Hi, I'm new to AutoCad. I have lots of Adobe Photoshop and Google Sketchup experience and I also have 3 years of mechanical engineering college but did not learn AutoCad prior to dropping out 20 years ago. I love inventing things and dream of making it big one day, but for now, I have a custom automotive fiberglass and plastic parts design and manufacturing company. I draw designs on photoshop and then pay someone to draw a model in Autodesk 3Ds Max. I use the model for scupting, measuring and marketing. I do all the prototypes and moulds the old fasioned way.... After 20 years, now I'm very interested in learing to design parts on CAD and then having the molds or prototypes milled out on a CNC if possible...getting too old to do everything the hard way! Can anyone help me with some advice as to which Cad Program would be the best for me?
AutoCAD is a very different beast than Autodesk Inventor.
I know they are different but can you give me a little more information please? I was told that Inventor may be what I am looking for or possibly Alias
Inventor is 3d based parametric modeling/assemblies,etc.... Autocad while it does do some 3d is not really meant for it at all. I basically consider Autocad 2d and Inventor 3d.
Having said that Inventor is the way to go for typical mechanical 3d parts.. If its mostly free-form surfaces,etc.. like you probably have then there are other programs that might be better suited for you.. Rhino/Alias,etc..
Frankly I believe you should get a demo of Inventor, get a demo of Alias, get a demo of Rhino, and a few more, etc. and really sit down and try each with your simple/typical parts... In my opinion you should be able to learn them just sitting there,running through the included tutorials,etc.. Enough to see what might work for you and what doesn't.
These are expensive professional programs and deserve (require?) a professional level of preparation.
In my opinion it takes about 3 yrs of concentrated effort to learn on your own what it sounds to me like you want to do with the software.
Do you have around $10k USD for the software and training? (that is one or the other, not both, and not including CAM software to generate CNC g-code)
I don't mind the 3 years and I also don't mind the $10K. but I only want to learn one of the programs! The company that will do the CNC work should have the CAM software, all I need is to be able to provide the proper models/files they can work with. What is "free form surfaces" anyway? I do mostly automotive exterior parts that have a lot of compound curves. I've played around with a couple of these programs and they seem too complicated for me to just "try them out and see which I like best", which is the advice I'm hearing. I need to make an edjucated guess on which will be the most useful for my needs before I go to the expense to try to learn it. I tried to find a customer service help line from autodesk and could not find one.
I would suggest having the Software companies come in and do a demo for you. Tell them what you do and the demo should be that. Or they will show you things you don't care about. Depending on the shapes sometimes solid models can get you there.
I would also look into 3D printing for your proto-types Machines are not that expensive and you can do it at your place.
But just getting trails of the software and trying things may frustrate you. Getting them to demo it for you will give you a chance to see how hard it would be or how easy.
I would even supply them something to make just don't make it the hardest thing...
Good luck in your search....
The parts we make are too large for a 3D printer, some of them 7' long although there are also smaller parts too. how do you go about getting a demo/sales guy to come to you??
Find your reaseller for Autodesk, Solid Works, Solid Edge, Catia, Rino, Pro E Wildfire. You can find them by search online search like Solid works they have a section to find local resellers. You may get lucky and fid one reseller that sells them all.
And 7' is small.
I have acsess to a 14' x 14' 3D printer so 7' is nothing.
and a 20' x 20' foam mill..
Best of luck...............
Sounds liek you need free form and not much else so autocad and inventor are the wrong tools for you. Have a look at Rhino, Key Creator, Ironcad and Spaceclaim. If you want to produce 2D drawings as well then forget Rhino. These are much cheaper and better for freeform push/pull style of modelling. To see them in action just search for them on youtube.
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