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Project 00 Report Project 00 Report Document Transcript

  • Project 00 MAE 377 There is an overload of competition in the engineering drawing software market. In order to better pick a suitable package, I strove to compare five like programs; these are my findings. Jonathan Jones September 10, 2009
  • Table of Contents 1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 3 2. Project Requirements ........................................................................................................................... 3 3. CAD Software Programs ........................................................................................................................ 3 3.1. ProEngineering Enterprise XE ....................................................................................................... 3 3.2. SolidWorks Premium..................................................................................................................... 4 3.3. TurboCAD 16 Platinum Edition ..................................................................................................... 5 3.4. Google SketchUp Pro 7 ................................................................................................................. 6 3.5. AutoDesk – AutoCAD .................................................................................................................... 7 4. Discussion.............................................................................................................................................. 8 4.1. ProductView Express versus eDrawings Viewer and Publisher .................................................... 8 4.2. ProE versus the World .................................................................................................................. 9 4.3. Outsourcing, Yay or Nay? ............................................................................................................ 10 4.4. Job Search Report ....................................................................................................................... 10 5. References .......................................................................................................................................... 11 6. Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 11 6.1. The Final Assessment – SolidWorks Premium ............................................................................ 11 2
  • 1. Introduction In my first week of work at FrogiePrice Inc., a very fine and capable toy design company in my wonderful hometown of East Aurora, NY, I have been nothing short of busy. In order to properly improve this company, its workers, and simultaneously save my working skin, I have been tasked with a research project detailing various computer aided design programs of my choice. Ultimately, I need to make a final recommendation to the company, describing which direction I think FrogiePrice should go with the future of its CAD program. Wish me luck. 2. Project Requirements In the following report I will analyze five separate CAD programs, detailing the various pros and cons of each package. I will go into their specific features, cost, compatibility with third party software, ease of use, the availability of help resources, and the user and market growth of each product when available. I will also discuss the similarities between two competing productivity tools, along with our current CAD program ProEngineer compared to the others I researched. Before delineating my final verdict for our future CAD program of choice, I will touch upon some hot-topic issues in the CAD world today and also describe some interesting findings on job search websites. 3. CAD Software Programs 3.1.ProEngineering Enterprise XE Undoubtedly one of the CAD industry’s leaders can be found in Parametric Technology Corporation’s powerful ProEngineering software. Their flagship software package, Pro/ENGINEER Enterprise XE, is a workhorse of a CAD program. An initial overview of Wildfire 4.0’s capabilities and features make it a frontrunner for FrogiePrice. Enterprise XE, and ProEngineer products in general, pride themselves on being a very accessible yet simultaneously in depth CAD program. It has some of the easiest to use two dimensional and three dimensional modeling tools in the market, yet everything from flanges to turbines can be created without much headache. The accuracy of Enterprise XE is outstanding, as everything you draw will be immediately rendered into photorealistic models. An integrated method of uploading your projects to 3
