We are looking for a different design software. Top Solid is under consideration. We don't typically to kitchen cabinet type work. Lots of curved work, medical casework, store fixtures etc. The software needs to out put code to two different CNC routers, Beam saw optimizer (Ardis), bore & insert machine and the usual shop drawings and some reasonable level of customer understandable drawings. If you have experience with Top Solid contact me .
You might want to look at a program like FormZ 8 for design...... it want do the Cam part but it will produce true 3D style drawings in a variety of formats including STP, IGES, DWG, and a number of others..... It's and incredible piece of software at $1,000 +/- Programs like Enroute etc could be used for CNC processing. If you do all kinds of shapes and forms I don't think you will find anything on the market that will compete with the flexibility.
I've posted many times about Topsolid. We have Topsolid Design in which we do our layout/shop drawing submittals. Very happy users...no longer do we have the quest for something better. Can't speak to the CAM as of yet, until we can do a machine purchase.
We are starting to use TopSolid Wood & Cam. It is extremely powerful and takes some time to learn how to use it. I'm sure we will end up using it for 90% of what we do. Would like to see more tutorials on you tube, however.
I will answer you and the gentleman who asked how much TopSolid costs.
After having paid about $35,000 to TopSolid for software and training just prior to the recession, losing my trained operator for a few years due to the economy, then getting him back and reaching out to TopSolid again to get going once more, they informed me that they'll need another $12,000 because I didn't keep up with my support payments during the years I wasn't using their product. This was a huge concession on their part of course, a "favor" if you will, the actual expense should have been much more. Which is all well and good, everybody in the software industry would read this and say "so what's the problem?". There's no problem, I just don't need the power and complexity of TopSolid, nor the ongoing expense that that power costs. For what we do, any 3D drawing program will work, which can be had for a few thousand dollars.
The question was asked in this thread how much can you expect to pay for Topsolid. Upfront, you'll pay about $20,000 if you want CAM and Nesting. Expect to pay another $2,000 to $5,000 for training, and probably $2,000 to $3,000 per year for support. And then there are the non-monetary expenses, which are harder to quantify. You'll want to budget some mental energy for treading lightly when dealing with their American support team. Don't ever make the mistake of questioning how great their software is or make any sort of comparison between their software and anyone else's unless you want to be severely chastised. They are very proud of their product. We ended up being not worthy, but your experience may be different.
Just in the last few months, my decade long quest to decide on what software to use and how to use it has finally come to an end. Some of the decision was probably hastened by my interactions with the various software companies, but in the end I have settled on the decision that is right for us. And it is a decision that is probably only right for us, everyone is different.
We use two different 3D drafting programs, Autocad and Solidworks. We do this because that is what my 2 operators are trained in. If I were to hire a 3rd operator who happened to be trained in Rhino, then we would also be using Rhino. They create exceptionally detailed 3D drawings, from which I extract no machining data or cutlists. I don't care what software created the drawings, only that they are perfect. The speed in which I need these drawings to be created far outweighs any benefit of having extractable data.
Our cutlists for wood parts come from the head of whoever is building that particular part, and the machining data for cabinet boxes comes from Cabinetvision and Cadcode. We could probably be just as successful with KCD and Enroute, but once upon a time I made the decision for CV and CC, and that's that.
I have determined that the processes we have settled on are the fastest and most accurate way to accomplish what we want to accomplish. The cross checks and processes that we are forced to go through because of our methods would be considered antiquated by any software company representative, but I have found them to be an indispensable part of the process.
Between us we probably have a half a century of experience in 3d.
Originally I got into 3d because of what you say. Me for store fixtures where design time was not an issue as you could amortize the drawing time over many, but complex details were important. I can see where your market would require that level of detail as well.
But for most of the residential market it seems to me that something like CV or similiar would be fine. I look at how you could draw a kitchen in a few minutes trumping any other factors. As more automation wins. If you can...
Especially when I look at how Mozaik operates. I mean that is Rodger Taylors 3rd go around in cabinet software. He seems to resource every facet of current technology to get to what is important.
Imagine if you had to draw every store fixture in 3D, and each had a order quantity of 1. You would probably come to the same conclusions as I have. The type of cabinets that we are asked to produce rival the detail level of store fixtures in many circumstances. Even if there's only 1 crazy cabinet per room, the drawings for each room therefore are held up by that 1 crazy cabinet. And when the critical path schedule of a 5 million dollar home is held up by our ability to produce drawings, which every other subcontractor is going to reference, producing accurate drawings in 3 weeks with no extractable data vs. 6 weeks with extractable data becomes a non-decision.
