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I work with AutoCAD on pretty much a daily basis. You can ask me specific questions about that if you have any. Unfortunately, I don't have any experience with anything else aside from EASE (an acoustic modeling program which is fairly industry specific) so I can't really compare the two. What are you looking to use it for?

I have heard very good things about Micro Station.



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I use both AutoCad 2008 and SolidWorks on a pretty regular basis.

I use them both because they both have strong and weak points.

AutoCad if you are doing drawings for a building, a porch, a railing, fence etc. Something largish with many seperate entities. It's not very parametric...meaning entities in your drawings are not readily changed...can be changed yes, but could be much easier.

SolidWorks if you are doing drawings for a smallish item, something to be machined, something with a few descreet parts, something to be manufactured in mass. Projects with more than one component must be created in an "assembly". Seperate parts in the assembly can be modified separately. Much more parametric. Solid works translates into CNC code better.

If I was designing rear-sets....I'd use SolidWorks...if I was designing a porch railing I'd use AutoCad.
Of course I just have a working knowledge of both....either can be used for either purpose....but I find the above generalizations work better for me.
JohnnyB
 

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You can change entities in AutoCAD using the REFEDIT command. It will basically make it so that you are working on a file within a file. So if you have several separate "entities" (which there are several ways to do this), it will dim the main drawing and alow you to edit the "block". I like this because you can make changes to one "piece", while still able to see the other "piece".

but like I said, Solidworks may do this better as I haven't had any experience with it. I'm just mentioning it because you may not know about this feature. I do mostly architectural work with it, so AutoCAD is pretty much the standard for what I do.

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Edited by - lefty337 on Sep 10 2007 09:43:13 AM
 

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What are you working on? Or are you just trying to learn a CAD program? If so, what do you intend on using CAD for? Like the guys above said, they're both good programs, but they're meant for different things. Autocad is better suited to the 2D environment, architectural stuff, plans, layouts, etc. Solidworks is better for mechanical design. Autodesk does have Inventor which is a decent program for mechanical design, but I haven't used it very much. At school, I'm a mechanical engineer, I used a lot of Unigraphics, which is very similar to Solidworks. The only reason we used unigraphics instead of Solidworks or another similar program was the school's close ties with GE.

But it really depends on what you want to do with it. You could sink your teeth into one of them and then realize that the other is more suited to what you want to get out of a CAD program.

Tim
 

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Lefty,
I could really use a basic course in AutoCad. Lots of features I don't know about. I do mostly 3D work, so AutoCad...although it much more 3D friendly these days than it used to be, is still kind of primitive in that aspect. But so often the defacto standard for drawings that one must use it. When I see command line stuff I tend to kind of glaze over :).
I just recently made use of blocks and layers on a stairway project. What I meant by changing entities, is I'm used to parametric software like 3DS MAX, and Solidworks, where you can for instance bring up the properties of any object and change them in any way you like, usually with spinners.
I can see why the AutoCad people recently bought 3DS MAX, a combination of those two programs could kick solidworks butt I bet. 3DS MAX is in general a 3D modeling, animation and special effects software, extreme versatile and easy to use. All it lacks is the dimensional accuracy of real CAD software. It's creation methods and intuitive 3D modeling is excellent. Where CAD software is dimension driven, MAX is...visually driven. Combine the two and you end up with easy to create, dimensionally accurate drawings
3D in CAD always seems to be "extrusion" based. Whereas in MAX...you can create 3D objects with a click and drag method (or spinners, or keyboard)...then place the objects where you want them. With all the usual alignment and orientation tools.
Here's some MAX stuff I did for an upcoming project.
http://www.jrbranson.com/cgstone/cgstone2.htm

Most of the textures came from on site photos. It's about 95% dimensionally accurate (not enough) but it was for the project presentation. Took only a couple of hours to draw up...... I'm still working on the AutoCAD drawings needed to generate the accurate drawings on paper. Of course I've used MAX for about ten years so it feels very easy to me.
As much of a pain as it typically is for me, I usually fall back on AutoCAD when I have to generate prints to take down to the shop with me. Just one of those things where if I had an expert user sitting next to me I could lean over and ask how I do something...and it could save me hours.
JohnnyB
 

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There are lots of courses at community colleges that are cheap for AutoCAD along with some really good books. I did a good bit of my learning from "The AutoCAD Bible". It takes you through step by step procedures to learn different commands. You can either read it through or you can skip to sections that are interesting to you.

There is also a TON of info both online and in the help files. It is one of the few programs where the help file is actually helpful.

There 3D commands have improved a great deal (especially since 3DS) but they still rely on fairly exacting dimensions. So there is still a whole lot of extracting, subtracting, and unioning to do real 3d work. But they have incorporated a nifty 3D orbit command which lets you rotate and get a good 3 dimensional view of what you are working on. I've learned to do 3d work fairly efficiently with it, but I've never used anything else so I have nothing to compare to. I do know that 3DS and AutoCAD share files fairly well. My brother went to school for computer animation and said that many animators use AutoCAD for buildings and rigid structures and use 3DS for character developement and actual animation. It basically comes down to what programs are better for what again.

I should really learn more of other programs like solidworks and microstation. I think AutoCAD has a strong suite in that it does pretty much everything most other programs can do. Even if other programs do many things much better.

Where are you located? If ever there is a chance, I'd be happy to give you a crash course in what I know. Or you can always send me an email. I have contractors that call me up all the time and ask me how to do certain things. Keep in mind that I've learned most of it on the job (which is fairly specific) so there are still many things that I don't know.

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For 3D sketches, you might want to look into Sketchup. It's a Google product that's pretty versatile. It's only on it's second version(ish) but getting more powerful every day. If you use Google Earth and turn on 3D buildings, they're all done with Sketchup. We've been using it at the office for building renderings to get planning board approvals, etc. One key: You want to be using a mouse with a scroll wheel. Anything else just doesn't work right.
 

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Lefty, the way your brother is using the two packages makes a lot of sense. AutoCad would actually be easier than 3DS to create a 2D building plan to extrude.
I recently got AC 2008, I make good use of the new 3D tools...and the interface looks more like 3DS with every new version. Most drawings I can't make much sense of until I rotate them in 3d :)
Haven't actually played much with the 3DS to AC import....gonna have to check that out. It might be much easier to build in 3DS and correct the dimensions in AC.
I'm in upstate NY, I'll keep your email handy for questions.

SolidWorks is just amazing for some things. Their setup for doing "mates" for checking the operation of a mechanical drawing is awesome. As are things like flawless, almost mind reading when it comes to filets and such. If a person was designing something like rear-sets, Solidworks does a tremendous job, very easy, and generates dimensioned drawings effortlessly.
JohnnyB
 
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