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Alibre Pro Too Much for 3D CAD Newbie?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Phil3, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. Phil3

    Phil3 Member

    I have had Alibre Professional for a few years after receiving a “too-good-to-pass-up”upgrade path from Alibre PE Design. I have played with Alibre Pro (now 2019) off and on, but have decided to get serious about learning it. I have never used a 3D CAD program before, and am about as new as one could get.

    In short, I find learning Alibre EXTREMELY difficult, and frankly, cannot get much of anywhere with it, a big disappointment. The printed Alibre tutorial is from 2018 and does not match my 2019 version in appearance or behavior, complicating the learning process. There are no current YouTube videos on learning Alibre Pro that I can find, like there are for Fusion 360. This forum is full of helpful tips…for those who already know the basics and have experience with 3D CAD. I have none. I feel like a high school freshman entering university graduate school, finding the forum content well above my head. This is so maddening and frustrating, I am ready to leave Alibre and consider something else, maybe Fusion 360, that appears to offer more robust help to newbies. Or maybe I need to take some kind of 3D CAD class, but no place I have looked at uses Alibre and/or requires engineering classes as a prerequisite. Or maybe move to Alibre Atom which seems to offer more help for inexperienced beginners. From where I sit, Alibre Professional is just too much for a beginner like me and appears to assume a level of knowledge I do not have. I need a lot of help, basic help, and what is out there is simply insufficient and/or out of date. If there are good help guides for Alibre Pro 2019, I would love to read or watch them. If not, or Alibre Pro is too much for a newbie, ok then…I will need to move on and maybe reconsider Alibre Pro when I am better educated on 3D CAD. But wanted thoughts from other Alibre users first.

    Thank you,

  2. HaroldL

    HaroldL Alibre Super User

    Just what is your experience with CAD and Design Drafting? I

    BTW, I was going to post a long winded reply about getting some formal training and watching all the videos no matter "how out of date" they seem but then I just looked at your posting history and you've been asking basically the same question since 2011. What gives? If you want to learn Alibre the fire it up and start using it.
  3. Hunter

    Hunter Senior Member

    Hi Phil,

    I've used the following 3D CAD packages in a production environment since 1997, in the following chronological order: SOLIDWORKS, Solid Edge, Inventor, Fusion 360 and lately Alibre (although I did fiddle with a trial version in 2004/5). They're all pretty much the same (for parts: create parametric sketches that you extrude/revolve to cut/add geometry; for assemblies: assemble your parts using constraints; for drawings: create views of your parts/assemblies and dimension). Fusion 360 is a bit different (regarding assemblies and constraints), as well as design history (or timeline, as they call it). Fusion 360's drawing environment is lacking a lot of functionality (like weld symbols).

    From a learning perspective, I found the older manuals/tutorials better, but in the those days the software was also much simpler and I was probably more eager to learn too.

    There is only one way: You have to put in the time. Model simple stuff (like a door hinge) first and master that. It's not so much the software, it's a way of thinking, the principles are the same. Good luck!
  4. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    anson likes this.
  5. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    Where are you based?
  6. JST

    JST Alibre Super User

    The tutorials appear to still cover the basic operations. I would not discount them.

    Atom is the same package, simplified. It is the same thing as using the Expert (Pro) package without using all the commands. ANY 3D program of the "parametric" type operates the same way. NO it is NOT "too much".

    If I recall my own learning, you may find this helpful:

    1) nothing is fixed in position until you say it is with a constraint

    2) there are specific ("be in position with this surface mated against that surface") and general ones, like "anchor", which says "stay exactly where you are with reference to the co-ordinate system". That applies constrints in 3 planes.

    3) a constraint, like the "mate" mentioned above, ONLY restricts that one way.... mate allows the part to slide around and spin, so long as it does not leave the plane it is restricted to.

    4) If you apply another constraint, such as another "mate", or an "align" , you can restrict motion in two planes. Now it cannot spin, and can only move along a line.

    4A) If you mate to a surface, and then align to a hole axis, you prevent everything BUT NOT spinning around the hole axis. Likewise if you align an edge or denterline to an axis or edge, the part can still move along the line, ans spin around it.

    5) a third constraint can then limit to a specific position.

    6) "Orient" is the odd one out, it specifies an orientation, but not a plane to be in.

    7) You do not generally move things into position manually, because they do not stay there unless "constrained" (see rule 1). You tell them to be constrained in various ways which forces them to go to, and stay in, the position you want.

    8) When things refuse to constrain, often there is a problem of slightly wrong geometry.... the ole is not really prependicular to the surface, the other surface is not perpendicular, or you need to align to something else, like an edge.

    8A) Picking the right things to use in a constraint is as important as what constraint you pick.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  7. H-L-Smith

    H-L-Smith Senior Member

    Pick something to model that you're passionate about. Keep it fairly simple at first, or model some important portion of it that would make a good component of an assembly. There aren't that many basic "logical" components to 3D modeling, but the initial slope of the learning curve is steep. Keeping yourself motivated at first to overcome it is crucial.

    Good luck,
  8. DavidJ

    DavidJ Alibre Super User Staff Member

    I'd go as far as to say try some really basic item first to get a feel for how things work. Then you can add features to build the complexity. If you jump in with something moderately complex, you will come unstuck.

