For the steel designing group that is looking for a great steel design tool with automation. Steel Designer Pro (SDP) is one you need to take a strong look at.
I have been on here before talking about the different steel designing tools and I had pretty much given up on Solidworks having a good structural steel design tool add -in. That is until I had the opportunity to use Steel Designer Pro for my last 2 projects. If you are familiar with weldments SDP is weldments on steroids. Very fast and so much automation to make your project so much easier and more complete.
Like many programs there are specific rules that you need to follow but once you get the feel for it there will be no looking back. I work in the underground mining world and design heavy equipment for many mines around North America. My first project with SDP was a loading hopper and steel support structure. This project was my training grounds for SDP. I did receive a lot of help and guidance from CAD Craftsman tech support. CAD Craftsman is the North American distributor and training center for Steel Designer Pro. They were very happy to help walk me through some tough issues that I was having getting my head around some of the techniques that the system uses like automatic connection generation including clips and bolts holes. Another was setting up working zones so parts of the project could be issued for construction to a shop without affecting the rest of the work. Once I was familiar with the way it all worked the next go around was so much easier for me.
Weldment and part drawings were auto created in the back ground and only needed a bit of touch up to add or move dimensions around to have it look a bit better. I was also able to batch process all DXF file for the fabrication shop to cut the plates necessary for the project. For the steel sections I was able to export a complete set of DSTV files for CNC cutting of each piece of steel beam, channel or angle. All mark numbers were kept track of automatically and at the end I was able to use the report generator to export lists like a complete cut list of all components. A list of where each part went and for which weldment as well as a list of all bolts sorted by size or sorted by where used. You can even create custom lists from the database or export it all to an excel spreadsheet for manipulation as required.
My second project was for a loading pocket, including head chute, flop gate, ore flasks, arc gates and skip load chutes that load skips to bring the material to surface. I am attaching pictures of both project so that you can see the complexity that went into each design. SDP made the entire process so much easier and we were able to create a great set of drawings and documents to go out to the clients. I am now back to being a believer in Solidworks.