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Software For Id Business Start-up

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Guest Buff

I'm in the midst of an industrial design business start-up after several moths of continuous work from moonlighting and several years previously on-and-off moonlighting in between contracts and full cards-in jobs.

 

I have Inventor, which has remained unsuported for sometime now as I couldnt justify the expense for the amount of work I had been doing.

 

Inventor suited me fine when I first got it, as at that time, that's what the company I was contracted to was using, doing mainly tooling design/manufacturing engineering projects.

 

Lately I have been doing a few consumer products, ranging from injection moulded parts, sheet metal and even fabrics.

 

I find Inventor strugles to deliver on what I need it to do in the time I need it to do it in. It could of course be a result of lack of training, but Ive used Inventor for possibly upwards of 5,000 hours and at least have an arsenal of work-arounds for most modeling jobs that prove challenging.

 

My main issue is that, Inventor doesn't seem to like doing surfaces very much and the render takes a lot of tweaking to get at best modest results, again this could be a training issue???

 

Anyway, I'm evaluating various software product to invest in as I have secured 12 months of work and made some very good prospects for the coming year.

 

My shortlist is as follows; -

 

Modeling;

 

Solidworks Premium (most the Asia Pacific manufactures/agents use SW),

Solidedge ST (really like the ST, but rendering lacks realisum for the amount of effort requred, bear in mind that I've only run this on a 30day eval),

Pro/E (I really like this software and it's scalable, but I' concerned about where PTC is heading)

 

 

I would be looking for two seats in Q2, with the initial seat purchased in the next couple of months (Q1)

 

As an alternative, I have in the back of my mind to take a deep breath and take a serious look at NX6/Catia, but it could come at the sacrifice of a second seat, and I really could do with some assistance next year, probably from a graduate ID student. Also the learning curve, particularly with Catia, concerns me a little

 

Thinking of surfacing a little more, I have considered Rhino, and I have a trial, but I havent had opertunity to put any serious time into learning it. I could perhaps go for say NX6 and a seat of Rhino in addition so I have the capacity, but at a more modest investment???

 

Rendering;

 

Thinking of Hypershot, although there is less controll, the speed at which I can get a good quality render for the purposes of presenting concepts is very benificial. It means I can deliver for little investment of time, a set of images that have real impact on my customer base, in fact it is by and large the reason why I have so much work come my way, as from the 15 day trail version my customer was able to tripple his orderbook (pre-orders) based on the images I did for him in Hypershot.

 

I'm considering suplementing this with say Maxwell or Fryrender rather than go for Hypershot Pro, for those occasions where a top quality (well, better quality) render is required.

 

2D Sketching;

 

Here I'm thinking of Adobe Design Premium CS4 (Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign) and for what it costs, Sketchbook Pro from Autodesk, using these with a Cintiq 21UX graphics tablet. as I'm totally crap at sketching/hand rendering, this would be used primarilly by my assistant.

 

This would be backed up with the usual hardware, Oce A0 plotter, HP/Dell workstation, 24 inch and 30 inch screens

 

So, giventhe above shortlists, in YOUR opinion, do you think that I'm on the right track?, which choice wout YOU make and WHY?

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Guest Nephtis

I personally would choose for either Solidworks or NX. Purely from the viewpoint that they haven't let me down so far. I do however wish I know how to use autodesk alias studiotools. It seems to have a great integrated feeling of the industrial design progress. It might just be difficult to go from alias to a product which can be produced. But thay might just be my inexperience talking. Surfacing in NX is better than in Solidworks btw.

 

As for hyperspeed, just the quick remark that the new solidworks 2009 contains photoview360, this is a hyperspeed-like program which works really well for those quick renders. They have the same functionality and work the same way too for the most part. The realism is basically the same, photoview has been made by luxology, the people behind modo. Although both lack dept in the functions if you ask me.

 

I find Maxwell good as well and the fact that it relates to camera-use makes it relatively easy to use.

