software choice for furniture design on Macs

Hello forum,

I work for a small furniture design company that runs on Macs. I’ve been asked to help choose a design software. I need strong, flexible modeling capabilities, good for conceptual sketching as well as detailed and dimensioned designing (10 on a 10 scale). Top notch rendering for presentations is not a top priority (6/10). Generating 2D engineering drawings from the 3D models, probably with associative dimensioning is important (8 or 9/10). File translations to other softwares is probably a 6 or 7/10 priority. Ease of use, learning would receive 10/10. Budget is on the low to medium end.

Anybody have suggestions?

I am looking into Vellum Xenon (expensive), FormZ (haven’t got the hang of the modeling process on it). Would like Rhino but it does not do Mac and 2D plans is not it’s strenght. Solidworks does’nt do Macs and is maybe not as good for conceptual modeling? I am no expert in the subject.

Opinions are very much appretiated.
thanks to all

Personally for Mac, especially if you are going to go with the Vellum line, I would stick with Cobalt, and Graphite for the 2-d prints/patterns. I beta tested cobalt and have been using it since. When compared to a full seat of Pro/E with the full surfacing and advanced photorender extensions, the price is reasonable.

Also the rendering engine included in cobalt is fairly good, once you learn to modify the lighting and materials. The class that teaches it at the university I attended actually uses it as a joint class for Industrial Design, Interior Design (furniture design), and architecture. The primary focus of the class was to learn the software through designing furniture.

My personal experience has also shown that cobalt is also a lot more stable than Xenon, Argon, and Neon. However there is still a bug that causes files to corrupt and data to be lost…vanishing features…phantom parts…parts randomly moving. As the file size grows this problem becomes more and more of a hassle. So remember to never save over a past save…always save like file1, file2, file3, etc. For some reason this seams to lessen the problems.

For conceptual scketching, nothing is better than the hand of a skilled designer. No software can replace the pen and paper approach. However if you are wanting to use the next best thing (price vs. features), and have it mac compatable…Photoshop, and a wacom tablet or Cintiq.

I find it to offer the best overall value, as it can accomplish the raw fluid strokes of brainstroming, as well as finely detailed presentation renderings. Not to mention all the other uses every design firm needs photoshop and illustrator for. And when couples with the Cintiq or a tablet computer it is like drawing in your sketchbook.

Also good is Alias Sketchbook Pro, (Mac?) and Pro/Concept (Mac proposed but I do not know if available yet). These are more industry dedicated programs.

Thanks for your fed back Designer. I agree with Photoshop and Illustrator. They are the main tools used in the office. Only now we need to move into 3D modeling for concepts and documentation.

Maybe it didn’t come off this way, but Cobalt is the full featured version of vellum 3D. It is the next step above Xenon, and fully worth the increased $.

Rhino is a great tool, however it is only a surface modeling program.

Vellum will allow you to model solid forms as well as us nurbs and b-spines to create surfaces. Not to mention the bill of materials feature. There are also 3rd party plug ins that include all of the Dreyfuss Human Scale data in scaleable cad format. Makes designing user-centric workstations, furniture, and even kitchens a snap.

I have moved on the Pro/engineer and Solidworks now, but I am still fond of the simplistic and intuitive interface and modeling sequences offered by vellum. It just has a few bugs and glitches…as do all programs.

I know there are a lot of people using formz however I have never used or seen it demonstrated, so I can not compare the two.

good feedback, thanx again “designer”. Anybody willing t share their views on FormZ?

I would avoid Cobalt. It’s unclear where the development team is going and a update has not been released in a long time. Concepts unlimited is apparently the owner of the code and this can be purchased directly. I think you can get it for a pretty good price now.

Another program for the mac is solid thinking. I think this one is pretty serious Apple - Support - Downloads

I’ve been happy with cobalt. I switched to concepts.

anything less is not worth getting.

Happy to see this post! I’m doing the same research at the moment, since I’m currently running FormZ, but I’m running into some pretty heavy limitations with anything beyond extruding line-art from Illustrator.

Side question: do you use CADTools in Illustrator? or do you have another option?