SolidWorks is a highly popular CAD program, but it's not for everyone. Check out this collection of the best SolidWorks alternatives available right now.
SolidWorks is a solid modeling computer-aided design (CAD) software program running on Windows. It’s well-known and widely used for engineering and design, among the many other fields requiring 3D CAD software platforms.
Originally created in December 1993 by M.I.T. graduate Jon Hirschtick, SolidWorks is now a globally-recognized CAD software, first published by Dassault Systèmes in 1997 after acquiring the company for $310 million in stock and keeping Hirschtick on in a variety of roles for the next 14 years.
SolidWorks uses the same parametric feature-based approach to solid modeling originally developed by PTC for the ProEngineer/Creo CAD software systems, where parameters relate to constraints and values determine the shape or geometry of the model or assembly.
The SolidWorks Standard system requires a permanent license purchase of $3,995 and an ongoing annual subscription of $1,295, with a 30-day trial available as well as discounts for educational use. Online features available through SolidWorks include a forum, a CAD library of parts (3D Content Central), as well as support from resellers in the form of tutorials and courses in simulation, surfacing, and other areas important to successful component and assembly design.
Despite being an extremely useful and popular tool, certain aspects of the SolidWorks suite simply do not appeal to some, the cost being foremost among them. That’s where this article comes in. Join as as we dive into some of the best SolidWorks alternatives!
Note that, when searching for alternative CAD software, it is important to keep your specific needs in mind. There is no point paying for software that has a USP of power surfacing when you’ll never use it! We’ve picked out a few key criteria for selecting a SolidWorks alternative:
In addition to addressing the above points, it is important to realize that many of the following alternatives will fundamentally differ from SolidWorks based on the intended focuses of their design.
Creo was developed by a company called PTC and, since 2009, has superseded their other packages such as Pro/ENGINEER, CoCreate, and ProductView. The most recent version, Creo 6.0, was released in March 2019 and is the first version of Creo to be released precisely one year after its predecessor. This brings Creo in line with SolidWorks on the software development front.
FreeCAD is a free and open-source parametric modeling and building information modeling (BIM) software, which includes finite element analysis (FEA) tools. The main design intent for FreeCAD is mechanical engineering product design, but it has been expanded in its use to other areas of product design, such as architecture or electrical engineering.
AutoCAD is a commercial CAD and drafting application, with the first version released in 1982. It’s a well-established tool in the industry, so the community support is fantastic.
Rhino is a commercial NURBS-based 3D modeling software primarily targeted at industrial design and architecture, with branches to automotive and marine design as well as reverse engineering. NURBS-based modeling allows the user to achieve much more organic shapes, as every surface can be edited via control points (but this makes it harder than SolidWorks to re-modify once completed).
Solid Edge was developed by Siemens and is a product development CAD software focused on mechanical and electrical design, using synchronous technology to accelerate product design and improve design data re-use. Solid Edge allows easy access across a range of devices to cloud-enabled design, supporting sharing of design data with suppliers and manufacturers.
Onshape is the first fully cloud-based 3D CAD system with built-in version control and collaboration. The key obstacle that is overcome with this is there are no downloads required and no updates. Onshape was voted in the Forbes list of World Top 100 Cloud-Based Companies for 2018.
provides engineers and designers with professional-grade 3D CAD solutions, as well as an environment to seamlessly integrate 2D and 3D CAD data and quickly create realistic and solid designs.
Siemens NX is a parametric solid modeler offering both feature-based and direct modeling as well as competencies in free-form surface modeling and reverse engineering of parts, applying a knowledge-based system to the entire product design life cycle.
is another offering from Autodesk aimed at designers, mechanical engineers, and machinists, unifying design, engineering, and manufacture into a single entity.
(Lead image source: SolidWorks)
License: The text of "2019 Best SolidWorks Alternatives" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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