3D MCAD TODAY!
This is the last in a series of articles documenting my
experience with the introduction of 3D CAD into
industrial/mechanical engineering. Please take some time to
read them all. From board draftsman, to 3D CAD designer, to
3D CAD program dealer, to 3D CAD teacher, some of this
information may surprise you.
54 Years of Engineering
My First 17 Years or "How did we do it without
The 1980's - 3D CAD - The Beginning
The 1990's - 3D CAD/CAM Moves to the PC!!
The 2000's - The Age of 3D CAD Un-Enlightenment!
January 18th, 2019
Here are my latest articles.
Digital Twin Defined
A Solidworks Competitor?
Production Body Challenge
There is a new buzz word being
touted by the Infotech (IT - Information Technology) folks.
This is being hugely marketed by Siemens and PTC/Rockwell.
It looks like Dassault is focused on the 3DExperience being
promoted to its existing users.
Digital Transformation is not necessarily about
digital technology, but about the fact that technology,
which is digital, allows people to solve their traditional
problems. And they prefer this digital solution to the old
Old Solution? What the hell are they talking about? This is
just a rebranding of Computerization. Truly there is nothing
we do that has not been digitalized!
This is part of
the FIR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) or Industry 4.0. You
really have to admire the arrogance of a group that states
that their own technology is the new revolution. It is
nothing more than the extension of the TIR (Third Industrial
This is a very strange group made
up of PLM gurus, PHD, MSME, BSME, Infotech gurus that seem
to be a bunch of bobble heads that are manipulated by
companies like Siemen, PTC/Rockwell and Dassault. I do not
see monetary benefits to most of the minions. These
companies use these folks, knowing most have huge buttons on
self importance, to foster the cause. When you read an
article promoting FIR, you see it is usually written by a
marketing employee of one of those companies.
But is not just the infotech
world that is pushing this, it is being pushed by the World
Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey & Company.
This is a huge management firm that supports the largest of
companies. You can only imagine the amounts of money that
It is a bit bizarre to me to watch companies like Boeing,
that were the leaders in their industry, go to these outside
firms for management support with their industrial
solutions, and not in a trivial way.
Fourth Industrial Revolution -
Beacons of Technology and
Innovation in Manufacturing
The CIOs (Chief Information Officer) are in charge or at the
right hand of the CEO and advising them. They make the
recommendations and then dictate to the other departments
including engineering. I saw these folks power grow at
Boeing in 1986. BCS (Boeing Computer Services) were
dictating the CAD software Boeing would use, not because of
productivity but politics.
CADKEY or Catia? Boeing’s Billion-Dollar 3D CAD Mistake!
It was the weirdest thing, the enemy of BCS was the
drafting group. Little power there, the Drafting Group was
dissolved at the turn of the century and the title
was even eliminated. The Document Control Group was also gone
replaced by Dassualt's Catia 5 PLM.
The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has
all the talent gone?”
Sadly, these infotech folks are trying to or have taken
control of all aspects of business, especially in engineering
Here are a few terms that do not offer any process just
state the obvious.
IoT - The Internet of Things
the network of devices such as vehicles, and home appliances
that contain electronics, software, actuators, and
connectivity which allows these things to connect, interact
and exchange data.
All of this was going on before the term was coined.
Digital engineering is the art of
creating, capturing and integrating data using
a digital skillset. ... Through progressive applications,
the art of digital engineering enables designers to explore
possibilities and develop innovative solutions in a virtual
I have been doing digital engineering since 1982 it was call
CAD (Computer Aided Design). Why are these folks always
refers to a
digital replica of physical assets, processes, people,
places, systems and devices that can be used for various
purposes. The digital representation provides both the
elements and the dynamics of how an Internet of things
device operates and lives throughout its life cycle.
This is by far the most misunderstood concept. They are very
confused on this term. If you are designing in 3D CAD, the
manufactured part is the "Physical Twin". If it is a
structural part or assembly much of the simulation is done
before the documentation is released. More than likely a
prototype is made or at least scrutiny of the first article.
Digital Twin Defined
The State of PLM
It seems like the top three: Siemens,
Dassault and PTC are
moving away from the term PLM and are moving to the
completely generic Digital Transformation. This hugely
muddies the waters. The top three are obviously running
scare of some of the third party PLM products being offered
that compete with their failed solutions. So they have
changed the names to keep the large customers on board. Go
ahead and view their websites. PLM use to be all over now
you have to search for it.
All of this is again under the guidance of the CIO and the
Infotech group in cahoots with the top three to keep control
and keep the money flowing. This is a huge example of the
fox watching the hen house. They depend on upper management
to trust them. I really wonder if upper management is really
this ignorant or in the pockets of these culprits.
Sadly, the top three have designed their software with PLM
and MBE to keep a company totally dependent. There are ways
out? Moving the engineering documentation out of the native
CAD system and standardize.
I have written the following article to educate the PLM folks on how
the engineering process really works. I really am shocked
that these folks never studied the proven standard process
of the past. It would have been so easy to implement 3D CAD
if they did. But
the top three CAD companies saw the opportunity to completely
take over a company with the failed PLM based on a very
convoluted CAD paradigm.
Engineering Documentation A Primer for the PLM Guru!
I would love to see a study on the productivity before the
computerization of engineering as compared to now. I enjoyed
the high level of standardization of the past. Today, engineering documentation (my area of expertise) is not
standardized and each large company is winging it with MBE.
If you think of it we only added the 3D model.
PMI vs AID
We are talking about so much power in the hands of vested
interests. The Infotechs have infiltrated every large
company. They should instantly be put in a subservient
position under the scrutiny of the other departments.
We need more than a disruption
we need a revolution.
August 31st, 2018
I have been a busy bee. I have written a few more
articles since April. The engineering world is getting more
and more complex, costly and ineffective.
The major CAD vendors are going to have to downsize if you
do not keep your subscriptions up. LOL They are getting
freaked out and trying to push MBE/MBD/PMI to keep you
locked into their software. Of course, this engineering
process will fail.
