I'm new in Solidworks and I would like to know if it is powerful enough to
design complex objects such as bottles.
I made some tutorials and the program looks really great and easy to learn.
No problem to draw a round bottle, for example.
But when I'm trying to draw more complex things, such like handle design or
an engraved text on a round surface, it looks a little bit limitated. But
maybe it's because I don't have much experience ?
Does somebody have experience in this field ?
Thanks for your answers,
If it's curvy stuff you are looking to design rather than prismatic
parts, you need to come to grips with.
1/ Surface modelling
4/ Wrap for text on your curved surfaces
The Dimonte group has tutorials on surfacing, well worth a look.
http://www.dimontegroup.com/Tutorials.htm (their server wasn't
responding when I checked the link a few minutes ago)
Do a search on google within this group on surface modelling.
In particular, look at Curvy Stuff 201, where Ed goes through the steps to
model a bottle with handle. If you like what you see there, then I suggest
you download all of the Curvy Stuff tutorials and work through them in
order. If at all possible, go to SolidWorks World and take in the Ed Eaton
and Mark Biasotti sessions.
Tripod Data Systems
"take the garbage out, dear"
I am going to be outrageous here and suggest that what Ed Eaton does is
compensate well for the limitations of SW tools by intelligent 'hacks'.
To my mind SW still doesn't have a really articulate way of forming complex
Sure you can cut it around and patch all over the place but manhandling the
underlying geometry is stiff and awkward and there is inevitably the odd
transitional bump between surfaces at the end of it...
If you do a lot of surfacing that has a need for sweet tangencies, creases
and the like SW may not have enough everyday power for you - although it is
slowly improving with each release. If you want to stay with SW an add on in
the form of Shapeworks or Surfaceworks may be a good compromise to improve
Interesting comments, for 99% of what I do SolidWorks works very well.
Surfacing with SolidWorks is somewhat clunky (or maybe that is just my
ability or lack there of).
I'm wondering what you use for surfacing?
Do you surface in another package and then bring surface models back
into SolidWorks for detailing etc?
The thought of surfacing in another package sounds tempting if it's more
user friendly but loosing the parametric data by having a dumb solid in
the tree is concerning.
ShapeWorks looks good - I downloaded a trial some years ago. My thoughts
at the time was it was a little over priced and seemed to lack
parametric links to the rest of model. Note this was some time ago it
may have changed and my memory of its usefulness may be a little blurred.
Surfaceworks seems powerful but clunkier than general surfacing in
I would be grateful if someone using either SurfaceWorks or ShapeWorks
could post a review of their experiences.
I used Surfaceworks for 3 years (1999-2002) to accomplish what was required
in electronics packaging/consumer product design It is a very powerful tool
for creating "associative" curves, points, surfaces etc. It is very
interactive in that you can pull on a point curve etc. and have the surface
follow live. This is great for ID.
for US$999 standalone you can't beat the power (better than rhino for
geometry creation), however I feel the additional US$2K for the SolidWorks
connection is overpriced.
The interface is a little overwhelming at first, but once you understand 4
basic concepts it is an easy tool to use. The only thing I would use it for
at this time would be to create "developable" sheetmetal patterns. Used in
the metal ship/boat industry. (and some architectural Design)
I stopped using Surfaceworks when I could generate the same geometry with
SolidWorks alone. This was a more lengthy process to create the same
associative surface models however the backend gains of having a production
ready solid were greater than the losses.
If you would like more info let me know, and I'll elaborate further.
ps. IMHO Shapeworks is not a production tool and creates geometries that
are less than desirable.
Thanks for posting that, whoever you are. I thought I was the only one
who believed that. SurfaceWorks certainly is under rated by most people
who aren't familiar with it. ShapeWorks is certainly over rated by most
people who aren't familiar with it. If I had easy access to it, I'm
sure I would use SurfaceWorks for design even now. You just can't
replace the ability to push and pull points on a grid and watch a whole
face update live in front of you. I think the concepts of magnets,
rings, and snakes are extremely intuitive after the first hour of
working with it.
As for the earlier comments from another poster about "intelligent
hacks", well, I don't think that poster could be more wrong. Until
product design and engineering is done by a computer without human
intervention, there will always be the need for operators to possess
"skill" and use "techniques", which are primarily what Ed shows. The
lack of a "do my work for me" button in SolidWorks is what allows me to
still make a living. If it were as easy as pushing a button, anyone
could do it.
