» How to Choose a CAD Environment
Joined: 05 May 2021
Posted: 2022-09-08 02:46
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How to Choose a CAD Environment
It can be tempting to select a piece of CAD software based on features that have a certain appeal or novelty value. However, it is paramount to evaluate whether those features are indeed game-changers, radical innovations, or only incremental improvements of marginal value.To get more news about
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Being able to meet the required complexity of your product is of vital importance for the virtual workspace you choose. Will your product involve advanced surfacing such as curvature blends, surface flattening for soft goods, or patterning features such as graded transitions? Will it need advanced features for wall thickening, parametric control over all dimensions, or advanced assembly design for 100+ parts?
In adding CAD tools to the development pipeline, do not underestimate file format compatibility. In case of a mismatch, it can take a while to make sure nothing is lost between formats.
Second, examine the complexity required for the entire work process further down the line beyond part design. Will the program be used only for technical conversions of concept drawings done on paper, or also for creative explorations itself? Will mechanical analyses be required towards production? Will the company produce several releases of the same product, or similar products in the same family that share the same parts? Will parts require radical revisions that require control of the entire history tree? Is there an opportunity for cloud storage or network rendering, or will everything rely on local servers and workstations? How often will you need to 3D print prototypes or end-use parts?
It is best to evaluate a trial version of the software for several weeks before making a purchasing decision. This allows you to check how heavy the software gets on the computer’s CPU and GPU, if it is robust enough or still contains bugs, even leading to crashes, as well as how file management will work.
Then, check if the software is a standard part of the local educational curriculum. If the design or engineering team in the company is most likely unfamiliar with the software, consider if the user interface is intuitive enough for them to go through a short learning curve and rapidly be able to step in on projects. Is the GUI customizable for meeting the needs of beginners as well as expert users and providing instant shortcuts to the most used commands?
And lastly, since advanced CAD systems are increasingly expensive, it is in some cases worth considering some free or affordable alternatives. DesignSpark is a free alternative to AutoCAD. Instead of ZBrush, there is the free ZBrushCoreMini and Sculptris. Blender is entirely free and produces results on par with Maya and 3D Studio Max, and if that is too complicated, Wings3D is an easy-to-learn and equally free polygonal modeler. SolidEdge is a simplified derivative of NX, while SolidWorks, although less advanced and comprehensive, works just as well as CATIA in many cases. FreeCAD is free of charge, open-source, and a great start for those wanting to dive into feature-based modeling.
The first five scores pertain mostly to feature depth and robustness for each modeling style. Versatility is based on the number of different use cases and fields of application a program has. Scalability means the ability to handle different types of models from concept to manufacturing phase, to manage complex assemblies, and to set up entire product lines with interlinked parts and documents. UX combines the user-friendliness of the GUI and difficulty to learn.
SelfCAD is a basic in-browser direct modeling environment for those wanting to get their feet wet in 3D. It offers multiple options for starting objects that the user can then modify, sculpt, or combine with other objects. SelfCAD allows some parametric control through sketching and extruding, revolving, or lofting these sketches. SVG images can be imported for custom extrusions. Details such as roundovers and chamfers can be added to individual edges in a fairly intuitive user interface with tutorial videos ready at hand.
The free version includes a basic set of modeling and sculpting tools, MyMiniFactory database integration, and a rendering engine for semi-professional visualizations. The paid version costs $140/year or $599 for a perpetual license and includes mesh modifiers, 3D sketching, file import/export, basic animation, ImageTo3D, and 3D printing support.
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