  • the internet, along with collaboration tools and concurrent workspaces open up wide avenues for working on a team project from all corners of the globe, a great asset for a nationwide company such as ours. The support system that comes hand in hand with any ProEngineer software package is tough to beat. A quick search on their company website for class training sessions in North and South America yielded 374 classes from September 2009 to January 2010 (“PTC Class Schedule Search” 1). They range in length, topic, and location, making it possible to find a seminar near us for any qualms that may arrive. They also have a fairly substantial technical support section online, including a few tutorials, for any quick questions that don’t need a fully fledged seminar to answer. One of the main selling points for Enterprise XE is the sundry add-ons that you can incorporate into our projects. One of such add-ons is Mathcad, which is a high powered math application which allows for all sorts of predictive engineering and in-program calculations to streamline the process and assure products are designed safely and pass specifications. Mechanica, another add-on, really takes the cake. It can evaluate a model for static structural analyses such as contact, modal frequency, and buckling, and steady state thermal analyses. One final fancy feature is dubbed the Windchill ProjectLink, which is ideally suited for FrogiePrice (“Pro/ENGINEER® Enterprise XE” 2). This online addition allows for team members and clientele alike across the world to concurrently work on a project and save their work in real-time to a secure, Web-based, workspace without missing a beat, a very valuable skill indeed. However, with Enterprise XE starting at just under $25,000 for full ownership, and the lowest end of the ProEngineer line of CAD products $7995, is the price really worth the perks? 3.2.SolidWorks Premium One of the more up and coming 3D CAD packages on today’s market is published by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., known more popularly as SolidWorks Premium. This software program is really trying to step it up in terms of 3D modeling for the average user and the large corporation. Similar in mission statement to ProE’s Enterprise XE, SolidWorks Premium aims to be accessible for the easier, almost mundane tasks of say modeling a cabinet or, yet still retain the power to model the complex. They profess to eradicate the unnecessary complexities of high end CAD programs with the goal of honing the user in on solely his creative talents. In theory, this should provide an overall more creative, productive, and better quality of product. Coupling this with never having to leave the 4
  • SolidWorks program for calculations, error, structure, and failure analysis, the Premium package is a verifiable autonomous collective. Specifically, utilizing SWIFT technology (SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology) allows the user to automate various time-consuming tasks and techniques, “diagnosing and resolving problems related to feature order, mates, sketch relationships, and the application of dimensions” (“Mechanical CAD Capabilities” 1). For a toy company such as ourselves, these prove to be very difficult promises to ignore. Seemingly becoming a trend in quality CAD software, SolidWorks Premium offers a variety of add-ons and additional programming aside from its traditional sole drawing capabilities. One such program is SimulationXpress, a design validation tool that is included within every box of Solidworks (“How can we design better products using SolidWorks?” 1). This program incorporates real world physics into an easily functional early detection design flaw widget. SolidWorks truly prides themselves on their extensive network of partner products, boasting over 350 of such products ranging from SimpoeWorks FEM and FEA Analysis by Simpow SAS to Knowledge Based Engineering by DriveWorks Ltd. to 3D QuickTools Limited’s Die Design Software, 3DQuickPress (“Partner Product QuickFlix” 2). The latter may prove to be of true relevance to us at FrogiePrice, as most of our products are eventually assembled by means of die casting plastic toy parts. Research suggests that SolidWorks is a company on the rise. Engineering placement agencies denote that the demand for SolidWorks tools and skills is over twice that of comparable design packages, and is still climbing (“How can we… “ 2). This is reinforced by noting a growing user community comprised of local user groups, online forums, user websites, incorporation in such modern resources as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and the annual 4500 attendee strong SolidWorks World conference in California. SolidWorks Premium is a hard product to pass up, particularly when you note that the license for full usage is $7995, or with annual subscription $1995; their company even harder still (“Requote a Quote” 1). 3.3.TurboCAD 16 Platinum Edition A slightly lower-end version of CAD software packaging is brought to us by IMSI/Design Company: TurboCAD. TurboCAD pledges itself as one of the cheapest fully functional CAD programs that is available for both the Windows and Macintosh markets, something few other programs can match. (As FrogiePrice does not dip into Steve Job’s dark realm of Mac savvy hardware, this is not as important for us, but interesting all the same.) TurboCAD 16 Pro Platinum edition will be the basis of this analysis; let us see how it stacks up against the competition. 5