Why MBE/MBD/PMI Will FAIL PART I
Why MBE/MBD/PMI Will Fail Part II
One day some large manufacturing company executive will look
at the stats pre-CAD and today's engineering and
manufacturing costs and wonder why are we depending on these
"CAD" companies for the basis of our engineering and
The time is Now! We can help you cut those ties. Just a
small procedural change. No new software! You can then
decided to change to a more cost effective CAD solution if
you want. Hopefully you have not moved to the subscription.
Hmm maybe you can go back to the perpetual system.
With these changes you can get rid of most of your PLM
software, PLM and Systems Engineering staff. Move to a cloud
based document controls system maintained by inexpensive
admin people. Reduce the dependence on the native CAD or 3rd
party PDM system.
Take a look at these titles there is bound to be one that
might spark your interest.
So, what "HAS" gone wrong with Engineering? Part III
We haven't made a Drawing Since 3D CAD was Introduced!
Engineering Ignorance Defined II
Top 5 Reasons to Use MBD, DEBUNKED!
Engineering Ignorance Defined III
How to Define a 3D PMI Assembly! You have got to be
Engineering Ignorance Defined IV
Defining the “2D Drawing” Redundant? Of course!
Engineering Ignorance Defined V
Altering the Model for PMI Documentation
Engineering Yesterday & Today
Engineer's Job Description - The Search for the Purple
The Millennial 3D MCAD Engineer
All You Wanted to Know About Drawing to 3D Conversions
Learning IronCAD in ONE Minute!
April 20th, 2018
We have two subjects to talk about
The “2D Drawing”.
I have hated that term since who
ever coined it. I am sure it was some PLM guru. Really, what
other kind of drawings are there?
I have made it one of
my goals to remove that term from the engineering lexicon,
along with BOM for the industrial/mechanical engineering
world. It is a Parts List!
two popular engineering documents. There is a not so popular
3rd but we will not go into that here.
This is a manual or electronically created document defining
the part or assembly with unassociated orthographically
projected views on a specific drawing format/sheet.
AID (Associated Information Document) – This a document
generated with associated views from the 3D model in a
special documentation module in the 3D MCAD program. While
it can stand alone depending on the level of detail, it is
usually delivered with the 3D model as an associated
information document in a PDF, hence AID
Please read my latest article:
There will be a test! Just kidding!!
The Two CAD Programs that Set the Path to 3D MCAD Chaos!
I have been talking to a couple of
prospective clients about their engineering documentation
problems. They told me they have a large legacy of
electronic drawings (definition 1). They do not do
electronic drawings (definition 1) any more they have moved
on to 3D MCAD. But they still maintain these drawings and
actually send out the native .dwg or .dxf to their
suppliers. I used to laugh when someone would say we have to
convert the Autocad users. Being in the northwest with
Boeing driving 3D MCAD we had very few.
This is a huge problem for these
folks. They really do not know how to handle the situation.
Many are handling their document control in a variety of
ways. Conventional PLM has failed.
I really don't think
the PLM guru's really understand engineering documentation
in both manual and in the CAD world.
One of the fellows not only has a
legacy of Autocad drawings (definition 1) but a huge amount
of Mechanical Desktop files. They have now moved to Inventor
and are having a problem accessing the Mechanical desktop
files. They do not want to move on to the subscription only
and are now looking to a perpetual solution.
As I was made aware of the problem I
realized many have been using Autocad for drawings
(definition 1) for 15 years. I assume they all have moved on
by 2000 with Inventor.
How do we access that legacy data
in an effective way?
It is relatively simple. We need a
cloud based graphic based program as I describe here. Where
you can have all forms of documentation (Yes, the 3D model
is documentation). But to do this we have to take the data
management out of the hands of the PLM folks and put it back
the hands of engineering.
I am hoping a smart group of
programmers give me a call and we can design a simple
system. The basics are already here.
The Embedded Title Block!
A PLM Solution!
The Ultimate Engineering Document Control System
Cloud Based Engineering Document Control
The Next Topic
The Millennial 3D MCAD engineer.
This actually ties to the last
article. The couple of engineers I talked to, arrived after
2000. One graduated in 2010. I was a bit shocked as I talked
to him, realizing he probably has never seen a drafting
board, met a professional draftsman or been in a drafting
room. His experiences were electronic only. More than likely
he has never used Autocad for drawings (definition 1).
Now, this is not the only fellow I
have bumped into. There is a very bright engineer I debate
with occasionally. He made the statement that he had 10
years’ experience. I thought 10 years? That means he
graduated in 2008. I realized that he probably also has
never met a professional draftsman. I am constantly talking
about how draftsmen have disappeared and now replaced by 3D
MCAD engineers and assume that many worked with and were
introduced to 3D MCAD by experienced draftsman.
Prior to 2000 most 3D MCAD was done
by the draftsman. The product was still the AID (definition
2) and was being delivered along with the 3D model as a
paper print. No engineer was willing to create AIDs so the
draftsman still held a viable position.
adopted Catia 5 PLM in 1998. They probably looked at the
costs of delivering the paper print and devised the PMI
(Product Manufacturing Information) not realizing the
electronic delivery system from Adobe, the PDF, was just
around the corner. Since this minimized the need for
dimensioning, they also decided they didn’t need draftsman.
This is where MBE (Model Based Enterprise) showed up trying
to use the 3D model as the design authority. The PMI, being
what you can only call a 3D drawing replaced the drawing
(definition 1) and the AID (definition 2). The PMI is the
3rd engineering document.
The Death of the Drawing
Shockingly, many of the large manufacturers were
sold this bill of goods by the three major 3D MCAD systems
and followed suit.
This is where the 3D MCAD engineers
was defined. The Drafting and Documentation Control group
were dissolved and draftsman were renamed engineering
technicians and document control move under Catia 5 PLM.
I suppose this was the last of the
work done by engineering techs (draftsman) since Boeing was
not hiring any and letting them go by attrition and
replacing them with the degreed 3D CAD engineer, preferably
with Catia 5 experience.
Enter the Millennial 3D MCAD Engineer
The millennial 3D MCAD engineer,
graduating after 2000, entered engineering without any
reference of the draftsman. They see drawings (definition 1)
and have no clue how they were done or where they came from.
3D MCAD has been here since 1982, PC based electronic
drawings (definition 1) in 1983, PC based 3D CADKEY since
1986, surface modeling since 1989, solid modeling on the PC
since 1995, all 3D MCAD on the PC by 2000!
