29 Replies Latest reply on May 21, 2018 7:56 AM by Glenn Schroeder

    What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...

    Dan Golthing

      Often SolidWorks, as well as others, inadvertently admit that they don't have a clue regarding the design process.  They continue to advertise how "fast" you can drive their software. 

       

      This happened last night when I had a discussion with someone using AutoCAD 3D.  I told them it was a wast of their time and they said "just try to keep up with me".

       

      What does that mean?  Because you can click faster than me you're going to actually design something faster than me?

       

      I don't think so.

       

      Yes, the software needs to enable the most efficient work flow.  Sure.  But what are we actually trying to do here?  We are trying to design things, I would assume.  In almost every case, we are not simply inputting a fully-known design into a 3D format.  If that was my job I would be paid a lot less, and it would be very boring.

       

      In reality, the overall design process is pretty slow.  When you design something, at least in my case where just about everything I design is something new and original, it's not about how fast I can click.

       

      The actual design process probably involves some hand sketches to kick things off.  The white board was priceless when I was doing aerospace design.  we would all get in the conference room and hash out the preliminary design on the wall.  This would then be a crude initiation to a CAD design.  There is no real need for CAD speed at the initiation phase of a project.  The computer probably sits idle.

       

      Next, the crude design would be slowly modeled in CAD.  Things would become apparent in 3D that may not have been obvious on the white board.  Adjustments would need to be made.  More meetings would need to occur so that the team understood the changes.  Speed is only moderately important during this stage, because you are constantly THINKING.  You are constantly analyzing each change and how it effects the overall assembly.  This stage as well as all others is not a flurry of determined steps.  It's not a class assignment to replicate a given object like a trained monkey.

       

      Through all this process would probably be some calculations.  Maybe some FEA by myself or someone who actually knew what Von Mises stress is or had least seen Mohr's Circle once in his life.  Maybe some leverage calculations of a mechanism, maybe some speed and load calculations on a bearing, etc. etc.  The CAD sits idle as this is performed.  It could be the fastest program or the slowest at this point, it doesn't matter.

       

      And then what really slows the process is all the research into various components that would fit your design.  How fast does the software have to be and how fast do you need to be able to click icons while you are looking for parts on McMaster or the thousands of other vendor websites or catalogs?  Again, the software speed is unimportant.

       

      What about the time spent on the phone talking to application engineers about their product that you want to implement as part of your design?  There is no CAD speed requirement during this process either.

       

      What about while you are trying to select the appropriate material and all that entails?  How is CAD speed helping?  It's not.

       

      I can't tell you how many hours I've spent looking at a solitary linkage and articulating it through it's motion to better visualize if there's a more optimum arrangement.  Very little clickety-click needed here as well.  A little tweak here a little there.  Very slow and arduous. 

       

      The overall design process is a tortured path that only partially includes the need for the CAD software to enable speed.  Those of you that have gone through this process thousands of times know what I'm talking about.

       

      So, next time somebody tells you just how fast they are at driving CAD or how fast the CAD software they are selling is, just do as I do and feel sorry for them.

        • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
          S. Casale

          Reading this, I now feel like I was the only guy

           

          in the audience of a poetry open mic

          and wasn't sure

          if what I heard (in this case read)

           

          had ended or was the super dramatic attempt

          of an ineffective pregnant pause

           

          - without restart.

          • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
            Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

            You're wright....

            For E.G. look this process

            And the another one

            Nueva imagen.bmp

            Someone may say, just one will be 6 tools and the other 3 and not even see that showing 3 is right hand and left hand and so and so. There are people who don't understand and others who will only see how many clicks it will make it your tool with a software that simplifies clicks will Ok it can't finish by you.  But it doesn't take the decisions about steel choices, gives extra dimension of material for CNC machining etc. etc. Be patient, the world turns and turns, some day those people will understand that everything takes a logical time.

            • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
              Scott Stuart

              Yeah, I don't care how fast or efficient my car is either. It sits in the garage most of the time anyway. And at stop signs and red lights. The time that I'm actually driving it, I don't care if it goes 60 mph or 10, or whether it gets 50 mpg or 5. It's the process of car ownership that matters.

              • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                Roland Schwarz

                I see SW, NX, and Creo in action every week. Throw them in a hat along with SolidEdge and Inventor, pick one and go. For 98% of projects, no discernible advantage in capability.

                 

                If your CAD slows you down, it's more likely due to shortcomings in your high school education and ability to visualize and constrain geometry. Perhaps past recreational chemical consumption comes into play, as well.

                 

                We're at a point in CAD evolution where CAD is not what slows down or speeds up a project Poor definition, poor communication, bad decisions and unrealistic expectations are the real barriers. I can't recall the last time a project deadline was jeopardized "because of CAD".

                • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                  M. D.

                  I agree for the most part.  I have argued both sides of this.  I think that spending hours learning how to shave off fractions of a second on certain tasks like many people (who tend to be OCD ) do is a waste of time.  But then again most of us here are spending most of our time on 3D modeling software.  So speed does matter, if there is a modeling program even 10-20% faster many of us would be interested.  Another thing is speed sometimes also predicts the intuitiveness of the software and ease of use which I would say are probably the most important aspects of any software.

                    • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                      Dan Golthing

                      In a true design cycle, the software is never the limiting time factor, unless it just isn't capable of handling the design process (which we've all see, especially with large assemblies, complex patterns, etc).

                       

                      In my example above, the person wanted to compete against me on SWX while they were on ACAD.

                       

                      There are probably an infinite number of examples where SWX would easily kill AutoCAD.  For instance, sheetmetal.  I should have just asked them to race on a simple sheet metal part that would take only a minute or so and watch them flounder.

                       

                      For those of you that have used AutoCAD 3D, you of all people will appreciate parametrics.

                       

                      But, for all you millenneals who never had to use archaic software, understand this, in AutoCAD, you could do 3D design, and fairly complex (to a point).  Yet simple things were entirely impossible.  For instance, if you had a bolt pattern, let's say a wheel lug pattern that was six bolt, and the requirements evolved to where you needed the higher capacity of eight lugs, you couldn't just click on the six and turn it into an eight.  You had to draw six circles where the original holes were, extrude boss the six cylinders and boolean add the solids back together.  Then you would have to draw eight circles, extrude eight cylinders and boolean subtract to form the new holes.

                       

                      Then don't get me started on model space/paper space, wireframe, etc...

                       

                      With a program like AutoCAD, one would need to have a really good idea of what they were going to design before hand, as changing things was torturous.  But how often do we know ahead of time exactly what we will be designing?

                       

                      but, even still with the CAD being so much better today, from the initiation of a design project to the very end there is so much more involved in the overall design process that operator/software speed would have little effect on the project lifecycle.  Again, this assumes you are not doing some sort of repetitive design process where very little true design effort is required.

                       

                      With all the new parametric software, it enables a much more free-form design process where many iterations can happen in a very short amount of time.  And often through these iterations, there's often a lot of thinking and not necessarily a lot of clicking.

                       

                      As another example, this morning I am putting together a progress report.  Just one more step in the design process that doesn't care too much about click-speed.

                       

                      and if it is about speed, why do I have to click three times now when I used to only have to click once?  Now I have to click on Sketch Tab -> line drop down -> line or centerline, for example.  I used to just click directly on the icon I wanted.  No stupid drop downs, no stupid tabs.

                    • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                      Chris Saller

                      Those that think they have to out-sprint you from the start to the finish line, usually don't make it to the finish line.

                      It's not about speed, it's about knowledge and efficiency. Speed catches up with the efficiency.

                      • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                        J. Mather

                        Dan Golthing wrote:

                         

                        This happened last night when I had a discussion with someone using AutoCAD 3D. I told them it was a wast of their time and they said "just try to keep up with me".

                        I tell them, "No, you try to keep up with me."

                        I will do any design of their choosing in SolidWorks, and then, turn around and repeat it in AutoCAD before they finish in AutoCAD.

