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Old 04-14-2012, 12:17 PM   #31
Hughlysses
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My CAD experience started on Computervision equipment (a big dedicated mainframe system) back in the mid-80's at a Navy shipyard. We were doing 3-D system process system piping back then. You inserted stuff with a wireframe appearance, then ran the "generate detail" command, and came back and hour or so later to see the 3-D appearance of what you'd done. Pretty cool stuff but achingly slow. I read later that whole system ran on about 4MB of ram. We'd have 6 or 7 terminals running off of that mainframe; no wonder it was slow. It had these tremendous stacked hard disk packs that you could swap out. Cool stuff at the time. Info here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computervision

Because the Computervision system only had so many terminals and we had people waiting in line to use it, we got Autocad (R10 I believe) installed on a couple of 286's (much like the original poster's equipment), and I gradually picked Autocad up from using those. I remember discovering the first zip programs so that you could save a drawing that was larger than 360k onto multiple 5-1/4 floppys. Holy crap what a pain.

Around the early 90's the Navy decided to make a wholesale switch to Intergraph (also a mainframe system), but I was only involved briefly with that.

After a few years I moved to a new job where we flirted briefly with Microstation mainframe equipment (which was apparently what Intergraph became). I took about 3 training courses before management decided Autocad was the way to go so I moved right back to that and have been using it ever since. Oddly enough my present employer still uses a lot of PC-based Microstation.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:19 PM   #32
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Haven't been involved in CAD for as long as some of you, but I cut my teeth using A-CAD to design progressive stamping dies, then Solidworks before transitioning into product design. Did that for a few years now I'm designing heavy military vehicles in CATIA.....SolidWorks seems much more user friendly, but Catia has some cool features.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:57 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by FloridaSteve View Post
If I had any new or advice for aspiring CAD techs it would be this. Find the work that blalnces out between interesting and good pay and go specialize in whatever platform caters to it.

For example if you want to get into large scale transportation roadway work (which is nice because it suffers less from a down economy) then it's microstation all the way. If you like site development or water/sewer/stormwater (this is another recession resistant field since there's a lot of municipal money involved) then autocad Civil 3D.

I was talking to a few of the Autodesk reps and they were telling me that in a lot of European countries they don't even teach plain old Autocad anymore. It's all packages. Civil, Solidworks, Inventor etc.. The plain Jane program is far too limited for a career.

Also, IMHO the most up and down field (for pure drafting) is probably architectural because A)it's vey dependent on the general economy and B)most of the drafting is really just handled by the architects themselves. Now in a perfect world I'd be working for a mechanical firm with access to 5 axis mills and sneaking in my own pet project once in a while. I actually know a guy who does this. Now THAT's a sweet gig.

Anyone else have a take on this?
I began CAD back in 2000 at school. My first job in this field was January 2001 using Autodesk Land Desktop.

I now manage the CAD department of a design/build firm specializing in tall structures. We use plain old vanilla CAD.

About 95% of our work is just simple drafting. Increasingly, we use 3D modeling to identify conflicts. Given that, the only item AutoCAD is lacking for us is the ability to produce production drawings of a 3D modelled plate assembly (picture a steel plate assembly with curvature and having to flatten that out for manufacturing drawings).

Otherwise, vanilla CAD works great.

I have one seat open and am trying to fill, but there just does not seem to be candidates in this area looking for CAD work. I really don't get it.

As to specializing, I kinda agree. However, I'd take someone who can efficiently produce readable plans over someone who knows the software in and out any day. I started by taking classes in architectural design and had it hammered into me that even the best and most accurate plan is worthless if the person building off it can't understand what is being presented.
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:03 PM   #34
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I use Solidworks every day at work. I bought a copy of Alibre for home and it's OK, but it's just too frustrating for me to use because Solidworks is second nature. If I were only using Alibre I'd probably be happy with it. I think Alibre would be better than Solidworks at the kind of parametrics I'd like to use for designing furniture for my home wood shop.
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:24 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaSteve View Post
If I had any new or advice for aspiring CAD techs it would be this. Find the work that blalnces out between interesting and good pay and go specialize in whatever platform caters to it.

For example if you want to get into large scale transportation roadway work (which is nice because it suffers less from a down economy) then it's microstation all the way. If you like site development or water/sewer/stormwater (this is another recession resistant field since there's a lot of municipal money involved) then autocad Civil 3D.

I was talking to a few of the Autodesk reps and they were telling me that in a lot of European countries they don't even teach plain old Autocad anymore. It's all packages. Civil, Solidworks, Inventor etc.. The plain Jane program is far too limited for a career.

Also, IMHO the most up and down field (for pure drafting) is probably architectural because A)it's vey dependent on the general economy and B)most of the drafting is really just handled by the architects themselves. Now in a perfect world I'd be working for a mechanical firm with access to 5 axis mills and sneaking in my own pet project once in a while. I actually know a guy who does this. Now THAT's a sweet gig.

Anyone else have a take on this?
Steve,
Cant speak to any of the applications you spoke of except mechanical. If a person was looking to break in or slide sideways in metalworking/cad-cam, my suggestion would be run as many different programs as possible.

In the upper middle class cad-cam such as Surfcam, Gibbs, Mastercam,ect.. they all are different but not completely foreign. I see a lot of people declaring that one or the other is king, and all else is shit.
Truth is they all suck..they just suck in different areas.

You never know which of the packages a shop might be running, so to have some keyboard time with any of them would be helpful...and make you more valuable.

I see a lot of cheap cad cams that that beginners, and or home machinist are using. The problem with them is if you want to grow that experience into a job for someone else..its not very helpful.

The ones that make shops money..cost money..for a reason
Gary
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Old 04-15-2012, 12:40 PM   #36
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used autocad before Bill Gates turned up, DOS - version
the last 3 years i used cocreate, inventor and solid works.


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Old 04-15-2012, 05:36 PM   #37
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I first started using AutoCAD right after it was introduced. Before that there were a few surveying programs designed to run on Trash80's and such. But they weren't graphical except for maybe displaying points. I went straight from a Wang calculator and HP67 to a real computer when my DPW got AutoCAD. They bought a PC with an honest to God hard drive, an unheard of amount of RAM (like may 4MB) plus a pen plotter and "D" sized tablet. But, unfortunately, there were no AutoCAD drivers for either of those yet.

That was total immersion because I had to write my own digitizer and plotter driver. It was actually relatively easy if tedious coding. I think I even got credit for it in my Basic computer class. But back in the DOS days 9/10's of knowing AutoCAD was setting up a batch file that loaded all your drivers correctly anyway. The software itself did little more than plot coordinate points and draw lines and circles. I still remember the Solar.dwg demo they had out. But that is about all I remember about that early version.

Believe it or not, I credit being left handed with making me an early CAD adopter. I was willing to learn ANYTHING that kept me from drafting and especially lettering. Lefties were just not meant to draft or use scissors. It is funny that I still think in AutoCAD even though I prefer working in Microstation. I guess it will always be my native language.
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:12 PM   #38
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:25 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hughlysses View Post
My CAD experience started on Computervision equipment (a big dedicated mainframe system) back in the mid-80's at a Navy shipyard. We were doing 3-D system process system piping back then. You inserted stuff with a wireframe appearance, then ran the "generate detail" command, and came back and hour or so later to see the 3-D appearance of what you'd done. Pretty cool stuff but achingly slow. I read later that whole system ran on about 4MB of ram. We'd have 6 or 7 terminals running off of that mainframe; no wonder it was slow. It had these tremendous stacked hard disk packs that you could swap out. Cool stuff at the time. Info here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computervision

Because the Computervision system only had so many terminals and we had people waiting in line to use it, we got Autocad (R10 I believe) installed on a couple of 286's (much like the original poster's equipment), and I gradually picked Autocad up from using those. I remember discovering the first zip programs so that you could save a drawing that was larger than 360k onto multiple 5-1/4 floppys. Holy crap what a pain.

Around the early 90's the Navy decided to make a wholesale switch to Intergraph (also a mainframe system), but I was only involved briefly with that.

After a few years I moved to a new job where we flirted briefly with Microstation mainframe equipment (which was apparently what Intergraph became). I took about 3 training courses before management decided Autocad was the way to go so I moved right back to that and have been using it ever since. Oddly enough my present employer still uses a lot of PC-based Microstation.
My mom worked and supervised on an Intergraph system for quite a few years at BellSouth "back-in-the-day". Impressive workstations but really slow. Especially for how ambitious they were trying to be. A lot of folks probably don't know this but Intergraph later split into 2 companies . The Software became Microstation and the Hardwayre stayed Intergraph which built some really top of the line workstations for quite a few years back in the early 90's. Nt sure if thy're still aroun but I wouldn't see the competitive edge anymore in hardware.
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:33 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by McCormack View Post
I began CAD back in 2000 at school. My first job in this field was January 2001 using Autodesk Land Desktop.

I now manage the CAD department of a design/build firm specializing in tall structures. We use plain old vanilla CAD.

About 95% of our work is just simple drafting. Increasingly, we use 3D modeling to identify conflicts. Given that, the only item AutoCAD is lacking for us is the ability to produce production drawings of a 3D modelled plate assembly (picture a steel plate assembly with curvature and having to flatten that out for manufacturing drawings).

Otherwise, vanilla CAD works great.

I have one seat open and am trying to fill, but there just does not seem to be candidates in this area looking for CAD work. I really don't get it.

As to specializing, I kinda agree. However, I'd take someone who can efficiently produce readable plans over someone who knows the software in and out any day. I started by taking classes in architectural design and had it hammered into me that even the best and most accurate plan is worthless if the person building off it can't understand what is being presented.
I find that astonishing that you're still in plain Autocad. By tall structures do you mean thing like tanks and platforms or actual architectural buildings? I could see the former but def not the latter. I hear you about finding good talent. Forget good. I'd settle for bright eager and interested. I've been put in situations many times where I've been forced to train some managers or important clients disinterested and idiotic relative who thought it was all just entering stuff into a machine all day. How hard is that? Thankfully I've got last word on talent these days.
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:35 PM   #41
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Really cool. I'd love to get my hands on a copy of solidworks! There's a 2 stroke engine crankcase I'd LOVE to draw up. I's doable in plain Autocad (3D functionality is pretty cool) but I doubt I could ever get a cnc file out of it. When I get to work tomorrow I'll post up a screen grab of some of the cooler site development work I've done.

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Old 04-15-2012, 11:42 PM   #42
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I really like Catia.
You'll get over that. ;)

I learned on microstation and pro/e, most familiar with catia now. NX is supposed to be pretty sweet these days. For someone looking at pcking something up for home, spaceclaim looks pretty interesting, is easy to use, and is (relatively) low cost...
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:31 AM   #43
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One of our latest Solidworks projects.

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Reality:

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Old 04-17-2012, 07:57 AM   #45
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Outstanding! You have to love it when it all comes together that accurately. Hmm... this might help me make an argument in favor of SW for out larger pumpstation and plant design... food for thought.


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