Alibre is the name of a company whose name has its origins in the Latin word Liber, whence comes freedom, liberalism, free, in short a sense of freedom. Hence, the intention of this company is to offer a high quality product at a very surprising price.
History shows that the software price for 3D design has been being accessible every day:
In the 70’s ComputerVision offered solutions that were about a million dollars, Catia in the 80’s fell it to $ 100,000 while Pro/E led it to $ 20.000 in the late 80’s and finally in the 90’s Solidworks could land at $ 5,000 which is the price at which you can purchase a professional software for mechanical design.
From PC-Draw creators, the first drawing software for PC, Alibre offers solutions down from 1.000 depending on certain factors, the licensing can be up to U.S. $ 150 or less. That’s what we call freedom.
But a price like that would not be consistent, and could be underestimated. As I have seen in solutions like Manifold GIS or IntelliCAD, after a reader commented me about Alibre, I had to think again about why these level solutions are so unpopular if its capacity does not have much to envy to a known software brand.
What does Alibre offers.
The wealth of Alibre is to offer a solution with the design for mechanical engineering CAM (Computer-Aided Machining) specialty, with 3D modeling, assembly, 2D drawings, static and dynamic material resistance testing.
3D design. Functionality for solids handling is very simple, e.g. one-piece rotation is a simple key and a free mouse dragging. Based on attributes (parameterization), parts should not be built from scratch, you simply choose from a library, set width, height, weight, material, edges, and that’s enough.
In addition it can be assembled to form objects together, worked on front, top, sections…
Steel plates. This is very interesting; you can work metal pieces design, with pre-established criteria. The deployment of parts that are assembled from a single sheet with folded edges is almost like playing origami. But beyond that, the modeling of complex parts that later are expected to be assembled, moved to analysis and development is very interesting.
Pull and Push. Direct manipulation of 3D objects is very practical; one piece that needs to be stretched just requires mouse dragging. You can import without extensions, data from these formats:
- SolidWorks: 1999 to 2009 (*.sldprt, *.sldasm)
- STEP 203/214
- Rhino 3DM
Also with a data connector you can import native data of the most popular programs:
- AutoDesk Inventor: v10 to 2009 (*.ipt, *.iam)
- Pro/E: 2000 to Wildfire 4 (*.prt, *.xpr, *.asm, *.xas)
- SolidEdge: v10 to v20 (*.par, *.psm, *.asm)
- Catia: v5 from R10 to R18 (*.CATPart, *.pCATProduct)
- Parasolid: v18 (*.x_t, *.x_b, *.xmt_txt, *.xmt_bin)
And then with a couple of new toys it can be operated:
- SolidWorks: 2004 (*.sldprt, *.aldasm)
- Parasolid: v9 (*.x_t, *.x_b, *.xmt_txt, *.xmt_bin)
2D documentation. While working 3D objects, the system generates 2D drawings that will help in the real development of the parts.
Its document manager can control the document’s flow step by step for each one so that ultimately it constitutes the design and calculation memory with which the customer will have support.
Analysis and movement. Once created the piece, you can analyze its behavior to vectors that will act on it using the finite element method with colorful spectrum graphics. Additionally, you can create videos of how a machine will behave according to its assembly, and all with its parameterized properties, from the K factor of a spring to the deformation of a twisted piece.
It can thus be clear on the exact position, speed, weakest point and simple logic to see the prototype before producing it. You can also optimize the design to the exact width that occupies a piece according to which the dynamic analysis reflects. All automated, change the width of the washer, updated drawings, updated calculation and test its operation.
Rendering. This is scary; I do not know how they do for not consume much resource with the rendering resolution offered by Alibre. Because mechanical design life is that, as their often metal, its taste is in the brightness and likeness of reality.
Also the models construction for industrial lathe is a luxury.
How much is the Alibre worth
It has a modular offering that according to their website is ranging from Standard that is about U.S. $ 1.000, Professional U.S. $ 2.000 and Expert about U.S. $ 4.000. Although an ad that I just reach from Sysengtech, distributor in Mexico, Professional is US $ 499 and Expert is U.S. $ 999, with the option that buying it now will have the 2011 version for free.
Definitely, its price is not consistent with everything it does. The best I’ve seen for mechanical engineering software.