  • After a thorough perusal of TurboCAD’s website, I dare say that this cheaper alternative to CAD drafting, bargain priced at a cool $1,495, really does not pack the punch of the higher priced SolidWorks Premium and ProE Enterprise XE. TurboCAD does not truly stress the ease of use of their system like ProE or SolidWorks does, instead they simply tabulate total numbers of editing and modification tools (roughly 40 and 50 tools, respectively) (“Key Features” 2). I am sure that it is a more than capable drafting process, but may prove to be not as streamlined, powerful, or innovative as other products’ packages. TurboCAD harps copying and editing tools, texture editing, the ability to create various components to a house, and similar tools that are, well, taken for granted to be a part of virtually every CAD design software. Noticeably absent are any real differentiating and novel programs. One interesting exception is the ability to install a light source anywhere in your project to see how shadow play with LightWorks (“Key Features” 1). The good news is that TurboCAD is not devoid of a robust support system. They do not sell short, offering many 3rd party online training resources and classes, free web based support, user forums, an active international telephone support line, and even a self service diagnostic tool, TurboCAD Designer v12 (“Overview” 1). All in all, TurboCAD just does not pack the same punch as the more expensive models, but if a value priced capable drafting software is all you need, TurboCAD 16 is the way to go. 3.4.Google SketchUp Pro 7 What would the CAD industry be without one of the world’s biggest companies vying for a pie of the economic pie? Google has made its introduction in the CAD market, so it would be prudent to at least have a look at its flagship program, SketchUp Pro 7. One of the first notes that just jumps out of cyberspace is the fact that Google’s base model, SketchUp 7, is a free download. What, free? SketchUP 7 is one-hundred percent, bona fide free of charge. At first glance, there is really not much deviation from the Pro version, and even as such, the Pro version is sold for only $495, so this immediately caught my eye (“Purchase Google SketchUp Pro 7” 1). Unfortunately, upon further research, it seems that SketchUp stumbles to the path of its slightly more expensive watered down brother, TurboCAD. GoogleSketch is really just a CAD drawing software, with little or no room for in-house analysis, problem solving or calculations. To its credit, this looks like the easiest to use program out of the many I’ve reviewed so far, at least in terms of limiting complicated keyboard strokes and mouse clicks. However, on their self promotion section of their website, SketchUp’s first and bullet explains that their program is simply just a variation upon manipulating edges 6
  • and faces, while their second point explains how to go from 2D to 3D. As someone who honestly is still in the preliminary learning stages of 3D CAD, even I am insulted that they deem extrusion of 2D into 3D as an actual product feature. This is simply how one goes about creating 3D CAD, it is not program specific to SketchUp Pro at all! There are a few nifty tools that one could get lost in for a few hours, if say you were working on modeling a sandbox or one shelf bookshelf. You can apply colors and textures to models using Pant Bucket, add shadows using the Shadow Engine, add dimensions, group together components into one larger component, and alter 3D terrain using the Sandbox tool. Effectively, there is nothing in that feature list that makes me want to shell out $500 apiece for a product that actually prides itself on the ability to apply colors to their 3D CAD models (“Google Sketchup” 2). Now, there are a variety of very handy looking export tools within SketchUp Pro, including DWG and EPS file formats that would allow you to incorporate these drawings into other more high powered CAD programs. However, if you need to end up using a $5000 or more product in the end, why not just use that program throughout the entire process? Sure, there is an extensive network of online support through Google’s website, undoubtedly utilizing one of the world’s largest company’s products provides almost limitless space for improvement and growth, but in the end it’s just not a capable program at all. 3.5.AutoDesk – AutoCAD AutoCAD – the