Sometimes you take a look at 3D software and go mad trying to figure out what eye to puncture first. Not the case with TopSolid 7. This review has been a long time coming. At first I was afraid, then I was excited, then slightly afraid again, then really excited. Why? Because Top Solid 7 has a methodology for modeling I hadn’t seen before. A methodology that was strange to me at first, but then became suddenly familiar and fun to learn. There are bits here and there I’d like to be different, but overall I was blown away. I think you will be as well.

TopSolid: A brief History

TopSolid is created by Missler Software based in Paris, France. Missler Software was formerly known as Missler Informatique, a manufacturing company founding by the Missler brothers in 1984, that designed and manufactured CNC machines. In the early 90′s they joined forces with Toulouse-based Topcad with the goal of creating an integrated CAD/CAM product. At first, it was merely 2D CAD/CAM software with some smarts. (When an engineer described a M10 tapped hole in their design, the CAM software knew how to machine the hole. Likewise, when the engineer included a M10 screw in their design, the correct drillings and taping information was automatically applied.) In the early-2000′s, a MBO (Management Buy Out) occurred taking the manufacturing empire the Missler brothers had built merging all company entities into Missler software to push the vision of TopSolid to the next level. Currently, Missler Software is owned by four individuals and is still a privately-held company. Today, their product line includes TopSolid, TopSolid’Erp and GOelan.

The TopSolid UI

The TopSolid User Interface is, likely, the most intuitive interface I’ve ever used. It’s laid out extremely well and really focuses on reducing the amount of area toolbars, command option and collapsible windows take up. You’re set up with a Project Manager on the right-hand side, an Entities and Operation Manager on the left and an Advanced Search/Preview area down below. All are collapsible, adjustable and dockable to other areas of the screen. Rotating and Zooming use the middle mouse button, Panning uses the right mouse button that is also a context menu that adjust the command set to whatever you click with your mouse or whatever command you’re already in. My big UI complaint here is that it doesn’t incorporate standard Full-screen mode (F11) functionality and it doesn’t highlight the selected part in the Entities tree when selected on-screen. Beyond that, it’s amazingly fluid for a modeling workflow.

The TopSolid UI. Very intuitive. The Project Manager to the right handles all your files for each project. Entity Manager to the left handles all the features, shapes, solids, constraints and more.

The TopSolid UI. Very intuitive. The Project Manager to the right handles all your files for each project. Entity Manager to the left handles all the features, shapes, solids, constraints and more.

TopSolid Projects

Now, there’s a lot to TopSolid, but where I first realized the value was in the way you organize and access data. Instead of starting with creating a part or assembly, first you create a Project. The Project contains everything – Drawings, Parts, Assemblies, Flat Patterns and access to all the revisions of your files. It’s completely contained and makes accessing the data of your project abit of a relief in the sense that it’s just all right there.

Modeling

You model in TopSolid is much like other 3D software – create a sketch, extrude, add more features. Sketches have relations automatically added and you can edit dimensions without getting into the sketch. You have the typical solid features, but also have the ability to add machine features like pockets, grooves and slots along with drilling and threading operations.

Rendering

TopSolid has some basic rendering options, but with a realistic visualization option when working on your model. The best I can relate it is to the RealView option in SolidWorks. It gives you a realistic material appearance and sets you up for what you get in the rendering. It uses ray-tracing for the rendering, but does not use real-time raytracing for the Realistic Rendering or when you are setting up the options to export your image. However, the render output is fast and with the right light settings, a better presentation format than the Shaded option alone.

TopSolid Realistic Render Mode on (left) and Shaded - Realistic Render Mode off (right)

TopSolid Realistic Render Mode on (left) and Shaded - Realistic Render Mode off (right)

TopSolid CAM

I don’t have the CAM portion loaded, but if I had, you’ll notice it’s completely integrated inside the interface as well. As you’ll see in the video below, it’s fast to set up toolpath (given you have the right tools loaded), because it creates the toolpath automatically after you select the tool.

Integrated PDM

The most wonderful ideal any PDM system could ever achieve is the sense that it doesn’t even exist; that you don’t know you’re even using a PDM system. That would explain the integrated PDM system within TopSolid. And even though it’s doing it’s thing behind the scenes, it has full part numbering, revision control and simple lifeycle workflow functionality, completely built in and dead simple to set-up.

