I work for the family business. We manufacture recumbent trikes. I will be
learning Cad and am right now sourcing out the right kind of program for me. If
I want to create 3d drawings of our trike, is Solidworks the right program for
me? Thanks so much.
Swx does 3d tubing pretty well without too bad of a learning curve. I
designed custom Harley frames for a while, and swx did well. I think HD
uses Pro-E, I believe. The comparisons of software are a lengthy subject.
For a new seat, I think your main consideration should be compatibility with
the most designers and suppliers that you deal with.
Here's a link to an image of a routine tube frame.
I did a lean steer recumbent tadpole trike for a guy many years ago,
when I could barely SPELL SolidWorks, and it worked very well for me. It
used bent tubes, sheetmetal gussets, machined front hubs...
You will indeed find that such a post can bring out the trolls.
I like Bill's statement that you first look at what your other
suppliers and designers use, as that can help a lot in using native
files, rather than neutral import solids IGES or others.
If you send out for CNC tube bending, it would be nice to be able to
send a native file to your bender.
Since you will want to work with occassional designers, for hot jobs or
when you need to add another employee, you would like a 3D package that
has enough users in your area to have access to a reasonable supply of
There is no doubt SolidWorks is relatively easy to learn the basics,
and even learn them on your own with the tutorials and sample parts,
and that it is a good stable piece of software, and SolidWorks hasn't
"totally revamped" the interface and confuses its customers over the
years (not since I've had it since 2000).
Some users will bitch at the latest release and cite a bug, but I doubt
there is a piece of software out there without numbers of bugs. Just
the world we live in. SolidWorks does seem to get better each year.
Basic FEA stress analysis with built in CosmosWorks is part of the
SolidWorks package and that may also be desirable for the analysis of
stresses in frames for improving your designs.
SolidWorks has nearly 500,000 seats sold. I do not think I would like
to buy something with say 50,000 seats sold and not have as active a
base of users and 3rd party application add-ons.
Unfortunately, I don't know anyone that designs trikes or bikes, but I do
know people successfully using SolidWorks in a wide variety of industries.
SolidWorks is a quite versatile CAD tool that doesn't require many separate
Add-Ins to be useful. As it concerns your industry, the only specific
example I know of is the television series American Chopper. The designers
on that series use SolidWorks as their main CAD tool. I generally don't
watch the series, but I know the guys that make all of the computers for
that motorcycle shop (Orange County Choppers, OCC) and they tell me about
the CAD tools, etc. Due to their success, OCC is very well funded and they
could afford more expensive CAD tools. Nonetheless, they continue to use
SolidWorks and are apparently very happy with the results.
Unrelated to what CAD OC Choppers use, and the TV series, I have had
fathers comment their kids like the show, but note that the show spends
too much time on the people, and for the kids that watch they say they
would like to see far more of the machines and tools, including CAD
that are used, such that young kids see far more of how things work
"behind the scenes", as we say.
I have to agree with that opinion.
Kids today rarely see how machinery and manufacturing processes work.
Although I don't watch American Chopper, I fully agree with this opinion. I
have noted that many people (particularly younger children) are very
interested in how things work, how things are made, etc. Unfortunately,
many television shows spend very little time on such topics.
While I am sure that SW does have the features you would need and much
more, I would also certainly check out if you can get by on a less
expensive package. Alibre Design is one commonly mentioned one. Maybe
even a $100 package like TurboCAD will do it for you. You give up a lot
of features, but if you don't need the features of SW, then it is not
Be sure to figgure in the cost and time for training... SW is a deep
program that is not learned quickly. Every company needs at least one
expert who knows the program well enough to make sure the program is
used correctly, and to troubleshoot problems.
I haven't seen the show, but I definitely agree that many kids are naturally
interested in seeing how stuff gets made. I run a small CNC machine shop,
and from time to time run get to give 4-year old MacGregor (and his
grandmother) the "nickel tour"...completely fun for all involved! We'll see
what's running on one of the VMC's, which seems interesting 'cause it's
"totally automatic", then we'll horse around with a lathe & mill, or hack up
some stock on the saw. Souvenirs generally include old/dull endmills or
drills, or something from the chip barrels. I've always been amazed at how
fascinated people are with the shapes of the various chips....
I can't remember the name of the program (something like "take your
son/daughter to work day"), but it seems like a great idea in this
ever-more-technically-involved time. It seems like a good thing when you can
make the connection between the objects in our lives and how they got to be
what they are, and I think it gives kids the idea that they can actually do
something interesting and fun for "work."
Consider hiring a SolidWorks Consultant to create a SolidWorks Project of
one of your products. Ask them to create the files in-house so you can watch
the files being created. Some Consultants also teach users how to use
SolidWorks. When this pilot Project is complete, you can view the 3-D files
and print Drawings using the free SolidWorks Viewers.
Follow this link to see a list of Consultants and companies that use
SolidWorks in your area;