Now I am being very general, I am
sure there are a few Millennial 3D MCAD Engineers that had
family that may have been in engineering and told them about
the old days. But I am sure many did not.
beginning to realize how out of touch I am with today's
engineering world. It is worse than I thought.
Millennial Engineer is now moving to management. They are
trying to work in the failed PLM system. They have no idea
that the PLM guru has never done any engineering and are
living in ivory towers protected by their pedantic
acronym-ridden description of how the engineering process
should work, never ever doing any engineering.
These people are a fraud hiding behind
There is one fellow pushing a BOM (part list) program
that actually thinks that a parts list is a living function.
I am not sure if he even knows that a parts list only
relates to the assembly and sub-assemblies. I imagine it is
relatively easy to fool the Millennial 3D MCAD engineer.
Engineering Documentation Today!
So there you go. We don’t have 3D
CAD engineers, we now have the Millennial 3D MCAD engineer.
Not depending on my past, that was based on a smoothly
operating standard engineering process, but a completely
convoluted and chaotic non-standard past. Twice removed from
a functional standard engineering process and not even
knowing why a standard would exist.
So how do we educate these
Millennial 3D MCAD engineers? Well, we can't look to those
that just came before them. Sadly, they threw out all of the
I have a few old draftsman
associates I worked 30 years ago working now working in this
environment. You should hear their experiences of this new
Millennial 3D MCAD engineering management.
One associate said to one Millennial
"We can't do that, it is not
"Standards are only Guide Lines"
The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has
all the talent gone?”
Millennial 3D CAD Engineer
Should the Millennial 3D MCAD Engineer Learn Drafting?
December 8th, 2017
Making a CAD move in 2018?
Many companies have basically
been stuck with their CAD software for decades. Due to their
engineering process they feel like it would be a horror show
But the Autodesk and PTC users are having to face that fact.
No company can have their data held hostage by any software
company. You can see that both Autodesk and PTC are losing
money. Do you think they are not going to remedy this by not
raising the subscription rates?
You are Not Stuck with Autodesk or PTC CAD Subscriptions!
Even now they expect you to pay by the year, completely
defeating the, "It is easy to get into our product". It is
interesting if you subscribe to Creo they put you on an
automatic annual payment program. They know once you sign up
you now have no other option.
So let's consider changing systems!!
Yes, I know you have many experienced users and massive
legacy data to consider. Then add the cost of the new
software. But most of you can do it will little consequence
and if you think it through now have no choice.
The problem is basically is based on document control.
If you use a model and and AID (drawing) as your engineering
deliverable then there is little to change.
If you are on a MBE system you many want to move to the
above system. Sadly, the MBE system has virtually no
engineering documentation standards and will sooner or later
become a problematic mess. The above system demands no
special software to view and use the documentation and
offers a much better quality standard document to
PMI vs AID (Associated Information Document)
Yes you have to keep your original system forever!!
Boeing use Catia 3 and 4 for 13 years and then introduced
Catia 5. Catia 5 was a complete different 3D CAD program and
neither could read each others files. A fiasco? Beyond
belief. Yes, Boeing is stuck with networked Catia 4 forever.
But our solutions are much more compatible than the Boeing
move. All of our solutions can directly import all the
So you make the decision to move. Don't be fooled by the
cost prohibited high end systems, NX and Catia, that promise
to manage your complete engineering and company. It has been
shown to be a failure. It can be so much simpler. Hell, they
did it without the computer with a much more streamlined
standard process 40 years ago. You are already suffering
from a huge painful PLM system now. You can stay with your
existing system and move to a much more cost effective and
easily to manage document control system.
The only mid range systems are Solidworks and Solid Edge. Of
course, the big boys all seem to be in cahoots to go to
subscription only. Do you really trust them?
Acutally, it may be time to move from your existing system!!
Right now we are looking at Inventor and Creo.
My two solutions are very easy to use and can easily replace
Inventor and Creo or any other 3D CAD package. The only
problem is the AID (Associated Information Document). No
system can read each others AIDs (drawings). That is one of
the reasons to keep the systems. But changing a part after
release is a rare thing. Most parts are archived never to be
Why TECH-NET Sells IronCAD and ZW3D
IronCAD offers a true single model design environment (parts
and assemblies in a single file), it is the only package
that has true integrated history/direct edit modeling, copy
and paste parts and assemblies from other files and the
incredible feature, part and assembly manipulator, the
Triball. This unique system offers 10x increased
productivity and can fit right into your system.
ZW3D Lite offers a Multi-Object design environment which
differs from a single model environment with each part being
separate yet in the same file, it offers primitive shapes
(increases design productivity 2X) and the integrated AID
(drawing). Imagine not having to worry about an AID
ZW3D is what I call the "Ultimate 3D CAD/CAM system. It adds
integrated standalone class A surfacing, precision morphing,
sheet metal design and incredibly robust reverse engineering
ZW3D also is an integrated CAD/CAM system offering mold
design and CNC programming.
Both of these solutions import Creo, NX, Solidworks, Solid
Edge and Inventor. They can also import/export all of the
neutral formats plus Catia 4 and 5.
ZW3D adds PMI import to NX, Solidworks, Catia and Creo.
They are easy to learn and use by experienced 3D CAD
designers. Yes, you get some resistance but soon they
realize the incredible productivity increase and are now
ZW3D or IronCAD Users.
Costs are much more cost effective in the long run. If you
find the enhancement worth upgrading, its is your option or
you could just stay with your current version.
IronCAD is $3970.00 and Inovate (Modeling only) $1270.00
IronCAD rental is $1500.00 per year.
ZW3D Lite is $2000.00 Perpetual and $600.00 annual rental
ZW3D Standard is $3000.00 Perpetual and $900,00 annual
Both of these companies have a stable user base and very
small overhead. And still base their sales on highly
experience dealers that offer real world support.
It is an easy move? Not always but it now may be your only
You can see how much Andrew values your past faithfulness.
more information or to download IronCAD of ZW3D
August 11th, 2017
Not much new on the 3D CAD horizon, so I thought I would
look into how to buy 3D CAD software. I logged on to each
vendor and reviewed "How to Buy".
Your CAD company doesn't own you!
There are other options!