It has nothing to do with skill or application matt, it's about making do
with the available tools. Ed does surgery on his models to arrive at an
acceptable result. Look at the patchwork quilts on some of his models - it
is apparent it is a time consuming and compromised process.
In comparison take a look at Alias Studio Tools and try telling me that
isn't a much more powerful program. Try producing something like an auto
body in SW - very difficult to get something that you have control over...
Very much the contrary, it has everything to do with skill. I have been
asked to remodel in SolidWorks models originally created in Alias,
Catia, Pro/E and UG, all of which are more sophisticated than SolidWorks
in surfacing, but the models I received were pretty poor. The models
finished in SolidWorks were improvements on the originals. The tools
are only as good as the hands they are in.
And what isn't?
Alias is more powerful in many respects, but the last time I tried to do
much in solids in Alias, I switched back to SW in a hurry. For what I
do, the benefit I get in surfacing doesn't pay for the hassle in the
engineering type work.
Plus, Alias has a unique way of looking at model history which leaves
some aspects of what you do less flexible than you might hope.
Try to model a functional latch in Alias with sheet metal, cast parts,
get CG info, do a quick stress analysis and then do drawings. Choose
your tools and then get good at them.
What pretentious self satisfied rot matt.
SW has real limitations for complex surfacing and you know it.
How do you produce something with C2 continuities throughout or variable
creases - not easy is it? Can you pull the shapes around like putty and not
'break' relations and conditions?
Obviously the models you recreated were fairly simple...I guess any
improvement can be made on something that is pretty poor to begin
with....and nothing in this thread asked if Alias could do sheetmetal...what
relevance is that?
Shapeworks and Surfaceworks were raised as possible enhancements to SW
native tools and even you agreed the later has worth....
Are you really telling me that Catia, Pro/E and UG are a waste of time and
that SW is all we really need??
Yes, I know the potholes and techniques to acheive what I need to do.
I wouldn't call it easy, but it's not impossible.
They weren't what I call simple.
I assume you're talking about the suitability of tools to do product
design. A lot of products including bottles require drawings and have
non-plastic components, or are created by molds, or require packaging,
or require volume or weight information. Alias has a pretty narrow
focus. If you use it, you probably use something else to things it
doesn't do or doesn't do well. I chose to learn one tool that allows me
to do a range of tasks relatively easily.
That would be a pretty severe misreading of what I wrote. My point of
view is that the tools are far less important than the skills of the
person using the tools. Using Alias or Catia doesn't make anyone an
instant product design wizard. Nor does using SolidWorks exclude anyone
from doing good design.
SurfaceWorks is a ground up geometry creation tool that allows the user to
maintain associativity and design intent.
Shapeworks is more of a back end geometry modification tool. (not that this
isn't sometimes the most cost effective way to reach a goal)
I usually approach a product design with an underlying skeleton of
geometries. Then build up from there. This approach gives me the most
robust model while capturing design intent and facilitating modification.
Wether I use SolidWorks or Alias depends on the goals for a given project.
For instance, I recently had to generate a series of handbags with different
textures, textiles, and shapes. On one hand I could create the geometry
faster in Alias (or Rhino or Surfaceworks) but on the other hand I could get
a functioning parametric model in Solidworks without too much added effort.
In this case I used Solidworks to build surface models then thickened the
fabrics into solid sheets. This allowed me to create stitching, pockets,
edge piping, etc, while still being able to Open and close the bags as well
as unfold and fold the bi-folds.
If I had used Alias I would have had to remodel the bags to show them
opened. (not a big deal after copying the geometry and recreating some
Either way I would get the Job done, I just needed to decide what was best
for me at the time.
In another case (and most cases for that matter) I had to create an assembly
of plastic parts including battery door with snap and overmolded parts.
This was definitely going to require 3D solid Models without surface errors.
In this case SolidWorks was the obvious choice, because even though the up
front modelling takes a bit more time and setup the data is robust,
parametric and immediately manufacturable.
If we use alias to create surface models for ID we then import those
surfaces and make 3D solids within Solidworks. Due to the difficulties in
maintaining moldability in Alias we rebuild the surfaces inside Solidworks
to be able to control draft, tangency, curvature continuity etc. Going to
manufacture with Alias models directly, proves itself time and time again to
be a costly venture.
I agree that surfacing in Alias, Surfaceworks, Rhino, etc. is faster and
easier than SolidWorks. However with the goal of product development in
mind, Solidworks is a much better choice.
For Concept and Mockup Alias is faster and gives you more flexibility.
However I do not feel that it is fast enough nor flexibile enough to build
first article ID models. In order to free our minds to create ID models we
build with our hands using pencil, pen, clay, foam etc. then we go to CAD.
Alias, Solidworks, Whatever.
So with all this in mind, SolidWorks is usually the better choice for us.
If you have time can an you briefly relate some detail of those experiences
for us please.
-some more questions -
When you use SW are you limiting yourselves to shapes and forms you know
will work fairly directly with your base skeleton or do you try to create as
freely as you would do in Alias? Are you happy with the finished product
originating in SW from an artistic sense?
Much as I admire Ed's pursuit of fair surfaces I try not to get myself into
geometry that generates patching and curvature comb fretting as a matter of
course...however sometimes I am stymied by tangency issues in SW and I wish
for improvements. Do you think tangency/continuity control is lacking or is
there some other aspect of SW or the interface that limits or obstructs your
thanks for any comment
Thank you for your interest.
As I stated before we try not to let the CAD system define the design. We
do everything we can to create whatever shapes our minds can dream up before
ever going near a CAD system.
Once we get a design that we like, we have to decide what tools are best
used to get the result we are looking for.
Alias, Rhino, and some other Surface native packages, though very powerful
for visualization are not limited (good and bad) to creating robust
geometries. These systems by nature have freedoms that can come back and
create difficulties during manufacturing and assembly, as well as drawing
We have to weigh the cost of the downstream issues against the benefit of
speed and "agility". Sometimes we do go the route of using a surface
modeler, however those models usually only exist as surfaces. We most
likely do not try and create production ready drawings, assemblies, BOM etc
from any surface models. Sometimes quick concepts require quick surface
models to render in different colors textures etc. this works well. We do
not try and import models from surfacers into SolidWorks.
Normally in a production environment we are better off spending more time
creating SolidWorks surfaces than trying to deal with the downstream
pitfalls of a surface "only" modeler.
We do not in any way compromise our designs with the CAD tool. There isn't
anything we cannot create with SolidWorks. We have a vision and stick with
that vision (Graphics Design Pictures, ID foams or Clays) throughout the
It is very important to build quickly through many iterations of models to
come up with the best way to build the geometries required. You cannot be
tied to any process. You have to be extremely flexible in how you use the
tools that are available, and be ready to ditch your efforts and start over.
In any project I might create 20 to 50 attempts before deciding on the
methods that go to production. This is the only way to ensure that your
design intent is being captured not crippled.
It is this flexibility that is portrayed in the tutorials and demonstrations
of Ed Eaton and Mark Bioscotti as well as many others. I do not agree with
everything that Ed and Mark come up with but agree with their efforts 100%.
There are no perfect tools, or perfect processes, but there are great tools
and processes that work for a wide range of geometries.
We do our best to capture the original style and design intent of every
product we create. No matter what tools you use, you have to be creative.
The tools cannot limit your designs, nor can they create for you.
This is why we are designers.
Please feel free to post any other questions, and I'll do my best to answer
them in a timely fashion.
ok well I take a slightly different approach -
I pay attention to what I know works quite well and quickly in SW - if I
know a particular solution takes many hours to set up and many to refine and
is liable to break if there are revisions I don't go there. - I think I can
still produce something quite pleasing without fussing and pampering it to
death as a 'designer' - I am not sure that in the end the customer really
benefits or indeed notices anyway....they soon become aware of any
functional or technical deficiencies after the eye candy stage passes.
Indeed some people are resistant to over designed products and 'organic'
forms... and not just salt of the earth 'engineers' either.
For instance a cell phone may appeal to someone's visual taste and it may
come in a very smart box but any savvy customer these days will be looking
on the internet for reviews and opinions before they buy...and despite that
if they go to the shop and find they can't press the little buttons easily
on the demo well it really doesn't matter about the finer points of shape
and texture or the studio shots on the glossy advertising circular...
I use common sense to screen out stupid notions before they even get onto
paper as concepts - I don't see the point of exploring 50 options if you are
aware only 5 are actually going to be practical from past experience - an
amusement for me is to look at car designers sketches and know almost all of
their doodles are never going to see the light of day....
Perhaps I am unusual here in this I just think it is a mistake to force a
design onto a product merely because it is important for a 'designer' to
have defined everything about it.
So I do compromise what I do as a matter of course and let the tools limit
my designs - you have to actually know if a machine tool can make something
that is on the screen....
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