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Chapter1 Introduction

1.9 CAD Evaluation Criteria

In the current CAD market, ProE and AutoCAD are arguably the most dominating CAD software. AutoCAD is basically a 2-D program, with some capability to create 3-D models, where as, ProE is a truly 3-D CAD package. Besides these software, there are several other CAD software, listed in the previous section (Sec 1.3), that have sales exceeding $100 millions. No one CAD package is suitable for all the CAD users in the world. The product we are designing dictates the type of CAD package we need. A good CAD package includes good software, as well as, a compatible hardware. Following is a brief description of the general criteria for evaluating a CAD package.

Hardware: Most desirable features in a good hardware are:

  • Open architecture

  • High speed, large storage

  • Compact size

  • Inexpensive components

  • Inexpensive upgrading

Software: In general, the most comprehensive software are written to satisfy almost all the modeling needs of a modeler, consequently, the software tend to be very complex and hard to learn. To create a simple model, we go through several unnecessary steps, and lack the intuitiveness of a simple, straightforward program. ProE is a good example, where we have to go through several layers of menus to create a simple solid. On the other hand, if we were to use a simpler CAD program, the same solid can be created by only a few simple commands. There are several other factors that we should consider when evaluating software. Following is a brief description of these factors.

  • Operating System: Unix or Windows/NT. PCs in general use Microsoft Windows, where as, operating system for Workstations is Unix. For a large organization, Workstations are preferable.

  • User Interface: Most popular CAD software have menu driven commands, which is preferable to the old system of non-menu driven, where user interface was completely by responding to software commands. The most popular CAD programs work with menu driven interface, with some input/action required through command prompts.

  • Documentation and Support: Learning a software can be very difficult if the software lacks good documentation. Documentation usually comes in the form of a user’s manual, a tutorial book, commands manual, and on-line help. The recent trend is to provide access to the above-mentioned documentation through the Internet, or provide the manuals on a CD ROM. Some CAD vendors provide additional technical support help through phone – ProE is a very good example of this type of support.

  • Maintenance: Cost of the hardware and software upgrades can significantly impact the small and medium size companies’ decision to choose one software over the others. Most CAD vendors go through an upgrade, on the average, every two years. Usually, hardware upgrade is not as frequent.

Lecture Notes © by R. B. Agarwal

Computer Aided Design in Mechanical Engineering

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