SolidWorks a Solid Candidate for Most Popular CAD Program
Intuitive solutions for all aspects of your design process
SolidWorks 3D Design—developed by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.—is a powerful 3D CAD program that runs on the Windows platform. SolidWorks employs what’s known as parasolid modeling; the shape of any given model is determined by mathematical parameters. The most recent version, SolidWorks 2012 SP3 was released in April 2012. The most obvious highlights of SolidWorks CAD are its power, productivity and community which, according to the company, numbers some 1,790,200 users. Most seats belong to big corporations, but there are many individual users as well. SolidWorks 3D Design comes in three flavors: Standard, Professional and Premium, plus, there’s an Education Edition configured for engineering and industrial design students. The cost isn’t what you’d call modest, however. Prices range from $3,995 for the Standard edition, to $7,995 for the Premium version. A one-year subscription costs extra and includes support and regular updates. Commercial sales are handled via indirect channels by dealer partners around the world. SolidWorks CAD also provides an array of add-on tools for design validation, product data management, design communication/collaboration and CAD productivity. They also offer specialty design tools, such as Print3D, which allows for the exportation of files in .STL format, thereby making it easy to interface with 3D printing services. Additionally, Dassault Systèmes has formed a number of partnerships with third parties to develop add-ons to fit the specific needs of niche industries.
A Brief History
Back in 1993, Jon Hirschtick founded the original SolidWorks Corporation with the intent to develop an affordable, easy to use CAD program that would run on Windows. What he came up with became the first incarnation of the product line, SolidWorks 95. In 1997, French technology conglomerate Dassault Systèmes S.A. acquired SolidWorks for $310 million.
Why Should You Go with Solidworks?
Some would argue that SolidWorks 3D is the world’s most popular CAD software, and with a user base of 1.7 million, they’d make a pretty good case. According to the company, more than a million engineering students graduate with SolidWorks training every year, training which is highly sought after by prospective employers in the field, according to Monster.com. This price tag is considerable, and this is exacerbated by additional charges for support but, then again, this is some pretty high end stuff. On the upside, however, one thing that hasn’t wavered from Hirschtick’s vision of a cheap CAD for Windows is SolidWorks’ ease of use. To learn more about it, be sure to check out their website at solidworks.com.
Take Your 3D Modeling to the Next Level
So, say you’ve ponied up for either SolidWorks or one of the other 3D modeling applications out there (for profiles and comparisons of software, take a look at our 3D design page). What do you do next? Exciting new developments in 3D printing technology enable you to translate the shapes you design on your computer into real, solid objects. A number of companies offer 3D printing services that cater to clienteles ranging from engineers and inventors to designers and artists, even to hobbyists and enthusiasts. See our comparison grid for a detailed look at the Web’s top 3D Printing Services.