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Archive for 2010

GrabCAD – Not just a model library

Friday, October 29th, 2010

grabcad-logo When GrabCAD was announced, I was actually a little excited.  Not that the world needed yet one more online CAD library, but that this was a universal library for all MCAD software products.  The simple fact that any user of any MCAD software could share their models in a non-exclusive environment was the differentiator between GrabCAD and other model libraries.  And the fact that a sales person is not going to call me and follow up on the model I downloaded from the (supplier’s) website is an added bonus.

Back that up with powerhouse advisers like Josh Mings and Deelip Menezes, and the potential for a winning website is really taking shape.  Using a standard social media wall as the front end with powerful search features to find that model you’re looking for, and the benefits continue to add up.  I also like the feature to request a model that isn’t there yet.  True, the traffic on the website is still growing so getting that request filled in a timely manner may not happen, but at least the door is open for the altruistic nature of future generations determined to help others out of the goodness of their heart.

This isn’t your standard CAD library either, filled with simple parts like washers, bolts, and nuts.  These are full up assemblies of some pretty incredible parts.  I took a screen capture of some of the latest additions to give an example.

Recently Added Model to GrabCAD

Models Recently Added to GrabCAD

GrabCAD also has a decent list of Partners, making me believe that this website is here to stay, once I figure out what their business model is, that is.  Did you also know that have a blog?  You have to scroll past all the front page updates to get to the links in the footer to find it (an improvement they could make to their website layout), but it’s there.

But that’s not all! As Deelip blogged about on Oct 26th, GrabCAD is more than just a cad library. GrabCAD is turning into an engineering marketplace.

As someone who does freelance work, I’m always interested in finding new places to find work.  I’m still waiting for this to develop.  I know that entering into the engineering and design marketplace is not easy.  Critical mass has to be reached very quickly for it to be sustainable – both with available jobs and talent to fill those jobs.  Competition with sites like or is also difficult.  Building a trust between supplier and buyer, an easy escrow system to exchange funds, and a secure place to handle proprietary information is a big hurdle that many marketplaces never pass.

I wish GrabCAD the best of luck in their future.  If businesses like GrabCAD grow, then there is a chance for other businesses to grow as well.  Symbiotic relationships are only beneficial if both entities find value, and an engineering marketplace is a symbiotic relationship among all parties involved.

3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Solid Edge ST3

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Deelip has put together a great series, in plain terms, to describe the graphics performance of various 3D MCAD packages.

Here is his exhaustive list:

    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Expert Opinon By Tech Soft 3D
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 1
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 2 (MoI)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 3 (SpaceClaim)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 4 (KeyCreator)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 5 (Alibre Design)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 6 (Alibre Design Revisited)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 7 (AutoCAD)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 8 (KOMPAS-3D)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 9 (Acrobat)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 10 (Pro/ENGINEER)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 11 (IRONCAD)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 12 (T-FLEX)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 13 (Inventor)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 14 (PowerSHAPE)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 15 (CoCreate)
    3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 16 (Conclusion)

One CAD system Deelip was not able to try was Solid Edge ST3, because it is currently in beta and only a few leaks are managing their way into the public realm. The reason ST3 really needs to be in Deelip’s comparison is because it claims to have significant improvements to graphics performance.

Well, it just so happens that one Solid Edge user did a test similar to Deelip’s. Please note that this user did this prior to Deelip’s blog posts, so it doesn’t use an engine and the pathing is only coincidental. The reason it is so late making it into the public realm is because the user needed to get permission before releasing the videos. That’s the speed of business, baby. What do you think? Are these “freakin’ awesome”?

Improved Graphics Performance – SE ST3 Single Assembly

Improved Graphics Performance – SE ST3 Multiple Assemblies

The computer that ran this is

Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E6850 (3.00Ghz)
8 Gig RAM
Windows 7 64-bit (SE 32-bit only cause I don’t have 64-bit downloaded yet)
Quadro FX 1700
Intel X25-M 80 Gig SSD

The test was also done on a machine very similar with only 4 Gig RAM, Windows XP, and a 10,000 RPM SATA drive and the results were identical.  The Solid Edge settings were the default settings, no special tweaks.

The first video:

1659 Unique Parts
4800 Total Parts
11 Simplified
7 Level
384 Sub-assemblies
340 Unique sub-assemblies
1.2 Gig Total Document Size

The second video:

1659 Unique Parts
19200 Total Parts
44 Simplified
8 Level
1540 Sub-assemblies
341 Unique sub-assemblies
1.2 Gig Total Document Size

And don’t tell anyone, but that issue about using 50% CPU just by moving your cursor over a blank graphics screen, has been improved also.