 

I think sketchbook is a great compliment for a cintiq, I use it myself. Adobe CSis just necessary for everything, I couldn't imagine working without it. You need a program to retouch, make layouts, lineart etc, CS4 just can't be beat. The total package is essential when you start out and the ability to do some extra graphical work might give you income a boost if you might run-out of projects.

 

Make sure you get computers with enough ram and the right processor and videocard. It might not be necessary but it will make sure that your computers last long to handle future software. A macbookpro with a seperate screen could also be an option. Beside the aesthetical value, they are really fast, work perfectly with a dual-boot windows partition so you can run all your software and sketch/graphical software works really well on macs, most graphical companies use them for a reason. Would also be handy to take your laptop to a client with you presentations. Doesn't have to be an apple of course.

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Guest Spiga

I like Rhino a lot, it works pretty well with organic surfaces and has a good integration with SolidWorks. I tested it in rapidprototyping and it worked pretty good also.

 

I've been using Vray render for almost 3 years and i think it's fantastic! Not only with time renderings but very good results also. I used it as a 3DMax plugin but it has versions for Rhino and other 3D softwares such as Cinema4D.

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Good luck! If you have 12 months of work agreed and on contract that is half the battle, believe me! Better yet that you are looking at taking on others. What you get will depend upon where you are based I think, and what kind of work you are going to be doing.

 

You mentioned fabrics, well nothing - nothing - is going to help you with that. Not even CATIA. To be frank you'd be better of buying Rhino and learning how to use that for surfacing as that will handle fabric design as well as anything.

 

Don't be so hung up on buying a top end design system. I've been designing consumer products for over 20 years and in that time SolidWorks has served me well as a production modeller, along with applications like FormZ, SketchUp, Ashlar-Vellum Cobalt, VectorWorks and more recently Hypershot and Rhino. To get better surfacing (than you get in the likes of SolidWorks) in CATIA or NX you need to be using the expensive add ons like Imagine and Shape.

 

It is, in reality, impossible to give you any useful advice though as we don't have access to your experience, the type of work you do, who it is for, your budget! But what the hell I'll take a stab :) If you were based in the UK, you are talking about, what 3 seats of CAD in the next 12 months plus all the bits. SW premium here is £8k ish, so with a good workstation etc you are talking about spending maybe £50k in year 1?

 

If you are designing say electronic enclosures/sporting goods/ housewares for production in Asia, with your customers based locally to you, and your products are mainly in the "fits on a shelf in the supermarket size" then here"s what I would spend the cash on.

 

1. 3D printer - nothing beats a prototype - ZCorp colour machines are good - about £10k on lease in yr1.

2. Input - computers- Dell/HPs etc with 24" screen - spend no more than £1800 - hardware like this is rock bottom priced these days and unless you are designing cars and all the datasets for that you just don't need a mega system. Do get 1 system that is an 8 core for rendering. Maybe a laptop as well? Dell on the Dell Warehouse can be had for half price - no more than £1200. Cintiq if you must but the cheaper tablets work as well or better as you can see the screen under the cursor. 3D scanner - NextEngine is ideal for smaller objects - £2k with software. So what's that so far? £7k for 3 desktops with laptop? Ok say £8k plus the scanner - £10k

3. Output - A3 colour laser (unless you are printing A0 drawings day in day out why?). £2k A4 colour laser - ignore the cost -I've seen deals if you buy a A3 you get a free A4.

4. Software. This is where it gets personal! If it was me.....

SolidWorks Professional - do you need Premium? Do you do FEA, routing, electronics integration? If not then don't get it. Get 3 seats and you WILL get a good deal. I'd say probably 3 seats for £15k, including maintenance and all the training you need. Other software? Adobe CS4 x 3 - £2k, Hypershot - 1 license of Pro maybe - £1.5k, Maxwell? Do you really need it? £700 Rhino - be daft not to - £700

 

But in reality if it was me and I had that kind of cash to spend I would be approaching say 2 or 3 vendors and saying - folks I have £50k to spend with you in the next 6 months, if you want the business here's what I need to achieve - prove to me you can sell me the tools, support me and help me grow. In this climate....do the phrases...hand...bit...off mean anything? ;)

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Guest csven

There are some very impressive fabric modeling apps appearing out there now. I'll post links later if they're of interest. Let me know.

