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IDEAs, Catia, Solidworks or Solid Edge - need advice!

IDEAs, Catia, Solidworks or Solid Edge - need advice!

IDEAs, Catia, Solidworks or Solid Edge - need advice!

We are looking at four 3D-CAD systems (Computer Aided Design) :
> *    Ideas
> *    Solid Edge
> *    Solid Works
> *    Catia V5
The CAD will be connected to the PDM (Product Data Management) system using PROFILE. PROFILE allows a connection with SAP.

We would like to specifically know about the following:
The life phase of the system - is it already above its highest peak? Is it mature or still being built up? (especially Catia V5, Solidworks and Solid Edge)
Future perspective? Safety of the investment? (especially Catia and Solid Works, that both belong to Daussalt): Will they continue to exist as individual systems in the future, or for example, will Solid works be replaced by Catia in the middle term?
Comparison between Solid Edge and Solid works
Where are the weaknesses of a mid range system e.g. Catia V5?
Core (The part of the operating system that controls the hardware): evaluation of the different used cores (performance and data exchange)
Distribution and the branch usage of the 4 systems.

I would appreciate some advice on this subject and some answers to my questions.

RE: IDEAs, Catia, Solidworks or Solid Edge - need advice!

I have extensive experience with I-Deas and Solidworks. SolidWorks is a much better system. I-Deas is very bugy. As I will quote an email passage from a software designer from SDRC, Ideas parent company. "With that, I can verify what XXXX says about the pushing of code out even if it is a "bad" release, I8 specifically fell into this category."
Presently I use I-Deas, and a member of thier user group. I-Deas crashes, randomly, there is no Undo command, or atleast one that works past a screen refresh or 1 step. SolidWorks is stable and easy to use. It will handle all but the most very demanding surfacing cabiblities. However within the next year, or two It should handle everything.


RE: IDEAs, Catia, Solidworks or Solid Edge - need advice!

The big question is how much are you willing to spend?

I-Deas Master Series:  I have never used their drafting package.  I used Ideas for stress analysis only so I'm familiar with modeling, assembly, and simulation packages.  I loved their simulation (FEA) package.  Their assembly package is confusing and hard to use.  If you don't plan on doing much FEA, skip Ideas.  It also runs on Unix (I don't know if they've ported to Windows yet) which is by far a superior operating system, but then you have to deal with emulators for desktop products: email, spreadsheets, word processing.  I-deas also tends to be on the high side of the price range.  SDRC is a great parent company, but it has been my experience that they are focusing on their Metaphase product line (PDM) rather than I-Deas.

CATIA: I love this package.  It can do anything you want it to, for $20K-$30K, or higher.  Dassault has got their fingers into everything and has deep pockets for improving their software.  CATIA is used by the big automotive and aerospace companies.  CATIA will continue to grow, although much slower than "mid-range" CAD packages because the BIG companies can not afford buggy software.  When a new release of CATIA comes out, it has usually been THOROUGHLY tested and nearly bug free.  CATIA is a difficult system to learn and requires extensive training and use to become proficient.  CATIA runs on both UNIX and Windows OS.  They use the ACIS kernal, so you really don't get "parametric" modeling as defined in other systems.  But, they do have parametrics.  Drafting is clumsy, but extremely powerful.  Once the user interface is understood, the final drawing can match any standard.  CATIA does have an embedded FEA package, but it stinks (as of V4.2).

SolidWorks:  A great mid-range package that is making new releases every year (or sooner).  Problem is, not enough beta-testing to meet the demand for new functionality and you end up with buggy releases until about Service Pack 3.  SolidWorks should never merge with CATIA because the price range then bursts out of the mid-range area and Daussalt loses a huge market of small companies.  What you may see is a well featured, fully functional version of SolidWorks that will replace CATIA, but not for many many years to come.  Much sooner, I think we'll see a file format that is interchangeable with CATIA.

SolidEdge: Always just a step short of SolidWorks but still a very good package.  If you need 2D drafting, get SolidEdge.  It has a fully functional, as in was once a standalone, 2D package.  The package is much quicker to learn than Works, but both can be learned withing a few weeks time.  SolidEdge is owned by UGS, makers of Unigraphics... competitor to CATIA.  Lot's of similarities in the future for UG/Edge and CATIA/Works, in my opinion.  In fact, I think Edge files can be fewed in UG and vice versa already.

T-flex: Look it up.  I just heard about it, seems interesting.

Solid Modeling Kernels:  I bring this up because CATIA generally used the ACIS kernel.  Dassault licensed the parasolid kernel from UGS for SolidWorks.  UGS uses the parasolid kernel in UG and SolidEdge, but does license the ACIS kernal from Dassault/IBM.  Weird circumstance that the competing makers license their kernels in such a way.

Sorry for the length.

--Scott Wertel

RE: IDEAs, Catia, Solidworks or Solid Edge - need advice!


I would have to agree with just about everything that you stated above.  I have to take exception with your statement "...The [Solid Edge] package is much quicker to learn than Works..."  From a new user standpoint, learning Solid Edge may be easier because there isn't nearly as many commands to learn - ie., Solid Edge is always behind.

If you have any other 3D mid or high-end CAD background, Solid Edge will drive you up the wall!!!!  There are other CAD packages on the market that can do much more than Solid Edge can for $1000 less, specificly SolidWorks.

I have well over a year of heavy use with both Solid Edge and SolidWorks on the same machine during the same time period.  I can say without a doubt that Solid Edge has many more bugs that SolidWorks.

It has just recently been reported by Solid Edge on their news group that UGS/Solid Edge does not do any beta testing of Solid Edge.  They let the users of Solid Edge find them and report them to support.  The bugs are prioritized and scheduled for fix.  I have many bugs logged with UGS, with some dating back to V7 and they are not slated for fix until V10.

Jim Smithie, Webmaster

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