Project00: CAD Packages Survey

Project00: CAD Packages Survey

Recommendations on which CAD Software to Purchase for FrogiePrice Inc.


Table of Contents:

1                Introduction.

2                CAD Software.

2.1             AutoCAD 2009.

2.2             Inventor 2009.

2.3             TurboCAD Pro 15 Platinum Edition.

2.4             SolidWorks.

2.5             Pro/Engineer.

3                Conclusion.

4                References.

(Word and PDF files of this also attached)


1         Introduction


FrogiePrice Inc is currently looking to purchase CAD software for the company.  Our goal is to be able to be able to quickly deliver new and safe toys to the market.  We must purchase new CAD software to keep up with the rapid pace of new products being released by our competitors.  This software needs to be state of the art, easy to use, and efficient in the design process for new toys.  This survey will observe some of our best options, covering 5 currently available software packages on the market.

2         CAD Software

2.1       AutoCAD 2009


Autodesk first came out with AutoCAD in 1982.  It is used to make 2D and 3D drawings and drafting.  This software was one of the first CAD programs to run on personal computers.  Autodesk has had a lot of time to improve their product, and they have a lot of experience in the field as well.

AutoCAD 2009 redid their interface and added new tools.  They did it in a fashion to make it familiar to old users and easier to pick up for new users.  One new tool they added is the Autodesk ViewCube.  This allows the user to rotate and orient any solid they are working on.  All they have to do is either click on the surface or edge they want to see, or click and hold to rotate the solid.  This tool will now be common for working with 3D models (auto).  This makes it much easier to rotate the solid to view what you want to see.  However, AutoCAD 2009 still doesn’t have some of the more superior capabilities of solid modeling applications.

The DWG file format is still the same as former AutoCAD products, so opening old files in AutoCAD 2009 and vice versa won’t be a hassle.  The DWG file format can also be opened in Autodesk’s industry specific programs.

Since FrogiePrice Inc is looking into switching over to Windows Vista, compatibility with Vista is also a concern.  Fortunately, AutoCAD 2009 will work fine in Vista.

As far as ease of use, there are tutorials and self-paced training sessions available online.  It would have been nice to have some basic tutorials incorporated within the program.

The price of AutoCAD 2009 is $3995.00.


2.2       Inventor 2009


Autodesk came out with Inventor in 1999.  It has come a long way in the past 10 years, after 12 new versions of this software.  The version we are looking at is Inventor 2009 “Tesla.”

Inventor uses more complex parametric modeling than AutoCAD.  While making models, the actual manufacturing process is observed (i.e. Extrusions).  Inventor allows you to make parts separately, then mate parts and other assemblies to your final assembly.  This process helps keep your models organized, and stay truer to manufacturing processes.

Inventor also now incorporates the “automatic creation of intelligent components such as steel frames, rotating machinery, tube and pipe runs, electrical cables, and wire harnesses.”  This is useful for modeling the inner-workings of complex toys FrogiePrice Inc will design in the future.

Some new very valuable features are the motion simulation and stress analysis.  This allows us to predict how the product (toys in this case) will react in conditions it might be subjected to.  FrogiePrice Inc will be able to determine if a product will be unsafe for children via stress analysis before it is even built.

The files are all DWF in Inventor.  This makes it very easy to open and manipulate AutoCAD files, as well as other Autodesk files.  Another thing made simple, is the upgrade from AutoCAD to Inventor.

Autodesk tried to make their other programs somewhat similar to AutoCAD so their users are somewhat familiar with the functions.  This provides an easy transition to this software.  For beginners, there are basic tutorials online, and more advanced tutorials that can be purchased for about $60.00. 

Inventor will cost $5295.00.  It is compatible with both Microsoft XP and Vista.


2.3       TurboCAD Pro 15 Platinum Edition


IMSI/Design was created in 1983.  It didn’t come out with TurboCAD until the late 80’s.  IMSI/Design then broadened their modeling software to FloorPlan and DesignCAD in the early 90s.

