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Inventor Compared To Solidworks

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My company is considering switching from Inventor to Solidworks.

 

It is time to renew our subscription, with the possibility of adding 2 more seats. So my company wants to compare prices, etc.

 

I want to find out if AutoCAD dwgs and image files can be imported into a Solidworks drawing.

Is it possible to import Inventor IPTs, IDWs & IAMs into a Solidworks drawing?

 

Are there any benefits or drawbacks to moving over to Solidworks?

From what I have read, both 3D programs will get you to the same end result. Some of the commands (extrude, revolve, etc) are the same, the user interface is just a little different.

 

This is not a bashing against Solidworks. If my company decides to switch over to Solidworks, then I will gladly learn this 3D package.

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shift1313

I prefer SW over Inventor personally and use both on a regular basis.

 

Yes you can import DWG/DXF files into SW. There is actually a DWG import dialog that lets you select layers to import, make it 2d or keep it 3d and so on. And SW uses blocks. I havent imported any blocks from Acad, but i use blocks all the time in SW.

 

SW can open IPT and IAM(never tried drawing files). What you end up with is a multibody part file in SW. Of course you loose all of your feature data but the physical parts will import. This only applies to current and older versions. SW2010 can't open an inventor 2011 file.

 

I really like the SW interface. Even though IV and SW is pretty similar in that aspect, the SW one seems to work better for me. Things like operations are a little different. For example SW has an Extrude and an Extrude-Cut (two separate functions), where inventor lets you select Add/Subtract/Intersect right in the feature. Apples and Oranges really.

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MarkFlayler

In reality, you have to have a compelling reason to switch. And it should be a good reason if you do.

 

If you already have legacy Inventor files, AutoCAD drawings, and procedures set up for Autodesk software, what is the compelling reason to switch?

 

From a business standpoint, do you plan on keeping AutoCAD and on subscription? If so then you will be paying more when you switch to SW since you get a free seat of AutoCAD with the Inventor license. If you switch you will be paying on average about a $1000 more a year in subscription fees for two programs instead of one. And make no mistake, if you want updates with SolidWorks for bugs, you have to be on subscription or you don't get service packs.

 

Business measure aside, if you really compare the systems they are almost identical features wise with Inventor edging out in quite a few areas that are niche to a lot of companies (Electrical Wire Harness integration, AEC Exchange, iLogic over Driveworks, and I can go on) but an Extrusion is an extrusion, a revolve is a revolve. To your point if there are drawbacks over moving to SW, they are all business ones. If you get training on either you will be able to be more productive than you were before. I would say that if you reuse and modify a lot of older dwgs, ipts, iams, then there should be no reason to switch. I would tell the same if you had solidworks first based on the information given.

 

I would probably have to know a little more about your business to make a defiant NO, but Autodesk has some serious clout behind Inventor nowadays since it is the flagship Engineering Platform for Autodesk Manufacturing now whereas Solidworks will be changing and limited based on how Dassault feels about it encroaching upon the Catia user base and forcing the V6 kernal down the pipeline. I have heard it many times that Solidworks is not the future of Dassault (although it is usually when Inventor has beaten SW in an engagement and they want to see if they will bite on Catia).

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shift1313

Mark that brings up an interesting point(talking about wire harness, aec, ilogic etc). I think inventor and SW both have a good deal of "add ins" but one that SW has that i dont think ive seen with inventor is Circuit Works. Is there an inventor comparible add in to deal with imported circuit card data that is not exported into a step or iges file? I deal with designing housings for research equipment and integrating our circuit card designs with components is a nice asset.

 

I havent done much in the way of surfaces yet in inventor 2011 but I will say 2009 and 2010 SW edges out Inventor in terms of complex surfacing. Besides free form(which i think was added for 2011) it is just much easier in SW to work with surfaces even though they have the same operations available. Every other area that is used in normal modeling(add in features aside) i felt they were nearly identical and down to user preference. IV2011 did add some nice user interface things that speed up modeling when dealing with features and sketching but none of these things would equate to a valid reason for switching from one to the other in my mind.

 

I prefer SW Motion Analysis over Inventor Dynamic Simulation, but IV2011 stepped up its game in terms of FEA big time. I think Inventor Pro comes with more than SW Pro in this area. SW does offer more but you have to pay for it. Inventor would need the addition of Algor Simulation to get into flow/thermal which could be more than SW simulation pro(not sure).

