Could some one give a compairision of the ease of use and learning curve for PRO/E, Inventor, Alibre. We are required to use PRO/E for all design work. I do 2D drawing in ACAD Mech. 2004 and have Inventor 7 on the CD and have messed with it alittle, seems to be pretty easy. I was told if I wanted to do any 3D modeling that I needed to do it with PRO/E not being a modeler was just wondering what to expect.
Pro/E = Very powerful. Has CAM integration available. Long history, stable product. Industry accepted. Can get expensive with options installed. Flex3C license (highest end) is about $15k discounted. Add $5k for machining package. Must pay yearly maintenance at about 15% of product cost to keep up on updates.
Inventor = Lame. Easy to use. Good for machine designers but limited advanced modeling capabilities. No CAM. Poor data management (design reuse) model. Autodesks 3rd attempt at a 3D package (ACAD had some 3D, Mechanical Desktop, Inventor) Last I checked could be had for less than $5k
Alibre = Low cost (xpress is free). Limited modeling and assembly capabilities. I think it only costs $995
Pro/E Wildfire and beyond look more and more like a windows program (think word, etc.) Much easier to use than previous generations.
Any of the above will blow your mind if all you have used is 2D drawing program. They are in a whole new league. I recommend taking some classes to begin with as the learning curve is steep if you are not a designer with 3D cad experience. Most designers I know can adapt between packages (as long as they are feature-based associative systems) easily. It becomes a matter of knowing the packages limitations and what buttons to push to perform standard modeling operations.