The Mechanical Edition for TurboCAD Pro 15 has a number of very useful tools included in the package.  It comes with “enhanced 3D design tools for facet editing, lofting, bending and unbending of objects, and expanded D-Cubed constraints.”  Additionally, TurboCAD Pro 15 is compatible with almost 40 CAD and Graphic file formats (including DWG drawings from AutoCAD), making it extremely adaptable.

A number of new tools have been added to the software.  There is now an unbend option for sheet metal bodies.  They also added an unfold tool for cylindrical, cone, planar, and NURB faces.  This will be very useful in the design of new toys.  Another beneficial action IMSI/Design made is they added over 300 new materials.  Many of these materials are eco friendly which great because FrogiePrice Inc is making steps toward becoming more green.

TurboCAD Pro 15 is compatible with Windows Vista and XP.  They offer training packages, but this is an additional $49.95 charge.  They don’t have many online tutorials because they want you to purchase the training package.  This is still a reasonable price comparatively.

The price of TurboCAD Pro 15 Mechanical Edition is $1395.00, so it would be worth the $100 upgrade to get the Platinum Edition with its new special features for $1495.00.


2.4       SolidWorks


SolidWorks was founded in December of 1993.  They introduced the first 3D CAD software available for a native Windows environment. 

Their user share consists of more than 750000 product designers and engineers around the world.  The demand for SolidWorks skills is more than double of other design applications and still growing.

SolidWorks first came out with eDrawings, which is the first email-enabled design communication tool.  You can just download the plug-in to view drawings without ever installing SolidWorks.  This is extremely useful for sharing ideas and designs.

SolidWorks operates just as Inventor and Pro/E do.  The user constructs numerous parts independently of one another through extrusions.  Later on, the user mates the parts previously designed to build an assembly, and can further put other parts with other assemblies. 

One helpful SolidWorks feature is the DWGeditor.  This feature allows designers to read and edit DWG files, and create 3D CAD files from native DWG files.  This makes it very compatible with other CAD programs such as AutoCAD and Inventor.  You can also make a 2D “sketch” of a 3D model by clicking a button.  It will give you the desired front, top, and side views of the object.

There are design validation tools built in to SolidWorks to subject your designs to the conditions they will experience in the real world.  Another wonderful tool built into SolidWorks are the tutorials.  There are many tutorials included with the software covering the basics of building individual parts, to putting all the parts together into a complex assembly.

SolidWorks is compatible with Windows XP and Vista.  It will cost $4495.00.

2.5       Pro/Engineer


Pro/E was created in the mid 80s by Parametric Technology Corporation.  Their first release of the program was in 1988.  It is a 3D CAD modeling software used to design solid models.  Right now, Pro/E’s user share is more than 35,000 customers.  Some large companies that use Pro/E in their everyday design are John Deere and Stanley.

Some nice features of Pro/E include rapid prototyping, and finite element analysis.  A product’s entire Bill of Materials can be put on there as well.  Pro/E also gives you geometry previews so you can visualize changes before actually making them.  There are many different modules for Pro/E as well.  This allows the customer to tailor the software to their needs.  Some modules, such as Pro/SURFACE and Pro/SHEETMETAL have been incorporated into the basic Pro/E software.  FrogiePrice Inc could incorporate a module such as Pro/MOLDDESIGN to help design plastic toys.

Another new feature that could aid FrogiePrice Inc greatly is the now quick electromechanical design and collaboration that allows automatic ribbon cable creation.  This also helps minimize errors between mechanical and electrical design.  This would help with the design of almost any toy with any electronics whatsoever.

In 2002, Wildfire, a new version of Pro/E was released.  This new version changed the graphical user interface from a text based menu to one that includes pull down menus and graphical icons.  This helped make using Pro/E an easier, more efficient process.  Pro/E is also based on Windows standards so it will be more familiar and simpler to pick up for new users.  There are tutorials available online, and you can purchase student books.

