February 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm #170682
I am interested in finding out if SolidWorks is considered one of the best 3D CAD software programs. Is there another program that designers and architects are turning to?February 25, 2010 at 12:22 am #170695
Best for what? For who?
In examining any piece of software you have to judge it based on the features you need or would use, and what you’d use it for. ACAD is notorious for not being well-suited to landscape architecture. That’s why there were add-ons developed like Eagle Point or Land F/X. Sketchup is great for quick, blocky things or if you have access to a library of pre-built models. Actually building those models can be a pretty time consuming process. Does the program do what you need it to, or does it do a lot more? Are you going to pay for that extra you won’t be using?
If you’re looking at SolidWorks specifically for 3D modeling, how easy is it for you to use to model what you plan to use it for? Is there a library of components available for landscapes? Do they have a version aimed at LAs? Do they care if they don’t? Or is this going to be another one of those ‘well, it’s industry standard so I better use it’ kind of moves? What’s the learning curve?
I haven’t done any in-depth digging in a while, but Vectorworks Landmark seemed like it was or was heading in the right direction for LAs the last time I was looking more closely (and no, I haven’t used it). And it was really the only one. It really comes down to a cost and benefit analysis, and being able to disseminate your information to other consultants and incorporate theirs into yours.February 25, 2010 at 6:15 pm #170694
At Maglin, we use SolidWorks for product design (benches, trash containers, bollards, bike racks, etc.). Our present requirement is that a software be applicable to both the initial concept development and creative design process and then easily and accurately translate into an engineering capacity for manufacturing. It is important that developing the model is the first step in the process with our software and that it easily allows variables to be built into the design so that it can be presented in various configurations.
We need the software to “understand” various materials and processes. For instance, SolidWorks has an intuitive sheet metal application built in and a material selection option. It will also weigh a product and calculate mass. It has the capability to test stresses and load bearing limitations, etc. From the model, SolidWorks will easily generate production drawings and generate a bill of materials.
I’ve heard of another program called Autodesk Inventor, have you heard of designers using this software?
We also have our product line in SketchUp and are thinking about making our products available in Vectorworks as well (if the demand is there).February 25, 2010 at 6:33 pm #170693Jason T. RadiceParticipant
3D Studio/Max is also fairly promenint, as it is owned an has pretty direct software tie-in with AutoDesk (AutoCAD). Of course, Revit also comes to mind. Some firms also use Rhino. Solidworks seems to be geared towards the manufacturing industries, I am assuming because of easy export to CNC machinery or rapid prototyping equipment.February 25, 2010 at 6:52 pm #170692
Is there a standard 3D software you use at your company? Is there a specific program that manufacturers can use to incoporate their models (site furniture) into landscape designs? We currently have our product library available in SketchUp and are contemplating making them available in Vectorworks as well as Revit if the demand is there.February 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm #170691Jason T. RadiceParticipant
3d max and Sketchup. I would definitely do them for Vectorworks as well. But you might check into what type of file is compatible with what. I’m fairly certain that of you model for 3d Max, you could use the same file for AutoCAD as well as Revit, as the information is designed to move back and forth between all three. Vectorworks may be able to import these files as well. Generally, there are standard file types , and for the most part are whatever AutoDesk develops. dwg/dxf are the CAD standard, and the .3ds seems to be the default for 3D, as Sketchup, Max, Studio, Viz, Vectorworks, and many others also import this format. Hope this helps…and thanks for making the models available. It makes it so much easier for us when we can pick a piece of furniture and just drop it into a model.February 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm #170690Ryland FoxParticipant
I thought that SolidWorks was pretty much just used by engineers? Max, maya, sketchup are much more common.February 25, 2010 at 10:32 pm #170689
Ah, that changes things then. I suppose I should have looked at your profile before I answered. 🙂
But this represents exactly what I was talking about. SolidWorks is an ideal program for what you guys do for precisely the things you mention – materials selection, testing, and analysis. Inventor is one of their main competitors. But for me as a LA who doesn’t focus on furnishing design but rather site and landscape design, neither would be high on my list because they aren’t aimed at me. The same with Revit – it’s got capabilities I could use, but it’s aimed at architects and would take a lot of custom adaptation to be of any real use to me. The software we would use to design and incorporate your product is not the software you would use to design and manufacture your product.
