Redstack Webinars 02 Aug See below comprehensive review by Damien Jovica, experienced user and supplier of both Autodesk Inventor and Solidworks software. Having used and supplied both, I've put together a licencing and feature comparison. Solidworks has three tiers, a base version, Solidworks Professional and Solidworks Premium.
GST per year. Here are the various options from Autodesk and Solidworks. These options can become confusing when trying to compare your options. It can do multi-body parts, so you could design an assembly in the part environment, however, it does not produce an automatic bill of materials. Solidworks, or Solidworks "Standard" can do 3D part modelling, assembly modelling, 2D drawings, bill of materials. Solidworks Professional comes with photo realistic rendering capabilities, a content centre library Toolbox , utilities for comparing files, has macros, entry level data management features some setup is required, not an out of the box capability plus a few other features.
Licence Types and Recommended Retail Price As great as technology can be, sometimes when two offerings seem similar, it can come down to commercial aspects and boils down to things like; How can I buy the software? What do I get for my money? What are the ongoing costs? What are the maintenance and subscription options after I purchase? On the upside for Solidworks, you can buy Solidworks or Solidworks Professional and your ongoing maintenance is lower than a Inventor Professional subscription.
You also have the ability to pay the upfront perpetual licence and maintenance cost in the first year and renewing the maintenance after the 1st year is optional, so you don't have to pay anymore if you don't want to. Maintenance and Subscription Solidworks has a perpetual licencing model, where you pay an upfront fee for the right to use your software indefinitely as long as your computer hardware and operating system supports it and maintenance is required in the first year.
Autodesk also offer additional subscription benefits including: You can get licences in Standalone or Network versions. Being a flexible licencing model, you can scale up or down and have the choice to renew your Subscription, stop and let the subscription expire or change licencing and buy a higher or lower level subscription. As a Subscription is a term based licence it can also be claimed as an operating expense and may be a tax deductible expense, however, you should speak to your accountant for tax advice rather than taking my advice.
Solidworks to offer Subscription It was recently announced at Solidworks World that Dassault Systemes would also offer a Subscription offering in In Solidworks Standard, you would have to manually download every screw, bolt, washer, steel member manually from the web and store it in your own folder.
Autodesk Inventor Professional Vs. Solidworks Professional and Premium When it comes to 3D modelling, the systems are pretty similar and both should give you the output you require. You'll find some things nicer and better in one over the other or if you dig deeper, one system has a command that the other doesn't or is a bit more advanced in functionality.
Here's where Autodesk Inventor Professional has additional functionality: Hybrid Modelling: T-Splines Modelling: Autodesk Inventor Professional has free form tools that maintain G2 continuity and are able to align with parametric splines, accept parametric parameters, convert solids or B-rep surfaces to T-Splines and have a hybrid solid modelling, t-spline surfacing, b-rep surfacing environment. Rules Based Automation: Solidworks has a cut down version of a 3rd party add-on called Driveworks Xpress which is limited to automating dimensions, feature suppression, properties and file names.
Electrical Schematic and Design: Autodesk Inventor and Solidworks Premium can both do 3D electrical harness design. Autodesk Inventor can synchronise 2D schematics designed in AutoCAD Electrical and vice versa, so if a change occurs in one environment, it updates in the other.
Like anything, where there's a will there's a way Simulation This is an area where there are similarities and clear differences. Solidworks has symmetry check and a geometry analysis tool in Solidworks Professional and Premium that compares two models.
There is also plastic injection mold flow analysis in Inventor Professional which is a cut down version of Moldflow and Inventor Professional and Solidworks Premium both have a cut down version of a sustainable design package.
If you require further analysis and more in-depth simulation studies both vendors offer Simulation software with more advanced solvers. Solidworks Standard has none.
With both vendors, the data management systems are not ready to go, meaning, the PDM systems need to be setup and configured generally by your reseller or someone who has experience with setting up data management systems and SQL databases. Solidworks PDM standard comes with version and revision control which is a great feature over Autodesk, where Autodesk Inventor Professional has Vault Basic which gives version control.
A Drive for data management Autodesk offer A Drive with your Inventor Professional subscription where you get a CAD friendly 'dropbox' type of storage where you can synchronise your files to the cloud. Out of the box, this can be used as a version control data management system, has searching capabilities, visibility over who and when someone has edited, viewed and accessed files, secure access controls.
Visualisation Having a 3D model means you can create visualisations of photo renderings and animations that can explain the design or market the product. Solidworks Standard has an animator, while Autodesk Inventor, Solidworks Professional and Premium come with an animator and photo realistic rendering for still images. Product Design Suite can write to MS Excel, so if you need Excel data modified or created based on say a design specification or design change or for pricing, quoting or linking labour costs it can.
Autodesk Inventor Professional can also write to Microsoft Word. Typically to create technical documents with specifications and you can even take a snapshot image automatically and have it in the same document.
Both systems will allow you to export to a lightweight model and embed the 2D drawings and 3D model into an office document for viewing. Autodesk offer a wider range of collaboration tools that are cloud based or server based and functions that are free for CAD and non-CAD users to use and communicate designs and track tasks and changes.
Here's different ways of collaborating with Autodesk Inventor: Here's an example of a 3D model that can be viewed in your browser. A Viewer - Live Review Solidworks use the eDrawings Viewer program in Solidworks Standard and eDrawings Professional in Solidworks Professional and Premium to share designs and the typical workflow is to create content or import content in your edition of Solidworks and export it to an eDrawings file.
Solidworks has the 3D model based definition PMI which allows you to annotate the 3D model and share that information rather than detailing a 2D drawing. Other Features A couple other features have been listed below: Solidworks Professional and Premium have a costing module where you can setup a pricing database and interactively work out machining and sheet metal costs.
Conclusion From a feature standpoint, if you want a Mechanical CAD system, both are pretty similar and will usually get the job done, each with their own unique advantages. For industrial design, Autodesk Inventor has both B-Rep and T-Splines surfacing, while Solidworks leverages more on B-Rep surfacing and has some nice tools within this module.
It also has a freeform tool as well but the two surfacing modules don't work together as well as the two in Inventor in my opinion. To get T-Splines integrated into Solidworks, you'll need to look at an add-on, which may not link up parametrically with the other modelling tools. Having said that, if you need to flatten your surfaces, Solidworks Premium gives you that unique feature, where Autodesk Inventor Professional requires an add-on. If you're a general engineering company that works on parts and needs to cost them, the costing module in Solidworks Professional is a nice feature.
If you do sheet metal design, the two platforms are pretty similar and which platform is better is a matter of debate, depending on who you speak to. Autodesk Inventor Professional has a unique module called Shape Generator which will produced a design that meets your criteria so you can interactively lower the weight of your designs. If your company makes configurable or modular products, having a full featured design and detailing automation module inside of Autodesk Inventor Professional, gives you massive efficiency that can save you seconds, minutes or hours for small tasks or literally turn days into minutes on configurable, customised products that are costed and can be used for quoting.
To then be able to upload those configurable designs to the cloud, embed them into your website and then have salespeople or end-users configure these designs with pricing is real-time and download 3D or 2D files is a big differentiator to Solidworks, if that's where your company and designs are headed.
From a licencing point of view, Autodesk are rapidly moving to a subscription only business too and have many cloud offerings, so they are packing in as much as possible for your dollar. At the recent Solidworks World, I believe there was an announcement that they would too offer a subscription only offering in At this stage, the subscription price for Autodesk Inventor Professional is really hard to beat.
I tried to be as unbiased as possible and point out the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms. If you have any feedback, please let me know, and I'll look into it and update the article.
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