 

 

 

I do agree with you 100% though. There would need to be a really good reason to switch over a company with multiple users and im sure it comes down to money(which inventor will win). We swtiched over from Inventor because our university dropped the license and used NX instead, but we never really made use of what inventor had to offer anyways. I used its FEA and dynamic simulation but i was the only user at the time:) For us the push was actually another user we brought in that insisted on SW and we stuck with it.

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MarkFlayler

Matt,

 

Inventor will bring in IDF directly from a PCB program. Other than that I know of at least one awesome addin that will bring in .pcb as well. It is called Desktop EDA and it works pretty well with Altium (http://www.desktop-eda.com.au/products/inventor-idf.htm) I have a client in North Carolina that uses the heck out of it. One of the coolest things is how Electrical can work with Inventor which no other 3D program can do since they don't have a product offering in those areas.

 

When it comes to complex surfacing, SW has a slight edge but...most people serious about complex surfaces will use an Industrial Design tool like Alias Design. With Alias Design 2011, Autodesk also included a free addin for Inventor called Alias Design for Inventor that is really quite phenomenal and if you have your education account still active they have it on the download site now as well. It was a little of a sore spot at first as to why this isn't included in Inventor directly, but after I realized the business reasons it was quite clear as to not cannibalize their Alias seats. Anyone creating serious Industrial Designs that later get passed to tooling anyway would not dare to use SW is most cases. Now that does add a 5K addition to Inventor but destroys SW in this arena. If SW adds full Driveworks (about 8k) Splitworks (can't remember price on this, but its high), and Design Accelerators (SW has just really ignored these). Then we can compare that head to head against Inventor and again the price for all this in SW would be 2x-3x the price of Inventor. As the years go on, and Autodesk continues to bridge the gaps or at least create smaller subsets of code from their acquisitions, I think this margin may grow more, but only time will tell on that.

 

On the education note about your switch Matt, it is awesome that you have been able to get into other programs as much as you have, but it stinks when politics change engineering tools and personal preference, although ignorant in most cases decides which way software goes. This may be the only reason that the OP might change software if the wrong person is in charge of the decision process and is blinded to these important business/engineering ramifications.

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shift1313

Our circuit designers send me data from Altium now but I dont think the exchange of data is as seamless as it could be. Maybe I will check out desktop-eda. Thanks for the tip!

 

I have a student account still so I have Alias Auto on my home computer as well as Algor, and Inventor2011. I do my best to keep up with as many software suites as possible. I will certainly look into the alias design for inventor. I have done a few things in alias and imported them to inventor, then to algor for flow analysis. I am impressed with the transfer between autodesk products. On the surfacing note, i do send a few of my things out for tooling but i make use of the surface analysis tools and I actually create models of the molds to ensure there are no issues first. Since most of the stuff I machine in house, at least protos, im pretty confident in what i send out the door. Having said that you are right, if someone was into surface design they wouldnt have SW, but i am very impressed with its capabilities. Especially for a cad user as opposed to a surface designer. You have a lot of control over the surfaces, not on the same level as a true surfacing program though.

 

Yeah we went from Acad only to Inventor because they needed me to make some mechanical assemblies, to unigraphics because we were dealing with an OEMs cad data to SW. So i still have all those available to me(inventor from 2007). Because what I do doesnt take advantage of some of the great stuff Inventor and Autodesk products have to offer, SW does it for me in spades. But like you said you have to know what they do to make the right decision.

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vertical horizons
In reality, you have to have a compelling reason to switch. And it should be a good reason if you do...

 

My company is a small one.

Believe it or not, our main reason for considering the switch is money.

They understand nothing about designing in 3D. All they know is get the task done, and make the client happy.

 

...From a business standpoint, do you plan on keeping AutoCAD and on subscription? If so then you will be paying more when you switch to SW since you get a free seat of AutoCAD with the Inventor license. If you switch you will be paying on average about a $1000 more a year in subscription fees for two programs instead of one...

 

The SW rep told me that their program installs a 2D program similar to AutoCAD. Since they cannot use the name AutoCAD, their program is called 2D Editor. She said it operates like AutoCAD.

 

...if you want updates with SolidWorks for bugs, you have to be on subscription or you don't get service packs...