                        Kind of ends any argument.

                          • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                            Roland Schwarz

                            It really doesn't matter how fast you build the model (within reason). What happens when it changes?

                             

                            Is anyone here in the business of making models, dumping them into manufacturing the moment they're done and watching in glee as they turn into product and profit?

                             

                            If you "saved a few mouse clicks" and created a model that won't survive the twists and turns of a project, the only thing you really modeled was a train wreck.

                            • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                              David Nelson

                              Something you always bring up came back to bite us.  We had folks who got he job done fast.  But were they doing it right.  No.  Had a bolt pattern shift on a flange, the bolt circle moved.  All the early drawing did not have the sketches fully defined.  I just spent the last 2 days going thru and full defining sketches.

                                • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                  Dan Pihlaja

                                  David Nelson wrote:

                                   

                                  Something you always bring up came back to bite us. We had folks who got he job done fast. But were they doing it right. No. Had a bolt pattern shift on a flange, the bolt circle moved. All the early drawing did not have the sketches fully defined. I just spent the last 2 days going thru and full defining sketches.

                                   

                                  Be careful of that workflow.

                                  The reason that I say that is that you don't want to become the guy who goes behind those guys and constantly fixes their problems with their sketches.   Nip that in the bud now and take it up either with them or with the managers to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

                                  • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                    J. Mather

                                    David Nelson wrote:

                                    We had folks who got the job done fast. But were they doing it right. ....

                                    There is a common misconception that "doing something right" takes more time.

                                    In my 30+ years of experience the best quality designers are the fastest.

                                     

                                    Is it a requirement to fully define a sketch? No?

                                    AutoCAD (and the drafting board before that) users have been working without restrictions of geometry constraints and driving dimensions (although that has been in (clunky implementation) AutoCAD (for 2D) for years now).

                                    They try to argue that fooling with all of these relations slows them down.

                                    The top quality (and did I mention fastest) SolidWorks users I know are having SolidWorks automatically apply relevant Relations in the background.  No extra work

                                     

                                    And at least when there is an error (or necessary edit) - it can be tracked down.

                                    With AutoCAD.  Well good luck. 

                                     

                                    Now that would be a nice challenge.

                                    Diagnose equivalent designs that have a number of unintentional errors (everyone makes them) along with change requests.

                                     

                                    In SolidWorks I look back at stuff I did a year ago (last month, last week?) and shudder.

                                    In AutoCAD I would just be blissfully happy about my ignorance.

                                • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                  Tom Gagnon

                                  I love this discussion here. My comment is kind of parallel to yours. It's not about a comparison between software, but only a comparison of process as you effectively describe. I could care less about software comparisons, to which I can think of some pretty lame similes far more specific than differently colored fruits. I may just be repeating your listed ideas as it applies to my work, or may just be rambling.

                                   

                                  My issue is with software demonstrations. "Look how much faster this software can create your (**) design and produce documentation," where ** = "admittedly already thought out, analyzed, completed, and ready for documentation". Bull. You're not showing me what I do. You're only performing a simplified mimicry.

                                   

                                  My company's first demo of SWx was a reinterpretation of a completed fabrication drawing of a weldment support. Sure, the VAR rep was able to show the efficiencies of 3D Sketches, Weldment features, and drawing production. But how did he decide where to place that support arm or how large it should be? He reproduced it from a completed design. This type of demo isn't showing anyone a design process, and no real designer is fooled by the duplicity. Only managers and owners without practical competence are fooled by this transposition, but unfortunately that's often enough to derive a purchase decision. The demonstration could've included the relations within a 3D Sketch (instead of given dimensions) so that: this arm is tangent to that pipe, this vertical is clear of any valve operator handle swings, and another arm is coincident with that device enclosure near its mounting holes, and here's your result. Understanding my design process would have really helped the effectiveness of that demo instead of an oversimplified classroom reproduction assignment.

