Ever wondered what it’s like to transition from AutoCAD to SOLIDWORKS?
We’ve seen a trend developing over the years: More and more companies are deciding to switch from CAD Systems, such as AutoCAD, to SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD. Once companies have fully made the transition, we see them expand, grow in capability and become innovators in their industry. 3D Design using SOLIDWORKS generates time, cost and material savings among a long list of other positive benefits.
One such company making the switch is Wisbech-based Delta Systems, who supply engineering services to the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. We sat down with Martyn Eliff, Design Office Manager and veteran AutoCAD user, after his second training course with us – The Sheet Metal Design couse.
Innova: Tell us a little about yourself and what your normal day entails at Delta Systems.
Martyn: I’m the Design Office Manager at Delta Systems. The job is so varied, I don’t think I could say there is such a thing as a normal day. I’m involved with everything from onsite measure-ups, early concept sketching, pitching designs to clients and also in the fabrication of the more complex projects. I’m the project manager and I’m even the salesperson on occasion!
I’ve always worked alone on the CAD side of things, but there are 23 people down on the production line and I’ve recently taken on an Assistant to help with the workload.
We tend to do bespoke designs for every project and our clients want everything done yesterday, so it’s imperative I can quickly and easily create designs to a high standard, so we can get client sign off and the production team can get the product designed and shipped to the client.
I’ve been using AutoCAD at Delta Systems for 19 years, but I’ve actually been using it for about 25 years in total. It was obviously simple 2D CAD and drawings in the early days, but as things moved on, I taught myself how to design in 3D.
Innova: You very recently installed SOLIDWORKS. What initiated the purchase and what were your first impressions?
Martyn: The Managing Director and I had a conversation about 4 years ago about SOLIDWORKS being the industry standard CAD software used by our competitors and, looking at the benefits, we both knew it was the way to go. We got in touch with Innova and arranged a personalised demo to see how our drawings could be modelled and presented in SOLIDWORKS. I knew SOLIDWORKS was powerful, and I have to say that once I’d seen it in action, I was completely sold, but with so much work coming in and the fact I was working alone with massive responsibility within the company, I was very worried about the impact of swapping out AutoCAD and the affect it would have on mine and ultimately the production line’s output.
We shelved the conversation at that point, but I started to feel like I was stuck in the past and not making any progression. I was doing the same stuff as I always did. I needed a fresh start and a new direction, so I started to look into SOLIDWORKS again last year (2016) and after a lot of consideration got in touch With Innova Systems to finally go ahead and purchase a seat of SOLIDWORKS Premium.
Innova: It’s 9 weeks since you installed SOLIDWORKS – How’s it going?
Martyn: I’ve already completed some big projects using SOLIDWORKS exclusively, like laser cutting, machine shop, welded fabrications – both build and assembly. Basically, everything I used to do in AutoCAD, I can now do in SOLIDWORKS.
It was a huge leap of faith for me to leave my AutoCAD comfort zone and I was pretty overwhelmed to start with. I started with the SOLIDWORKS Essentials Parts 1 & 2 course, which taught me the essential techniques and got me used to the User Interface and features.
After being so entrenched in the AutoCAD process, there is a lot to take in and I would have been lost without the Innova team. Not just the training courses, which were excellent, but also the Technical Support team, who are extremely patient with me on the phone and have gone above the call of duty to help me use SOLIDWORKS in the right way. I’ve not encountered an issue they haven’t handled for me – they can even use TeamViewer to show me how to do things remotely.
I’m learning everyday and have used the Innova Systems tutorial videos as well as the wealth of information on YouTube and elsewhere in the SOLIDWORKS community, like My.SolidWorks. There is so much information out there, so the answer to your question is usually available.
My assistant and I have just completed the Sheet Metal course, which was superb. I even asked my instructor some questions about some other techniques I’d heard about and he was only too happy to show me how to go about doing them.
Sometimes, I’ll try to do something the way I used to do it in AutoCAD, when it’s a lot easier to do it in SOLIDWORKS. There are loads of things that are so much easier and better thought out in SOLIDWORKS – I just need to unlearn my AutoCAD learned processes and continue to get used the way SOLIDWORKS does it by practising, which I’m enjoying.
Innova: What do you like about SOLIDWORKS?
Martyn: I really enjoy the sketching process in SOLIDWORKS, it just feels a lot more natural than AutoCAD did. With AutoCAD, I always had to enter exact dimensions, but with SOLIDWORKS you just put down the line and go – much better for maintaining your creative flow.
The overall visual quality produced by SOLIDWORKS is so much better than anything I ever produced in 25 years using AutoCAD. Everything has a certain SOLIDWORKS “polish” that you just can’t achieve in AutoCAD. I’ve been able to provide amazing drawings and assemblies for customers that can be looked at from all angles with proper shading, underviews and topviews. Our repeat customers have commented how much better our presentations have been recently, which is great to hear.
Innova: Are you still using AutoCAD?
Martyn: Right now, I’m running two computers side-by-side; One with AutoCAD and one with SOLIDWORKS with an aim to move to SOLIDWORKS exclusively in the next couple of months.