Conclusion

This is just a brief glimpse at what TopSolid has to offer, but I have to say, if you’re looking for MCAD software that brings integrated CAD, CAM and PDM together in a lightweight package, I don’t think TopSolid can be beat. I’m amazed at how well thought out the interface is, It makes project management more simple. It’s also extremely noticeable how it was developed together to make for a cohesive workflow. I’m surprised it’s not getting more attention, but it’s got a congested space to play in with a lot of talk of platforms shifting toward mobile or cloud-enabled offerings. It’s not clear where TopSolid stands in this regard, but if you’re comparing software now and looking for a solution that incorporates CAD, CAM and Data Management with visualization and more, TopSolid is about as solid a choice as I can suggest.

A big thanks to Bill Genc from Clear Cut Solutions for sending me more information and hooking us up with a license of TopSolid to try out. View more of their videos on the Clear Cut Youtube Channel.

Filed under: CAD

  • MBrown

    Be wary of the poster Jon Banquer. He’s known for replying to himself under fake names to make himself look better. People reading his writing have a right to know this. Google “Banquer Novedge”.
     
    I was looking for reliable CAD/CAM authors and he banned me just for asking about this. Alarming considering one of his constant complaints seems to be that he is “censored” because he gets banned from places. Hypocrisy at its best.
     
    He also claims to be a CAD/CAM expert, including SolidWorks & GibbsCAM. It seems he doesn’t actually use them and shows very limited knowledge. Please keep that in mind.

  • http://jonbanquer.blogspot.com/ Jon Banquer

     I did indeed ban “M Brown” from stalking me on Twitter as well as from trying to place numerous phony comments on my blogs.

    For those interested in a fair evaluation of who I am may I suggest this:

     http://cadinsider.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/06/siemens-plm-promises-support-of-solid-edge-again.html

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA
    http://whymastercamisthewrongchoice.blogspot.com/

  • MBrown

    That’s not true, Mr. Banquer. You know that. I tweeted with you for a few hours about GibbsCAM. I found that article, asked you about it, and you banned me immediately without answering. Apparently asking a question you don’t want to answer is “stalking”.

    I’ve never tried to post to any of your blogs. I tried ONCE to reply to a YouTube video you uploaded, but you didn’t allow it through. It was the exact same thing I posted above, so it wasn’t “phony”. Again, once, and not to your blogs.

    People reading Jon Banquer’s writing should be aware of the above.

  • http://jonbanquer.blogspot.com/ Jon Banquer

    Unfortunately it is all true.

    Before blocking you on twitter I even suggested numerous times that you read other blogs because you continued to insist that you didn’t like my blogs and that I wasn’t qualified. You persisted with trolling me and I finally felt I had no choice but to block you.

    I have refused to publish your comments on my blogs because your comments are always personal insults and never on topic.

    I’m all done responding to you here. I feel your purpose is clear to anyone objective.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA
    http://whymastercamisthewrongchoice.blogspot.com/

  • Cutmeister

    Yes righteous indignation over being censored and then he does turn around and do it to others all the time. Look at the sawzall vid here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsgS-c05os8
    Now plagiarist Jon claimed this was his video til he was called out and then he removed the description that claimed it was his work. Oddly enough he would not allow any comments here and I can’t imagine why.
     This usenet nut has never posted any of his own work and he has never owned Topsolid nor can he do anything in it. Really the proof is in the pudding and he will never show any of his work nor would he ever do a webex with you because seeing is believeing and he is strictly a blabbermouth incapable of actually doing anything.
      It is hard to imagine that TopSolid allowed his name to be associated with them and when the inevitable explosion happens and Babble-on Jon goes ballistic on them they will deserve it.

  • http://jonbanquer.blogspot.com/ Jon Banquer

    Not only is it a totally original video done by me using TopSolid CADCAM 7 it’s featured on the TopSolid blog. :>)

    http://www.topsolidblog.com/

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA
    http://whymastercamisthewrongchoice.blogspot.com/

  • Cutmeister

    Sure Jon, now howz it get into the official Missler Topsolid 7.5 tutorials hmmmm? You a video producing staff member for Missler now? How bout you do a Topsolid video where you design from start to finish and show us that you can do more than punch tabs on a borrowed censored video.  How perfect, a superdude guru for Topsolid that can’t use the product!