No one should give up their
perpetual seats for a subscription. It is an obvious
statement that the CAD vendor has reached the end of their
product cycle and the only way we can keep you on board is
to fool you into believing they really have something to
offer you that is worth paying them forever. If there was a
time to consider another 3D CAD option, it is now. There are
many solutions that are much more productive and cost
effective. If you move to a
simple document control system their PLM becomes
worthless. Not that it isn't worthless right now.
Subscription Only: There
are so many thing wrong with this concept.
is a very bad business decision. It is like getting married
to someone you can't control and almost impossible to
divorce after a few years. Your precious engineering
information is at their mercy. As soon as you subscribe and
start using the software you have just locked your company
out of that information without paying a "Ransom".
Price increases? You have "NO" choice!
Rental with a Perpetual Option:
This is a viable business model and the best for both the
CAD vendor and customer. If you are using a subscription
only do not subscribe and slowly move your information to
one of these systems. Our ZW3D product line offers this
solution with no maintenance, upgrades only. Rental starts
at $350.00 per year for ZW3D Lite.
only: IronCAD offers perpetual
only with annual maintenance. I would like to see a 6 month
and 12 month rental option.
How to Buy
Look like PTC has moved to subscription only. It is
interesting $2,200.00 per year gets all of their 3D Design
Key Features Much of their promo is on PLM. Truly this
is this high-end systems only claim to fame. It is by far the
most fragmented program today!
But what about all of the extensions. They have a myriad of
optional extensions and it seems that you have to call for
more information or to purchase. You can download a 30 day
evaluation of Creo Parametric which indicates it can easily
be loaded and played with. Nope, I won't do it. LOL
I believe PTC will be the first of the large companies to
How to Buy
Of course, Dassault is as obscure as ever. You fill out a
form or call. I am not sure if they send you to a dealer (I
don't think there are many) or deal direct. There does not
seem to be a way of evaluating with out contacting sales.
Many of these programs have given up on just part design and
have focused first on PLM, which puts it out of the range of
most mid-sized company and large companies in my viewpoint.
Dassault has made engineering very, very expensive, not only
in the initial cost but in the operational environment.
Catia is actually one of the easier systems to replace.
Actually the only people that would buy Catia would be those that have
to communicate with those that already have it. I heard a
story about a company that bought Catia 6 and it took 6
months before they had it up and running. It is just too
complex for most of part and assembly design.
Catia has a good future as long as they can keep their large
How to Buy NX
Siemens has by far the worst website in the industry. If
you want to buy NX you have to contact them. I am not sure
if they have a rental option.
I have heard it is very PLM focused and you have to set up
your data management as you install the software. While NX
is probably the best of the high-end CAD systems for design
it is still a bit clunky to use and has quite a bit of
I know they still have dealers around, so I imagine they
refer you to a dealer if there is one in the area. There seem to be
two NX dealers in the Portland, OR area. One sells NX only
the other also offers Solidworks (Which I will get to later).
I sold Solidworks and the NX sales staff was always trying
to take my SE customers and move them up to NX.
Buy Subscribe Autodesk
Subscription only?? Just pick the product and subscribe.
This truly is a losing deal. You can subscribe by the month
that gives the impression of getting into the product very
cost effective until you have paid the 10th payment. Yes,
every month you have to make a payment. Yes, there is a
discount if you pay annually or for 3 years. But it will
never stop. If you don't pay? No access to your precious
What if they increase the price? You have no recourse!! You
are held hostage. Who would fall for this incredibly one
That is the deal breaker. Time to move to a system that
thinks of you first?
I am sure all of the dealers will be gone soon. Autodesk
does not refer you to a dealer anymore, just their on-line
store. Even expensive products like Alias subscriptions are
You are Not Stuck with Autodesk
to Buy Solid Edge
You can rent Solid Edge directly from the website. If
you want a perpetual seat they request that you call.
How to Buy Solidworks
They offer to sell you Solidworks from inside sales or refer
you to a dealer. They don't reference rental options, but I
have heard that it is available.
How to Buy ZW3D
Of course, TECH-NET sells and rents ZW3D. Before you make
any decisions look at ZW3D. It easily matches all of the
above packages in part and assembly modeling but adds two
things that make it much more productive. The multi-object
(Single Model) environment and the integrated drawing. Just
imagine how simple that would make your design and PDM
process? But its claim to fame is its reasonable pricing.
All ZW3D packages include importing of NX, Solidworks, Creo
and Catia native files including PMI. It also imports
Inventor and Solid Edge. It imports and exports all of the
neutral formats plus Catia 4 and 5.
Annual Rental $350.00 Perpetual $1,300.00
ZW3D Standard Annual Rental
$625.00 Perpetual $2,500.00
Ultimate 3D CAD System
ZW3D is an truly integrated CAD/CAM package. Give us a call
for more information. All CNC options come with professional
The Case for Inexpensive Integrated 3D CAD/CAM!
How to Buy IronCAD
TECH-NET, sells and supports IronCAD. IronCAD only comes
with a perpetual options. It is by far the very best 3D CAD
conceptual design program. It only cost a year of two of
annual subscriptions or rentals the above CAD packages. I
can tell you it is worth it. It is 5X increase productivity
in conceptual design and 10X when modifying.
Five Functions that Increase 3D CAD Productivity!!
IronCAD - $3,970.00 Maintenance $895.00 Upgrade from any
Inovate - $1,270.00 Maintenance $295.00 Upgrade from
any version $495.00
Inovate is one of the few modeling only package available.
Great for those that are creating models for 3D printing or
need access to the engineering models for a variety of
reasons from analysis, manufacturing and even sales and
Things are changing in the industry. The large CAD vendors
are starting to lose there continued sales and are force to
move their users to not so friendly options to keep their
cash flow. I just want to make you aware there are other
solutions. You are not stuck with these systems. I look and
see that Boeing has extended their relationship with
Dassault. Sadly, they think they have no option. But
replacing Catia is one of the easier things to do.
Give me a call to help you with any situation you are now
confronting. You truly need to evaluate the subscription
option. We have a cost effective solution. Not in just part
design but making document control (PDM) much easier.
