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SolidWorks CAD Expert Review, Pricing and Alternatives - 2024

Updated: Mar 21

Solidworks CAD Logo

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 modelling, 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


Table of Contents:


What is SolidWorks CAD?

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 CAD

  • The interface of SolidWorks was very intuitive and user-friendly, making it easy for even beginners like me to learn and start using the software efficiently. The tools and commands were easy to find and straightforward to use. This allowed me to start designing and modeling parts quickly.

  • There was a wide range of powerful modeling tools and features available in SolidWorks that enabled me to create complex 3D parts and assemblies with accuracy and precision. I could model parts from scratch or download standard parts from online libraries. The real-time visualization allowed me to view the model from different angles as I designed.

  • The 2D drawing documentation features made it simple to generate detailed engineering drawings automatically from the 3D models. This saved a lot of time and effort in creating drawings manually. The drawings updated automatically when I modified the 3D model.

  • The built-in simulation, analysis and motion tools provided valuable functionality to test and verify the design performance and functionality without having to use external tools. As a designer, having these tools integrated helped streamline the design validation process.

  • There were abundant online resources, tutorials, training materials and an active user community that I could leverage to learn and get support on using SolidWorks, which helped shorten my learning curve.

Cons of SolidWorks CAD

  • The software had high system requirements and ran slowly on lower configurations, especially when working with large assemblies. Complex models tended to crash or freeze up the software. Upgrading hardware got expensive.

  • While powerful, some advanced surfacing and modeling tools had a steep learning curve. As a new user, some complex commands and features were difficult to understand and implement.

  • The rendering function relied solely on the CPU which could be time consuming compared to GPU-rendered engines. The software would have benefited from implementing GPU support for rendering.

  • There were occasional bugs and glitches that caused unexpected crashes and data loss, which could be very disruptive to work. The auto-save function helped recover data but improvements to stability would have been welcomed.

  • The 2D documentation features, while useful, could sometimes lead to inaccuracies between drawings and 3D models. Maintaining associativity between the model and drawings needed improvement.

At WorQuick, we specialize in optimizing CAD software. Beyond basic design functionalities, our focus lies in the integration of advanced automation plugins and AI capabilities. By merging traditional CAD strengths with modern innovations, we offer a streamlined and efficient design process. Companies looking to enhance their design practices can benefit significantly from our expertise. Partner with us for a refined CAD experience, where automation meets precision.

SolidWorks CAD Pricing

SolidWorks offers a range of pricing options to accommodate various users, including individuals and small businesses. For those seeking a shorter-term commitment, SOLIDWORKS term licenses are available starting at $2,820 per year. This includes subscription services and full technical support, ensuring users have the necessary resources and assistance. Alternatively, SOLIDWORKS perpetual licenses are offered starting at $4,195 per license, with the requirement of purchasing two years of subscription services. This option is ideal for those looking for a long-term investment in the software. For further inquiries or to explore the software, demos are 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.

SolidWork CAD's 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.

Solidworks CAD Alternatives

  • AutoCAD

  • 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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