Some of you may remember my previous post entitled Geomagic Design vs The World. In it I highlighted some differences between Alibre Design (then Geomagic Design) and two other softwares, namely catia and Creo. Recently I joined a company that uses Visi, a software I have wanted to try for a long time. Visi is very popular in the tooling industry so here is my breakdown of how Alibre stacks up against it. Firstly, Visi is a full package that contains several modules for different aspects of CADCAM process i.e. modelling, 2D/3D machining, flow analysis, etc. It also has a layout similar to, say, Powershape or Rhino in that there is only one file. This file contains all data. Some of you may remember me being in favour of this as opposed to the Alibre system of multiple files per project. Visi is all about production. Once you get your head around how it works you can get stuff done very quick. However there are some drawbacks. For starters it isn't parametric so there is no chance of moving anything around, drawings don't update... you get the picture. The design side of it is pretty crude to be honest. You are left with very rudimentary solids that you boolean unite/subtract and basic geometry and surfaces. Most of the design work involves direct editing. It does the job but it ain't pretty. The whole interface seems just to thrown together without any effort to achieve some kind of user-friendliness. Using direct placement for anything is a real schlepp as it doesn't follow (what I consider to be) a conventional workflow. Note: this may also be down to my unfamiliarity with Visi's workflow! The CAM side of Visi is the shizzle and blows every other CAM software I have used out the water. I can get programs out quicker than ever before and it has a huge range of machining strategies. Going back to anything else now would a huige disappointment. Everthing from 2D to 3D is fantastic. The strategies are safe i.e. gouging, crashing is nigh-on impossible unless you set you job up incorrectly. The fact that Alibre does not have a built-in CAM system is a big let-down imho. Opening up a Visi files immediately gives you access to everything to do with your project. Layers and groups allow you turn individual parts on and off. The co-ordinate system can be set wherever one wants (unlike Alibre where it is fixed) and can be saved as a CAM setup. In terms of mould design Visi has comprehensive mould libraries. A basic mould setup can be imported from a supplier library, as can mould components. These are imported into the Visi file and the software automatically creates the required holes, counterbores, etc. Our in-house designer knocks out a complete mould design components, parts list, etc in half a day. An impossible target in Alibre. The CAM side of it also comes with feature recognition. Highlight a feature, press the hotkey (C) and the software creates the toolpaths required for the feature. These can be edited (if necessary) and created from scratch. Its been a while since I have used AlibreCAM but it didn't come anywhere near this. Drawings in Visi are do-able. I am not impressed with its drawing function tbh. It seems almost an after-thought. Firstly it is not very straightforward (Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross plays in my mind when I do this) but also seems just too basic. Good enough for in-house manufacturing, although we use PCs throughout the toolroom so drawings are a rarity. Alibre is good despite, as mentioned earlier, the long-standing issues. For part design I would still prefer Alibre. As a whole though Alibre just doesn't come close to Visi as an overall manufacturing package. I am very very impressed with Visi, so much so that I can overlook its shortcomings.