You know, I bought Smart lister right before David started giving it away, and my operator never really took advantage of it. Then he upgraded to Autocad 64bit because apparently it had some functionality he wanted, and Smart lister (to my knowledge) doesn't work on a 64 bit system. Despite early impressions to the contrary, my Autocad guy is just as fast as my SW guy are equally fast.
thanks for taking the time to answer my question about the cost. Now I see why it is not readily findable. I guess it is not the most expensive CAD software going, but it is up there - definitely too expensive for me.
I think I will bring it up again with my operator on Monday. As for accuracy of cutlists, it has more to do with the time involved. No question a cutlist
generated from the drawing will be less prone to errors than one generated by a pencil and a calculator...probably faster too. But the time necessary to draw the model in exactly the manner we want it cutlisted would add considerable time to the drawing process.
This post is pretty enlightening....before I get into the TopSolid aspects, I'll not that sometimes having some way of manually cutlisting is a definite bonus....
One thing most software's don't handle well is the ability to "Add" to the shown dimensions for the cutlist. In other words, I want to show a piece of trim at 10" long, but I want the cutlist for the mill to show 12" long, so the builder at the bench can trim it to final length. MV is cumbersome at this, I thought TopSolid's answer was much better....Anyways....
I'm disappointed to hear of the feedback for users of TopSolid. I had some initial training on the program back in 2012. I then "Played" around with it for a few months. The design/modeling portion of the program is amazing...the best I've ever seen. But the output for a production shop seems pitiful.
I'd love to have it to design and draw in, then output to something else, but I don't know what that "something else" could be. Also, having two software packages that I need to be great at, and paying the support for both doesn't really appeal to me.
I have been using Enroute for about 5 years. It's is a pretty good CAD/CAM package. It will handle nesting and generating g-code as well as producing part labels. It's also pretty simple to learn. Especially if you just need to setup the Automatic Toolpath module to nest batches of DXF files from Top Solid.
Enroute does have posts for most CNC's and will create custom posts for a new purchase. Main thing is you cannot edit posts yourself.
I have no idea how well it interfaces with Top Solid.
Sorry guys, I should have been more specific. What I meant wasn't CNC output...It will create a program fine. But more of a Production Management software.
The specific weakness I saw with it was running multiples of a specific product (When I was trying it out, if you needed output for 10 of product A, you needed to draw it 10 times). And if you needed to run specific parts to specific CNC machines, it was difficult. I think if they took the manufacturing capability of say CadCode (no experience with it), or of Microvellum, and applied that system, they would be unstoppable.
Sorry to hear that Derek is not using Topsolid. I know the feeling of making an investment in software and ultimately not able to make it work for you. We got into Topsolid because we decided to cut our losses with Microvellum. Our costs with Topsolid is not the same as Derek's...we have not yet purchased the CAM. We keep hoping business will pick up where the purchase of both CAM and machine is possible.
Yes, working in 3d can be more work, but Topsolid saves us time in other ways. Creating the model can take longer, but compiling shop drawings have been expedited...plan, elevations, sections and detailed drawings are generated from the model. Prior to Topsolid, we would generate plan & elevations in 2d Autocad, and then do sections & details. We take pride in our shop drawings and did not want to sacrifice the quality of our submittals. Topsolid has actually improved them in many ways. What has also been helpful, is the 3d model when we meet with a client to review shop drawings. Not every client can comprehend shop drawings so the model has been a great aid to help them visualize.
Lastly, what was important to me was that as an owner, I could use the program. I'm a small operation and still an owner involved in every aspect of the job. I don't have a engineer/layout department to do this for me...I wanted to be able to do it. The last thing I wanted is to be totally reliant on a key employee. The best and fastest guys using software doing layout, are the ones that get to do it 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. As an owner, I don't get that. It was difficult to find the time to learn Topsolid. Learning big software is like learning a language...best if you use it everyday. That was and still is the challenge.
We have been having a lot of problems with topsolid wood. I agree with others who have posted that this is one incredibly cumbersome program with some major software flaws. This program not only has a mind of its own it will crash regularly. The Australian vendors must be trained as their US counterparts as the same message comes through that there is nothing better. Prove to them problems exist with the product , a real good chastising occurs. This is shortly followed by an expensive proposal to receive more training. The fact is that Topsolid is a technically brilliant product , it simply doesn't work as it should. User friendliness 2/10, which computes into LOST productivity and with a CAM output that crashes every 4 times something is output , it simply gets frustrating. The interface regularly gets a 'black menu of death' which you must promptly save your work or all will be lost. Furthermore , the 'Fatal Error - Application needs to close' occurs more than a few times a day and in total I have lost count.
I would have expected a lot more from software worth over $35000.
Wow, a blast from the past. I wouldn't have thought I'd ever see another response on this thread. As unlikely as it is that anyone will ever read this, I'm going to offer an update. In the time since this thread took place, we have discovered that drawing with a parametric solid modeling program, in our case SolidWorks, is 2 to 3 times faster than drawing in Autocad 3D. When this thread was first written, I had 2 drafters of comparable speed, one using Autocad the other using Solidworks. They both drafted full time, each handling the drafting for about $100,000 per month worth of cabinetry. In the time since my Solidworks drafter has slowly built up a library as well as becoming more adept at the program. Drafting in 3D has become so fast that I had to reasign my Autocad drafter to the shop and my Solidworks drafter had to become an independent contractor because I simply couldn't keep him busy enough. We still produce about $200,000 worth of product per month, but instead of it requiring 2 full time drafters, it now requires 1 working part time. Just thought I would share that.
He had previous experience with Solid Works when I hired him, and was adept with the program. I think his speed is a result of the creation over time of a library of parts that he can pull from, and the experience he's gained drawing cabinets specifically. Prior to working for me he worked doing 3D modeling for a yacht builder, but not the interior woodwork. He's created an extensive library of cabinet configurations as well as the myriad of parts and pieces we build such as fillers, endpanels, columns, millwork, countertops, etc. So it's much more drag and drop now than it used to be, and much of it is parametric. When he started every stick in a room had to be created, now there might be 1 or 2 items from scratch and the rest is just a few dimensional changes.
On a related note, when I ask him to make changes to a drawing it might take minutes. When I asked my Autocad guy to make changes it might take hours. That's a huge part of the total time it takes to draft, because on $100,000 to $200,000 projects we might go through 10 or 12 sets of revisons. It would appear that parametric modeling software is more adept at making changes than Autocad.
Are you talking about global parametrics as with CV or local parametrics as with SW (or used to be with SW, I haven't used it since 2007 or so). The efficiency of CV is awesome and has given a leg up to all of it's users.
With Smartlister the changes are much easier than it would be otherwise in Auto Cad.
I was wondering if SW was able to change say the door style on the kitchen at once or if you had to do it one door at at time.
The library features used to be very weak are you using them on your kitchens?
One thing is that the number of Auto Cad used to dwarf the users of SW users. Not that that is an accurate measure. But there are many man years of development in Auto Cad that is not nothing. OTOH I have not heard of any great success stories with Inventor. At some point I would not be surprised if Sketchup blows everyone else out of the water. IOW Google has deep pockets.
I suspect he's using local parametrics but I'm not sure. Keep in mind that the parametics that he is using are very simple compared to the parametrics in CV because he's drawing comparatively simple parts that may have 2 to 10 components. He's not creating actual casework, or frame and panel doors, or anything that needs a cutlist. His job is simply to make a picture that is both pretty and dimensionaly accurate as fast as he can.
The software is TS Wood 6.14, I believe that the current version is 6.16. The software vendor wants over $12K for the upgrade on a piece of software which , for the most part is horrible to use and crashes often, not to mention errorsome output.
Thanks Jason. I'm using Topsolid Design 2013 6.14 and haven't had much of a crashing issue like you have had. Yes, I have experienced the fatal error application needs to close message, but I can't say it's been a chronic problem. The first couple of times when it happened has taught me to save my work along the way.
I was curious about the version because I was looking into upgrading to the latest version. The last thing I wanted was to upgrade to a buggy version.
sorry I am using 6.15 (2014). This is the version with many problems. We are weighing up if it is worth an upgrade ourselves.The vendor doesn't give any guarantee that the software is 'fixed', so we are in the dark completely with TS. What is your CAM post processor?
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