    If stuck on how to achieve a specific result, or use a tool or feature, ask here or contact Alibre support.
  9. Lew_Merrick

    Lew_Merrick Guest

    Hi Phil -- 1) Are you aware of the differences between a Part (of Sheetmetal Part) and an Assembly. This is a common source of agony. 2) Are you aware of how Reference Geometry will play as you move from Part to Assembly. Getting this wrong can create a "world of hurt." 3) I am located on the west coast of North America (GMT -7) and maintain a GoToMeeting account. It is possible that we could GoToMeeting and correct some (shall we say) "misviews you may have. -- Lew (tangent@olympus.net)
  10. dwc

    dwc Alibre Super User

    The concepts are the same for all the parametric CAD programs.
    Alibre has the advantage that the user interface is simple.
    I think it is the easiest of the CAD packages I have seen to learn and use.
    Keep plugging away and do some tutorials.
    I remember the first day I didn't understand a thing, but using the tutorials things fell into place pretty quickly.
    Have fun,
  11. Phil3

    Phil3 Member

    Fair questions.

    My experience with CAD is zero. My only other experience is drafting classes in high school (50 years ago).

    The answer on "what gives" is a multitude of life challenges (not going to say more than that) and illness, interrupting any consistent continued efforts with Alibre. I ended up with Alibre Pro for a bargain cost, but wonder if it is too much for a newbie. I am on maintenance, and I seriously want to learn this...or some appropriate 3D CAD application I can afford. I am retired now and have more time to dedicate toward 3D CAD.

    I have fired up Alibre many times, worked with the tutorial (as best as I can given it is out of date). I keep trying, but it is not going well.


    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  12. Phil3

    Phil3 Member

    I am in the San Francisco bay area, on the east side of the bay.
  13. Phil3

    Phil3 Member

    Lew, thank you. Your first two questions are over my head, I am sorry to say. I welcome any help you can offer, including the GoToMeeting. I only hope my questions are not TOO naive.

    My projects are quite simple, so thought I would share one here in case that helps with replies. One is something similar to the device below. I want to create the design in Alibre. This device measures runout on a rifle cartridge case and/or bullet. I have my own ideas on features and design for measurement.


    Thank you,


    Attached Files:

  14. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    That's actually a pretty straightforward project. Hopefully you can figure it out.
  15. Lew_Merrick

    Lew_Merrick Guest

    Hi Phil -- We ar both in Pacific Standard Time and, should you like to just e-mail me (tangent@olympus.net) a date & time that would be less than inconvenient for you to GoToMeeting. -- Lew
    Mika likes this.
  16. Phil3

    Phil3 Member

    Hi Lew. I will send you an e-mail on date and time. I have not used GoToMeeting, but will ask you about that in my e-mail. I very much appreciate your offer! In the meantime, I am spending time with Alibre and the tutorial.

    Thank you.

  17. Toybuilder

    Toybuilder Member

    The saying, "It takes ten years to be an overnight success," has been my experience with 3D CAD. I first started out with TurboCAD Pro and then later acquired Alibre. I had started to use 3D CAD for work in bits-and-pieces, but it was only through incremental learning over time that I got to where I am functionally proficient (nowhere near the mastery of many of the others here).

    A lot of it comes from practice-practice-practice, and in learning from the work of others, trying to figure out how they achieved their results. It does help if you can watch over the shoulders of others from time to time. YouTube is great for that these days.

    It's a bit like learning a foreign language -- you're going to have to struggle and stew in confusion for some time before things start to click.

    Walk-through tutorials, regardless of what software, will help you organizing your thinking for 3D. Even if the specific features work differently (so you can't do them exactly), you'll still benefit from the exposure. After you've seen enough different ones, you'll start to recognize the common patterns -- that's when you start to become productive.
  18. JST

    JST Alibre Super User

    If 3D CAD via Alibre is so difficult, you have come at it with the wrong mental approach. It is really fairly easy, and I mean that. The tricky part is visualizing what you want, and getting the strategy for arriving there. Tutorials will help.

    "Starter" CAD is a waste of time..... in my opinion Unless Atom is all you will ever need, don't do the "buy small (and work up)". If you have an ongoing need, buy a good package and learn it.

    If you have a one-time need, go to "Fusion" and just use it while you need it.

    You probably just need to get off on the right foot. The tutorials are good, watch AND DUPLICATE them yourself. It is very much learning by using. When you can duplicate the tutorial, try adding something to it. Then make something ELSE the same way....
    bigseb likes this.
  19. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

  20. sz0k30

    sz0k30 Senior Member

    Phil3, if you've had Alibre for years and still don't have a clue, then its very obvious you haven't put anywhere near enough time in it.

    I came from a pencil & paper 2D drafting world. Then moved to a 2D CAD world, then finally to a 3D CAD world. For me the transitions were pretty easy.

    That being said, I realize that learning on your own is difficult. Even for me, with all the 3D systems I have worked on Alibre didn't and sometimes still doesn't come that easy or seem as intuitive as other systems I have worked on.

    I was always lucky enough that I had great training & support provided by my employer. When we switched to a new system or sometimes just to a major update, we went to an offsite training facility for 4 to 6 weeks. No work just training 8 hours a day. When we came back to work, we all had each other to help and ask questions and when that wasn't enough we had on-site experts to help. After many such training cycles, everyone (users & trainers) agreed that it took 6 months to get proficient and a year to (Run it blindfolded).

    In the end just no substitute for experience.
    VoltsAndBolts likes this.

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