Management

MCAD Tech News #94 (April 10, 2003)

10 Apr, 2003 By: Joe Greco


In a recent review of PTC's Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire I tested the company's claim that the product's redesigned user interface resulted in fewer steps for the user. I found this to be true when compared to Version 2001, but I also wanted to test this claim against competing MCAD programs. So I ran the tests described below and published the results in the review. Some of you contacted me to find out how I arrived at my results. So here they are, along with the results from Solid Edge V14--a program I did not have access to at the time of my review of Pro/E Wildfire.

Counting Steps

Any mouse click, icon selection, picking of geometry, double-click, or key-in (including hitting Enter) was counted as a step. Task 1 was to create a simple variable radius fillet, which had five different (unevenly spaced) radius values, including the two on the ends. Task 2 was to create an extruded, shelled shape with draft, based on a dimensioned sketch that was a rounded rectangle with two different sized corner values (see Figures 3a and 3b)

Task 1

Here's what it takes to accomplish Task 1 in Inventor 6: select fillet tool--1 step; select variable option--1 step; pick edge--1 step; define three middle points--3 steps; define radius of last fillet point--2 steps; define radius of other 4 points--13 steps (including scrolling up once); OK--1 step. They add up to 22 steps.

Solid Edge's variable radius fillet tool only recognizes endpoints and midpoints of an edge, so the solution is to build three planes in between and add a point on each plane at the intersection of the edge. Because of all this, I knew the process in Solid Edge would be entirely different, so I didn't go through the same step-by-step routine. If I did, the number of steps would probably add up to about 45.

Here's how SolidWorks 2003 handles it: select fillet tool--1 step; select variable option--1 step; pick edge--1 step; move three middle points in place--6 steps; set five fillet values--10 steps; hit Enter--1 step. It took 20 steps in total.

Finally, here's how Pro/E Wildfire handles it: select part--1 step; select edge--1 step; right click--1 step; select command--1 step; ctrl drag to create three extra points along the edge--3 steps; set five fillet values--15 steps; hit Enter--1 step. It took 23 steps in total.

Task 2

Let's start with Inventor.

Enter Sketch mode--0 steps (program starts in Sketch mode); select rectangle tool--1 step; draw rectangle--2 steps. That's a total of 3 steps to draw the sketch.

Select dimension tool--1 step; draw horizontal dimension--2 steps; double click on dimension, select field, enter value, and hit OK--4 steps; draw vertical dimension--2 steps; double click on dimension, select field, enter value, and hit OK--4 steps. That's a total of 13 steps to dimension.

Select fillet tool--1 step; enter value--1 step; create 2 fillets--2 steps; select radius field--1 step; enter different value--1 step; create second set of fillets--2 steps; exit Sketch mode--1 step. It took 9 steps to edit and exit the Sketch mode.

Select Extrude--1 step; rotate model to view in 3D--1 step; enter value--1 step; select "More" tab and pick draft option--2 steps; select draft angle field--0 steps (value already selected); enter value--1 step; select OK--1 step. It took 7 steps to extrude.

Select fillet tool--1 step; select face--1 step; select radius field--1 step; enter value--1 step; hit OK--1 step. It took 5 steps to add fillet.

Rotate model to see other face--1 step; select shell tool--1 step; select face--1 step; select thickness field--1 step; enter value--1 step; hit OK--1 step. It took 6 steps to add shell.

So, to sum it up, Inventor took a grand total of 43 steps.

Now let's look at Solid Edge V14.

Enter sketch mode--1 step; select rectangle tool--1 step; draw rectangle--1 step (by dragging diagonal line). It took 3 steps to draw the sketch.

Select dimension tool--1 step; draw horizontal dimension--2 steps; enter value and hit Enter--2 steps; draw vertical dimension--2 steps; enter value and hit Enter--2 steps. It took 9 steps to dimension the sketch.

Select fillet tool--1 step; enter value and hit Enter--2 steps; create two fillets--2 steps; select radius field--0 steps (still selected); enter different value and hit Enter--2 steps; create second set of fillets--2 steps; exit--1 step. It took 10 steps to edit the sketch and exit Sketch Mode.

Select Extrude--0 steps (already in Protrude command); rotate model to in 3D--0 steps (already in 3D view); enter value and hit Enter--2 steps; pick side of extrusion--1 step. It took 3 steps to extrude.