 

Either way we go, we intend to get the subscription, too.

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JD Mather
...but after I realized the business reasons it was quite clear as to not cannibalize their Alias seats....

 

So Autodesk doesn't understand who the competition is? They think it is in-house? Alias Editor in Inventor so good that it would cannibalize Alias seats?

SolidWorks is the competition. If Autodesk doesn't realize that they are going to lose the MCAD market. Last summer more of my Spring 2010 graduates found positions in SWx shops than to Inventor. First year that has happened. Just read Matt's response. The power users all push the MCAD into surfacing before long.

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shift1313

 

The SW rep told me that their program installs a 2D program similar to AutoCAD. Since they cannot use the name AutoCAD, their program is called 2D Editor. She said it operates like AutoCAD.

 

 

 

Either way we go, we intend to get the subscription, too.

 

Here is a screen shot of the Swx dwgeditor. They tried very hard to make it look like Acad. It does have some nice functionality but since you can open dwg/dxf in a sw sketch or as a surface or solid model i dont see any real reason to use it. It reminds me a bit of an early mechanical desktop.

 

I did think of another thing i like more in SW than inventor. Design Tables and excel functionality is better integrated into SW. I cant comment on IV2011 in this regard but 2010 and older versions were a bit more difficult to make use of configurations and design table data. Possible in both. I have played around with iParts and some of the functionality inventor has in that regards but i still think output vs user time input SW comes out ahead on that one.

 

I also uploaded two screen shots of the dwg import option in SW. There was a 3rd windo that allows you to choose what file type you want to put the dwg into.

dwgeditor.jpg

dwgopen.jpg

dwgopen2.jpg

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MarkFlayler

No matter how good a AutoCAD clone is, it is still not AutoCAD. I have had numerous clients complain about the 95% compatibility of the code for their DWGs including DWGEditor which by the way SW is going to can and use another one they bought called Draftsight. Autodesk has started to put little nuggets of code into their every three year upgrade of the DWG format just to screw with these guys. They know what the code is for since they have AutoCAD planned out a couple years, but these other clones have no idea so either ignore it or it causes problems with the programming by not know what it is. If the main reason for switching is money then I see no reason why SW would win in this scenario. If they do then your decision makers didn't talk to Autodesk before making a decision.

 

Matt, in Inventor 2011, if you want to talk configurations you want to talk iLogic. It blows the doors off this. I never truly like the way SW does configurations as it becomes very hard to track individual file revisions and iterations compared to iParts and iAssemblies. But if you don't like the way Inventor did it in the past you should really look to iLogic. It can do so much more than Driveworks and integrates really well with Excel as the UI for configurations or to write back to an Excel file. If you need to take a look at it in Inventor 2010 DM me and I will see what I can do for you. ;)

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shift1313

I will certainly check it out mark. like i said i havent messed with 2011 much in terms of new features and upgrades. I use SW at work but inventor and other autodesk products are just for "fun". Very often i will model the same thing in both programs just to see how things differ. Ive never had issues bringing dwgs into SW but my work files stopped at acad07 format. Ive never used dwgeditor other than opening it to play around and i really didnt see a need for it. I dont have a need for Driveworks in the modeling I do so i cant give that a fair shake.

 

What I do in both programs besides basic modeling

Complex Surfaces

Mechanical Simulation

Collision detection^

FEA

Modeling Injection Molded parts

Sheet metal

 

Everything else is a "for fun" exercise in learning both programs.

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MarkFlayler

Have you played around with Inventor tooling at all? Below is a video that shows quick core and cavity creation, but the software goes as far as the whole Mold design.

 

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shift1313

I have not but i will try it with a few parts ive made. SW tooling setup is really nice to use so it would be nice to compare the two. If i get a chance to play with it tonight i will let you know.

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kencaz

I think the Inventor AutoCAD combination is a pretty powerful package to beat... I am a little biased since I have not used the newer SW versions, however, I can't see how I would increase productivity by switching to SW. I work pretty fluidly between the two and just don't see how SW could compare with that. I have to admit I have D/L'ed and tried the DraftSight AutoCAD clone from DS and was quite impressed, and will use it a lot more if they release a native Linux version. It's not AutoCAD but it will sure compete with the Intellicad and ZWCad packages which do cost...