 

As to the rest, I'd rather not recommend apps. Everyone has their favorite ID app, and which is best very much depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is your list of clients and what it is you'll be providing to them.

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Guest Buff

Thanks for the input folks, I really appreciate it.

 

On the Hardware front, I'm prety much sorted apart from the Cintiq. I allready have Brother A3 and Oce 36" printers. My workstations are a HP 2.8Ghz CPU, 4GB RAM,Quadro FX1700 with a 24" screen and a Dell Xenon 3.0Ghz x2, 30" screen, Quadro FX 1700, 4GB RAM, plus a Lenovo XT200 Thinkpad for mobility.

 

From the 3D print (RP) point of view, I had taken a look at Objet Eden 260, but I have found it difficult to see the ROI. I can get SLA's for £30 a time, delivered unfinished in 3 days or less, and for the amount I buy in, it would be hgard to get a return on a machine for the forseable future.

 

I do have a prototye shop to hand, with a lathe, mill, bandsaw, sheet metal working tools and a sewing machine, so a RP machine and perhaps a vac casting machine would fit into myfacilities quite well in the longer term

 

As for my workflow, well, I am a mechanical engineer by trade, and I guess my approach is very driven by that. I work almost exclusivley in 3D CAD modeling, with just a few hand sketches while i figgure stuff out. All my designs I would say are driven from a functionality and manufacturing point of view.

 

When I do employ someone, they will be sellected to bring into the business, values that complement my own, rather than mearly duplicate them, so I will be looking for someone with good artistic flair, good a hand sketching.

 

One other good reason for selecting Solidworks is that it seems easier to find people who have used it, thus the training would possibly cost less.

 

My background experiance is really in manufacturing, process improvement and later NPI which eventually brought me into product design. My approach right from the outset, is to have in mind, cost effective manufacturing processes. think for this reason, something like Alias Studiotools wouldn't suit my approach, but as I have said, I'm going to be looking for an employee, who can bring something extra to my business, so I'm not ruling it out for the future.

 

I deliver whole product lifecycle to my clients, from the concept development though prototyping, scourcing tooling and production, to the eventual end of life management.

 

The projects tend to be 6 months or so from the inital brief, to the eventual delivery of finished, production stanadard product.

 

The next twelve month will see me develop a range of products centered around outdoor pursuits which will use a wide range or materials and processes.

 

I do use FEA occasionally, but for final verification, I always build accurate prototypes and submit for test.

 

Routing is something I have used, but to be honnest, for the ammount I aticipate needing that over the next year or two, I can just work around it.

 

I am going to need some input on thermal anaylsis annd gas flow, but I may well subcontract that out.

 

As for rendering, I spent too much money this year to not justify bringing it in-house, and next year the demand will be greater and for ever more photo-realistic ouptut.

 

Refering back to software, I think as KQD said, for the cost of Rhino and Hypershot HD, I'd be daft not too.

 

For the main CAD package, Pro/E is low cost for the basic Wildfire package and is scaleable, but I wonder what will happen to PTC now that its up for sale and where would that leave its existing customers, if say it where to be broken up, or bought by one of its competitors, say Autodesk?

