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Thread: CAD advice needed

  1. #1
    Hello-

    Our team's objective for next year is to model the entire car, including every single part. I have been using CATIA V5 for a couple of years. It's a great program, but I feel it has limitations. For instance, on a single computer, I find it difficult to make a big assembly without CATIA getting so slow it is impossible to work with.

    I was wondering if there was a lighter CAD program around that would enable us to model the entire thing without having to find a 50 computer network.

    What about Solidworks? SolidEdge? Alibre? Inventor?

    Thank you
    Didier Beaudoin
    École Polytechnique de Montréal 2005-2008
    École nationale d'aérotechnique 2004

  2. #2
    Hello-

    Our team's objective for next year is to model the entire car, including every single part. I have been using CATIA V5 for a couple of years. It's a great program, but I feel it has limitations. For instance, on a single computer, I find it difficult to make a big assembly without CATIA getting so slow it is impossible to work with.

    I was wondering if there was a lighter CAD program around that would enable us to model the entire thing without having to find a 50 computer network.

    What about Solidworks? SolidEdge? Alibre? Inventor?

    Thank you
    Didier Beaudoin
    École Polytechnique de Montréal 2005-2008
    École nationale d'aérotechnique 2004

  3. #3
    Well, let's start with your computer's specs. If you don't have at least 1GB of RAM, you're dead in the water. 2GB is better.

    Next in importance for CAD is the video card. The nVidia quadro line is made for CAD, vs. their gaming cards. However, the gaming cards can be "soft-quadro'd" (thank you Russia) to unlock the professional features you'll find in the quadro cards at 3X the price.

    Then, CPU speed. If you're building a new computer, Athlon64 is the way to go, yes even while running 32 bit software. Do a search for solidworks benchmark, you'll see.

    Finally, it helps to have fast hard drives if you're working with huge assemblies. It can take 10 minutes to just save or open our full vehicle assembly. You can speed this up by creating a RAID0 striped array, two disks that act as one. But, don't trust it for long-term storage, the failure risk is doubled.

    Software - SolidWorks will get the job done, you've seen the pictures, but it slows down exponentially with assembly size. I don't have any experience with large assemblies on other software, but I assume they all work, and I bet CATIA is among the best.

    There are certain modeling tricks you can do to save file size, such as:
    -Eliminate helical surfaces from your parts, SolidWorks doesn't handle them very well
    -Avoid "flexible subassemblies"
    -Avoid "in context" features, which make SolidWorks run around in circles
    -Create subassemblies for major parts of the car, such as:
    -Front Suspension
    -Rear Suspension
    -Engine
    -Drivetrain
    -Chassis

    This allows you to work on reasonably-sized sections of the car at once, without opening the stuff you don't care about.

    Hope that helps.
    Alumni, University of Washington
    Structural / Mechanical Engineer, Blue Origin

  4. #4
    I wonder if they ran into the same limitations when they were designing the F22 Raptor . Who knows maybe they had more RAM

    Kidding aside, I run Unigraphics on my computer at home, of which I haven't found any limitations that would keep me from completing every morsel of our car (if I'm so motivated), with an AMD 2800, 512 RAM and a 9700 Pro video card and even with a 50 MB assembly I only get slight pause during rendering.....

    Denny I would take it one step further and go RAID 5 with more than 2 disks, to increase read/write times dramatically and get the added advantage of full data recover-ability assuming no 2 disks fail at the same time.
    Cheers

    -Some people need to get an ice-cream sandwich,
    -Cement Legs needs to get an ice-cream sandwich

  5. #5
    We've used Pro/E Wildfire 1.0 the last 2 years. This year, we're looking into SolidWorks. The student package with COSMOS has a LOT to offer, and it's a little more user-friendly than Pro/E. I've been using SWX 2004 at work for the last month or so, and I'm beginning to see how they compare. SWX does have a lot to offer.. especially for the price!
    Wray
    UMSAE

  6. #6
    To add to Didier's comments, I used to run CATIA on a dual MP1800+ with 1.5G of RAM and a Quadro4 900 equivalent (Ti4600). Maybe not state of the art these days but still- I think you could reasonably expect decent performance for FSAE-sized assemblies, but that definitely wasn't the case for anything above a few dozen parts. I know acceptable performance is kinda subjective, but we're talking about something only a rather masochistic Zen monk could put up with.

    CATIA just strikes me as a huge bloated POS sometimes, so we'd probably like to try something a bit leaner.

    Marc Jaxa-Rozen
    École Polytechnique de Montréal

  7. #7
    Solidworks and Inventor both have very similar functionality. I use SW2005 at work and we have SW2004 in the design computer labs. Haven't played with Inventor since v9 beta.

    SolidEdge, from what I've heard, is crappy.

    When I was working on NASA payloads in Inventor it handled 100+ part assemblies surprisingly well, though SolidWorks also has a large-assembly mode and I haven't used it much recently.

    What I liked about Inventor more than Solidworks is the Inventor interface is slightly more streamlined, and is hotkeyed nicely for high productivity without having to manually set a key for everything. Things are grouped a bit better IMO, for example there's only one extrude command and from there you can specify boss or cut, same with revolve, etc. Whereas Solidworks has a separate button/command for each. Less crap in your toolbars.

    In addition, the SW releases seem to get more cartoony and maybe a bit too user friendly. '06 ships in June I believev.

    In either case, both are good bets. Both are much more user friendly than Pro/E, and are much less expensive than CATIA or UG. Go find some resellers, get a demo, see what pricing deals you can work out.

    Hope that helps
    Colorado FSAE | '05 - '07
    Goodyear Tire & Rubber | '07 - '11
    NASCAR Engineer | '11 - ??

  8. #8
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Jersey Tom:
    Both are much more user friendly than Pro/E, </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Ha definetly PRO-E to me is the most userunfriendly program there is. I do not mind doing something not according to it's definitions, but it should tell me more explicit. Also I would like it to be way more flexible; multiple ways to get some blended surface for instance, the program just gets me freaking frustrated.

  9. #9
    one piece of advice

    DONT USE SOLID EDGE ITS SH*T!


    can tell you that first hand

  10. #10
    *voice for solid edge*

    i think SE is way better than solid works...it opens faster, saves faster, has the least clumbsy view-orientation feature that i've seen (so simple, but sooo important), and is way better at both surfacing and drafting, not to mention the combined data management that comes with it. i've never had a problem with large assemblies either (we are doing a huge ass 45 ft vehicle in it at work...and no real problems, so a formula car would be fine).

    I also did the bodies for Lawrence Tech's 04 and 05 car in SE and had no problems skinning our cars, not to mention getting the data out of the computer, and into a 'plug', was a dream as well. my only complaint with solid edge is that the newer versions are looking more and more like SW....following the 'XP cartoonish icons" craze that is sweeping the software industry.

    as far as straight parametric modeling, SE and SW are equal for the most part. SW has a slightly better dimensioning/sketching paradigm, but its not that hard to replicate in SE if your creative. in the end, for me, SE is a better program.

    im currious though, what did solid edge do to you jonny8?

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