It gets tiring always being a downer. Always being “against”. I really do feel that SolidWorks hasn’t given me as a design professional much to cheer about in the last several years. There are obviously some other people out there that feel the same way. But this downer stuff isn’t the message I would choose. If Dassault wants to make SolidWorks into something entirely different, I can’t do anything about that, but I don’t have to participate in it either. The ship is headed in a direction that doesn’t benefit me, and I can’t do anything about the direction, so it’s time to find a new ship.
If I were to speak with my own voice rather than trying to speak for a corner of a CAD community, I would ask for a midrange software that is focused on product design. I would take elements of Rhino, Solid Thinking, VX, Solid Works and Solid Edge and make something that was intended from the ground up to be a shape modeler. I would love it if there were a new CAD developer with some funding who was looking to do this kind of thing, or an existing CAD developer who wanted to augment their business into the consumer product or swoopy shape areas.
I’ve talked a lot about Solid Thinking, but I discovered that their software can’t do simple (and necessary) things such as shell and rib. So it turns out to be NURBS software that only makes “looks-like” models. It’s a very niche use case for ID development, and that’s about it. You can’t really use it for completing the part engineering. Seems like a waste. It could have been so much more. NURBS is about precision. If they only want “looks-like” models, they should just be using polygonal modeling, like Modo.
Anyway, you know what I wouldn’t do. Now, what would I do, if given the opportunity? The goal here is shape development and product engineering. So it has to have both the artistic shape development tools – tug-and-pull as well as polygonal modeling – and the analytic engineering tools to get manufacturing details correct – shell, rib, draft, fillets.
- both NURBS and polygonal modeling. You need NURBS for manufacturing and precision, you need polygonal for shape and reverse engineering (laser scan)
- both history and direct edit methods available, somewhere between the implementations of Solid Edge and Solid Thinking
- tug and pull capabilities to create shapes, with analytic control for surface curvature range, draft, inflections, etc
- c2 edge constraints available on everything
- skin over point cloud selections
- n-sided patch with mesh direction control
- non-history based sketching in a single 3D sketch environment
Maybe the system I’m describing already exists in the form of NX. But it needs to be in the $5k range, rather than the $25k range. Trim NX down to the tools needed for product design, and you could sell it to a whole new market. Or add a few features to Solid Edge.
We have several CAD packages kind of focused on machine design, and some aimed at ID type visualization. We need something that merges the two. I think the industry really needs a shape modeler that can be precise and also do the part engineering. Something for which complex shapes are as native and natural as straight lines and extrudes are in SolidWorks.