolbox is not a 5 minute task. First, you either have to have made the mistakes already and learned from it, usually from Tech Support, or you have to know someone who has made the mistakes. Now lets say you use a PDM application... another new set of considerations...
Anyway, if you use Toolbox, the Configurations are all but unusable. You should use the "Copy Parts" setting, so that each size creates a uniquely named part.
Better still is to use your own library which has custom properties and materials, and part numbers, and descriptions, all of which are necessary for the data to be useful.
As for Smart Fasteners, I only use it when using Series Holes. If that's the only thing you're giving up by using a home grown library, then I'd consider the time invested in building the library a bargain.
matt
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Thanks for taking the time to write all this out. You've confirmed a lot of what I was beginning to suspect, and pointed up a few other issues.

I think these 3 items are the big killers for TB. I agree, using a library should be brainless. I see no reason (as a user) for this to be so complicated. I had a quick look at other libraries listed as SW partners, and they all seem to have stopped development since TB was bought by SW. I guess they gave up. Does anyone use them?
So it seems that the primary value of TB is the content, which comes with the baggage of its implementation. Has the content been expanding over the years? Some obvious, clearly standardized components such as o-rings are missing. Why is that?

I wasn't aware, or didn't notice that option. Thanks for pointing it out.

That's the conclusion I'm leaning towards.

This is basically what we've always done. Right now, it looks like we need to weigh the content we don't already have and Smart Fasteners against the cost and the 3 killers mentioned above. It doesn't look good for TB.
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I thought I was the only one.
BTW, I think Matt has written a small tome on this matter of setting up toolbox. I used it when setting up a small company that also had PDMWorks. It was real hard keeping the Toolbox parts out of the vault too because of user error.
matt wrote:

--
Node news is good news.

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