January 6th, 2017
There have been a few changes in the industry since April
1. Version 2017
Every CAD product has released a 2017 version of their
product including the ones I support. Do you even look at
the enhancements? Or do you just load it like an automaton
and keep on working. How many of you have really reviewed
the enhancements? Most have just keep on working not
noticing an enhancement until it effects your operations and
you become very upset. Now you have to figure out what they
I have a great article about the Maintenance Contract.
How to keep the suckers
All You Wanted to Know about the Annual CAD Maintenance Contract
You are Not Stuck with Autodesk
2. The largest change in the
industry has been with Onshape.
They have eliminated the 10
private projects and all the work you do is now public and
available to anyone with an account. One of the benefits was
you could use Onshape like a document control system as sort
of advanced blue print counter (I will have an article on
that in a few weeks) but they have limited private documents
to read only with a free account. Now this may change if it is shown that
accessing completely released engineering documentation
information may increase paid users. If large companies see
the benefit they will easily opt for the reasonable cost for
Onshape. Imagine what they pay for the Catia fraud.
Onshape! The Party is over! Onshape needs a way
to quickly monetize this operation.
But as design collaboration and document control tool, the
market is wide open and with no CAD development costs.
Why Cloud Based CAD will Fail
It is obvious that there are not many users to their unique CAD solution. Personally I found
it lacking in so many ways. Their CAD system
instead of adding innovation to the 3D CAD world, they tried
to win over the existing dated Solidworks program user. I will guarantee
that SW users will never move to Onshape. But the biggest
problem is not with a marginal CAD system, it has to do with
a native file format you can't save locally. A few have
told me you can just export the models as a STEP. But our 3D CAD
problem is not with model compatibility it is the associated
documentation. We need those associated information
documentations (drawings) for many reasons, version history
for one. Yes, there is PMI but it will never be a standard.
Why MBE/MBD/PMI Will FAIL
I think they are missing the point, there are enough CAD
Pro/e clones on the market and CAD in the cloud will never
be a viable option.
Not that it matters, Onshape
doesn't support PMI at this time. PMI is based on the native
files and translation is based on the current release of
those files. Who could keep the translation format up to
date? (Short sighted, yes beyond belief).
But there were some incredible benefits to Onshape. Sadly,
they only allow viewing of the professional version with the
free version. If they allowed full controlled downloading
they could have created the ultimate blue print counter.
Which would have required a professional license by many
large companies. When the PLM and MBE experiment fails, a
move to a conventional based functional cloud based document
control system will be established. If not Onshape something
very similar will be the perfect solution.
Onshape was a gift to engineering in truly unlimited functional
collaboration. While in the free mode it is completely
available. All of your information is accessible by anyone
with an any account. Onshape could solve this problem with
just offering 1 or 2 private formats. It may not generate
subscription customers but there may be groups that would
want complete control of this level of collaboration. Maybe
at $100 per year with the hope they would move to the
professional solution for collaboration only. Basing the
product on only CAD design will be a loser.
Oops, I almost missed one of the greatest functions Onshape
offers. If they keep even just the basic CAD functionality
they could have the only 3D and electronic drawing training
package available on the Cloud. Every school in the world
would be beating a path to their door. But it is more than
just the platform, they need professional training packages
including basic drafting, form, fit and function design
mixed with basic 3D functionality. Imagine the student could
study from anywhere. Even the not so bright Apple users
(Just Kidding) could access the assignments. Many could even
use the program to do small projects, as long as they knew
it would be an open format. No college would need expensive
high end systems. The graduate students would walk in the
door with good 2D and 3D design skills that would make
training on the company system a much shorter learning
The sale of Solidworks to Dassault
Sadly, Onshapes founding team really were not the innovation
geniuses everyone touts, but nothing more than a few fellows
that pirated Pro/e and put it on a PC and called it
Solidworks. They really didn't even add any innovation.
There were other system that offer much more productive
features like a single model environment, direct edit
functionality and integrated drawings. These features would
have not even needed the creation of the complex and
expansive PLM, PDM and MBE systems.
But Pro/e had the right buzz word: History based/Parametric
design. Solidworks was going down, it could not even compete
with programs such as CADKEY and IronCAD. But
as they were going down a miracle happened. Dassault
probably pressured by Boeing, being impressed by the success
of Pro/e's successful demand on their very convoluted
history based/parametric design paradigm as compared to
Catia 4s superior
Boolean based design. Dassault paid upward of $250 million
for Solidworks. Did anyone wonder why? I have always thought
it was Solidworks Pro/e history based technology to
incorporate in the Boeing demanded Catia 5. Dassault brought
to us the Catia 4 to Catia 5 incompatibility fiasco that
cost Boeing and Airbus billions and is still causing them
massive costly problems.
Solidworks is the worlds most popular 3D CAD solution
Ah, but Joe, Solidworks is the most popular 3D CAD program
on the planet. A simple reason. This is where the Solidworks
management apply some well proven genius. They used the
AutoCAD "Perpetual Evaluation Marketing" program which did
not include any copy protection for 10 years and it was
passed around like hotcakes. Every engineering person in the
industry has a copy of SW 2006. The last year of no copy
protection. Not so much for SW2007!! But the die was cast.
Superior IronCAD moved to a 2nd Tier product
I was selling IronCAD at the time. Miles above Solidworks.
It had integrated history and direct edit design (still the
only package that does), a single
model environment, drag and drop design from standard and
custom catalogs and the often copied
but never duplicated feature, part and assembly manipulator:
the Triball. IronCAD also provided a documentation module
that provide not only drawing capabilities, but many
different documentation formats such as tech pubs, marketing
promotional materials, sales presentations and a variety of
other pertinent documents comparable in use to a word
processor. Its ease of use was easily implemented by many
different departments like purchasing, planning and
Leverage Your Engineering Data throughout your Organization!
even for companies that use
different CAD systems.
Don't believe me Download a 30
day Evaluation and bring in your most complex SW
assembly and start modifying parts much faster than the
original SW. You can do the same for all of the popular
packages, Creo, NX, Solid Edge, Inventor and Catia 4/5.
Why aren't we all using IronCAD?
Strict licensing (Against my protests) implemented in 1998!!