(I tried to embed the youtube videos, but it appears that you may have to click on the links instead.)

Solid Edge Productivity Summit Tour

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Solid Edge, the best CAD program you never heard of.  How many remember that moniker?  Just a couple of years ago, the Solid Edge name was revitalized because of the buzz surrounding Synchronous Technology.  Once that buzz diminished though, Solid Edge reverted back to shadows, hidden by the Velocity Series and Siemens logos.

I am happy to say that those days are numbered.  Siemens has put more effort into marketing Solid Edge.  As a matter of fact, you will find product ads that actually say “Solid Edge” in them instead of the ambiguous Velocity Series or Siemens brand names.  They hired great talent spearheading the new marketing plan.  They even hired well known ringers, or big-guns, to consult for them.

One particular event that has gotten great reviews is the Solid Edge Productivity Summits spanning the US and two cities in Canada.  The Summits have been announced before, but a reminder deserves mention since they are half over, but still plenty of locations left to attend.  Word is spreading about these events.  Attendance is reaching into the hundreds for each location.  These aren’t just your regular forum participants; these are your every day users who consist of the silent majority.

Seeing the attendance numbers, hearing users’ stories, and seeing feedback about these events permeate the media makes me think that Solid Edge will not continue to be the best CAD system you have never heard of.

Alibre Goes Social in a Big Way

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

I have had quite a few criticisms volleyed towards Max Freeman, the Marketing VP for Alibre, Inc. in regards to Alibre’s presence in social media.

As an engineer, I am conservative in my approach to new, untested technologies.  I was late to LinkedIn, late to Twitter, and I still don’t have a Facebook account.  Like many others, I questioned the value of these tools but could easily see the distraction they created.  None the less I couldn’t criticize if I haven’t tried them.  After using them, I realize there is value in these products, more than just name or brand recognition.  When used properly, they really do create relationships; provide timely, meaningful information about my industry; and don’t take up much time out of my day.

My criticism, though, lies more with the mentoring of future engineers.  Why? Because Facebook and Twitter are where the future engineers are.  If we are doing our duty as senior engineers and mentors, then we need to reach out to the young engineers – and that means social media.

Much to my surprise, last week Max announced on the Alibre forums a new website, Alibre Powered.  This is a Facebook-like clone developed specifically to allow Alibre users to showcase their abilities.  So, not only is it social media, but designed from the ground up to be a value-added user experience.

Alibre Powered

(image courtesy of Alibre Powered website)

I wasn’t about to let Max off the hook so easy.  He stated that Alibre spends its resources making the best CAD for the money and therefore doesn’t have time for social media.  But, Alibre has time for an entire social website?  Much to my dismay, I couldn’t pull one over on Max.  This is Alibre’s vision for Alibre Powered, via Max’s response to my razzing.

The amusing this about this project is that it required literally no resources. We thought about the idea, made it happen, and went  live inside of basically 24 hours. :)  The real goal is to let the users come and post their designs – and we can point schools, young engineers, media types, prospective customers, etc. here so they can see what “real” people do with our software, versus “marketing people” (us). We made this with a specific goal of making a living gallery basically, which is why the 2 main sections are “designers” and “their stuff” – but as you suggest it will also serve nicely as a social media aspect.

So congratulation to Alibre and their marketing team for putting together a very cool, useful, social outlet for Alibre users.  And, you can even use Alibre Design to create the logo.

(image courtesy of Max Freeman)

(image courtesy of Max Freeman)

Hopefully Alibre can expand on this and join the ranks of Siemens, Solidworks, and Autodesk by having an official, or at least unofficial, presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Open Beta Begins for Alibre Design 2011

Monday, August 9th, 2010

If you are not a regular reader of the Alibre forums, and you don’t subscribe to their newsletters, you may have missed the announcement that Open Beta for Alibre Design 2011 has begun.  All you need to participate is an active maintenance agreement.

Much like other superstitious CAD companies, the v13 release is being renamed to match the year of release.  (You can still thank AutoCAD R13 for that trend.)  As a matter of fact, this Photoshopped box cover for Alibre Design v13 has been floated around the internet to joke about the subject.

Alibre Design v13 Shipping Box

Alibre Design v13 Shipping Box

If you enjoy being on the bleeding edge of CAD technology and can’t wait to see “What’s New” in the upcoming release of Alibre Design, stop by the forums, register for the Open Beta, and begin testing.

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