 

The Solidworks VAR I had been dealing with gave very poor service, I have changed to someone else, rather than just right off SW

 

NX, whilst expensive, Mach 3 will set me back £15k, additional seat would cost £7k, but the bolt ons are on a floating licence, additional packages can be bought as and when the ROI justifys them, so could be good for the long term

 

Solidedge really appeals and would most likely get the business, if you could have seamless interoperability with NX, but allas no

 

Any more thoughts? I'd be rally gratfull on hearing your comments

 

csven, I would be interested in seeing those links, as I have a range of tents to desing next year

 

Thanks in advance

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Guest JelleT

I'm a NX user. I do dailly freeform in NX but please...NX3 really BUGs me out ;) NX5 will probably be better but if your client wants NX3. Just be aware of that.

 

My choice would be

Adobe CS4 basic

Corel Painter X -> Sketching

SolidWorks -> Pro of Premium whatever you need

Hypershot SW-edition -> rendering

 

When working with multiple workstations don't forget your server and backup costs.

 

If your client are automotive related go for CATIA but you'll need more than 50k for that :). GM and Paccar are basically the only major car-manufacturers using NX.

 

If you need to do a lot of surfacing engineering wise, compare SolidWorks to NX.

 

O and why need a cintiq?? Intuos is great as well ;) Even Graphire but its not for sale anymore.. -> Wireless

 

But that's just my opinion based on my experiences.

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Guest Buff

My work isn't automotive. I ahve done automotive work, but thats more manufacturing engineering, where Inventor does fine.

 

I've used NX4 in aerospace some years agon on contract, its upto NX6 now.

 

The cintiq, I guess may be a bit more intuative, but thre again I doubt it woill be me that's using it anyway

 

I'll take a look at Corel, thanks for that

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Guest csven
All my designs I would say are driven from a functionality and manufacturing point of view.

...

I will be looking for someone with good artistic flair, good a hand sketching.

...

My approach right from the outset, is to have in mind, cost effective manufacturing processes.

Industrial Design is, by its nature, approaching product design from the human-centric position - the end-user - and not from the manufacturing point-of-view. Also, ID is only partially concerned with "artistic flair"; ID sketching is about solving problems from a different, right-brain perspective (something the left-brained aerospace designer in me was never taught, or taught to understand).

 

It seems as if you're really looking for recommendations for Software for an Engineering Business Start-up, in which case the offered recommendations may not apply. If I were starting an engineering consultancy, I'd be looking at either Solid Edge or the upcoming version of NX since the new direct modeling/parametric tools look extremely promising and very (cross-application) useful.

 

You might find this blog entry of interest: http://blog.rebang.com/?p=1433 . I'm a bit on the bleeding edge of where things are headed, so the focus is on the developments leading to a simulation-based PLM solution, but the links in the Siemens Solid Edge/NX section might be worth your time.

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Guest Buff
It seems as if you're really looking for recommendations for Software for an Engineering Business Start-up, in which case the offered recommendations may not apply. If I were starting an engineering consultancy, I'd be looking at either Solid Edge or the upcoming version of NX since the new direct modeling/parametric tools look extremely promising and very (cross-application) useful.

 

 

That's a very fair observation Sven. I think it's really more about my background than it is about the projects I'm undertaking. My clients have often come to me for 'design' and I offer a complete package of egnineering and development, through to production.

 

In the near future I will have stronger "design" capability from additional staff member/s, so I'm trying to consider what such a person would require, but keeping a focused eye on the "designed for manufacture" reputation that has served me well thus far and is resulting in repeat business and referals.

 

In the past, I had worked on projects where I took someone elese concepts, and "engineered them for production.

 

I'm now taking projects from their begining, throught to end of life. This has given me greater revenues and wider oportunities. For my client it offers real cost reduction and shorter time to market by offering (or at least trying) a more concurent nature to the whole product development cycle.

 

So in summary, product like NX or on a smaller scale Solidedge, do fit better than product like Alias for my pattern of work.

 

I suspect in the end, as I try to bring people into the business with complementry but differant skill sets, then I may have to make further investment in tools better suited to a differant workflow.

 

Thanks for the blog link... nice work in your portfolio, I love it.

