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We have been fighting import/export issues between CAD programs when trying to collaborate on designs, We use Solidworks 7, Engeneer uses AutoCAD, Manufacturer uses MasterCAM.  Once we issue a design as a DXF, not ideal me thinks, for the engineer and the manufacturer, if they make any changes we can't import the new part and have to redraw it; maybe they do too.

Have been considering purchase of a new, more "collaboration friendly" CAD program.  Solid Edge looks interesting, makes grand claims or course but what do users say?

Someone please offer us wisdom to help w/t decision, recommend a better program, and back it up, or just tell me a better way!

Thanks, jerry


RE: Collaboration

The newer versions of Solid Edge with their 'Synchronous Technology' should do a better job of importing models and allowing you to manipulate them.

Space-claim may be able to do vaguely similar, I don't know enough about it to speak with confidence.

However, you'll still have the problem that when you send it back to other parties they'll be getting a dumb model.

Also, as far as I know, the link between model & drawing still gets broken.

I'll be interested to see what others have to say as we're facing similar issues.  We nearly went to Solid Works from Solid Edge because a few people thought the increased commonality with suppliers, many of whom use SW, would be a big help.

However, they ignored the fact that you don't just need to be on the same software to be able to fully exchange data, you need to be on the same version of the software in most cases as they typically aren't backward compatible.

For small or even medium companies that need to do a lot of data exchange it can be tricky.

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RE: Collaboration

I'm curious to see if anything comes of this.

All of the CAD packages of which I'm aware are based on on autocratic hierarchical business model that doesn't support collaboration in any useful way at all.  I.e., the model governs everything, and all changes can only flow out from there.  Maybe that's how they do it in France.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Collaboration

A number of companies are trying and claiming to be better at importing designs from other packages.  Unfortunately, these companies don't consider it in their best interests to make their file format easier to bring into other (competing) programs.  Collaboration that has to cross software is not easy.

I don't think there's any software modelling that will take a DXF as input to modify an existing model.

From what it claims, SolidEdge would likely be a better product (than SolidWorks at least) if you were often the recipient of models from varying 3D programs that you then had to further modify.  I do not think it will help you substantially where you are the originator of the 3D model and may receive modified 2D (dxf) files.


RE: Collaboration

You might look at TurboCad by IMSI

RE: Collaboration


   Collaboration is what all sorts of people in occupied Europe did during WWII.  They were either executed for it, or ostracised at the end of the war.  It is not the best piece of sales terminology ever thought of.

   I keep seeing these articles and sales pitches that imply that collaboration is a process of operating some piece of software.  It is a process of communicating and cooperating with people.  You need to find formats for passing data around.  The people need to be communicative and cooperative.  

   DXF is not a reliable way to pass around requirements for fabricated parts from SolidWorks.  The feature control frames do export reliably.  I regard PDF as the reliable format for the information.  As far as I know, DXF reliably transfers geometry, as does IGES and STEP.  

   Distributed design control sounds to me like a bad idea.  If you want my stuff changed, you ask me politely, and I look for a solution to the problem.  And vice versa, of course.  Any kind of design requires some sort of coherent plan which is thoroughly understood by the designer.  If several people have access to the files, they should be physically located next to each other, and they should get along with each other.


RE: Collaboration

JHG:  I have also found that dxf transfers geometry reliably which the manufacturer likes.  My engineer says IGES or Parasolid is the way to go but even he can't get these to import anything better than a "dumb" solid which is practically useless except as a base feature or pattern to redraw from scratch.  While I can add some features like shell or fillet the edges, I can't change any dimensions.  I can build off it and cut it but can't alter the original imported piece.

Would there be a CAD software that can import IGES or Parasolid as a less "dumb" solid where one can change sizes of holes, adjust corner radii and overall width or length?  Or is that just the nature of IGES and Parasolid?


RE: Collaboration

I'll speak to what I have..
Autodesk Inventor allows you to import iges/step files,etc.. and then it will attempt to recreate the feature tree so that you can modify the base features. (Feature recognition add-in)

I'd think any cad program now can modify imported "dumb solids" and modify them I know for sure that both Inventor and Solidworks can.

Don't know why you have an engineer using a 2d program like Autocad now anyways..

Mastercam can also view Inventor and Solidworks and other cad programs native files also.
Seems like your problem is your engineer with his out dated software and you have multiple people making changes.

This is the life of CAD.. when you have multiple people changing models they all need to be on the same software to make life easy..

If cad file collaboration was easy no one would make any money.

RE: Collaboration


Would there be a CAD software that can import IGES or Parasolid as a less "dumb" solid where one can change sizes of holes, adjust corner radii and overall width or length?

Yes, the newer versions of Solid Edge with 'Synchronous Technology" should be able to do that fairly well based on the demo I've seen and their sales pitch - for the model.  I don't think they maintain link between model and drawing though.

Older versions of Solid Edge as well as Solid Works and others have more limited capabilities but can do at least some of your list.  For instance I have an older version of SE, it can sometimes change the size of holes - if it recognizes it as a hole depending how the surfaces came through...

MiketheEngineer could you give more detail on how TurboCad addresses the specific issues raised by the OP?

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RE: Collaboration

psst.. Solidworks can import a dumb solid and change hole sizes, adjust radii, etc..
I'm not familiar with their release numbers but I suspect that any of the ones in that last 2 or so years can do that with ease.. No need to buy another program (well you might have to upgrade to the newest version). Just learn to use the one you have.

Not to mention no matter what version you are on you can always fill the old hole in the dumb solid with an extrusion then just add a new hole in its place. Voila you just changed the hole size.

RE: Collaboration

It is the nature of IGES and parasolid (and a few other formats) to give you essentially a 'dumb' solid, not carrying forward the intelligence that was used to build the solid.  A number of programs are getting better at interpreting that dumb solid and doing something with it.  SolidWorks can both infer intelligence from dumb and modify the dumb solid directly, but it's not the most complete or user-friendly set of tools.  I believe SolidEdge, Inventor, and Creo/Direct (formerly CoCreate) all have different sets of tools for manipulating these solids and/or inferring intelligence to them, but I cannot speak to the comprehensiveness of those tools because I do not have direct experience with them.  Other programs probably have similar capabilities, but those are the ones that leap to mind.

RE: Collaboration

I second drawoh's motion that: "Distributed design control sounds to me like a bad idea"

RE: Collaboration

I agree that design by committee is a terrible idea. ... but it's already out there.  

I recently didn't quite survive an adventure wherein I had to collaborate with people who worked for another company, in another state, with whom I was not allowed to communicate directly.  Insanity at its finest.

Of course the top level managers have no idea how frustrating, and how costly, it really was.  On my (now former) side, they don't even track engineering hours by project, and never have, so new jobs are grossly underbid.  That may be the only reason they get business at all; they must be the low bidders every time, because they have no idea what it will cost to engineer anything; they just bid two weeks for engineering and two weeks for drafting, regardless of the project complexity.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Collaboration

I see "design by committee" as being different from "distributed design control".  Design control must be centralised or it simply is not design ... it's some kind of wild west cowboy jungle evolution.

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