Fully-constrained parametric CAD options - similar to Solvespace, Alibre?
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  1. #1
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    Default Fully-constrained parametric CAD options - similar to Solvespace, Alibre?

    I'm continuing my long-running hunt for parametric CAD options. I've tested several different offerings but none have been entirely to my liking. I'm wondering if anyone might have more suggestions for a CAD offering with the following features.

    My brain resonates with the fully-constrained parametric workflow: Creating a fully constrained, rigid 2D sketch, extruding/revolving/sweeping/lofting/helixing that sketch to create a 3D shape, creating a new 2D workplane on a generated face of that shape (or anywhere else in the workspace) upon which to draw another fully constrained sketch, extruding/revolving, etc. again to add or subtract from the base shape, and so on until you are ready to use that part as the foundation for another or to assemble it to an existing part.

    The ability to assemble individual parts together into a complete assembly is necessary for me.

    A lot of what I do ends up getting either exported to Blender for use in 3D projects or turned into shop drawings for manual machining. I don't really need CAM capabilities at this point in time, but I'll never say never.

    Alibre Design/Atom3D is so far the best candidate I've found, but it is very quirky, awkward software that has it's share of bugs and rigid idiosyncrasies that the developers refuse to fix. E.g., no ability to enable turntable/constrained orbit or to adjust orbit sensitivity - instead just telling their users to buy a 3D mouse and deal with it. Only *one* opportunity to name part files - only when saving them for the first time, not at creation nor after having already saved them. If you change your mind later you're boned. Manually renaming the files will break the project.

    Solvespace is nearly perfect for me, but it's just someone's personal pet project. It's capabilities are very limited and it is not optimized for complex projects with lots of parts having their own internal dimensions.

    FreeCAD is hot garbage.
    Fusion 360 is just another micro-managed Autodesk product. Always online and no guarantee it won't get terminated or become subscription-based at any time. No way to orbit with middle mouse iirc.
    CorelCAD seems like a nice product, but from my limited testing it seems to be much more of a traditional old-timey drafting and/or solid modeler. No real workplane support or parametric timeline that I can tell. Oriented more for individual parts?


    Any other options you folks know about that might fit the bill for a fully-constrained parametric workflow? Software that can be purchased outright for $1,000 or less with optional maintenance rather than dealing with a stupid subscription?

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    There is some cognitive dissonance in your post.

    Solvespace is "nearly perfect for me" but FreeCAD is "hot garbage"???

    Solvespace is functional for constraints based sketching and motion simulation, but there is absolutely no way in hell you could realistically use it as a daily driver 3D cad. FreeCAD is perfect for your requirements.

    FreeCAD is 90% of the way there for most peoples' requirements.

    I am a reluctant Solidworks user (after a stint with NX, SW shortcomings seem endless). FreeCAD is missing a usable dynamic sectioning tool, otherwise I wouldn't hate it any more than I hate Solidworks.

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    Everything except your budget suggests Solidworks. Are you "fully constrained" by that $1000 figure? Solidworks standard is $4k. You don't have to stay current on maintenance if you don't want to. I'm always getting promotional emails from resellers with seasonal deals. Reach out to your local reseller and see what they can do.

    This is a really difficult area to compromise on if you have strict requirements (like you laid out here). But it's also difficult to spend money you dont have, so I get it.

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    Well, NX fits the bill up to your price point. You couldn't even pay Siemens to spit on you for that amount.

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    Ever think that the free stuff is hot garbage because CAD software of the quality you want is hard to make, and the people who can do it properly have this funny thing where they actually want to get paid?

    Of course, the one company with the resources and scale to pull off an alternative business model that delivers very high quality software without the tremendous cost is... Autodesk, and everyone on here writes off F360 out of hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonbl View Post
    Everything except your budget suggests Solidworks.
    I'd have said Pro/E, which is what Solidworks was a copy of. As Wildfire2 or 3 it pretty well matches everything op wants and it doesn't have the innumerable dropdown Motif menus. Nice program, imo.

    The price, however .... for a short time there was a free version for Loonix, if you could find a copy. Or maybe get by with an educational version, if you just want to learn how to use it.

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    Any other options you folks know about that might fit the bill for a fully-constrained parametric workflow?
    Solid Edge is exactly what you have described above.
    Software that can be purchased outright for $1,000 or less with optional maintenance rather than dealing with a stupid subscription?
    Not a chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mud View Post
    Solid Edge is exactly what you have described above.

    Not a chance.
    Yup ^^^^
    What your asking for will speed things up greatly, making you more money.
    Good tools don't come for "free".

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    "Alibre Design/Atom3D is so far the best candidate I've found, but it is very quirky, awkward software that has it's share of bugs and rigid idiosyncrasies that the developers refuse to fix. E.g., no ability to enable turntable/constrained orbit or to adjust orbit sensitivity - instead just telling their users to buy a 3D mouse and deal with it. "

    This is erroneous, you can rotate around an axis with the mouse, all you do is click on the axis itself then drag. As for the naming, my copy asks me when I change names if the previous file you derived from is the one you want. I am running Alibre Professional, 2018 I think it's the version, not Atom though.