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Guest csven

Understand from where you're coming. There's plenty of work for people who design for both the consumers and the business since so few seem to consider both.

 

"So in summary, product like NX or on a smaller scale Solidedge, do fit better than product like Alias for my pattern of work."

 

Personally, I'm waiting to see what NX with Synchronous Technology and the next version of CATIA can do. Both seem like they should be pretty amazing (though I might be drinking too much of their kool-aid)

 

"Thanks for the blog link... nice work in your portfolio, I love it."

 

Hope the info in it was of use. And thanks for the kind remarks. Best of luck in getting things situated.

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Guest csven
csven, I would be interested in seeing those links, as I have a range of tents to desing next year
csven, what were those fabric modellers you mentioned earlier?

Optitex is the most impressive I've seen - http://www.optitex.com/en/Products

 

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Another 3D system called V-Stitcher, from Browzwear, is similar - http://www.browzwear.com/promo.htm (embedded video on the site).

 

-

 

I'm especially interested in Optitex because of their apparent push to move into 3D simulation in a big way. The fashion industry understands the potential (but IDers will understand soon, perhaps; see my "Transreality Toys" thread).

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Guest ChrisDuncan

From the sounds of your business I would go with Solidworks and Rhino.

 

Catia is for huge assemblies and no limits on power(surfacing etc). It sounds like you are working with smaller stuff, Catia might be overkill.

 

Solidworks for the general stuff and Rhino for complex Nurbs, organic shapes.

 

You can't beat Solidworks for ease of use, user base, cost effectiveness. And with the full package you have the FEA and CFD when you need them. If you have a problem with a VAR just ask questions on the SW forum.

 

You can't beat Rhino for cost effectiveness either for what it does.

 

Inventor is basically a copy of SW but about 3 years behind development.

 

Can't give opinion on Render packages as I'm not involved with that aspect.

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Guest Austin Brown

As a student, I may be in over my head with this one, but I still think it may help.

 

I have used the following to some degree for modelling(in order of hours logged- most first):

Rhino 3.0/4.0

Autodesk Alias Studio Tools 13

SolidWorks

Ashlar Vellum Cobalt

 

I am extremely comfortable with Rhino, and I would not hesitate to recommend it. It is essantially a more reasonable version of StudioTools. Not quite as powerful, but not nearly as pricey. Solidworks has its advantages, seeing as how everyone seems to be migrating to it suddenly. Both of these are incredibly well-supported in terms of literature and tutorials, and they each seem to share the title of industry standard.(at least in the low end of the industry where aerodynamics and stress fractures are less of a problem;) )

 

I have had limited exposure to rendering programs, but maybe enough to shed some light on the subject.Again, in order of hours logged:

Studio Tools

Hypershot

Flamingo

Maxwell

Rhino

VRay

 

I find StudioTools to be simple enough once you get a quick run-through from someone who understands what all the scientific terms mean(I assume this applies to all the physics-based renderers as well: Maxwell, Vray, Mental Ray). Flamingo is easy enough, but the results are generally not nearly good enough to present, unless you have a really good handle on its intricacies.

 

I cannot recommend Hypershot highly enough. The learning curve is virtually nonexistent and the results are gorgeous/stunning. It is not exactly photorealistic, inasmuch as it's not based on lighting or other physical parameters, but the results are still completely believable. If your machine is powerful enough, you can render in virtually real-time and I have punched out 1900 odd pixel renderings in under half an hour on a laptop if that gives you a sense of its speed.

 

Of course, there's no program that will make you a better sketcher, but the results from Sketchbook pro certainly seem to make you look like you're pretty good. The brush styles and shapes are very realistic and natural, and while I can't personally comment on the user interface, it seems simple enough.

 

Of course, Adobe CS is almost a given in the design field. I personally love InDesign for presentations and layouts.

 

I hope this helps with any last-minute decisions. Please let me know if I can clarify anything for you.

 

-Austin Brown

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