                                   

                                  In reality, also in comparison to a reproduction demonstration, decisions have to be made of where this thing should be, how it needs to be supported, how the welder will work upon the materials to cut, cope, tack, fill, and grind to produce a quality result. Do tools used require clearance? Is there room for the installer to get a wrench on the back of that hole? Is there enough room to also support some associated conduit? If I move this thing to the same height of that thing for common support, has the change in material cost and assembly labor made any difference compared to reduced fabrication labor? Which holes belong in the support fab drawing so they can be included in the item before it is sent out for paint, and which holes need to be matched to another object as-built during assembly so that assemblers are drilling and applying touch up paint instead? Ultimately while producing custom products, I spend my time optimizing the digital model so that labor hours are reduced through ease and clarity generated from my efforts. I can ask my shop guys, "what works best for you?" and apply their ideas quickly enough right before their eyes. Thirty minutes from me could save 4 man-hours on the floor.

                                   

                                  Furthermore in reality, designs change as soon as the client has input. In military terms, "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." I don't mean to imply opposition to the client, but rather that the 1st draft rarely passes somebody's opportunity for input and stays intact. I agree that SWx handles change very well as long as its definitions are properly relative to meaningful things. Sometimes, though, it does not. The SWx Routing Demo provided to my company before we upgraded showed us that repositioning a branch in the same line is easy, but moving it to new position oriented differently is not. If my drawing placed a centerline and related customer connection callout upon that component, then destroying it and recreating it causes more redefinition work in the drawing revision, regardless of how quickly or easily it is to recreate a new component in the model because identical does not equal same.

                                  • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                    Jeff Mowry

                                    Wait, you mean there's more to design than clicking a mouse in a CAD system?  Why didn't anyone ever say this before? 

                                     

                                    Everyone encounters different proportions of concept work to refinement work, but even I (as a concept-heavy industrial designer) will generally spend more time on refinements and edits than on the initial design creation---particularly for complex geometry/assemblies.  This is one area where CAD can contribute or kill.  In my case, I've gotten to know SolidWorks well enough to build things for flexible editability and make the most of the feature tree for such edits.  Sometimes a direct edit would be faster, but most of the time I can work a change through the feature tree and have things hold together with minimal downstream adjustments---just takes some experience in grokking what to expect with any given change and how to best model for those kinds of changes.

                                     

                                    There's certainly more to design than any given CAD app.

                                    • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                      Andy Sanders

                                      I don't know how many times I've just sat there and stared at my screen, slowly rotating the current version of my design on my screen.  Just sitting there, thinking and trying to solve a problem.  Then turning to a sheet of paper to sketch out an idea.

                                       

                                      In these cases, the design is not done in Solidworks, it is done in my head.  No clicks required.

                                      • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                        Dan Golthing

                                        MY LATEST INEFFICIENCIES...

                                         

                                        My most recent inefficiencies aren't due to the speed at which I can drive SolidWorks, but some are SolidWorks related.

                                         

                                        1.  SolidWorks is crashing a lot lately!!!!  Both in 2018 SP2 and 2017 SP5.  This is an obvious buzzkill.

                                        2.  SolidWorks bugs are killing productivity.  A couple of bugs specifically.

                                             a.  Lately SolidWorks has been deleting the "Description" field out of the custom properties.  So then my BOM description is blank!!  No fricking idea why, I've never seen this before.

                                             b.  I have a mechanism that is using flexible sub assemblies.  Inevitably when I change anything in one of the sub assemblies, I get the red warnings in the top level and the assembly no longer moves.  I simply turn off the flexible sub assembly option, turn it back on and all is fixed.  This is total bullcrap if you ask me.  I'm sure many of you have experienced this joy, as I have been dealing with this issue for years.

                                        3.  Balloons turning to "*" as many of you have seen, then to fix, have to insert new BOM.  ARRRRGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        4.  Not SolidWorks related, the inefficiency of having to work with other people's extremely sloppy work.  It's so bad in many cases I don't even know what to do.  Parts and assemblies with no part number, just a sloppy description for the part name.  No custom properties.  Poor design methodology resulting in a variety of voodoo problems, etc.  You've all seen it.