  • CutMeister

    For those interested in who he is may I suggest this:

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/product_announcements_manufacturer_news/137002-cnczone_under_attack.html

      Jon complaining about stalkers?

  • http://jonbanquer.blogspot.com/ Jon Banquer

    For those interested my beef with CNC Advertising Zone and Practically Worthless Machinist you can find my thoughts here:

    http://whymastercamisthewrongchoice.blogspot.com/p/cnc-zone-mastercam-forum.html

    I’m by no means alone in feeling advertising driven forum are not the way to go and that CNC Advertising Zone is as corrupt as they come.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA
    http://whymastercamisthewrongchoice.blogspot.com/

  • John Burrill

    I plan to download the demo and try it out, but I’m curious, where am I going to see the distinguisihing factors?  I see a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of specist arguments about new vs. old technology, integrated PDM (integrated as a spatial database like Catia V6, as a metadata manager like Epdm, integrated web service?) , but so far, I haven’t seen anything that isn’t in Solidworks Professional for the PDM management or Inventor for the integrated project management or Spaceclaim for the direct modelling.  For that matter, I haven’t really seen anything that isn’t in Allibre Design Professional and that’s about a third of the price.
    If this stuff is superior under the skin, ie better memory management, multi-threaded modeller, GPU physics, let’s see it listed and compare rebuild times, open/save benchmarks, frame rates and file sizes.
    And since the subject came up, it’s not primordeal fear that keeps people from switching CAD platforms: it’s time and money and capability.  Changing CAD platforms in some companies is more destructive than changing the street layout in a 100-year-old city.  The only smooth transition a competitive CAD vendor describes accurately is your money into their account.  If TopSolid’s justification for shutting down my business and retooling for three months (if I’m smart and lucky) is C# and .net, screw them, I know how to rename a Solidworks File-it’s in the online help.  I want to know one thing before I even consider changing CAD packages: when am I going to break even on the total cost and start pulling ahead?

  • http://jonbanquer.blogspot.com/ Jon Banquer

     “where am I going to see the distinguisihing factors?”

    Many of the distinguishing factors can be seen here:

    http://cadcamtechnologyleaders.blogspot.com/p/topsolid-cadcam-cad.html

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

  • David

    “My big UI complaint here is that it doesn’t incorporate standard Full-screen mode (F11) functionality and it doesn’t highlight the selected part in the Entities tree when selected on-screen. ”

    Just to let you know that these 2 features (full screen+operation echos in tree) will be in next release 7.7!

  • Josh M

    Hey! Right on! Thanks for letting us know David.

  • praveen

    i dont think topsolid 7 cam is powerful software it is best for 2d milling but for 3d machining it is below than average

  • joe

    This guy is more than just a narcissist he is a raving lunatic. 4 or 5 years ago I had run ins with him he was banned from nearly every CAD/CAM site he went to because of his mouth. Anyway a month or so ago after hearing nothing from him me called me at my work, he lied saying he worked for the software company that creates the CAD program I use. How he got my phone number is beyond me why he felt he needed to do that is even more beyond me.Once I got on the phone he went off on some crazy rant about how they were firing people down there and how they were in financial difficulties all flat out lies of course. As soon as I realized who this raving nutjob was I said why are you calling me he screamed at the top of his lungs because you support them by using their software. I could not even believe what I was hearing so I gave him a few choice words and hung up. This guy is mentally unstable he is also a huge fraud he knows nothing about CAD/CAM he has never been employed by a company that he used it for and he craves attention like a small child. When he was kicked off virtually every forum he started a Linkedin page and claims he has his own company from what I have read this is all lies. The only word that describes him is psychopath he has actually threatened to kill a person on CNC zone. Stay clear of this guy pay no attention to anything he says he is a fraud with a clear mental issue. A simple search of his name will verify everything I have said.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=4538703&trk=anet_ug_hm&goback=.gmr_4538703 Jon Banquer

    More recent discussion of TopSolid CADCAM 7 can be found on CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn which now has over 2,100 members and continues to grow like crazy.

    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn membership reads like a who’s who of the CADCAM business because I properly moderate it and I don’t allow worthless personal attacks.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn