Learning Solidworks for ID

Hey everyone,

I am switching from Rhino at my company to Solidworks and will be starting on the built-in modules first before assessing the purchase of an outside training program. I have some CAD knowledge (I know Rhino extremely well, and have dabbled in Fusion 360 and Solidworks. I understand the basic program structure of Solidworks.) I am going to start with the very basics to refresh my self of the tree, basic functions, etc. but I was curious from a design standpoint what you would recommend targeting with my training first? I have done a little searching on google and as you can imagine I am finding a TON from the engineering side, but not a lot of inputs from designers. Searching anything about industrial design and Solidworks just brings up their program “Solidworks Industrial Design.”


If you pay for LinkedIn premium you have access to Solidworks videos/tutorials. Might be good to give it a shot. I’m also in the process of transitioning to SW from a PTC Creo product.

Surfacing on SW is a bitch compared to Rhino.

If you know Rhino well and apply the same logic to surfacing in SolidWorks it should be fine. It takes more time to get all the sketches (“curves”) down but at least when they are done they are easily edited and manipulated and the surface can be changed at any time.

Yes and I feel Rhino is meant after engineers have spec’d out the product from a functional point of view.
I mean, if we change the wheelbase on a vehicle, how will the surfacing reorient in Rhino vs. Solidworks?
Solidworks is the preferred option for anything where surfacing does not get too crazy.

Check out my tutorial at Grabcad on surface modelling of a soccer cleat, it treats some basic surfacing techniques such as lofts/sweeps + trimming, fills and boundary surfaces.

Thanks everyone for the info! I agree I am already fearing some of the surfacing I will have to do in SW, however it seems everyone we’re working with is using Solidworks so it makes sense for us.

Ralphzoontjens - Thanks for the video, I will definitely be checking it out!

In the long run SW and Rhino are on the same side of the coin when it comes to 3D modeling in terms of the base approach. Sketch, Surface, Extrude…take away some material add what’s needed. As you’ve noted the tree is your best enemy and worse friend at the same time. Build things right and SW sings like a Canary…it’s learning when things to bad how to fix them that then makes it that much easier not to run into them. IMO people say Rhino is easier because it will let “you” put something on the screen that’s not possible in the real world, SW on the other hand generally won’t allow that. This is both good and bad but that’s for a whole other discussion.

One thing I highly recommend is download files from GrabCAD that are SW files and roll the history back of the file to see HOW it was built. I mean this is giving you the keys to the BMW…all of the ingredients to your favorite meal for free. It is not meant to be a defacto modeling approach as much as it is showing the way that the different features can be used to build a model. Even if it’s not in your field of design download it anyway, see what’s under the hood.

Last link to check is from Ed Eaton at the Dimonte Group who’s presentation about SW and ID is bar none the best… News & Resources - DiMonte Group. Also if you can at all track down Matt Lombard’s “Surfacing Bible” (it’s out of Print)… is as insightful today as ever. You get that there’s nothing that you’ll feel can’t be done in SW when compared to Rhino. And don’t get me wrong…I’m a huge Rhino fan, use it a lot, but right tool for the right job…

Thanks CadJunkie, that information is super helpful, the GrabCad idea is great!

So far I have completed some tutorials and things are going super well, its coming along much easier than I thought it would.

These are good resources, be selective and especially be aware of patch modelers. These are often semi-trained professionals who try to fit every surface between defined 3D curves rather than letting surfaces be surfaces - they need to flow! I mean, surfaces need to be able to extend beyond the model into space, similar to a good sketch where curves extend beyond only the depicted model in order to be a good curve.

This is a really nice write-up and model. I always like seeing in-depth storyboards of how others build things. Thanks.

I also worked at the DiMonte Group for 6 years and presented my own take on Solidworks surfacing at the annual Solidworks World conference. Ed hasn’t given a surfacing presentation in a few years, all of the recent surfacing content was my own. It’s not beginner level material, but once you have the basics down some of the techniques may help you bring your surfacing game to the next level.

Each of the sessions can be viewed on YouTube and I would highly recommend downloading the source files linked in the description. It’s one thing to watch the presentation, it’s another to actually run through the feature tree of the models.