                                         

                                        So again, none of this has to do with how quickly the CAD can be utilized.

                                          • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                            Dennis Dohogne

                                            Dan Golthing wrote:

                                             

                                            <snip>

                                            b. I have a mechanism that is using flexible sub assemblies. Inevitably when I change anything in one of the sub assemblies, I get the red warnings in the top level and the assembly no longer moves. I simply turn off the flexible sub assembly option, turn it back on and all is fixed. This is total bullcrap if you ask me. I'm sure many of you have experienced this joy, as I have been dealing with this issue for years.

                                            <snip>

                                            Dan, I have been having this happen a lot.  I have tried to identify the conditions that make it happen, but have not been able to pin it down to something specifc.  PLEASE get your VAR involved and have them address it and also report it to SWX.  My VAR is sitting on his hands.  I have brought this to the attention of several high-powered folks at SWX, but they also need more information in order to track it down.  Message me if you want their contacts.

                                            • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                              Tom Gagnon

                                              Dan Golthing wrote:

                                               

                                              a. Lately SolidWorks has been deleting the "Description" field out of the custom properties. So then my BOM description is blank!! No fricking idea why, I've never seen this before.

                                              This one is easy.

                                              It is because you are prompted (that is, provided the opportunity to fill in but not required to do so) for the Description in every Save_As.. dialog. This content of the field shown, OR LACK THEREOF, will overwrite the description which appears where linked.

                                               

                                              Either:

                                              1. Pay attention to all fields presented regardless of whether it is required to proceed, or

                                              2. Stop using Description for anything. Really. Defaults always suck and these ones interfere with each other. Use BOMDescription for BOMs. Use TITLEDescription for title blocks. etc etc. Redefine the parts & references you've got, and relevant templates too.

                                              • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                                Glenn Schroeder

                                                Dan Golthing wrote:

                                                 

                                                MY LATEST INEFFICIENCIES...

                                                 

                                                My most recent inefficiencies aren't due to the speed at which I can drive SolidWorks, but some are SolidWorks related.

                                                 

                                                1. SolidWorks is crashing a lot lately!!!! Both in 2018 SP2 and 2017 SP5. This is an obvious buzzkill.

                                                2. SolidWorks bugs are killing productivity. A couple of bugs specifically.

                                                a. Lately SolidWorks has been deleting the "Description" field out of the custom properties. So then my BOM description is blank!! No fricking idea why, I've never seen this before.

                                                b. I have a mechanism that is using flexible sub assemblies. Inevitably when I change anything in one of the sub assemblies, I get the red warnings in the top level and the assembly no longer moves. I simply turn off the flexible sub assembly option, turn it back on and all is fixed. This is total bullcrap if you ask me. I'm sure many of you have experienced this joy, as I have been dealing with this issue for years.

                                                3. Balloons turning to "*" as many of you have seen, then to fix, have to insert new BOM. ARRRRGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                4. Not SolidWorks related, the inefficiency of having to work with other people's extremely sloppy work. It's so bad in many cases I don't even know what to do. Parts and assemblies with no part number, just a sloppy description for the part name. No custom properties. Poor design methodology resulting in a variety of voodoo problems, etc. You've all seen it.

                                                 

                                                So again, none of this has to do with how quickly the CAD can be utilized.

                                                 

                                                Have you tried just clicking on the end of the leader and moving it a small amount?  That will usually fix it for me when an annotation loses its reference.

                                              • Re: What is the Design Process?  Some Education for those of you who don't get it...
                                                Jason Edelman

                                                Yes and along similar lines I have experienced the issue of just making a print for a part. Unfortunately to fully document a part it needs engineered specifications, when I have tried to request the specification, it meet with a statement of just figure it out. Along with specs. details some thing as simple as defining bolt length and coordinate hole depth requirement is underestimated far to often.  Making a print for manufacturing can be a simple process, but all details must have already been thoughtfully considered and defined.