Sadly, the same thing happened to CADKEY for the same
3. Product Rental
Rumors abound on a SW rental option. I have yet to see a
program that is based on Parasolids (Except Solid Edge) or
ACIS offering this option. I think it has to do with
royalties. If they do make this an option, say good by to
VARs or Dealers. All large CAD companies will be selling
direct. Gone are the friendly support fellows you could
always depend on helping you. You will be required to have a
maintenance or subscription. Yes, they do think you are that
4. Now to Autodesk
The jury is still out on the subscription only. My own
viewpoint is it is a scam. You sell your company and your
engineering information is tied to a subscription service
forever? With a local system you sell the information and a
compatible version of the native software is part of the
Autodesk is a strange bird. A few customers called and discussed
Fusion 360. All just stayed with my products IronCAD or ZW3D
since I make the argument about the benefits of owning it.
But I wonder why Autodesk seem to be competing against their
own products. Fusion 360 (Fully functional CAD/CAM product), Autocad Mechanical (2D/3D Wireframe, intermediate surfacing
and push/pull solids) all in a functional hybrid design
environment. Then Inventor a fine Pro/e clone. But all for a
subscription you pay "FOREVER". Is anyone really this
"STUPID"? Ooops, too rude Joe, "IGNORANT"?
am celebrating my 35th
year in 3D CAD. If you have read about the 1980's in the above article, you
will know that I was instrumental in introducing PC based 3D
CADKEY to the Northwest starting with Boeing and virtually
all of their suppliers. As a user and dealer of a variety of
3D CAD programs over the last 30 years, I have become much
more than a professional user and salesman, I have become an enthusiast
My years as a board designer have
given me all of the design tools to become very proficient
engineering design and
graphic creation with the 3D CAD system.
Current and Past Projects
pay close attention to all of the current 3D CAD news.
am going to start this article where my last one left off
Knock, Knock! Anyone Home in the 3D CAD world?
day I was doing some feature comparisons for my ZW3D products as
compared to Solidworks for
some marketing since they are very similar products. As I perused through Solidworks
2010 features on
their website I saw this:
Model Geometry Modification! – What?
been pushing the direct edit functionality of my programs
for over a decade. That was one function that I would point
out that Solidworks and the other Pro/E clones lacked. So
you can imagine my surprise when I saw this.
I showed this to my CAD Vendors and they also
didn't know that this function was available. I never heard
about it anywhere, not from any of my Solidworks friends. I pointed out this weakness quite often
in many articles and promotions offering our products as
Direct Editing Relief For Solidworks and Catia 5
Enthused?? What the heck are you talking
about, Joe? This is your competition. Like
I have said, I have been pointing out the high level of
incompatibility of the Pro/E clones and
pushing the integration of
direct editing for over a decade. IronCAD, KeyCreator and
ZW3D were my tools of choice. All had direct edit, IronCAD
and ZW3D had integrated history and direct edit
functionality that provided much more flexibility than KeyCreator that was a direct editing only package.
28 Years of 3D CAD Incompatibility
Next Generation 3D CAD Technology Applied!
Here is an example of IronCAD's direct editing:
Here is a shelled shape. We select the face
and with a right mouse click with select move. The Tri-ball
comes up to manipulate the face. We
are going to rotate the selected face 15 degrees.
We had the shell function in
the history and shows that the shell did get updated.
Imagine working without worrying about design intent.
You have the freedom of incredible conceptual history design
with the flexibility to directly edit the part when the design
Here is what Solidworks says about
Direct Model Edit:
"SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software gives
designers simple ways to quickly create and adjust 3D model
geometry using direct model editing. Simply click on the
model geometry and move it, speeding up design, saving time
and development costs, and increasing productivity."
Solidworks was now totally compatible with my 3D CAD
programs or any other 3D CAD programs. The was what I had
been waiting for. We could now pass models back and forth
and we could use any system that had directed edit
functionality. Total 3D CAD compatibility. We could now
focus on standardizing, at least, on the 3D modeling.
a friend with a SW2010 and he let my play with it. I was a
bit shocked that you really had to look for the toolbar. It
was a bit obscure. But when I got it up and running I found
it was quite robust. I did notice something strange, that it added a
step in the history. It didn’t bother me at the time since I
was just testing the functionality on an imported file. I
was satisfied that it could do the job. I was a bit
surprised that the Solidworks users seemed not to be aware
of this functionality and spawned this article.
Solidworks Users are "NOT" Stupid!
there seemed to be one problem. Adding a step with each face
modification as a step to the history seems to be problematic.
There is this young engineer that I
often get into heated debates about on a variety of subjects,
many are related to Solidworks since he is an expert. I was
asking why the Solidworks users were not using direct
editing in their design process. I didn’t think much of the
step created in the history every time a face was altered.
He explained that this creates huge problems with the
history and could not be extensively used.
I found out that you
could not combine the history and just work directly with
the part as I can with IronCAD.
I even suggested he export a parasolid
and bring it back in and start direct editing it. He shuddered
at the thought and the discussion stopped there. I took a
bit of time to review this situation with the other popular
Pro/E clones and the same problem existed. After writing a
few articles like the following one I have come to the
conclusions that direct edit functionality cannot be
effectively combined with the history design in the Pro/E
clones and that the industry may have to look to new
products like Solidworks Conceptual Design to standardize
the 3D modeling process thereby hugely increasing
compatibility. We should be able to model in any system and
toss the models back and forth.
Universal 3D CAD Compatibility is Here!!
Sadly, not yet!!
I took a sales/tech managers job with a company
that was selling the Autodesk Manufacturing solution. We
were going to focus on Inventor 2012. I took some time to
learn Inventor. It was very easy to learn. They have great
tutorials that teach you top down design and I found it a
very nice program, even though being just another Pro/E clone.
I noticed that they included Fusion.
This was their direct edit product. At the time it was a
standalone program. It had a link to Inventor. I was really
interested in how it worked with Inventor. Inventor was the
only Pro/E clone I got all the way to assembly and drawing.
Even though I was a dealer for Pro/E, Solidworks and Solid Edge I never got
beyond the modeling. Just modeling in these package was very
painful and very unproductive as compared to what I was using.
So I did a design in Fusion. I was a
good direct edit package easy to learn and use. I brought
the Fusion file into Inventor. It was a live link. I even
modified the part in Inventor.
