March 18

AutoCAD vs SolidWorks Comparison: Which One to Choose?

AutoCAD vs SolidWorks Comparison: Which One to Choose?

Matthew Scyoc

AutoCAD vs SolidWorks: Which One to Choose?

Table of contents

Introduction

AutoCAD

SolidWorks

Comparison

Conclusion

References

Introduction

SolidWorks and AutoCAD are some of the most important software in the CAD design industry. AutoCAD is more focused on the design of 2D models. While, SolidWorks is an excellent tool for industrial and mechanical 3D modeling.

AutoCAD

Operating Systems: Windows 7 or later and Mac

Processor: 2.5 GHz

Memory: 8 GB

Hard Disk Space: 16GB

Display: 1920 x 1080

Price: $ 200-1,610

AutoCAD is a flexible CAD software. This means that it allows users to work in various ways. Initially, the software specialized in creating and editing 2D geometry. However, over time, it has grown and includes a series of 3D modeling functions with respect to solids, surfaces and meshes. It is worth remembering that most people use AutoCAD for 2D drafts in most cases.

AutoCAD has the ability to annotate drawings, as well as attach and import data from PDF files. Users who work in AutoCAD will usually save their projects in native DWG format. Although it used to be a format that could only be read in AutoCAD, many other programs can now open this format. 

AutoCAD can be used for various sectors. Some of its most common uses are the following: 

  • Architectural design that includes elements such as doors, windows and walls, as well as detailed component libraries.
  • Design of systems for electrical controls that allow users to automate electrical engineering tasks.
  • 3D maps for GIS analysis and planning.
  • It is quite useful for mechanical engineers looking to create, modify and document mechanical designs.
  • When it comes to modeling, design constructions such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems can be created with precision.
  • Virtually all design and engineering sectors can make good use of AutoCAD. However, it is not the only show in the city. First, there are many affordable AutoCAD alternatives that offer functionality similar to Autodesk’s flagship software.

SolidWorks

Operating Systems: Windows 7 or later

Processor: Quad Core

Memory: 8 GB

Hard Disk Space: 2GB

Display: 1920 x 1080

Price: $ 1,295 – 3,995

On the other hand, SolidWorks has been one of the most innovative programs to incorporate simulation into the design process. It is not surprising that, consequently, SolidWorks is one of the most important tools for solid modeling. This software employs a parametric approach that is based on features for the creation of solid models. This means that designers can generate models using central engineering terms, such as holes and grooves. Therefore, geometric figures play a secondary role in this program. 

SolidWorks is known primarily for its 3D functionality. However, SolidWorks also allows you to design with precision in 2D and even many times these are the sketches used before 3D modeling. 

SolidWorks has always aimed to be more than a design software. This program includes simulation tools, which allows you to test the parts of a model by simulating real-world conditions. These tools include computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools, the ability to simulate fluid flows, heat transfers and fluid forces, among many others. 

One of the most powerful features of the software are the representation functions. These allow users to see photorealistic visualizations of the parts they have designed. Other useful tools for SolidWors users are PDM packages and a variety of electrical solutions. These make the creation of precise schematics and circuit data much more precise. 

Being one of the main programs for modeling functions, engineers are the most common users of SolidWorks. The simulation tools integrated in the program are meant to simplify the evaluation of designs, as well as materials before physical prototypes are made at the factory. 

SolidWorks users come from countless sectors that include construction, urban planning, oil and gas, electronics, plumbing and emerging sectors such as alternative energy and robotics. Due to the wide variety of users, SolidWorks offers several packages to meet various industry needs. These include:

  • 3D CAD which is a “classic” solid modeling program that allows users to quickly create parts, assemblies and drawings.
  • Simulations and a variety of options for users to create better products, more quickly and more efficienciently.
  • PDM that allows teams to collaborate more effectively when new products are developed. In addition, it provides secure access to files and documents.
  • CAM, which is a solution for any industry that seeks to integrate design and manufacturing processes.
  • Electrical design, as well as packages that simplify the creation of electrical diagrams and incorporate them into mechanical designs and 3D models. Even replacing the need to build physical models. 
  • Visualization functions that create photorealistic images of your projects, including static and animated content.
  • 3DEXPERIENCE that facilitates teamwork as it provides a collaborative environment to create new products and projects. 

Comparison

AutoCAD SolidWorks
Focuses on 2D design. Specialized in 3D modeling. 
Available on Windows and Mac. Exclusive for Windows. 
Subscription System. It has a free license for students. Offer perpetual license. It does not offer free services for students.
Although its focus is mostly on architecture, it is useful for design and engineering. Specialized in industrial and mechanical design.
It has no simulation tools. 3D simulation is one of its main features. 
The cloud can be used to visualize projects. It has 3D experience for collaborative projects. 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many advantages to AutoCAD and SolidWorks. However, both are not exclusive and can be used at the same time. Those in the AEC sector, as well as mechanical and electrical engineers should consider AutoCAD more often as this is a great option for 2D projects. Whichever option you decide to use, both programs run files in DXF format which means you can convert these to a PDF and simplify their presentation. 

References: 

Autodesk, 2020 [Online] Link: https://www.autodesk.com/products/autocad/features

SolidWorks, 2019 [Online] Link: https://blogs.solidworks.com/tech/2018/12/the -top-10-new-features-in-solidworks-2019.html

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About the Author

Matthew is owner of Sunglass.io. He employs a close-knit group of engineers to develop the technical content on the site, but is passionate about everything engineering. Matthew loves the future of 3D modeling and wants to push for more helpful, useful tools for the engineering community. Feel free to reach out to him directly on the Contact page or on LinkedIn!

Matthew Scyoc

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