Probably not the best place to ask this question, but I havent found
My company is looking to invest in a 3D modeling package. Currently I think
Inventor is winning the race (as autodesk are offering us a substainsially
reduced price due to our large number of existing autocad licenses).
Personally I really like SW, but money talks.
Has anyone had experience using both? Any opinions regarding either package
Good or Bad?
I am particularly interested in the Weldment/Structural Steel capabilities
of SW2004 ie wire frame model etc, which seems to be lacking from inventor.
And any file coruption problems/assembly reactions to changes in parts etc.
But im guessing that both products should really have this sorted by now.
The latest version of IV that I've used is 6. In general, I think they are
both easy to use and good for basic tasks. I think SolidWorks is much deeper
and better thought thru. I also believe SW to be a better company to deal
with. It really comes down to your own specific job. If IV really does
everything you need it might be okay. I would advise against making a
decision on price alone. If a tool doesn't do your job correctly then you
really aren't saving any money. The better tool quickly pays for itself.
I agree, I had a basic training for IV6 and noticed these 2 important
things: in IV you can't use configurations in with assemblies. You can't
use planes/origins for mating.
I also believe SW to be a better company to deal
So true, but in many cases (sadly) the one who makes the desicion don't
think ahead, but only the current situation; how much it will cost me
I haven't used IV, but I recently did a 15000+ component assembly in SW 2004
for a company that had IV. They were switching because IV didn't give them
API control and they were unable to program a cost estimating program to
work with IV.
SW has 100% API documentation and accessibility. It also has very good
large assembly capabilities.
SW (IMHO) is definitely ahead of IV at this time.
SW doesn't offer 3D wireframe as a primary modeling method. The same is true
for Pro-E, Solid Edge, Inventor, and the rest. You don't need it, and it's a
very clumsy and archaic way of doing 3D. The only program, I can think of,
that offers this is Unigraphics. In this case it's pretty much a legacy
thing. In SW, 3D curves, and other wireframe elements, are used to drive,
and define, surfaces and solids.
SW2004 has specific features for structural steel. I don't do this type of
work myself, but maybe someone who does can chime in.
I'm trying to remember but I think there are 3rd party companies that make
addins for iv to do piping, structural steel, fasteners and a few other
Damned if I could remember the names though... I think one was called power
fasteners? Maybe the others were named similarly. I haven't used IV since
RE Weldments and structural steel:
Note that this is new in 2004 and will still need a good bunch of
development to get what we will need out of it. I had a quick play with it
for the gantry on a boat and the concept was good - draw a "wireframe" of
your steelwork and extrude along it with stock sizes, produce a cutting
table, weld table and have all your weldments shown on drawings with end
cuts for sections and 3D views of your structural steel - superb - it'll
save me a good chunk of time.
However, you cannot as yet extrude along curves (let alone splines) and the
weldment operation seemed very slow (this was in PR2 and I haven't had a
shot with it since, so it may have improved).
I have no idea if Inventor has anything similar, but the SW structural
system is in its infancy (read - not of use in a production environment
yet)and should improve over the next couple of releases, provided we as
customers tell them what we need in it.
My guess is give it until SW2005 and it will be a useful tool - good effort
to SW in adding it in though, all I need now is for them to add plate
development (above lofted curves, which are a damn fine piece of gear!) for
non linear surfaces and I'll be a happy punter!
Hope this is of help
I played with the new Weldment and Structural Steel components in SW2004
SP0.0 also. I drew up one of our trailer frames it worked like a charm. I
didn't have the time to delve into detailing it though. I was rather
impressed with how easy it was to create the tubing. It was also easy to
change between tubing sizes. Nice tools, great concept. We will see how it
works in the real world later though.
One of those, I expect.
My little quick search also found
In our company I had to evaluate 3D packages for sheetmetal as we were
still using AutoCAD. After some amount of online research I narrowed
the field down to Pro-E, IV and SW. I had VARs for each come in and
finaly concluded SW was the best value. IV was cheaper and Pro-E was
in theory more powerfull, but they buth had hidden costs associated
that ruled them out.