I created an AID (Associated Information Document)
previously incorrectly called the “2D Drawing”. Any changes in
Fusion or Inventor were reflected in the AID. I found the
AID module very well designed. There were a few small bugs
but Fusion was still in Beta. I have heard that they have
now folded Fusion inside Inventor. I think I have even seen
some Boolean shapes.
We were the first name in a list of NW
dealers on the Autodesk website so we were getting lots of
calls. But all of the calls were for AutoCAD. Against the
wishes of the VAR manager I decide to take another look at
Autocad. I was quite shocked, it had good intermediate
surfacing and push/pull solid modeling. I was quickly up and
running with those two functions, but I just could not get
past the idiosyncratic 2D operation. T
his was not your
fathers, ooops grandfathers Autocad.
I was sent to a one week course on
their new “Suites”. We were in the “Product Design Suite”
Group. This was quite bizarre they bundled the oddest bunch
of programs together. Besides Inventor, Autocad and Fusion,
they included programs like Alias and 3ds Max, these are not
casual user programs. There are many experts that base their
professional career on these programs. They had a thing
called Mud Box that seemed to be some creature creating
software, very weird. It seemed like they created these suites
get rid of some of the slow moving products.
It was an odd experience. They are a
total marketing company. Autodesk has the best software
money can buy.
That job didn’t last long. It is a bit
tough to work for someone after being your own boss for so
many years. I left and continued to sell IronCAD and ZW3d
and providing engineering services.
3D CAD Hybrid Modeling
1998 The CADKEY Design Suite was released. It may have been
the most complete hybrid modeling system ever devised. It
was based on a wireframe modeler working in a 3D
environment. It was easy to integrate the surfacing, solid
modeling and finally history based parametric design. We had levels to
differentiate our parts and assemblies. Levels also could be
used as somewhat of a history manager. It also had
integrated drawings. You could do easily do single person
projects in one file. Sadly, this amazing, highly productive
concept disappeared when they moved to KeyCreator.
The Pro/E clones are attempting to provide hybrid modeling.
But the Pro/e design process does not offer the necessary base for
this to happen. It is a dated paradigm and we are slowly
watching it reach the end of its product cycle. It only adds
somewhat disassociated modules as we have talked about with
the attempt to incorporated direct editing in Solidworks.
Only one product integrates all of the features that I
described in the CADKEY Design Suite. That is ZW3D. It has
all of what I described above and more. It offers a much higher level of
history, direct edit, surfacing, sheet metal design, reverse
engineering plus many more automated features. It also
offers a much more up to date and more friendly user
Ultimate 3D CAD System
The only way that the current companies can provide this
level of hybrid modeling is by introducing new products.
Solidworks seems to be the only one moving toward this with
the introduction of Solidworks Conceptual Design. Sadly,
they are not making it readily available to their user base
by pricing it at a subscription price of $2,988.00 per year.
It is hard for me to understand why they didn't make this a
part of their Catia 5 system. It uses the same solid
modeling kernel and at this time Catia 5 is the only popular
system that has no direct edit functionality which is
causing huge problems with the design of their new airplane,
Below I describe Onshape. Sadly, they paid no attention to
hybrid modeling and brought out nothing more than another
Pro/E clone at least in the basic modeling.
There wasn’t much new in the industry
for a few years.
Then Autodesk released Fusion 360. They
had a good trial period and I played with it. I found it a
bit convoluted and not straight forward. It was called a
cloud program, I guess because all of your files reside on a
remote server. But it truly is not a true Cloud based
program, you have to download a small portion of the program that uses your
hardware. My free trial ended and I lost interest.
Onshape! A View from the Clouds
Then we started hearing
rumors about the founders of Solidworks designing a new 3D
I was friends with many of the early
PC based 3D CAD Pioneers. Bob Bean, owner of Baystate
Technology, creator of Draftpak and owner of CADKEY asked if
I would show the team at Onshape IronCAD. I gave them a
demonstration. IronCAD is by far the world's most innovative
and best conceptual design 3D CAD
Five Functions that Increase 3D CAD Productivity!!
We were not sure what they were going
to create. But finally they released the beta of Onshape.
They were allowing people to sign up for the beta. I was
right there. This was a true Cloud Based program. You just
signed on and you were working. Windows or Apple! It was
As a CAD package I was not impressed.
There was virtually no innovation. But then I realized these
were the folks that brought us, Solidworks, the first PC based Pro/E
clone. Solidworks was nothing more than a poor mans copy of Pro/E on the
PC. They actually never stepped out of that paradigm or they
purposely designed the program that way for the existing Solidworks and other Pro/E clone users to feel at home.
Onshape will never match the incredible 3D CAD conceptual
design capabilities of IronCAD or come close to the superb
hybrid modeling of ZW3D.
But it was miles above Fusion 360. It
was very straight forward and easy to use. As far as it
being in the sketch, sketch, constrain, constrain world this
is a pretty good package. The direct editing was very
straight forward and well thought through. One of the more
productive features is that you can do complete projects in
one document. Many have found it just to slow to be a
professional design package.
I did go back to Fusion 360 to make sure I didn't miss
anything. I had done it before and my license expired, but
after the release of Onshape they made it more accessible.
This did not make Autodesk management happy. I will get into
But we want to control our
The problem with cloud based CAD
systems is that they have no transferable native file format
or a way to work with it off line. What you design stays on
the cloud. You have to export the model in a neutral format.
Onshape is the only program that writes a native Solidworks
file. I do not know if it exports the history. I would pass
on this program as my only design tool for that purpose
only. We want to be in complete control of our documents
But the CAD is one small part of
Onshape. It is by far the very best collaboration and
document control tool. This is the future of document
You can upload any file to Onshape.
A native 3D CAD file, a neutral 3D CAD file, an excel, word,
pdf, image, ANY FILE.
This may make you ask:
What is the engineering deliverable
The native or neutral model and a
PDF or a PMI, sent by email?
I will tell you Mr. Murphy is having
a field day.
Here is what you can do in Onshape.
You just log on, Windows or Apple, and there is the model in
3D for you to review and/or modify. Documentation? All the
documentation and revision history you want just sits there
ready to be accessed. You can lock it down to any level of
access you want. Access can be easily controlled by a group
of document control admin people. Oops, goodbye PLM experts.