Now that I better understand what you’re asking, I think Jason has already covered the answers I would give: Sketchup, 3d Max, Vectorworks, and one or more Autodesk standards. Particularly Revit, as I know a lot of architecture firms use it and I can see a lot of market potential there for you. The key would be to select a format that has the greatest cross-platform compatibility (for example, dxf since almost everything can import that) – usually if I want something I can figure out how to translate it through whatever software packages are available to me into the format I need, but the easier it is to do that the more likely I am to use it over a generic representation.February 26, 2010 at 2:13 am #170688Bob LutherParticipant
I think for the Landscape/Landscape Architecture field SketchUp is the most common software for 3D. A lot of people then you add-on or rendering software to enhance there SU model (Piranesi, Vue, 3D Studio Viz, Podium, etc.). Just as AutoCAD is overkill for landscape design many 3D software platforms can be overkill for landscape design, thus the use fo SketchUp. The other platforms, Revit, SolidWorks, Vectorworks, Viz, 3d Studio Max are all great and probible more powerful software but often more difficult to work with. Most people want to work with the fastest easiest and cheapest platform, and sometimes that isn’t always the Ferrari.February 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm #170687
Thanks everyone, these responses are very helpful! Our goal is to make our products as easily accessible as possible for our customers. Knowing what 3D software is available and landscape architects are using helps put things into perspective and gives us some direction to move forward with. I guess I shouldn’t have posted the question about SolidWorks but more so about what 3D software landscape architects, architects and designers are using to incorporate site furniture into their designs.February 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm #170686
Out of the programs you have listed; is there a particular one you use at your firm?February 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm #170685
Thank you Jason! Your response is very much appreciated.February 26, 2010 at 8:04 pm #170684SundogParticipant
Just some more info for you. The AutoDESK equivalent to SolidWorks is Inventor. They’re both “Solid Modeling” software, in the sense, as you noted, that they model the mass properties of what you’re making. Unlike 3D programs, which are just three dimensional representations of objects. Also, based on your original post, you should note that the auto dimensioning feature has limited usefulness, IMHO.
Just for ref, I have 15 years of experience in machine design and a couple of years in structural engineering. I just bring this up to note that, if you are going to be manufacturing parts the auto dimensioning feature dimensions the part based on how you created the part. For a simple part, like a rectangular plate or an extrusion, it is OK. But for a complex part, with various machined surfaces, you will have to dimension it by hand to get the proper datums annotated and place the appropriate tolerances, etc.
Having said that, for complex assemblies I really find SolidWorks to be quite intuitive and it’s really great for being able to quickly visualize what you are designing. It also can save you on looking for interference between parts. I don’t know that that will be a problem for you, but having spent years designing in AutoCAD, it is great to now be able to move parts and make sure they have the required clearances and won’t interfere with other parts/mechanisms. Oh, and the Auto BOM is a nice feature. As well as the hole charts for plates/frames.
Now, I haven’t used Inventor much, but some people prefer it to SolidWorks because of it’s better rendering engine. I don’t have the latest versions of either, so I’m not sure how they compare in that regard at this time.
I hope that clears up some of your questions. Also, if you decide to go with Solid Works, I highly recommend Solid Professor for your office. It is tutorial software for learning SolidWorks and what is great about it is if you forget how to use a certain feature, you can always call up the appropriate lesson and refresh your memory.
However, based on what you’re asking I think Sketch Up or 3DS Max is more what you’re looking for. I have 3DS Max as well, but that is for hobby purposes, not work. I’ve probably only used 5% of what that software is truly capable of doing.February 26, 2010 at 8:27 pm #170683
The simple answer to that question is the LAs all use AutoCAD/LDD/Civil, some use Sketchup with some back and forth between it and CAD, and the architects exclusively use Revit.
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