|Design Cube by Protomold - Showcasing boss design, coring, and other molding best practices|
In my inbox this morning was an email thanking me for attending Solidworks that also was offering a "Free Design Cube" (NOT an affiliate link, just FYI). The company sponsoring the cube is Protolabs or Protomold, a rapid prototyping service house that has been around since 1999. They specialize in quick turn injection molded parts and even their about us page states that their goal is to "radically reduce the time it takes to get prototype injection-molded plastic parts". The design cube is intented to showcase best practices in design (for injection molding). With the developments in 3D printing touted in the media you may wonder how they are still in business and when they will create a Design Cube for 3D printing.
Inside 3DPrinting Conference & Expo, the largest 3D printing event worldwide is returning to NYC in less than one month. And with the recent announcement of three impressive new speakers, the conference is expecting to welcome more 3D printing industry and design enthusiasts than ever before.
After initially announcing a solid roster of speakers, including 3D System’s Avi Reichental and Autodesk’s Carl Bass, Mediabistro added two more speakers to the agenda: Paul Trani, Sr. Creative Cloud Evangelist at Adobe, and Jesse McGatha, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. See the full speaker list here.
The event also confirmed their fourth and final keynote speaker, Curtis Carson the Head of Systems Integration, Centre of Competence Manufacturing for Airbus, the leading aircraft manufacturer. Carson will present his keynote speech titled “Print Me an Airplane: Airbus’ Vision of 3D Printing Applications” on .
In addition to the conference’s B2B programming, sessions tailored toward the Maker and design community will be taking place concurrently at the event’s Maker Summit & Pavilion. Another first for the event, will feature a half day of hands-on workshops, some of which have already sold out.
3DEngr has partnered with Inside 3D Printing NYC to offer 15% off Full Conference Passes with code 3DENGR. The full conference pass allows you access to all conference sessions, keynotes, exhibitions, Maker Pavilion, and Summit sessions on , and the event reception on . Be sure to register before to save an additional $450 with early bird pricing.
For those who are unable to attend the NYC event, additional conferences are scheduled internationally throughout 2014. Click here to see all upcoming Inside 3D Printing events.
We recently published an article comparing SolidEdge to Solidworks. Jim, as mentioned in the article, makes his living utilizing CAD systems and teaching CAD. Although his primary tool is Solidworks he has looked at other options, and worked with other systems in the past. He is established enough to pass judgment on which tool is best equipped for his needs. That said his call of vast superiority by Solidworks seems inflated.
Solidworks is a wonderful tool, which has many advantages in developing great designs. There are two primary points that Jim makes in his comparison of Solid Edge and Solidworks. I will address each separately below, but the point is also made to compare Solidworks in their current form to ProE of the early 2000’s. First to address this issue:
Solidworks most certainly appealed to a new crowd and that appeal can be pointed to as one of the core reasons it succeeded over the years. That said a comparison of the user interaction from Solidworks to Solid Edge, or any other CAD software for that matter, is in my estimation misguided.
Thanks to their long-standing position as the market leader Solidworks has a vast user community that does most of the heavy lifting for them. Just take a look at their user groups, or this forum, where common users are significantly more active than the parent company. Certainly the cultivation of this community is due to the direct actions of Solidworks but smaller market disruptors should not be hindered simply based on their market share (a point that Jim makes, though pointing again at PTC of a decade ago). As for the “arrogant jerk” comment I can safely say I have run into similar jerks at a variety of companies. Though an organization is at least in part responsible for the actions of their employees it is unfair to characterize an entire organization based on the actions of one sales representative.
As for the points made regarding why Solidworks “won” over ProE, these seem to be relatively subjective concerns. Personally I can attest to the Solid Edge crew being very straight shooters, fun, and above all very geeked out on their product. Through writing assignments I have had the privilege to spend time with a number of the Siemens staff and they have been simply fantastic. Further I’ve found their software to be just as easy to use as any other CAD program – though admittedly that still would not qualify it as “easy”.
As for Synchronous Technology (ST), the comparison to a wonder bra is incomplete. Solid Edge has all the same trappings of Solidworks and ST is better considered a feature add-on than an underlying principle. Yes it can remove some modeling history but this is not a default – Solid Edge also includes an ordered modeling system that is at least on par with Solidworks. ST as an addition is akin to the Instant3D capabilities of Solidworks and in my experience ST is vastly superior. Some hesitation is warranted given the marketing behind ST but the software should not be knocked simply because the team has decided to showcase a point of differentiation in their marketing – who would but a system marketed as “On par with the market leader – with better additional features”. It is surely easier to promote a message of simply “Better features than the market leader”.
Ultimately Jim and I agree. Solid Edge needs something more to jump ships. Considering the amount of time many users spend training on a new system making the change is a huge decision for engineers. Roll in that fact that both systems run in the thousands of dollars and it is going to take more than a few features to really change things.
With all that said, the CAD industry is ripe for a disruptor. A new system that changes the way designers think and model, a system that will make us all take a pause and likely say “that will never work” before ultimately succumbing to a new generation that is passing us by. At least that’s what my friends who used to work at drafting tables tell me.
