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August 12, 2009


john k

I just baught the 99 package and had used inventor and the free alibre express package. Alibre is easier to use, does 99 percent of what inventor does and is priced at 1-2k perfectly. I've used solid edge also which can do everything (and much better than inventor) but with a package price beginning at 5k is only for those that spend 100% of the time modeling. What about all of us that use these tools 10% of our time? Alibre fits this and is way more progressive in it's interface than inventor will ever be.

Bill Losapio

My personal assessment of Alibre:

Access to a free version of a 3D CAD package cannot be overlooked. Wishing to dabble in some home CAD activity, I eagerly downloaded the free version of Alibre. My background is Pro/Engineer and its functionality (~14 years of experience with the tool).

Using Alibre I attempted to create a CAD model of my house. I first started by creating a sketch of the layout of my home from the certified drawings.

I found the sketch tool to be adequate but not robust. No complaints for a free software. My heartburn, however, soon became manifest.

At least with the free package, and I have no indications what follows is NOT the case for the full up version, you can only reference each sketch for one feature. I could not figure out for the life of me how to create a "datum curve" that I could reference over and over again! The only thing I could find to do was to create datum point features at EVERY CORNER in the sketch - datum points seem to be --and this is my current understanding -- the only way to pass geometry references to subsequent features. I was furious by this limitation and soon lost my enthusiasm for Alibre, free or otherwise. I consider the ability to EASILY reference previous sketches and geometry to be FUNDAMENTAL to a suitable CAD package - you either provide this capability, or you don't bother to get into the 3D CAD business.

Pro/E's top down design implementation addressed a critical need, noting the natural way designers and engineers conceptualize a solution from early phases down to the details, not the other way around. I have since fully integrated this methodology into my day-to-day CAD design activity - it's the way I think.

I found that Alibre did NOT flow naturally from this paradigm. I found it a bit like playing a guitar with a pick for years, and then trying to play the banjo finger-style for the first time.

I did manage to create a garden tool instrument design with Alibre's free version, but was thwarted from a more enjoyable and efficient design experience by the same limitation - poor ability to reference previous geometry.

Curved, elegantly surface geometry is not my strong suit, but Alibre did not "address my pain" is this area - I'm used to cylinders and boxes, and I struggled with THOSE, let alone more complex curves (like a hand garden scoop).

I have not done further research to determine if I am just misusing the software, but I must say I am no slouch when it comes to CAD design, and I really struggled to get efficient use out of the free version of Alibre. I welcome anyone to instruct me on this issue and gladly retract the statements if it was merely a boneheaded misinterpretation of the system on my part.

Not being able to make drawings (an advertised limitation of the free version) made the whole thing seem not worth my time.

Now however, having access to a 3D CAD tool, however limited, by which I can perform SOME level of piece part design and document it, for $99... this might be the right combination of functionality vs cost that even I am willing to consider.

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