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SolidWorks Expert Review, Pricing and Alternatives - 2023

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What’s special about SolidWorks? SolidWorks is a powerful computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software developed by Dassault Systèmes. It is primarily used by engineers and designers across various industries for solid modeling, enabling them to create detailed 2D or 3D models, mechanical designs, simulations, and more.

Product: SolidWorks

Founding Date: 1993

IPO Status: Public

Founders: Jon Hirschtick

Deployment Type: On-premise (self-hosted)

Free Trial: Available

Company HQ: Waltham, Massachusetts, United States

Rating: 4.1 ⭐ | 103


What is SolidWorks?

SolidWorks is a CAD/CAE program that aids in the creation of models, designs, and simulations. Its features make it an ideal tool for beginners and experienced users alike, allowing for parametric and direct modeling, assemblies, and advanced surfacing. It offers robust capabilities, including the ability to create equation-based models which is a time-saver for repetitive designs and setting constraints.

WorQuick Solidworks 2023 Screenshot

Pros of SolidWorks:

  • User-friendly interface: Users appreciate SolidWorks' intuitive interface. Even beginners find it easy to navigate and learn various tools and features.

  • Extensive modeling tools: SolidWorks' comprehensive range of modeling tools allows for the creation of detailed designs with a high level of precision.

  • Strong support community: SolidWorks provides numerous learning materials and resources. Users can rely on a robust community to help troubleshoot issues, learn new tricks, and stay up-to-date with new features and updates.

  • Equation-based modeling: The ability to create equation-based models is a huge plus for many users. This feature is a time-saver for repetitive designs and setting constraints.

  • Interoperability: SolidWorks provides good interoperability with other Dassault Systemes products, as well as with third-party CAD tools.

Cons of SolidWorks:

  • Resource-intensive: Some users reported that the program can slow down their computers when working on larger or more complex designs. SolidWorks tends to demand high computational resources.

  • Rendering process: Some users find the rendering process to be time-consuming. The built-in image rendering does not always meet users' expectations.

  • Compatibility: Some users have reported issues with the compatibility of certain file types, especially non-native ones.

  • Cost: The software is on the pricier side, which can be a barrier for individuals and small businesses.

  • Stability: Users have reported occasional software crashes, particularly when handling heavy assemblies or complex geometries.

SolidWorks Pricing

SolidWorks is a premium software, and its cost might be prohibitive for some users, especially individuals or small businesses. The exact pricing details can be obtained by contacting Customer support directly. Demos are also available upon request.

SolidWorks's Target Market

SolidWorks is primarily used by mechanical engineers and designers. It is also popular in educational settings, helping students learn key concepts in CAD and CAE.

SolidWorks Features:

SolidWorks offers a robust suite of features that cater to various design and engineering needs:

  1. Parametric and Direct Modeling: SolidWorks' parametric and direct modeling features are some of its most praised aspects. Users can easily create complex geometries and assemblies, with the software automatically updating associated parts when changes are made. This feature allows for high levels of precision and consistency in designs.

  2. Assemblies: SolidWorks' assembly capabilities are highly rated. Users can create assemblies with multiple parts, and the software can manage complex assemblies with numerous components. However, it should be noted that some users have reported performance issues when working with particularly large or complex assemblies.

  3. Advanced Surfacing: Users appreciate SolidWorks' advanced surfacing capabilities. The software allows for the creation of complex shapes and surfaces, making it suitable for a wide range of design tasks.

  4. Equation-based Models: This feature is popular among users for its ability to save time on repetitive designs and setting constraints. Users can set up mathematical relationships between components, and the software will automatically adjust the design based on these equations.

  5. Simulation Capabilities: SolidWorks includes built-in simulation tools that allow users to test their designs under real-world conditions. This feature is particularly useful for engineers who need to verify the performance of their designs before manufacturing.

  6. Drafting and Detailing: SolidWorks provides comprehensive 2D drafting and detailing tools. Users can create detailed drawings with annotations, dimensions, and other critical information for manufacturing.

  7. Interoperability: SolidWorks provides good interoperability with other Dassault Systemes products, as well as with third-party CAD tools. This makes it easier for teams using multiple software tools to collaborate effectively.

SolidWorks Deployment Type and Implementation: SolidWorks is a desktop-based application and requires installation on a local computer. It is compatible with Windows operating systems.

SolidWorks Customer Support: SolidWorks offers customer support through various channels, including online tutorials, a knowledge base, and community forums.

SolidWorks Integrations: SolidWorks integrates with other tools and software, but some users have reported compatibility issues with certain file types.

SolidWorks Scripting, Customization and Automation:

SolidWorks provides users with the ability to automate tasks and customize features through its API (Application Programming Interface). This allows for the creation of macros, which can automate repetitive tasks, thereby improving efficiency and reducing the chance for human error.

