Arrgh! --- 10 3D Modeling Programs!

Of the 10 or so 3D modeling programs one might have to know as an ID’er when applying to jobs:

Solidworks
Pro-E
Catia
Alias
AutoCad 3D
Inventor
Rhino3D
Vectorworks
3D StudioMax
Maya

Which would you say is the easiest to learn if I know Rhino3D 75% well? So, if I see a job I’m qualified for and am confident in my Rhino 3D skills, but the job calls for Pro-E, how much of a stretch is it to think I could go for that job?

Or - Is one stuck? If you choose to learn Rhino3D, then stick with it and only go for jobs where they list that as a needed skill?

I think Solidworks/Pro-E are similar so knowing Solidworks would do you well. What’s wrong with picking up Solidworks in addition to Rhino?

Alias is okay to know, too (that’s my primary one).

The others are more trans/CG/entertainment design.

Well, just time, I guess in time and with practice one could get good at these, besides the fact that Solidworks costs like $5000.00. Solidworks and PRO-E are parametric modelers and have more restrictions on working in a loose, freeform style, you have to associate values from the beginning to everything I understand.

You dont need to model to dimension but it’s very good at that. The history tree is great when you have drive dimensions. If you set it up right you could hange the length of one thing and everything after that updates accordingly. It forces you to model cleanly with a clean workflow (else your model will give you nightmares when clients ask for changes)

I work in both: geometric designs in solidworks, complex surfacing in alias.

You actually don’t have to assign values/dimensions in Pro E or Solidworks, but its in your best interest to do so.

I am currently making the transition from Solidworks to Pro E and the differences so far are more than I had initially expected. I am finding Pro E very restrictive and requires several more steps to achieve certain actions that Solidworks can complete in a simple right click.

From what I have seen, Solidworks, Pro E and Alias seem to be the top 3 CAD programs used in ID. Learn both solid body modeling (like SW) and more surface/lattice modeling (like Alias) if you can! If you are a student you can probably buy student copies of these programs for a significant discount, definitely look into it.

Bit dated. But gives you an idea.

Heh, I like Solidworks and all, but in my opinion just about any mere mortal will fall into the problem of design changes that are hard to do. There’s some you can see coming but yet so many you can’t, and it’s down to a little luck sometimes whether a small change will take 2 minutes or 2 hours.

I find myself disliking it more as time goes by, I don’t think I would mind a little more work and couple more clicks if I didn’t have to keep track of all those parametrics (ok, so that face mates to that part, which is defined by the base part, and that face is dimensioned from the center so if i make it bigger, it grows both ways and… and… and…)

A lotta stuff for the simple act of perhaps, enlarging a part by 20mm to the right. Suffice it to say that I’m intrigued by the uprising of direct modeling again. Todays hardware may finally be ready for direct brep modeling that works?

When I model in Rhino, I do something called incremental saves when I do a drastic change, this allows me to go back to a point in the model by opening earlier “incremental” file. It is a crude approach, but allows me to go back if so I can start over at an earlier point.

I played with Solidworks a little and found the same thing as Kevin De Smet, where it seemed like a lot of set-up and prep just to get something down in 3D. In Rhino, it doesn’t feel like your “fighting” with entering every little parameter.

I like Rhino, it is great for quick visualization but can get tricky with sophisticated surfacing. It is less sophisticated in the engineering simulation and control and documentation sides, and is weak at shelling (although better shelling is coming to ver. 5) and not everyone uses it, this is my biggest problem, unlike Graphic Design where everyone uses Adobe CS, how can an ID’er keep up with all these very intensive programs?

I know Rhino because my old boss picked it for our dept. over Ashlar Colbolt (yet another 3D program), but I’m not sure it was the right choice in the end, now I am stuck with it because I got deeper and deeper into it, even flipping for my own training to get better at it.

Exactly my problem with parametrics. If you know Rhino you have no chance of faking or quickly picking up Pro-E, it is a completely different animal.

I would recommend focusing on Solidworks and understanding a bit of Rhino. SW has the potential to be used through the entire design process while, I feel that Rhino is biased towards the front end of the process and then has to be imported or remodeled in SW.