Pro/E mimicked SolidWorks’ eViewer with Product View Express.  It does the same basic thing – allows others to view the models drawn without actually having Pro/E installed.

Pro/E is compatible with Linux, a few UNIX variants, Windows XP, and Windows Vista.  It costs $1900.00.

3         Conclusion


After doing the survey of some of the leading CAD software on the market, I feel we should invest in SolidWorks.  Although it is a bit on the pricy side, it is the software we should buy here at FrogiePrice Inc.  Solidworks has consistently been the 3D modeling software that employers seek most in job postings.  And like I said earlier, the demand for SolidWorks skills is more than double of other design applications.  The prestigious school, MIT, teaches their students how to do 3D design using SolidWorks.

Additionally, I keep hearing of the transition to SolidWorks from other programs such as AutoCAD.  It appears that a lot of companies are leaning towards SolidWorks as their main CAD software.  I feel it is a good idea to be a part of this trend because SolidWorks is on its way to becoming the standard for CAD software.  This is for a number of reasons.

SolidWorks is extremely user friendly.  The tutorials are very basic and built right in to the program.  They give you step by step instructions, covering all the important tools to understand how to operate the program.  The tutorials are easy to locate, allow you to discern the pace and depth you go, and you don’t have to go online to search for them.

AutoCAD is now a thing of the past.  It doesn’t match up to some of the superior modeling capabilities exhibited in other programs.  TurboCAD just performs the basic operations necessary, and FrogiePrice Inc need software that will do more.  Inventor is definitely a great program, but the price difference between that and SolidWorks doesn’t match up with function.

Pro/E was a close second, so if you cannot justify the price for SolidWorks, I would recommend Pro/E.  Both programs have wonderful functions.  The main reason for swaying towards SolidWorks was how easy it is to use.  I came across complaints about the switch over for the graphical interface for Pro/E.  It seems SolidWorks is more user-friendly, which increases the efficiency of drawings being finished.

At RIT, I did a research experience working in a Mechanical Engineering Lab dedicated to producing a constant axial flow artificial heart pump.  They did all their drawings for something as important as an artificial heart pump using SolidWorks.

An impressive accessory the artificial heart pump lab at RIT had for SolidWorks was something known as a 3D Connexion.  It is compatible with most CAD software.  I strongly recommend purchasing this tool along with SolidWorks for FrogiePrice Inc.  The 3D Connexion allows the user to do all the drawing with one hand, while doing all the view and orientation changes in the other.  This allows for less thought interruption, and less work done with one hand.  They claim this increases productivity by more than 20%, and decreases mouse usage by more than 50%.  You can get the 3D Connexion for $59.00.  The 3D Connexion is a valuable asset to help complement SolidWorks, and increase our efficiency here at FrogiePrice Inc. 

4         References


“About Us.”  IMSI/Design.  1 Sept. 2008.


“AutoCAD.”  Autodesk.  1 Sept. 2008.


“AutoCAD.”  Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  1 Sept. 2008.


“Autodesk Inventor.”  Autodesk.  1 Sept. 2008.


“Autodesk Inventor.”  Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  1 Sept. 2008.



“Integrated 3D CAD/CAM/CAE Solutions for Any Size Design Challenge.”  PTC.  1 Sept. 2008.



“ProEngineer.”  Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  1 Sept. 2008.


 “SolidWorks.”  SolidWorks.  1 Sept. 2008.


“The Ultimate Resource for Pro/Engineer.”  Pro/Engineer.  1 Sept. 2008.


“TurboCAD.”  IMSI/Design.  1 Sept. 2008.


“Why SolidWorks.”  SolidWorks.  1 Sept. 2008.


Mike Meller,
Sep 3, 2008, 12:15 PM
Mike Meller,
Sep 3, 2008, 12:15 PM