Fig. 1 A street bike shown in CAD mesh.
Mechanical Engineering Consulting Group Evaluates 3D CAD Programs
Mechanical Engineering Consulting Testing of Creo™, Solidworks™, and Inventor™
Mechanical Engineering Consulting service companies largely use one of three 3D CAD programs: Creo™, Solidworks™, and Inventor™. At Glew Engineering, we have licensed seats of all three CAD mechanical design packages. We reviewed the CAD workflow and feature sets of each 3D CAD program using motorcycle frame design as an example. Also, we showed that some of the specialized commands of each 3D CAD software programs are better suited for specific tasks. Our engineers are experienced with 3D CAD, stress analysis by Finite Element Analysis (FEA), as well as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) FEA & CFD. Using Glew Engineering’s expertise, we help answer the question: which is the best CAD program for various applications?
Mechanical Design 3D CAD Software Benefits Custom Motorcycle Builders
Mechanical Design 3D CAD software provides value to motorcycle companies in high volume manufacturing production, customer builders, and motorcycle aftermarket suppliers. The large meshed figure above in Fig. 1 illustrates 3D CAD software technology used in the sport bike industry. Unfortunately, many custom bike manufacturers and low volume motorcycle shops design and build by hand, not with CAD. They miss the CAD benefits of the ability to redesign on the fly, optimize material selections prior to fabrication, simplify their tooling and jigs, and reduce weight. These benefits drive down time to market and cost. Engaging an outside mechanical engineering consulting firm can bridge the gap with custom motorcycle builders and fast time to market expectations of clients. See Fig. 2 below of a chopper, and Fig. 3 of a custom bike in process.
Fig. 2 A Bobber Style Motorcycle Frame
Fig. 3 Custom Bike in Progress
Mechanical Design using Creo™, Solidworks™, and Inventor™
CAD companies design their software with different intended principal applications and markets, hoping to serve the broadest mechanical design market spaces possible. AutoCAD™ was initially designed for Architectural CAD (ACAD). The 3D CAD software packages CREO™, Solidworks™, and Inventor™ were originally designed for Mechanical CAD (MCAD). To some extent, most MCAD software integrates with or has some Electrical CAD (ECAD) capability. Further, they also integrate with Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software and Computational Fluid Design (CFD) packages. Most companies use 3D CAD software for various functions, not just mechanical design and layout: two dimensional (2D) part drawings, assembly drawings, illustrations, bills of materials (BOMs), parts lists, animations, illustration, manuals and more.
Benefit of Using a ‘Software Agnostic’ Mechanical Engineering Consulting Firm
When searching for an outside mechanical engineering consulting firm, it is advantageous to engage an organization that uses the same package as your internal engineers. Or if no internal CAD program already exists, then choose an outside firm that can select the software that is optimal for the design requirements at hand.
SolidWorks™ tends to be used by small to medium sized companies needing an easy-to-use, intuitive, and affordable 3D CAD program. The medical device industry uses SolidWorks™ almost exclusively. Many perceive that it has a fast learning curve, as well as, user friendly.
Large companies, as well as their supply chain, who need a mature, robust 3D CAD program use Creo™. Companies value the ability to handle large assemblies and uniformly control many CAD seats. Companies, along with their supply chains, in the defense and aerospace industries use Creo™ for complex projects. CAD users often perceive, rightly or not, that Creo™ has a steep learning curve. However, the same CAD users realize its many advantages for complex projects and configuration management. Simply, some feel it trades power for simplicity. PTC has made many changes in Pro/Engineer, and CREO™ a more user friendly and stabile than it was three decades ago. PTC’s many enhancements to the graphical user interface (GUI) rivaling the competition’s user experience.
Small to medium sized companies tend use Autodesk Inventor™ for its 3D capability, design tree, and other features that are necessary to MCAD users. Also, it provides tight integration with their FEA and CFD offering (FEA & CFD). Autodesk sells Inventor™ as part of a software design suite with 20 other pieces of software to enhance the design process. CAD users often perceive it as having a simple user interface with a fast learning curve, more akin to SolidWorks™ than CREO™.
At Glew Engineering, we use all three of these 3D CAD software packages (CAD) and wrestle with the question of which package is best for a project. Generally, we use the CAD software that our clients use for compatibility. This enables a seamless transfer of knowledge and files between the Glew team and the client. If a client does not not already use CAD, Glew will discuss the trade offs of the different software approaches. Leading to many of the same questions, posed in the blog series relating to which 3D CAD software would be best for a specific project.
In the next installment in the 3D CAD Comparison series of blogs, we actually design and model a motorcycle frame and compare different programs. Fig. 4, Early Stage 3D CAD Bobber Motorcycle Frame Design, and Fig. 5 Completed 3D CAD Bobber Motorcycle Frame, are featured in the next part of the series.
Fig. 4 – Early Stage 3D CAD Bobber Motorcycle Frame Design
Fig. 5 – Completed 3D CAD Bobber Motorcycle Frame