FLEX PROTOTYPES

Introduction

Prototype is the original model on which new models are based*. Similar to templates, prototypes can be used as starting base for creating new products in computer systems.

* Another use of prototype term is an early test version or sample and is different subject from the use in this page

In CAD (computer aided design) systems starting new document from template is standard feature. Creating 2D drawing from existing template for specific layout, sheet size and template table or creating 3D part or assembly are most times limited to use single file as startup form.

In software development world multi-files project templates are well known for long time. Start different type of projects with specific directory structure and all predefined files is just few clicks in the IDE (integrated development environment).

FlexPrototypes allows using multiple files as base templates (or as we call these – prototypes) for creation of new CAD designs.

Prototypes can be used as predefined, tested and already established platform for new products design. Prototypes can include not only the 3D and 2D documents, but also any type of files like documentation and build instructions, organized in user defined directory structure.

Users can reduce the development startup time by reusing already existing prototype by opening the library, select the required one and download to the working directory.

FlexPrototypes allows users to rename prototype files before downloading so file names will fit best for their new product design. On supported CAD systems* renamed files references will be automatically fixed.

Create, modify, test and organize in library custom prototypes with ease using FlexPrototypes!

* Currently only SolidWorks complex files (assemblies and drawings) are supported. More systems are on the way

Who is it made for

FlexPrototypes is suitable for individuals or organizations to organize library with custom created prototypes that will be re-used to create new designs, modules or as starting point for products.

For single computer use it is required only to setup the directory where the prototypes library will reside. FlexPrototypes can work with local database or even without any database installed.

In multi-user collaborative environment FlexPrototypes library will be placed on computer in the network (server, workstation or NAS storage). Different file storage engines are supported: shared directory, FTP(S) server, S3 compatible storage*.

To store prototypes metadata database server can be used: Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL or MariaDB**. But even in network environment FlexPrototypes without any database server (some performance limitations may apply).

* Storage engines support currently includes shared directory and FTP(S) servers. S3 support is in development.
** Database servers support list is expanding and more servers will be added during the development or by request.

Features

  • Create library with prototypes that consist of all required files (parts, assemblies, documentation) that will be used to start creation of new parts, assemblies or modules
  • Include auto-generated prototype preview on supported files
  • Share prototypes with your team using centralized library
  • Start new design from already existing complex base platform – assemblies built from multiple sub-assemblies and parts, and change only required parameters and dimensions

CAD systems integration

FlexPrototypes can be used from inside CAD application by using the provided add-in. Currently only SolidWorks add-in is available and supports following features:

  • Save active document as prototype
  • Assembly preview is automatically generated for future reference
  • View and download selected prototype to work directory.
  • Manage prototypes library directly from SolidWorks

User can select to create specific subdirectory where prototype files will be downloaded to avoid overwriting existing files in the selected work directory.

In the download dialog all prototype files are shown and the user can rename to suit the new design naming. Since SolidWorks files may have references to other files, the download procedure will automatically re-link files to use the new file names.

To automate files naming, FlexSNC (serial numbers codification) add-in* will be used to generate file names according selected serial number definition.

* FlexSNC support is currently in development

Requirements

Standalone use:

  • Windows 7 or newer
  • .NET Framework 4.8
  • Enough free disk space for prototypes storage

Centralized (multi-user) environment clients:

  • Windows 7 or newer
  • .NET Framework 4.8

Add-ins:

  • SolidWorks 2016 or newer

* Currently in development

Database server used for prototypes metadata information:

  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • MySQL or MariaDB
  • PostgreSQL*
  • SQLite (for standalone usage)

Prototypes storage:

  • Local or shared network directory (SMB)
  • FTP(S), SFTP
  • S3 compatible server*