Solidworks : powerful enough to design bottles ?

Hi,
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,
Paul
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Paul wrote:

If it's curvy stuff you are looking to design rather than prismatic parts, you need to come to grips with.
1/ Surface modelling 2/ Lofting 3/ Sweeps 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.
John Layne www.solidengineering.co.nz
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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.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
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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 surfaces. 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 its workability.
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neil wrote:

Hi Neil,
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 SolidWorks.
I would be grateful if someone using either SurfaceWorks or ShapeWorks could post a review of their experiences.
Regards John Layne www.solidengineering.co.nz
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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.
Regards,
Cadguru
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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.
matt
says...

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Call it what you like,
I make a good living at "hacking" up products on a daily basis.
Cadguru
Thanks for your support Matt.

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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...
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says...

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.
Matt
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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??
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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.
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ok so elaborate further...and what makes Shapeworks unsatisfactory?
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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 curves)
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.
Thanks,
Cadguru

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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 ID work?
thanks for any comment neil
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Neil,
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 creation.
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 production process.
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.
Thank you,
Cadguru

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This has been a very interesting discussion. Does your company have a web site or web based portfolio. I'd love to see some images of your products.
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http://www.productcreationstudio.com
Adam Smith aka Cadguru Mechanical Designer SolidWorks User Since 11/20/95

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Really Nice. Thank you.

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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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