AutoCAD vs SolidWorks: What Program to Install

AutoCAD vs SolidWorks: What Program to Install

Both AutoCAD and SolidWorks gained popularity as professional tools for designing and creation of mechanical products.

AutoCAD is aimed at 2D drawing creation and caters to the needs of those designers who follow the non-parametric design techniques.

SolidWorks is extensively used for producing 3D designs and follows the parametric design method.

What Is AutoCAD?

autocad logo AutoCAD is paid computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software, which is highly favored by specialists in this sphere. Architects, graphic designers, project managers, city planners, engineers, and other professionals can make good use of this program.
The predecessor of this program was created in the late 70s under the name Interact CAD. Originally developed by a programmer Mike Riddle, 10 years later it was taken over by Autodesk.
The company instantly started to develop the functionality of the software and now advertises it as their flagship product, capable of competing with other industry programs.
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  • autocad interface
  • autocad interface

    AutoCAD: Strengths and Weaknesses

    + High operation rate. Free version of AutoCAD offers a time-efficient approach to creating 2D drawings and design. This is user-oriented software with an uncluttered interface, so even total newbies can grasp how everything here works devoting some time to mastering it.

    + Revisions and modifications. AutoCAD offers tools to make unlimited revisions and changes. Thanks to a set of simple commands, you can edit and delete details in no time. But the biggest benefit of AutoCAD is the possibility to save all copies of the project and return to them whenever needed.

    + Easy data swapping. Autodesk software works according to the International Drafting Standards and fully meets the rules of the industry concerning internal communication and secure result outputs.

    The program boasts effortless data exchange and the process becomes even more intuitive thanks to the support for STEP and IGES formats. So, if quick data swapping is on the top of your list of requirements, AutoCAD is the answer.

    + Custom drafting tools. Autodesk took care to supply its software with all sorts of drafting tools. Here you can find instruments for creating industry-based geometric dimensions, mechanical and weld symbols, surface texture signs, and more. AutoCAD is designed to facilitate this process manifold.

    + Produces very neat and detailed designs. If you frequently create mechanical designs, you probably know that the outcome may appear disappointing because some parts of the object are hidden behind front elements.

    AutoCAD helps deal with this problem, automatically redrawing the geometry to indicate the tiniest lines and pieces. Therefore, you can produce detailed drawings and designs, rotate them and perform AutoCAD 3D printing.

    + Great for dealing with clients. AutoCAD is not only optimized to ensure trouble-free drawing/design experience, but it also offers nice features for both sides (designer and clients) to keep in touch and discuss the process.

    For example, a designer can automatically check whether his/her work corresponds to the client’s requirements, while the latter can constantly monitor the changes made.

    - Insufficient 3D tools. The main difference between AutoCAD and SolidWorks is that the former has weak 3D design capabilities and is absolutely useless when it comes to creating complex projects.

    If this is your main specialization or you are engaged in complex programming, you’d better opt for SolidWorks, which is initially oriented at such activities.

    - High price. AutoCAD frightens off many users with large start-up expenses. This implies buying the hardware, the software and the training. Of course, you can search for free software packages, but there aren’t lots of them on the net.

    Besides, when you just learning the ropes of working in any program, you need to spend quite much on the training, and in the case with AutoCAD, the cost is rather high.

    What Is SolidWorks?

    solidworks logo SolidWorks is a full-featured CAD and CAE (computer-aided engineering) program that is designed specifically for Windows OS. You can try to run the software on your Mac device, but this version may not work as it is intended.
    Professional designers resort to SolidWorks when they need to create high-end 3D projects, but this software can also come in handy when you need to produce 2D sketches. Using 2D designs as a basis for 3D compositions, you can end up with rather impressive results.
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    • solidworks interface
    • solidworks interface

      SolidWorks: Strengths and Weaknesses

      + Amazing sharing options. SolidWorks offers wonderful collaborative features, allowing you to keep tabs on all the changes made to the project by your colleagues. When something is altered, you instantly learn about it in the project’s data update section.

      Regardless of your role in the entire process, you always get access to the newest version. Since every member of the team simultaneously works on the design, they may concentrate on the specific part of the task and deliver the finished product in a quicker way.

      Instead of using file sharing services, you can fully rely on this software.

      + Advanced eDrawings ability. eDrawings adds flexibility to the cooperative features. Now you can save your designs in 2D and 3D and share them with your clients via email or perform multiple revisions even if the addressee doesn’t use SolidWorks.

      Besides, this program supports a huge variety of formats, which makes it a more appealing option. Thus, you can export the results of your work and look them through on virtually any device.

      + Built-in apps. SolidWorks is very efficient 3D CAD software, boasting integrated analytical instruments and design automation. Besides, it stimulates physical behavior such as dynamics, vibration, temperatures and more to complement any kind of design.

      + Gradual learning curve. Once you open the software, you see an intuitive interface and logically arranged instruments. If you need professional aid, take advantage of integrated tutorials and beautiful presets meant to facilitate you work.

      Besides, there is Cadtek, an authorized training provider, not only for SolidWorks but for other products developed by the company. You can attend one of the UK-based training courses, choosing the one that suits your interests most of all.

      + Visualizing effects help create realistic images. SolidWorks Visualize is unbeatable when it comes to turning designs into vivid images, animations and 3D models for people to understand how they would look in the “real world”.

      The Visualize tool help creators examine and improve designs, as well as generate advanced marketing materials, demos and other media, which will serve as promotion tools.

      - Poor functionality. SolidWorks is positioned by the developer as a second-tier product. It has to be slightly inferior to their leading software Catia. Anyway, you may find yourself in trouble if you decide to bring to life a large project using solely SolidWorks as the available functionality may be too skimpy.

      AutoCAD vs SolidWorks: Price

      autocad prices

      You can buy AutoCAD at varied rates depending on how long you are going to use it. In general, there are 2 options – a monthly payment plan and a one-time purchase.

      solidworks prices

      SolidWorks is available only as a one-time purchase.

      AutoCAD vs SolidWorks – Who Wins?

      I hope you’ve understood the main differences that form the basis for SolidWorks vs AutoCAD comparison. You can revise all the info, studying the table below.

      AutoCAD SolidWorks
      Perfect for 2D drafting Has some 2D drafting features
      3D modeling functionality included, but it is inferior to 2D capabilities Parametric feature-based modeling means 3D design is intuitive
      Runs on Windows and Mac Windows-compatible only
      Perpetual and term licenses Subscription only
      Users primarily in the architecture, engineering and design sectors Users primarily in automotive, aerospace, engineering and design sectors

      As you can see, both programs are helpful enough if you use them for the task they were developed for.

      AutoCAD is matchless when it comes to AEC niche, mechanical and electrical drafts, as well as 2D design. SolidWorks aligned on 3D CAD purposes, automotive, and aerospace fields.

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