Select Draft tool--1 step; define reference face--1 step; define faces to daft--1 step; enter draft angle and hit Enter--2 steps; hit the Next button--1 step; define draft direction--1 step. It took 7 steps to add draft (in Solid Edge, you can't specify Add Draft during the extrude operation).

Select fillet tool--1 step; enter value and hit Enter--2 steps; select face--1 step; hit Preview--1 step. It took 5 steps to add fillet.

Rotate model to see other face--1 step; select shell tool--1 step; enter value and hit Enter--2 steps; select face--1 step; hit OK--1 step; hit Preview--1 step. It took 7 steps to add shell.

The grand total for the process in Solid Edge V14 was 44 steps.

Now let's look at SolidWorks 2003.

Enter sketch mode--1 step; select rectangle tool--1 step; draw rectangle--2 steps. It took 4 steps to draw the sketch.

Select dimension tool--1 step; draw horizontal dimension--2 steps; enter value and hit OK--2 steps; draw vertical dimension--2 steps; enter value and hit OK--2 steps. It took 9 steps to dimension the sketch.

Select fillet tool--1 step; enter value--1 step; create 2 fillets--2 steps; select radius field--1 step; enter different value--1 step; create second set of fillets--2 steps; exit Sketch--1 step. It took 9 steps to edit the sketch and exit.

Select Extrude--1 step; rotate model to in 3D--0 steps (done automatically); enter value--1 step; pick draft option--1 step; select draft angle field--1 step; enter value--1 step; select OK--1 step. It took 6 steps to extrude.

Select fillet tool--1 step; enter value--1 step; select face--1 step; hit OK--1 step. It took 4 steps add fillet.

Rotate model to see other face--1 step; select shell tool--1 step; enter value--1 step; select face--1 step; hit OK--1 step. It took 5 steps to add shell.

As you can see, SolidWorks took a grand total of 37 steps.

Finally, let's look at Pro/E Wildfire.

Select Extrude--1 step; enter sketch mode--3 steps; select rectangle tool--1 step; draw rectangle--2 steps. It took 7 steps to draw the sketch and extrude it.

Select Selection tool--1 step; edit horizontal dimension that was automatically created with sketch, double click on dimension, enter value, and hit Enter--3 steps; edit existing vertical dimension, double click on dimension, enter value, and hit Enter--3 steps. It took 7 steps to dimension the sketch.

Select fillet tool--1 step; select two lines--2 steps; select two lines--2 steps; select Selection tool--1 step; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter--3 steps; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter--3 steps; select fillet tool--1 step; select two lines--2 steps; select two lines--2 steps; select Selection tool--1 step; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter--3 steps; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter--3 steps, exit Sketch Mode--1 step. It took 25 steps to edit the sketch and exit.

Rotate model to view better--1 step; select height field--1 step; enter value--1 step; select OK--1 step. It took 4 steps to extrude.

Select Draft tool--1 step; pick surface to draft--1 step; right click to proceed to the next step--2 steps; define hinge--1 step; define plane--1 step; drag draft to desired value--1 step; hit Enter--1 step. It took 8 steps to add draft (you cannot specify Add Draft during extrusion in Pro/E Wildfire).

Select fillet tool--1 step; select edge--1 step; drag fillet to proper size--1 step; hit OK--1 step. It took 4 steps to add fillet.

Rotate model to see other face--1 step; select shell tool--1 step; select face--1 step; drag to define shell--1 step; hit OK--1 step. It took 5 steps to add shell.

So Pro/E Wildfire took a grand total of 60 steps.

Note: It would have taken a few more steps if, for example, dragging to determine value for the draft, fillet, and shell didn't work or if those values were not even rounded numbers (as they were in the example above).

Conclusions

In the Task 1, Wildfire was very competitive; in Task 2, it needs a few more steps in comparison to its competitors. However, keep in mind that these are just two random tests. If I had done a different chore that involved a feature that the other programs don't even offer, such as a variable draft, the results would have been different. In addition, Pro/E Wildfire took way fewer steps than what Version 2001 would have taken for both tasks.

I had fun doing this, so if you have any suggestions for some other common but fairly simple task I can perform, let me know and I will revisit this subject again.

Relevant Links

Autodesk Inventor: http://www.autodesk.com

Solid Edge: http://www.solidedge.com

SolidWorks: http://www.solidworks.com

Pro/E Wildfire: http://www.ptc.com


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