name once struck fear into the hearts of anyone who wanted to challenge this innovative pioneer in the world of computer aided design. One would only think that they would seamlessly transition their world renowned 2D software package (or at least its ideals) into a top of the line, market share hungry 3D counterpart. I was slightly surprised to find out that this was not entirely the case. Now, don’t get me wrong, AutoDesk’s (the company behind AutoCAD) three dimensional CAD program is not to be shrugged off as another Google SketchUp, in fact, it looks like a very capable program indeed. All of the best features, honed to near perfect over twenty years in the 2D market, make the drawing process look like a breeze. The interface familiar to millions of existing AutoCAD users across the world has been translated into the 3D realm; that alone is a powerful enough factor to drive a company once dependent on 2D AutoCAD to its 3D version (“Explore AutoCAD” 1). (Human beings hate change.) There’s unlimited ways to multitask within AutoCAD and shortcuts galore to the most utilized tools. Free form design capabilities are touted and undoubtedly well done, just as AutoCAD has for years. 7
  • Unlike the more successful ProE and SolidWorks programs, AutoCAD does not have a large scale virtual workspace that allows for cross-continent collaboration concerns. This is something that a company with such a wide customer base would surely benefit from, and it is sorely missed. And yet, with all of these seemingly entirely capable CAD features, why do I feel that AutoDesk is losing ground in the three dimensional market? A survey conducted by Robert Green of CADence and CADalyst magazines in late 2003 showed an interesting trend. Although 54% of the users polled still used AutoCAD as their primary CAD software, this number had dropped from the previous 71% recorded by Green in 2001. Their market share had also dropped from a ridiculous 91% in 2001 to 85% in 2003 (Green 2). Quite simply, Green states that “the trend toward replacing AutoCAD with more powerful, industry-specific CAD platforms has gathered real momentum, even though these platforms are more expensive than AutoCAD” (Green 1). It is my mirrored opinion that FrogiePrice does not latch on to the coattails of a shrinking company, but to instead put stock in one on the rise. 4. Discussion 4.1.ProductView Express versus eDrawings Viewer and Publisher Not everyone has the capability or need to own such high end software as ProEngineer or Solidworks, and yet they still may need to view a project that was created using these programs. This was the creative force behind the birth of ProductView Express from PTC and eDrawings Viewer and Publisher from SolidWorks. Both are capable of viewing high-resolution and high-demand CAD projects, but which one should we use? The benefits of ProductView Express: Ultra high performance in a free software package that allows for collaboration across disciplines and continents Quickly view Pro/ENGINEER and ProductView datasets without needing the software or time required to create the product oneself Review markups to collaborate on the design Access Product Manufacturing information Allows for 3D collaboration and increased productivity for everyone involved with the project High performance graphics engine enables smooth interaction with large assemblies1 1 List paraphrased from http://www.ptc.com/products/productview/express. 8
  • The benefits of eDrawings Viewer and Publisher: Allows the user to view and print original SolidWorks®, AutoCAD®, DWG, and DXF™ files Intelligent organization of the drawings into an easy-to-read format Browser-like navigation, with scrolling, panning, and clickable links 3D viewing capabilities to alleviate the pain of understanding a non-rotatable drawing Easily share design analysis results created from third party software used in the project Publish eDrawings files directly from SolidWorks®, AutoCAD®, Inventor®, Pro/ENGINEER® CATIA® V5 Unigraphics/NX® and CoCreate's OneSpace software Review output produced from MoldflowXpress — a wizard-based design validation tool included in SolidWorks software that is used for quickly and easily testing the manufacturability of plastic injection-molded parts2 But what does this all mean? Virtually these two programs are designed to do the same thing: view engineering CAD drawings without the CAD program that drew them. What sets them apart? EDrawings has the upper hand for one simple reason: it can view CAD drawings from across the board, from ProE to SolidWorks to AutoCAD and Inventor. This is an invaluable tool, and puts it clearly above ProductView Express. 