Re: CAD package for free

From: Greg Pettengill (
Date: Tue Apr 15 2003 - 09:09:23 EEST


I believe your story exemplifies and illustrates something that I feel I have known, but only intuitively! Rhino and Pro E appear to be quite different in intent and almost polar opposites in their corporate philosophy.

While Rhino seeks to provide an affordable tool to individuals, Pro E is focused on providing a more efficient tool to industry. This in turn is reflected in their respective products in many different ways and especially in how "user-friendly" they are.

If you asked me to pick one CAD system that would be a happy medium, without hesitation I would pick the granddaddy of all CAD/CAM systems, Anvil Express from MCS. I recently had this opinion reinforced by looking at their price list! Can there be a better deal out there somewhere?

Best Regards
Greg Pettengill
Cote' Art & Engineering
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Ian Gibson
  Sent: Monday, April 14, 2003 9:33 PM
  Subject: Re: CAD package for free

  Rick, et al.

  I just wanted to tell a story related to this.

  A while ago I was asked to give a class to a bunch of architecture students and I used my computer to link in to their projector. One of them noticed that I had Rhino on my desktop and asked me why I had downloaded it and what I thought of it. A couple of weeks earlier, my 11 year-old daughter brought home her design homework to be done over Chinese New Year. The task was to install Pro/Desktop on our computer and draw a block construction of a model they would be building at school later. She did not have any instructions, being told to experiment and use the help files. After 2 days she had just about given up. I decided to help her, first by completing her homework on my own and then showing her how it was done. After another 2 days, I was pulling my hair out. I had downloaded about 30 pages of tutorials from various sources (when are CAD vendors going to understand about compatibility of the user interface? All the tutorials differed from the version I had, including the ones in the help file). I managed to get 90% of the project done inside 3 hours. The other 10% was still not completed after Chinese New Year. The problem? Parametrics. Pro/Desktop forces you to build even the simplest model as a sequence of assembled solids. When trying to allocate mating and constraining surfaces and offsets, I could not get the system to behave the way I wanted. I was so frustrated that I downloaded Rhino to prove to myself that I wasn't going senile. I finished the job in 1 hour.

  Now, I'm not a CAD person, but I am an engineer and I do understand a thing or to about CAD, design, and user interfaces. If PTC wants everyone to use their products, then they need to realise that many students are not going to have engineering knowledge and need properly thought out exercises, examples, and interfaces. In particular I think their targeting of schools is seriously flawed. Releasing packages to all and sundry for free is a great idea, provided you don't turn people off in the process.

  Perhaps others would like to comment.


  At 11:27 PM 4/14/2003 +1000, you wrote:

        I was very impressed with the new product from Pro-e, called 'ProDesktop express". If someone looking for basic CAD package for solid modelling, must try this, can't get any better deal than free, that's PTC claims its absolutely free. Moreover it has direct translation with latest pro-e parts and few other free translators as well.
            BTW I'm not PTC rep or agent, I tried myself pretty cool, thought may be someone else could take the benefit. Here's the link :
    Thanks with Regards,
    Rick Virdi
  Dr. Ian Gibson
  Department of Mechanical Engineering
  The University of Hong Kong
  +852 2859 7901 (O)
  +852 2858 5415 (F)
  +852 2817 1784 (H)
  +852 9873 8281 (M)

  Still crazy after all these years.

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