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Alibre Design’s Low Cost Helps Ex-Marine Start Damage Technology LLC

Technical Support Saluted for Excellence Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Many soldiers make a career of serving our country. When they return to civilian life, many begin second careers to support their families. One such brave soldier, Martin Custer, served in the infantry, studied mechanical engineering, worked in the United States Marine Corp’s Warfighting Lab and later founded Damage Technology LLC, a North Carolina consulting company that designs, develops and tests weapons and armor. To start his company, Martin needed computer-aided design (CAD) software, but the program he used in the military was too expensive for this new business owner. After researching programs, Martin selected Alibre Design for his business because of its price and performance.

Finding a CAD Program without Breaking the Bank

Martin Custer knows what he wants and achieves his goals. Since childhood, Martin dreamed of serving in the Marine Corps. Nearing the end of his 20-year military career, he dreamed of opening a consulting business using the skills he learned in the service. Six months prior to starting his business, he set three main goals: 1) locate office space, 2) develop a business plan and 3) select a CAD program. The challenging part would be finding an affordable CAD program powerful enough to design 3D parametric solid models for clients, yet easy enough to accomplish the work quickly without breaking the bank.

Trial and Error Experience with SolidWorks

Martin spent the majority of his military career in the infantry. The last three and one-half years of service, he was stationed at Quantico, Virginia as the Infantry Weapons Chief involved in weapons and armor research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) in the Warfighting Lab, part of the Marine Corps’ Combat Development Command. Because the group needed to show their design ideas to others and hand-drawn designs were difficult to interpret, Martin talked his boss into purchasing a CAD program. Since the government already owned licenses of SolidWorks, his boss bought an additional seat for him.

With no authorization for the purchase of expensive SolidWorks’ training, the biggest problem Martin had was learning how to use it. Martin said, “I either learned the hard way with trial and error, or I had to find another SolidWorks user who could answer my question. Either way, the process was time consuming.”

The Ease of Switching to Alibre Design

Martin had prior experience with two CAD programs, but neither met the requirements for his new business.

AutoCAD: Too Difficult
In high school, Martin used AutoCAD a little. He ruled it out because, as Martin said, “I hated that you had to painstakingly type in each coordinate or dimension. Using it back then was like pulling teeth.”

SolidWorks: Too Expensive
Since Martin had several years of experience with SolidWorks, he planned to buy the software for his business before he found out how much it cost. Martin said, “I didn’t know if I should bite the bullet and pay an arm and a leg for SolidWorks with all the other expenses of starting a business.” While seeking his wife’s advice, she asked him how much SolidWorks would cost and what he would get in return. Martin laughed, “My reply that SolidWorks would cost about $10,000 for a few CDs and the resulting expression on my wife’s face made me feel a little like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ when he told his mom that he had traded their only cow for a few beans.” He thought it better not to mention SolidWorks’ expensive annual maintenance fees for which he would have received little.

Alibre Design: Just Right
Still in need of a CAD program, Martin researched solutions on the Internet and was attracted to Alibre’s free trial and low cost. Although there were some differences between Alibre Design and SolidWorks such as using ‘click and release’ in one while clicking and dragging in the other, Martin said, “In less than 30 days, I was completely up and running.” In fact, Martin said, “I found that I could learn things so rapidly in Alibre Design that I tried things I wouldn’t have bothered trying in SolidWorks.”

High-End Features and Support with Low-End Price Tag

  • Interoperability – Currently, Martin creates 3D mechanical designs with Alibre’s 3D parametric solid modeler and gives the designs to engineers who import them into various computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs. For those clients who use SolidWorks and Pro/E, Martin sends files back and forth saved in STEP and IGES formats. Using these file formats, sharing models between Alibre Design and these systems has worked flawlessly.

  • New Integrated Alibre CAM Add-on –“Since Alibre Design version 10 completely integrates Alibre CAM,” Martin remarked, “I would like to start exploring using CAM.” Alibre Design Expert now has fully-integrated, fully-associative tool path generation, directly inside the Alibre Design interface.

  • Integrated Data Sharing – Martin likes Alibre’s imbedded data sharing and collaboration tools. He said, “They allow me to bring other people into the project. I work with customers and contract with some former Marines, and we can look at the designs in real time without them being onsite. That saves us a lot of time and travel cost.”

  • Alibre Assistant – Martin raved, “Alibre’s technical support is awesome! The technical support is without a doubt THE class leader and has paid for the price of the software several times over with increased productivity Being able to talk real time with someone when I have questions is extremely helpful. Even more impressive is letting an Alibre engineer take control of my model to show me how best to use a design tool.”

  • Valuable Updates – Alibre strives to add meaningful features to new releases that help you get your job done faster, and Martin has noticed, saying “On top of the incredible price, I like Alibre’s work ethic – they bring real value added improvements with each version release. This is opposed to the industry norm of changing ‘puppy’ to ‘small dog’ and ‘happy’ to ‘glad’ then charging you out the wazoo for the privilege of staying current.”

Comprehensive Modeler at Bargain Price with Top Class Support

Martin couldn’t have started his consulting business without a CAD program. “By purchasing Alibre Design at one-fifth the cost of other software, I didn’t have to spend all of my money and still received a comprehensive solid modeler. What a bargain!”

Needless to say, Martin is thrilled that he found Alibre Design, and is getting his job done every day with a professional tool that was easy on his bank account.

About Damage Technology LLC

Damage Technology LLC is dedicated to maintaining a decisive advantage in small arms technology for America’s military and her allies. The company provides expert support in product design and development, testing and evaluation, training and courseware development and technical documentation. Damage Technology has completed work for Raytheon, Foster Miller, Land Warfare Resource Corporation (LWRC) and others in the defense industry.