Ok- full disclosure. I make a living by designing with CAD and teaching CAD. My primary tool is SolidWorks. So- I am biased based on my current circumstances and conditions.
I also have a historical bias as I have been burned. At my peak, I was a ProE guru. Back in 2000, I gave presentations at ProE user groups (when they could bring in about 400 people paying $40/plate, instead of about 6 today). I wrote articles for ProE magazine. I thought ProE was here to stay, so I invested heavily on them and didn’t look at other software. I missed that call… now ProE is continuing to flounder and has recently switched their name to Creo in a last ditch effort to save their sinking ship. It’s too bad- I could have had a great ride with SolidWorks if I had started with them back in 2002 or so. I’ve only fully-engaged with SolidWorks recently, and it’s too late for easy and lucrative opportunities when SolidWorks saturates the CAD industry.
On the other side, I’ve worked for companies that have put fake stellar reviews on their own products and scathing reviews of other products. I’ve seen generated testimonials that are completely ridiculous. I’ve even kept products that completely under-delivered on their marketed promises.
So I’m cautious and wary, because I feel that there are 2 battle fronts I need to respect: legitimate significant changes in industry and marketing foo-foo.
How do I manage it? What do I look for? First, I analyze the reasons that ProE failed. Why did ProE lose so much market share when they had a superior product in 2003? There are a few theories, but I think they boil down to this:
- They didn’t care about their existing user-base. ProE saw SolidWorks growing because it appealed to non-engineers, inventors and designers due to its ease of use. So they decided to copy the SolidWorks interface. This was a HUGE deal for people like me who spend years getting proficient at the existing interface. It was basically as if I had spent 4 years becoming fluent in French, only to have all-French speaking countries wiped out and now have to speak Russian (if I wanted to engage with those countries).
- They didn’t care about their constituents. PTC (the company that developed ProE) decided to dissolve all their resellers and to sell direct. This helped put more of the sales dollars into PTC’s pocket. However, it had in unintended consequence of putting a LOT of very capable and technical salesmen and engineers on the street. Those guys were passionate… for their own survival AND the injustice of being cut out of a thriving partnership due to greed.
- They were arrogant jerks. I remember one sales guy coming by and showing me an add-on product. I was the “go-to” ProE user at that particular company. After the demo, I told him that the add-on would not provide any value. He said I was making a huge mistake, and asked for my boss’s contact information (implying that he was going to discuss my incompetence w/ the man that controlled my salary and career path).
Why did Solidworks win?
- The users didn’t care about market share. They cared about ease-of-use.
- They offered a product with distinct advantages, primarily that the learning curve was low.
- They were straight-shooters, fun and actually geeked out on product development.
One thing I’ve read about recently is Synchronous Technology found in SolidEdge released by Siemens. There are many articles on the web about it. The basic theme seems to be: “SolidWorks has an outdated technology”. So I decide to take a look. This is not a trivial matter. I need to download the program and come up with some way to learn and test it during a 45-day trial period. It really takes 3 full weeks to start getting the hang of any software. My work has very busy periods, and periods where I get time to explore. How do other exploring CAD-users look at all their options, especially if they are new and don’t know what to look for? It definitely takes a focused effort.
So I jumped in. Without further drama, here are my findings:
Synchronous Technology is over-rated. Like a 14-year old girl buying a wonder-bra, Siemens has something small and insignificant and they are trying to make it look big and beautiful. What is Synchronous Technology? It’s the opportunity to make changes to a model without regard to the original design intent.
While Siemens touts this as an “evolution”, it is actually REMOVING intelligence from your model. It is running over previously defined features. This can be done a number of different ways using SolidWorks, but I wouldn’t suggest it for a number of reasons.
Will it make you faster? Nope. I openly challenge SolidEdge to a part modelling contest (with changes) designed by an independent firm.
SolidEdge has a similar user interface to SolidWorks (they all are about the same these days). The hot keys aren’t as developed, and it seems to take more clicks to do similar features. They have copied “mouse gestures”, but made it some sort of double ring. Surfacing seems to be comparable. It just seems to be an underdeveloped “me-too” product.
I like a competitive market. It makes everyone work harder. I don’t like companies trying to make a quick buck on marketing-hype.
So, I wouldn’t recommend doing what I’ve done. It takes a lot of effort without much payback. I also wouldn’t trust ANY article (including this one) on the web. Instead, make a little scorecard to measure different features that you think are important and try to rate them. Here’s what would be on my scorecard:
- Invite the various resellers to your company. Then, give them a part to create. Then, tell them to change it.
- How easy will it be to get training?
- How easy will it be to get technical answers to my questions?
- How many people can I hire that have this skill set?
- How many companies are hiring people with this skill set (in the eventuality that I lose my job)?
Hey guys @ SolidEdge… no offense- but we need something more to jump ships. Let me know if you have something more than this. Or let me know if you think I’m wrong.
Learn How To Pass The CSWE - See The Complete Article Series by Jim Lucas
This article is a guest post by Jim Lucas