I am currently using Autodesk Inventor for designing welded structural connections, piping systems, and some sheet metal projects. I am satisfied with Inventor, but I wonder how it compares to Solidworks? In your opinion, would there be any advantage to my switching from Inventor to Solidworks? Is anyone familiar with both products who could make a recommendation?
I have used both products, but most of my work in recent years has been done in SolidWorks. Although I do a little work with weldments, I mostly work with plastics, castings, and machined components.
In my opinion, SolidWorks offers some advantages in the modeling department (particularly with more complex geometry) and Inventor has better drawing generation capabilities. Therefore, if the creation of drawings is a large portion of the work you do, Inventor may be the preferred tool. Probably because of Autodesk's history with AutoCAD, they provide more complete drawing functionality within Inventor. In contrast, SolidWorks does reasonably well in the drawing department, but has some shortcomings. As a result, I have worked with several companies that model in SolidWorks, use SolidWorks to create the drawing views, and detail in AutoCAD. Although this approach has the serious shortcoming of loosing the dynamic/parametric link between the models and final drawings, the advantages of detailing in AutoCAD outweigh that shortcoming for some companies. Personally, I don't like taking this approach, but I understand the reasoning.
To be honest, I do create quite a few detailed drawings in SolidWorks. Therefore, I believe SolidWorks is reasonably capable with drawings, just not quite on the same level as Inventor. When I rountinely created drawings in Inventor, I could do so very quickly. SolidWorks isn't quite as fast primarily because I have to manually adjust more of the details than was necessary in Inventor. In some cases, workarounds are required to get the result I require.
Thank you for your input regarding SolidWorks vs. Inventor. Your observation, "Therefore, if the creation of drawings is a large portion of the work you do, Inventor may be the preferred tool," is helpful, because that is, indeed, what I am involved with -- the generation of significant numbers of prints of welded structural connections, piping and sheet metal. Doing workarounds to convert SolidWorks models to Inventor to achieve efficiency in printing would be out of the question for me. My needs require generating prints as quickly as possible, without downtime from human error grappling under the pressure of time constraints between two programs.
I have not encountered problems with Inventor handling complex geometry, as can occur in designing piping systems with rolling offsets, eccentric reducers, and T-K-Y fittings -- as well as the templates we generate from these connections, then subsequently weld. Some of our designs require ongoing revisions as a project evolves, so to lose the parametric capacity of Inventor by designing in SolidWorks, importing to Inventor, revising in SolidWorks, then importing again to Inventor? Hmm....
Again, Mr. Voltin, I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my request.
I just finish detailing a spindle drawing in SW2006. Very simple part. I had 3 crashes. The cosmetic thread gif is still messed up and going nuts just like in 2005. Had to fight that for a while and gave up on making it look good in the print. Still can't pick silluette edges very good on round parts so it's frustrating to detail shafts or round things. Seems like you still have to do a lot of manual typing for feature callouts that don't carry from the model. I still hate detailing in SW and I've used it everyday for the last 8 years! Detailing is this their biggest weakness and improvements have been painfully slow over the years. Sometimes, I wish I could sit down with one of their managers and point out all the stupid crap that don't work and how easy it would be to improve it. I just don't think they get it.
I say stick with Acad. It's most likely wash when it all adds up. I just sent them my annual subscription renewal check. Might very well be the last one they get from me. Don't feel like I'm getting much for my money anymore. Think most of the money is going toward marketing anyway.
One nice thing is I'm starting to find more machine shops that don't need formal drawings to make my parts. That saves a ton of time.
I was definitely talking about very organic shapes in which you are trying to duplicate an artists imagination in real parts. It can be very challening and you need all the tools you can get. Of course, such parts really can't be dimensioned on drawings.
I'll look into Solid Edge. As regards organic shapes, I've designed jewelry and metal sculpture projects for friends using Inventor with no problems or insurmountable limitations. Yes, it requires a generous amount of lofting and manipulating work planes, but the jewelers can have their designs prototyped in ABS plastic, melted out of a casting mold using the lost wax process, then cast in precious metals.
One of my colleagues is a community college jewelry instructor, and a problem he has when demonstrating fabrication techniques is scale -- his students can't crowd close enough to see what he is doing. So we upscaled one of his demo ring settings to Ø4.00" and prototyped in plastic, and now he uses it in his classes as a visual aid. Plus, he has the prints to show with exact dimensions. Of course, there is also specialty software that jewelers can use to do this, but so far, Inventor has been sufficient for their designs.
On the other hand, in the case of metal sculpture, I have found that Inventor works well, but only up to a point. Because so much of what my metal sculptor colleagues create is fluid and not given to precise location and dimension, it takes too much time using Inventor to create, for example, ornate foliage or wings on a bird, than what a metal sculptor can do spontaneously with an oxyacetylene torch. I wonder...could SolidWorks do this better?
As an experienced and licensed user of both IV and SWX, I mostly prefer SWX. I find drawing in SWX to be more efficient, which I say only to demonstrate that opinions differ, and personal preference weighs in large. Having both (IV and SWX) to choose from and without outside influence, I would choose to do a project in SWX over IV every time. The only good thing I can say about IV is that its user interface looks cleaner than SWX, but this only carries IV so far. Reality is however, that both have their shortcomings and prepare to be dissappointed by both.
John Eric Volt> I have used both products, but most of my work in recent years has been done