 

draftsight2.jpg

 

Also, I don't think AutoDesk is really shaking in their boots over SW. They are a very powerful company, although stranger things have happened.

 

It probably boils down to a Mac vs. PC kinda thing. SW being the MAC of course...

 

KC

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Hopinc

Hi Guys,

 

A the risk of needing JD's "fireproof suite" I would like to add my 5 cents.

 

For me Inventor is much easier and more intuitive to use, and I find myself constantly switching back to it. The SolidWorks interface (2010) is a pain to me, unlike inventor where all the tools you require are right at your finger tips (not in another pop-down menu you have to access seperately). It's just not well optimised. Before anyone says anything here, I know you can construct you own menu bars, it's just that the default ones are poorly organised.

 

For me SolidWorks has a definite edge only when it comes to complex surface modelling, and possibly it has a better filleting algorithm. It has some nice drawing plane facilities too. What let's it down compared to Inventor is that it is not geared to mechanical design per se - it lacks some important tools, e.g. gear design facilities. SW could learn from Inventor's "Design Accellerator" here.

 

SW does have some nice facilities, like the "add-ins" which can be switched on or off. I use the SW "CircuitWorks" add-in for importation of PCB assemblies - it's good and something that I would like to see incoporated into Inventor.

 

I guess it's down to which interface you prefer, but if legacy data is an issue then I personally would stick with Autodesk.

 

Don't know if any of this will help, but I hope so.

 

Dave

 

N.B.- I am comparing Inventor 2011 to SolidWorks 2010 here (I have not yet seen SW2011 so I don't know what has changed).

Edited by Hopinc

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shift1313

Hey dave, i actually like SW gear and belt setup. There is also a nice feature where you can make belt/pulley blocks within a sketch which helps lay out a pulley assembly before creating any parts.

 

Since you used SW2010, did you not like the addition of the click-drag menu? I thought that was a nice addition.

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Hopinc

Hi Matt, I hope you are well?

 

From your question I take it that SW2009 did not have the clig & drag feature. I thought it was pretty much a necessity with the way SW2010 menus work, and as I have not used any other version I just took it for granted. I don't much like the clutter of the SW menus and I think that certain commands should have been better grouped together.

 

An example of a small niggle for me is that "trim" and "extend" commands are in a drop down menu - I much prefer Inventor's seperate ones. This is just a minor niggle you understand, but it is this type of thing that either makes a piece of software a joy to use or a chore.

 

As those that have used SW2010 will be aware the attached image shows a typically cluttered desktop.

 

Can I ask you a question please - has the UI been streamlined in SW2011, or is it still the same?

 

Regards.

 

Dave

sw.jpg

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shift1313

I can see your frustration dave. You do not have the command manager on(ribbon bar similar to inventor) but instead you have all the tool bars on. Here is a screen shot of how I have mine setup. No toolbars, minimized ribbon bar at the top and I utulize quick menuse(S key) with common commands. The ribbon bar at the top has most tools and they can be added at will. Its interesting because the comman manager has automatically come up in all my installs and the tool bars have been fairly minimal. I dont see any need for the tool bars honestly. The command manager has two views(large and small icons). In my screen shot they are small icons. Large icons add the name of the tool below it. This command manager can be docked at the top or left/right or obviously turned off.

 

The click-drag was added for 2010. Its function is nearly identical to the quick menu but its setup as a circle in 2010 and doesnt require a keyboard hotkey.

 

If i had to have my UI setup like your screen shot i would be frustrated as well:) That was one thing i didnt like about the UGS interface.

SWInterface.jpg

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shift1313

oh dave, i also wanted to mention a right click on things will bring up available options. For instance a right click on a planar face a menu will pop up and let you edit sketch, start a new sketch, start an extrude and so on.

swinterface2.jpg

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Hopinc

Hi again Matt, I am aware of the "command manager" and I have been toggling it on and off and using it in conjuction with the menu bars that you see on my screen. I found that I preferred working that way as I wanted certain icons constantly available. Maybe I just need a bigger monitor :lol:. I was also aware of the right click feature you mention above.

 

One thing I have yet to figure out is though how to dock it, it comes up on my screen as shown and I notice you have yours docked at the top of the desktop. How do you do that?

 

Regards.

 

Dave

sw2.jpg

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