Whicever package you go with make sure you get a good VAR, they make
all the difference when switching from 2d to 3d, ask you customers and
vendors that use your target package what there VAR is like. You will
want someone who can imediatly answer your questins while you are
implimenting your switch because the switch will really slow you down
for 2 to 4 weeks.
The 2004 weldment package can be a very powerfull time saver but
amazingly it cant directly tie into the tool box so you must initaly
create your own libray of steel shapes. Its a one time task but is
kind of stupid since the toolbox addin we bought allready has them all
in place in a seperate database.
Once you become skilled in mutlibody parts and you have got SW Office
or buy the toolbox package steel structures can be done very fast.
And tie in assemblys with in context edditing/convert entities you can
be very safe in locating hole patterns on steel, even after changes
have been made. Just make sure you line up you cross beams with your
layous sketches on the beam CL and not the flane edge because W24
beams are very expensive :). Rember GIGO, no matter how good the app
is it can only be as good as the user.
The main advatage that weldments caim are in cut list creation, but I
have not fully used this feature yet, but I did create a set of
industrial starways for presentation with it, though I ended up
redrawing it using toolbox for final production. After I have
finished my libray of steel shapes we use on stairs I intend to use
this feature in more depth. It is promising, but I hear that new SW
feature are often "lacking" there full potental.
Dickering over the price is only useful if the softwares you are comparing
are equal in efficiencies when working with your parts/assemblies/drawings.
I assure you they are not! You owe it to yourself to look at each in a
comprehensive benchmark using your products and lifecycle workflows. And I
wouldn't just settle for Inventor or Solid Works, I would also include Solid
Edge. Saving a couple thousand per seat now will pale in comparison if it
takes each user a few hundred more hours a year longer to accomplish
something over the more expensive software.
"And I wouldn't just settle for Inventor or Solid Works, I
would also include SolidEdge."
SolidEdge is the *only* CAD/CAM package of the three
mentioned to have an easy to use intuitive approach that
actually works when it comes to attempting to integrating
surfaces and solids so they work in a seamless, unified
"It lets you create complex surfaces and then edit them
without rolling back the part's history. This is achieved
with new commands and capabilities. "
"History-tree dependency and editing, in my opinion, is the
leading cause of user frustration with today's crop of solid
modeling applications. The ability to bypass history
ordering and dependency is a welcome improvement. Competing
products don't have a feature similar..."
"B-spline curve. Users can quickly create the foundation for
complex geometry using simple commands, and then convert to
more flexible and sophisticated curved shapes as the design
progresses. For example, you can convert a simple arc into a
curve, increase the degree of the curve, and then use local
or shape editing to manipulate the curve. You can also turn
on a curvature comb for curve analysis, and easily add edit
points to the curve. And the feature tree handles all these
types of changes without restriction."
"The Rapid Blue technology in Solid Edge V14 also makes use
of geometry and constraint manager technologies from D-Cubed
(see EAReport, January 2003) to enable dynamic editing
capabilities with instantaneous feedback. For example, we
were able to dynamically drag a component consisting of a
hole and rib feature in a thin shell part. When the hole
intersected the edge of the part, it changed automatically
from a hole to a slot along the edge of the part. The D-
cubed components handle the solving while Solid Edge handles
the shape presentation. Rounding capabilities have also been
extended for surface modeling. Once surfaces are stitched
together, you can use standard rounding tools to add rounds
to those surfaces. Rapid Blue supports G2 continuity as well
as constant radius, connect, bevel, and constant width
blends. There are also new surface analysis tools including
curvature display combs and user-definable zebra striping."
"What's really clever is the manner in which features or faces built on that
curve are updated. Rapid Blue differs significantly from the usual workflow
of such solids-based system, as traditionally, you would have the roll back
the feature history, edit the appropriate profile, and then regenerate the
whole model to see the effects. Of course, if you're experimenting with
shapes, then this is going to be a very lengthy, iterative process. With
Rapid Blue, as you drag the curve, the surfaces or solid features attached
to it update in real time, so you can see the effects of your edits on the
What is history? What is it used for? Why would you (well,
not you, but someone that can actually do CAD or CAM work)
In the past you have touted systems that can (YOU claim) create
history from imported geometry and such ....
Now it's unneeded?