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    If you can stretch your budget a bit, I'd recommend T-FLEX. I haven't priced it recently, but I bought my seat for $2500 a few years ago. I actually like it more than Solidworks.

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    Cheap CAD tools suck ass, PERIOD...

    Try OnShape if you don't want to spend alot, it is similar to Solidworks but not as expensive.

    OR, you could just get Solidworks and solve all of your problems. There is a reason it is so universally popular.

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    Quote Originally Posted by metalmadness View Post
    Cheap CAD tools suck ass, PERIOD...

    Try OnShape if you don't want to spend alot, it is similar to Solidworks but not as expensive.

    OR, you could just get Solidworks and solve all of your problems. There is a reason it is so universally popular.
    I really don't know why people keep vaunting solidworks as the gold standard of 3D cad.

    It's not, not in any way shape or form.

    I want NX so badly, but switching everyone here off of solidworks and onto NX is just never going to happen without serious trauma.

    As I alluded to in my previous post, when FreeCAD adds the one or two things that I need that it's missing, I will switch to that and fuck solidworks off altogether.

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    Alibre will do the things you seem to want, but I'd go for Alibre Design rather than Atom. The limitations of the cut down 'home shop' version can get a bit frustrating.

    I'm not sure about it being quirky. As far as I can see, all the CAD programs are quirky to some extent. but there's a difference between quirky at $1000 per seat for Alibre and quirky at $30,000 per seat for Catia!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post

    I want NX so badly, but switching everyone here off of solidworks and onto NX is just never going to happen without serious trauma.
    Have you ever looked at Solid Edge? It's an improvement over SW, and not nearly the price of NX. If you have, never mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CAMasochism View Post
    Well, NX fits the bill up to your price point. You couldn't even pay Siemens to spit on you for that amount.
    even if you could pay, they might only spit in your eye. Amazingly terrible customer service

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mud View Post
    Have you ever looked at Solid Edge? It's an improvement over SW, and not nearly the price of NX. If you have, never mind.
    Well, I demoed it. Amongst others.

    Demos are not useful to me. I am much more interested in the advanced functionality and workflows of the software that you just don't uncover playing with a demo copy for a few hours here or there while you're trying to keep everything else running. You need to actually USE the software and LEARN it over at least a year or so to really know if it's good or not.

    I don't feel like I have anything close to enough experience with any of those to say of they are good or bad.

    I wasn't blown away by SE though, I will say that. I think NX has spoiled me for everything else! I used to LOVE solidworks. Now I absolutely despise it.

    I am interested in T-Flex but there is no distribution in this country. There is another Russian one that looks good as well called Kompas, but again no distribution.

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    Just outta curiosity, Sparky, why are you looking for a program like this ? Most people bitch and moan if they are forced to use a totally-parametric, plan-before-you-model CAD program. I like Pro/E (no one else here uses it ?) but you do have to spend a lot more thought planning what you're doing. Everything depends on what went before, which most people don't like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    Well, I demoed it. Amongst others.

    Demos are not useful to me. I am much more interested in the advanced functionality and workflows of the software that you just don't uncover playing with a demo copy for a few hours here or there while you're trying to keep everything else running. You need to actually USE the software and LEARN it over at least a year or so to really know if it's good or not.

    I don't feel like I have anything close to enough experience with any of those to say of they are good or bad.

    I wasn't blown away by SE though, I will say that. I think NX has spoiled me for everything else! I used to LOVE solidworks. Now I absolutely despise it.

    I am interested in T-Flex but there is no distribution in this country. There is another Russian one that looks good as well called Kompas, but again no distribution.
    T-FLEX doesn't have a distributor in the US either, but can be purchased directly from the developer. There is also free "student" version of T-FLEX available to all that has all the basic functionality to demo. They also have 30 day full commercial trials, which can be extended upon request.

    T-FLEX Student Link

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkd View Post
    even if you could pay, they might only spit in your eye. Amazingly terrible customer service
    True, they'd probably make you go to one of their "partners" to have them do it unless you have 30 seats with them. I've been unable to post on their community message boards for a few months now due to some error with my log in and have sent off several emails with no response.

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    I'm not enough of a cad expert to really understand what you're trying to do, but most of it sounded like solidworks. Its the only cad that I am mildly conversant in, having started with Cadkey, then some AutoCAD, then solidworks, then fusion 360, then NX.

    Forget the first two, obviously. We use the second extensively at work, but not in my role. Fusion, in comparison to solidworks was completely f'd up in their use of 'joints' in comparison to solidwork's 'mates' for assemblies. NX obviously had legs, but nowhere near the straightforward simplicity (i.e., tuned to the human brain to get something done) that was inherent in solidworks.

    I rarely touch cad these days, but if I need to get something done. I've got an old dell workstation that runs the 2005 version of solidworks that is my goto. Solidworks is just intuitive, good software. NX probably if I had time to learn it.


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