A good idea executed well

Following comments on e4engineering regarding the new Solidworks 3D CAD data sharing site A great idea executed badly, Tom Rice, President of Sunwest CAD, has written to us to say how much he disagreed with our opinion.

Following comments on e4engineering regarding the new Solidworks 3D CAD data sharing site <a href=’http://www.e4engineering.com/item.asp?id=47120′>A great idea executed badly</a>, Tom Rice, President of Sunwest CAD, has written to us to say how much he disagreed with our opinion.

As a SolidWorks Reseller, I received the <a href=’http://solidworks.01o.com/s/J?H=23ke&R=878360438′> Press release from Solidworks announcing their new 3D Content Central Site</a> and decided to give the site a try.

After creating a username, password, and some other information, I was able to give 3D Content Central a little spin. I went to the first Supplier and picked Kaydon Bearings. The web site came up great, I picked the first bearing KG – Angular Contact and it brought me to a page where I could search for a bearing by inputting dimensions or by a part number. So far this is great stuff.

I picked a KG040AR0 bearing from the part number pull down and hit the Create button. The fact that I could rotate and zoom an actual 3D model of the part/assembly over the web was amazing. I then hit Download and the first option was Please select a 3D download format, which listed the following options: SolidWorks Part/Assembly (.sldprt), Versions SW2001, SW2001Plus, SW2003CATIA V5 Part/Assembly (.catproduct)CATIA V4 Part/Assembly (.session)IGES (.igs)JPEG File (.jpg)Mechanical Desktop (.sat), Versions R2, R3, R4, R5 and R6Pro/E Part/Assembly (.prt)ACIS (.sat), Versions 1.6, 1.7, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 5.3 and 6.0STEP (.step), AP203 or AP214STL (.stl) TIFF (.tif) Unigraphics (.x_t), Versions 15, 16 and 17VDA (.vda)VRML (.wrl)Parasolid Binary (.x_b), Versions 8.0, 9.0, 9.1, 10.0, 11.0, 11.1 and 12.0Parasolid Test (.x_t), Versions 8.0, 9.0, 9.1, 10.0, 11.0, 11.1 and 12.0EDrawing Part/Assembly (.eprt)

There is also an option that says Please select a 2D download format, which listed the following Options: SolidWorks Drawing (.slddrw), Versions SW2001, SW2001Plus, SW2003DWG files (.dwg), Versions R12, R13, R14 and R2000DXF files (.dxf), Versions R12, R13, R14 and R2000TIF files (.tif)

I chose to download the SolidWorks files in SW2001Plus, and in minutes I had everything I needed. I tried Robohand, Warner Electric Brake and SMC Corporation with essentially the same results. I actually found SMC to work very well and liked the way they stepped you through the process.

I have to say I am very confused about what the author was trying to relay to everyone. The comment, about how software vendors learned a long time ago that a uniform user interface really helps users get things done quickly, only makes sense and is valuable when the content is uniform!

Has anyone ever complained about why all the different suppliers make different paper catalogues? Paper catalogues aren’t uniform, so why does the interface for each online supplier have to be uniform? The idea behind actual suppliers creating and updating their own data is actually an exciting proposition. They are motivated to get it done right, and since some of these say ‘BETA’ site, eventually make their sites better.

The author is correct, every manufacturer has implemented their own web site somewhat differently, but this is a good thing. They provide their own specs about their own parts, some even provide spec sheets in PDF format.

Also keep in mind that all these are driven by <a href=’http://www.3DPartStream.NET’>www.3DPartStream.NET</a>, which is the 3D-powered catalog solution for component manufacturers. It allows companies to build an interactive online catalog that gives customers access to dynamic product information, 3D CAD models and 2D drawings. This is where the word ‘uniform’ really means something.

In conclusion, I think the author should throw away his Mac and give 3D Content Central another look. I think 3D Content Central is a great idea that was executed with a mission in mind, which in my opinion is to standardise the creation of all online supplier parts/assemblies and to provide files via download in many different formats for use by any CAD user.

This is essential for suppliers who want to sell their products and for CAD users who don’t want to waste time creating commercially available hardware.