This process can be completely standardize and be
superior to the yet unmatched standard drawing system.
You still do all of your 3D CAD work
locally on your native CAD system and use Onshape only for
your engineering documentation. Using the native 3D CAD file
as the engineering deliverable has already failed, but the
lack of applicable knowledge has not allowed the powers that
be to realize it.
Beyond document control, Onshape
offers a high level of collaboration. You can use it for
design review, checking, analysis, also access to the model
itself for marketing, sales, purchasing, tech pubs, etc.
Engineering, itself, would look here first for the released
engineering information then move to the native CAD system
to modify or create new parts and products. This could
hugely simplify the demands on the native PDM system.
We may not design in Onshape but it
will standardize our document control and collaboration.
Everyone needs an Onshape account to
become familiar with this concept and help define the
future. It is the perfect 3D CAD training tool. I can't
imagine all of the colleges not adopting it for their
standard 3D CAD tool with its incredible easy access. They
would not even have to contact Onshape. Just Log on!!
Get an Onshape account today and
search for "Redback Spyder".
is free for the first 10 projects. After that your projects
are moved to the public area. It is very reasonable at $100
per month for unlimited projects. I can see all small and
medium sized companies utilizing Onshape for document
control and access. All you would need is one paid license.
Access would be by free accounts. Large companies would
probably hire Onshape to devise a not so public cloud
system. It is the perfect system even surpassing the simple
archaic drawing system, that PLM has failed to match.
The release of Onshape was not
appreciated by one fellow.
have to read Autodesks CEO, Carl Bass article "Setting the
Record Straight". I was shocked that he would expose his
fear of Onshape so blatantly. Should the current popular CAD
systems be worried about Onshape? I have worked with Boeing
and Catia for over 30 years. Dassault is responsible for
keeping Boeing one of the most ignorant and isolated
manufacturing companies. Their lack of interoperability is
beyond belief. Onshape would instantly offer Boeing a new
level of operation and compatibility being able to directly
import native Catia models. But, sadly, I am sure that
Dassault will not let them see the benefits and more than
likely sabotage any grass root efforts to utilize Onshape.
They will probably offer an overly costly and complex cloud
system "See we have the Cloud, too!" Boeing management won’t
even question it, with BCS saying "There is nothing to see
here, please move on". The 3D CAD vendors that believe their
only claim to fame is their PLM capabilities may find
themselves out in the cold. And the sooner the better.
With standardization comes
The funny thing about Carl's letter
is that it came out the same day Onshape was released.
The Age of Subscription only CAD Software.
Autodesk will now only rent you
Here is what one fellows comment in
a posting on this article:
New Pricing Policy by Autodesk”
“I'm very ok with this. As a small
business owner just starting out, it would be incredibly
hard for me to cough up the money to buy AutoCAD. A small
monthly fee suits me very well.
“Jeff, you make a good point. But
your data is now locked to a system you have to pay a
monthly fee to access forever. Everyone knows that all CAD
systems do not offer backward compatibility. It would
probably be safer to finance a perpetual package. That is
also one of the problem with CAD on the cloud, there is no
native file format that you can save locally.”
Here is another comment in response
to Jeff’s comment.
R. K says:
“Jeff, you make an excellent point,
the rental system is good, for some people. I believe the
major source of backlash is that now we are all required to
go rental. Why not offer a choice?”
“R.K. Why don't they offer a choice?
Once you get on board you now have "no choice" but to stay
on board. They just took "your" choice away! Sadly, since
the licenses of the past are not transferable you again have
"no choice" if you want to use AutoCAD or any other Autodesk
"The Pro/e clone CAD system has basically run its course
on innovation. Autodesk and soon the other major players
have nowhere else to turn to keep the cash flowing. They
have moved far past the point of concern for the user.”
“I assume most will settle with
their current version. We used to have to upgrade due to the
latest version due to lack of compatibility with earlier
operating systems. But I think Windows 10 will around for a
very long time.”
So there you go. Renting CAD
software in a nutshell.
I have noticed that only CAD systems
that own the solid modeling kernel are offering
subscriptions only or rental options. Autodesk Product,
Solid Edge and ZW3D are the only ones I know of. Probably
has something to do with the royalties due to ACIS or
How many will buy into this fraud.
Many will be like Jeff and not think this through. But many
will turn to 3D CAD systems that still offer the perpetual
or subscription solution. It will probably be the smaller 3D
CAD companies that are a bit more streamlined in nature yet
offer highly productive, professional and compatible 3D CAD
systems. The large 3D CAD vendors have a huge overhead. It
will not be easy to down size. Many heads will roll before
they will face this fact. Forcing their customers to rent
their software will not save them.
I predict PTC will go first. It is
just becoming too fragmented to succeed and it is easily
replaceable. But Catia, by far the worst 3D CAD system and
the easiest to replace, will have a bit of a longer run,
since Boeing’s engineering is controlled by BCS (Boeing
Computer Services) and Dassault PLM. V
irtually all of
the aircraft companies have standardized on Catia 5 because
of Boeing, no not Catia 6 (Another fiasco). The current
aircraft industry illustrates the failure of not having a
good 3D CAD modeling standard that offers complete
But we have to ask this question:
Can we have a 3D CAD modeling
Not as long at the industry is
controlled by a myriad of incompatible 3D CAD companies.
Each trying to keep themselves relevant, even after
realizing that their 3D CAD paradigm is long past any
innovation. You just can't add another wheel to a car to
make it more efficient!
We need the manufacturing companies,
colleges and relevant industry associations to get out from
under the thumb of the current 3D CAD companies and start
looking at the standardization of the industry. Sadly, there
is not one "single" point where this idea can be formed, and
from what I see, there are none with the required applicable
knowledge to form it.
I have many articles focused on solving
this problem. Here are a couple of my favorite and more
The Worst to Best 3D CAD System and Why
So What "HAS" Gone Wrong with Engineering?
I think that more or less brings us up
to date. I will be adding more comments on the state of 3D
CAD and the industry to this site as the news comes out.
Please feel free to stop by our website
below for a variety of articles on the State of our Industry, interesting articles on 3D
CAD Productivity and a few of our projects!
Viewpoints on Today's 3D CAD and
TECH-NET Engineering Services!
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