The software also supports Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), a programming language that allows for extensive customization. Users can create custom scripts to automate complex or repetitive tasks, such as modifying a group of parts or generating automatic reports. SolidWorks' API provides access to its underlying functionality, enabling users to add functionality that may not be available in the standard user interface.

The equation-driven design feature is another aspect of SolidWorks' automation capabilities that users appreciate. This feature allows users to establish relationships between parts in an assembly, thereby automating the design process to accommodate changes in the model's dimensions.

However, it should be noted that while these features provide powerful customization and automation capabilities, they do require a certain level of programming knowledge. As such, they may be less accessible to users who do not have a background in coding or scripting. Based on user feedback, there is room for improvement in making these features more accessible to non-programmers.

SolidWorks FAQs:

  • What is better, AutoCAD or SOLIDWORKS? The choice between AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS depends on the specific requirements of the user. AutoCAD is primarily a 2D design tool with some 3D capabilities and is commonly used in architecture and construction. On the other hand, SOLIDWORKS is a 3D design tool that's popular in mechanical engineering and product design. If you need robust 3D modeling and simulation features, SOLIDWORKS is likely a better choice. For 2D drafting and design, AutoCAD might be more suitable.

  • What are the disadvantages of SOLIDWORKS? While SOLIDWORKS is a powerful tool, some users report that it can be resource-intensive, slowing down computers when working on larger or more complex designs. The software also sometimes crashes, particularly when handling heavy assemblies. Some users have also reported issues with compatibility of certain file types. Additionally, the cost of the software might be prohibitive for some individuals or small businesses.

  • What is SOLIDWORKS good for? SOLIDWORKS is widely used for creating detailed 3D models, mechanical designs, and simulations. Its capabilities make it an ideal tool for product design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. It's also useful for creating detailed technical drawings and conducting complex engineering analyses.

  • Do people still use SOLIDWORKS? Yes, SOLIDWORKS is still widely used by engineers and designers across various industries. It's particularly popular in mechanical engineering and product design fields.

  • Does NASA use SolidWorks? Yes, NASA has been known to use SOLIDWORKS for various projects. However, please note that NASA uses a variety of CAD software, depending on the specific requirements of each project.

  • Can SolidWorks replace AutoCAD? While SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD are both CAD software, they have different strengths and are used for different purposes. SOLIDWORKS is typically used for 3D modeling and has strong capabilities in simulation and product design. AutoCAD, on the other hand, is often used for 2D drafting and has strong capabilities in architecture and construction design. Depending on the specific use case, one could potentially replace the other, but in many instances, they are used alongside each other.

  • Do professionals use SOLIDWORKS? Yes, professionals in various industries including engineering, manufacturing, and product design use SOLIDWORKS. It's highly valued for its robust 3D modeling, simulation, and product design features.

  • Is AutoCAD harder than SOLIDWORKS? The difficulty of learning AutoCAD versus SOLIDWORKS can depend on the individual and their background. Generally, users find the interface of SOLIDWORKS to be more intuitive. However, AutoCAD might be easier for tasks related to architecture, civil engineering, and 2D drafting.

  • Do engineers use SOLIDWORKS or AutoCAD? Both SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD are used by engineers, but the choice between the two often depends on the specific engineering field and the task at hand. Mechanical engineers often prefer SOLIDWORKS for its robust 3D modeling and simulation capabilities, while civil engineers or architects might prefer AutoCAD for its strong 2D drafting and design tools.

Abaqus Alternatives:

  • AutoCAD: Developed by Autodesk, AutoCAD is a versatile software that can handle both 2D and 3D design and drafting. It is widely used in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries.

  • Inventor: Also from Autodesk, Inventor is a software for 3D mechanical solid modeling design. It includes an array of features for simulation, optimization, and tooling.

  • Fusion 360: This is another Autodesk product that combines CAD, CAM, and CAE, including 3D modeling and simulation, in a cloud-based platform.

  • CATIA: Developed by Dassault Systèmes, the same company behind SolidWorks, CATIA is a powerful software widely used in industries such as automotive and aerospace for 3D design, electrical systems design, fluid systems design, and mechanical systems design.

  • Creo Parametric: Previously known as Pro/ENGINEER, Creo Parametric from PTC offers a range of tools for 3D CAD, simulation, and manufacturing.

  • NX: Formerly known as Unigraphics, NX from Siemens provides a suite of solutions for product design, engineering, and manufacturing.

  • Onshape: Onshape is a cloud-based CAD platform for mechanical engineering and design that allows for real-time collaboration.

  • FreeCAD: This is a free, open-source alternative that's more suitable for hobbyists or those who can't afford commercial CAD software.

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