“Graphically seductive – usability is exceptional”.
These were the words of praise for SOLIDWORKS from Ben Harker, veteran CAD designer and Managing Director of Harker Systems. Ben trained as a naval architect and then went on to specialise in 3D modelling and mechanical design with a specific expertise in electro-mechanical mechanisms. His CAD experience started with AutoCAD, moving on to Inventor, Solid Edge and now SOLIDWORKS.
Ben first started earning a good living with AutoCAD 10 in 1990 building 3D models for architects and designers in London. “SOLIDWORKS is absolutely fantastic, it’s really, really good,” said a very enthusiastic Ben. “In recent months I have been working with other 3D CAD systems according to whatever my client was using, then I decided to buy SOLIDWORKS to undertake several new projects and it’s been a real pleasure. The designers of this software have clearly put a lot of effort into the user experience. It’s very easy to use and it’s very productive. It’s clear to me why SOLIDWORKS is the market leader at this time.”
Ben sourced his SOLIDWORKS software through UK reseller Innova Systems, based near Cambridge. Innova not only provide the full range of SOLIDWORKS products but also provide technical support, a broad range of training courses and 3D CAD consultancy services. “To be honest, I’ve always been self-taught and have never used technical support,” said Ben. “ In this instance, I was up and developing with SOLIDWORKS after about 3 days of getting to know the software and after customising the interface to my preferences. At some point I did have a challenging problem so I decided to call Innova for technical support and I was amazed how incredibly polite and helpful they were. In fact, they can use something called TeamViewer to control my computer remotely, so that they can show you ‘on-screen’ how to resolve a problem or undertake a new process. It’s fantastic and really helpful. With this level of technical support and the amazing number of really useful design features and tools within the SOLIDWORKS package, I’ve been really enjoying my work – it means I’ve been way ahead of schedule – making life easier for me and, of course, much better for my clients.”
Ben works for a number of customers in such fields as automotive sensor development, water treatment technologies and specialist tool and packaging equipment design. As well as mechanical design, Harker Systems develop microprocessor control systems, and graphical interface systems for test and measurement. “There is a lot I like about the latest SOLIDWORKS,” said Ben. “ I keep discovering really useful features such as the function that checks all the holes are in line, and another that checks that the design is machineable. I like the fact that it is so easy to ‘flip’ from component to assembly view, so that I can see how the design is evolving as I make changes to each component. I even like the way I can now simply generate draft files in a PDF format to email to my clients.
The fact the user interface is so customisable is also important to me, as I have certain ways that I like to work. All these things are making me more productive, meaning that I can offer a better quality service to my clients and reduce the overall cost of each development.” Ben has also made extensive use of the SOLIDWORKS eDrawings capability. This is a function that enables the designer to create a small file that can be emailed to a client. The emailed file includes a ‘viewer program’ that enables the client to see the 3D image of the design on any computer at the click of a mouse button. They do not have to have SOLIDWORKS installed. “eDrawings is great for sharing the design and giving clients the chance to see how things are developing”, said Ben. “The images that SOLIDWORKS creates are very good, I would describe them as ‘graphically seductive’ and I’m always proud to show them to my clients.
My overwhelming feeling about SOLIDWORKS is that it has been designed with the very clear objective of enhancing the user experience for 3D CAD and that the SOLIDWORKS design team must have a very clear strategy to achieve this. In comparison, I would say that my recent experience with some other 3D CAD systems is that they feel as if they have been ‘developed by a committee’ or disparate design teams, where not everything ties up or entirely makes sense. I’m completely sold on SOLIDWORKS and very pleased that I made the investment, it’s been a real shot in the arm for my business.”
Harker Systems provide engineering design and R&D services for mechanical and electro-mechanical device and product development. From a single simple component to a complex assembly, Harker Systems have the knowledge, experience and technology to help deliver cost effective solutions, offering a complete service from concept through to the finished article. Using the very latest in Computer Aided Design (CAD) technology, Harker Systems can model components and systems to ensure the integrity of every design before production.