You will also find that it is extremely valuable to be able to re-edit the model in a program with a history tree such as Solidworks

I think what you’ll get from the comments in there is value in learning both a parametric modeller (SW/Pro E) and a surface tool (Alias/Rhino). Different firms will use both and the reality is some are much better at certain tasks than others.

I work primarily by direct modelling in Alias and then pulling those surfaces into Pro E to shell, add fillets, and hand off a nice solid model for the engineers to go have a field day with. The powerful and beautiful part of this process is if done right, I can modify my Alias surfaces, reimport them into Pro E, and all of the engineering features will automatically rebuild. Allows for very powerful downstream modification while still retaining very high quality surfaces.

Solidworks has proven to have some pretty good surfacing capabilities, ones that would be capable for most, but direct modelling still offers some very powerful tools, especially during the iteration phase. If I build a handle for a product, build an SLA and find out that one dimension is just slightly off, it’s just a few CV tugs and another print to correct it. With a solid tool, those modifications might take a few hours instead of a few minutes.

I guess what is frustrating is that an ID’er has got a lot of skills to balance and keep in practice with that are “core” to ID:(brainstorming, research, sketching, ideation, form development, high qual. sketches/rendering, drafting, model-making, “practical engineering”, injection molding, presentation/story-telling , branding not to mention the other disciplines we dabble in: marketing, business practices, psychology, social issues, social impact, sustainability, trends, graphics, retailing, packaging, focus group interaction, ergonomics, manufacturing, materials research, sourcing, etc., etc.,
— Oh, yeah, balance big picture and minute detail, handle changes under extreme deadline, be an advocate for design and navigate corp. culture and deflect negative designer stereotypes all without breaking a sweat.
— AND WAIT THAT’S NOT ALL — now in the last 10years or so, master super-intensive 3D Modeling Programs.
— Oh yeah, and keep a beautifully presentable portfolio updated in pdf, printed and website form at the ready to pounce on the next great opportunity.

For me mastering all this and especially the last part is seeming to be a breaking point. I cannot get past Rhino. For me Rhino is enough (and the only one I can afford), to were I can get a decent 3D form out there with a lot of views to be easily understood, can do drafting in it, get nice renderings and even, if the form is water-tight, export it to engineers for Solidworks or STL and understand enough of the concepts of 3D modeling to be dangerous.

Now I know they are a great tool, but they ask a lot in terms of learning curve and practice to were you can use it efficiently and there are like 10 different ones between parametric, free-form and general for visualization 3D like maya and 3dStudio.

Some may argue that these tools make it easier to work in and learn new aspects of engineering, to which was previously the domain of design engineers and M.E.'s, like tolerancing, stress analysis, mold-flow, etc, because the software has those capabilities (to which I say just because it can do it doesn’t mean we should use it.).

ID was always a very challenging field, now it is way more than ever. Thanks for listening to me vent.

Try out solidworks. I started out with one of the vellum tools since I was very tried using rhino at first also but the flow just didn’t sit well with the way my brain works. I was decent at it but it really felt like pulling teeth to me, to do some things that in my mind should easily be a simple operation, in rhino everything was just TOO manual. So when I got to sit at a solidworks seat, that did it for me, modeling was fun. The workflow in solidworks just matched the way my brain is wired much better than rhino.
So sometimes it’s just a matter of playing with everything just enough to see what’s comfortable to you, then working with that until you get good.
The biggest thing is to learn the main concepts. Then the only thing you have to do is find how to do those things in the new programs specific workflow. Also, even though you may not be a pro at it, if you know it enough you can still direct someone else that just models. There are plenty of designers that don’t do modeling but understand it enough to be able to talk to the people that do. Different people just pick up things differently, not everyone can be good at everything but you can still increase your knowledge to be valuable.
Good luck. If you’re stuck with one type, try out the other, it just may be the workflow that’s throwing you off.

Thinking about it, it seemed like there is a common thread of flexibility of the tools and the speed at which change is possible.
The beginning of the process requires lots of flexibility, the end requires much less. Where you position yourself in the process determines the kinds of tools you use. Here is a first shot at a linear definition.