4.2.ProE versus the World ProEngineering Premium is one of the most robust CAD experiences on the market today. I would highly recommend this product to anyone who wants to seriously delve deep into drafting and modeling anything in 3D, from airplanes and automobiles to skyscrapers and modern architecture. In so many words or less, ProE is the most expensive product on the market that I researched, with its flagship program Enterprise XE selling for just under $25,000, yet with this price comes a plethora of options not available in other similar programs. ProE has the ability to create and draft highly detailed 3D modeling with not too much effort, similar to SolidWorks Premium and AutoCAD and slightly different from the extraordinarily streamlined SketchUp Pro and TurboCAD. Again akin to SolidWorks, there are sundry in-program applications for testing virtually every possible scenario your design will face in the real world, from structural analysis to heat transfer. SketchUp Pro and TurboCAD do not offer anything of the sort, with AutoCAD making a half-hearted effort to do the same. One main feature that puts ProE above everything save SolidWorks is the ability to collaborate online with team members and clients from across the world in real-time, something a modern company desperately needs. Effectively, in everything save aesthetics, minor details, and price, ProE Enterprise XE is very similar to SolidWorks Premium, better than AutoCAD and much, much better than SketchUp Pro and TurboCAD. 2 List paraphrased from http://www.edrawingsviewer.com/pages/features/ViewerFeaturesandBenefits.html 9
  • 4.3.Outsourcing, Yay or Nay? Outsourcing has been a point of contention for decades upon decades in the United States. Thousands, if not millions of American workers have lost their jobs to individuals on the other side of the world who are willing to do that same amount of work for a fraction of the price that Americans require. On this thought alone, I would have to strongly oppose any movement by FrogiePrice or any American company to outsource its CAD projects. America isn’t exactly in some sort of golden economic era; we can use all the jobs this country can create. I certainly wouldn’t want to be responsible for the loss of thousands of more jobs. 4.4.Job Search Report During the brisk evening of September 9, 2009 I conducted a miniature research project on two job websites to see what companies were looking for which CAD programs, and in what amount they were requesting each skill in the specific program. Figure 1 shows my results from monster.com and careerbuilder.com. 1600 1490 Number of Hits 1400 Based on 1318 1223 1308 1200 Search Terms 1023 1000 800 600 482 474 400 317 200 3 2 10 4 0 Pro Engineer Solidworks TurboCAD SketchUp AutoCAD CAD Monster.com Careerbuilder.com Figure 1. AutoCAD still reigns supreme, while ProE and SolidWorks make up ground, and TurboCAD and SketchUp are left in their wake. 10
  • 5. References “Pro/ENGINEER Enterprise XE” http://www.ptc.com/WCMS/files/45688/en/3846_EnterpriseXE_DS_EN.pdf “AutoCAD Features” http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=8446045 Green, Robert. “CAD Manager Survey.” December 2003. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BLL/is_12_20/ai_112366574/ “Google SketchUp” http://sketchup.google.com/product/features.html “Key Features” http://www.turbocad.com/TurboCAD/TurboCADforWindows/TurboCADPro16PlatinumEdition/K eyFeatures/tabid/1165/Default.aspx “Overview” http://www.turbocad.com/Support/Overview/tabid/553/Default.aspx “PTC Class Schedule Search” http://ptc.com/appserver/services/learning/courseScheduleResult.jsp “Partner Product QuickFlix” http://www.solidworks.com/sw/products/6709_ENU_HTML.htm “How can we design better products using SolidWorks?” http://www.solidworks.com/sw/why-solidworks/605_ENU_HTML.htm “Mechanical CAD Capabilities” http://www.solidworks.com/sw/products/mcad-3d-design-software.htm 6. Conclusion 6.1.The Final Assessment – SolidWorks Premium After days of deliberation, I daresay that I have come to a conclusion for the future of FrogiePrice. Ultimately, Google SketchUp Pro 7 and TurboCAD just do not have the gall and power to help us compete in the ever competitive toy design market. They are cheap, dirt cheap, but in the end we would simply lose money for sake of not having use of a competent CAD program. AutoCAD, while useable and familiar, is on the downward spiral, as seen in Robert Green’s report on CAD systems. FrogiePrice cannot afford to jump onboard a burning locomotive, no matter how glorious that locomotive’s past may have been. Finally, the decision comes down to ProEngineer Enterprise XE or Solidworks Premium. For our needs, there is virtually no discernable difference between these two workhorses, save for one: price. SolidWorks Premium costs approximately 3.5 times less than ProEngineer and for this reason alone, we as a company must install, train, and better ourselves through Solidworks’ staple of the CAD world. Let the designing begin! 11