Alternatives to SolidWorks for ID

Hello, I’m an Industrial Designer working in consumer products and have been using SolidWorks since 2004 for 3D modeling & tech drawing for manufacturing, product rendering, 3D printing for prototyping. etc. My current employer only recently added an in house product dev team and has been pushing for more affordable alternatives to SolidWorks. I have some background in surfacing tools Alias(also too expensive) and Rhino, but not sure if they replace SolidWorks. I have not used AutoDesk products beyond playing with 123Design. There are so many more options for 3D software today, does anyone have suggestions for more affordable software that can be used for manufacturing?

Resarch conducted in early 2012 to find a more affordable alternative to Solidworks:

Shark FX v8.Price $1752. Upgrade $475. Note:Shark and Ashlar Cobalt are very similar because both product were developed by the same person.

Ashlar Vellum Cobalt. Price $2995 (permanent license). Upgrade $1295 (free w perm lic?). Note: Development has been slow no new version for more than 2 years.

FromZ Version 7. Price $1499. Upgrade $399. Note: Version 7 is rebuilt from the ground up making it much easier to use. Think Sketchup like but able to create organic shape NURBS models. No info as to how adequate the drafting module is for production drawing and if there is associativity between model and drawing

ZW3D. Price $2495. Upgrade $595. Note: Formerly VX of USA which was sold to ZW a Chinese CAD company. VX had a good reputation for surfacing. Rendering is weak might need to buy separate rendering program.

Spaceclaim/Rhino combination. Price: $2445 Upgrade: $815?. Note: A very appealing package because of Spaceclaim’s very easy direct editing method that is very complimentary to ID which is constantly making changes to CAD model during the development process. Unlike Solidworks sometime making a change can be time consuming because the model features are history based. Rhino is needed for complex surface work. Spaceclaim has a Rhino plugin for 2 way exchange between the two programs. The total price for Spaceclaim/Rhino/Keyshot render/Data Exchange Pkg (if required) could approach to what Solidworks would be.

Inventor sounds tempting to me, it’s a piece of crap but Autodesk bundles it with Alias and AutoCAD for a bargain price.

Look up solid edge. Very similar to SW. Not sure if pricing is lower or higher, but my guess is lower.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I suggest Creo. It’s designer friendly. Powerful. fun to use. simular icons (they copy each other)

And on top of all that Creo is in big demand. For an ID’er to integrate into a product development team of engineers who are currently using Creo you a shoe in. (yes engineers often control the budget) I remember back in the day at Motorola they couldn’t keep ID’ers after they got them onto Pro/ENGINEER. Requiters would pull them out fast so they instead trained them Rhino 3d so they could keep them more than a year.

Creo also allows higher order math on curves such as 5 to 7 degree curve in a single span soon to have a G3 button needed for products like the back of the first iphone case. I would however disagree with using solid edge because fat chance you will find a cool company to work for/with who uses that solidedge … vellum… inventor… Ill go out on a limb and make a stereotype that the companies using those aft mentioned use powered creamer in the company brake room or cafeteria and don’t pay well nor do they value what a designer would bring to the table.

definitely check out IronCAD if you are comparing with SW. I have just started using it after working with Solidworks and it is way better and I find it much faster to make changes and concept model. It felt a bit strange at first cause its all drag n drop and doesn’t rely on having to do sketches. Cheapest place to buy it was in Australia! I had to ask for a better price than the one listed and I had to have an address in Australia, So i got one organised and saved 50% yey! got mine from a CAD International downunder.

I used Alibre, now Geomagic for several years. It’s not great for surfacing, but you can get MOI for a little more to do that. Alibre is an absolutely rock solid program with a workflow very similar to Solidworks. It’s simplified of course, but very affordable. The customer service is great too. I’ve since gone to Solidworks, but still use Alibre for some projects because of its ease of use.

How much is Creo? Comparable to SolidWorks? Coming from PTC I can’t imagine its inexpensive…

I just got a quote for Creo this week. It is along these lines:

Creo Parametric Floating $5,290 with Annual Maintenance $1,600

Creo Parametric Node Locked $4,495 with Annual Maintenance $1,300

Creo Essentials II – includes Advanced Assembly $7,995 with Annual Maintenance $2,400

Interactive Surface Design $5,290 with Annual Maintenance $1,060

I will have to say, though…my experience dealing with PTC customer support has been just slightly better than poking myself in the eye with a sharp stick.

Just think, the user interface is almost as good as their customer support!

at design engine we offer free customer support to our customers. We love helping people.

I’d stick with solidworks. Got mine at a discount rate by having the two local re-sellers fight it out.

Plus, Modo has a solidworks kit. It’s genius.

Princing for SE is lower than SW but I strongly suggest you not to adopt it. The interface is pretty bad, you have to re-sketch profiles many times when changing dimensions, it breaks for no reason, assembly is counter-intuitive, patterns are a nightmare, etc, etc. I didn’t go into surfacing, for that I use SW or CATIA, so I can’t say nothing about that part. My colleague uses it for frame construction and simulation, but he said ProE is much better. We were trying to get my employer to buy a SW / ProE license, but they said it’ was too expensive. I think on the long run the difference isn’t that big because of all the time we are losing re-doing stuff and fixing problems in SE.

Here’s the thing that your boss should really consider. Switching platforms is not just about the upfront cost of the software, there’s the baggage that comes with the design and engineers that are currently using SW. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t switch just wanting to at least point out that he take a look at quite a few factors such as downtime i.e. ramp up time to get everyone as good in (insert new software here) as they are in SW. It’s not just a feature for feature comparison alone it’s also workflow and strategies that people have for work arounds. There ain’t a software out there that you don’t have to find a way to make what you want with the set of given tools.

So this means down time and this is including if they take training because without that you can expect an even longer transition time. Let’s say you leave SW still on the computers but also the new platform as well, people will use what they are most familiar with and are also “faster” on because of they are comfortable with it and inherently people tend to go back to what is in their wheel house. Ok so now let’s say you decided to go cold turkey and take SW off of the new computers and only install (insert new software) now projects that need to get out the door will take a longer time because of some of the previous mentioned reasons.

Also in terms of resources, how many schools/existing users are there that, when hired, will already know the (insert new software)? Again not saying that you shouldn’t switch but these are things that with 10 years of legacy data in play if you need to leverage not just the geometry but any of the meta data, then you’d want to investigate that whatever new platform can access that. i.e. software like Spaceclaim can bring in 3D geometry and will allow for changes to be made but it won’t be tied to the technical drawings originally made from it in SW.

Again, not saying your company shouldn’t be looking at what else is out there just that there’s much more that comes with switching platforms than just cost of software. I’ve seen this with engineers that have 20 years invested in AutoCad and won’t let it go for the life of them even though they know that the new platform is 10 times “better”.

Just 2 cents to think about…