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Subject: Re: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Chevy?


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Message Thread:

Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Chevy?

Todd Kottke

Our company which has a LONG history with AutoCAD for drawing floor plans and 3D modeling for construction of trade show components is looking to move forward into true 3D modeling using either Solidworks or Inventor.

We are looking to move into the CIM-TECH router software suite for all of our CNC work. CIM-TECH is based off of AutoCAD products.

Does it make sense to move to Solidworks for our 3D modeling and still hold a license for straight AutoCAD to run the CIM-TECH software?

Has anyone else made this type of move?

What were your results? Feedback?

Does one 3D software package hold such a large advantage that it is a "no-brainer"?

12/17/14       #3: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Pat O'Sullivan

It is my understanding that Cim Tech can extract data that it needs from 3D AutoCAD, as well as the other solid modeling solutions. My question would be why not utilize the 3D capabilities of AutoCAD or explore AutoCAD based design programs that can pass the necessary info on to your CAM solution.

12/17/14       #4: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Todd Kottke


Very good question. The answer is that in our line of work, there are a lot of last minute changes to the design. For example...stretch this cabinet 2 inches, add a door here, etc.

AutoCAD 3D is not set up to make quick changes without re-working each part associated with the change.

Inventor and Solidworks are designed to make quick changes to the model that will cascade thru-out the rest of the model, drawings and other output associated with that model change.

12/17/14       #5: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Pat O'Sullivan

Thanks, Todd. I was just having this conversation with another gentleman on Monday. I have to admit that I don't have much experience with Solidworks or Inventor. His explanation was that building parametric products that you could reuse wasn't the problem but that if he had to make a change, to a door size, for example, it messed with the component. SQL based programs that utililize AutoCAD allow for this kind of modification process at the job level without compromising the source data.

Unless I've completely missed your point. Which is entirely possible.

12/17/14       #6: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
zach deas


there is a solid works CAM plugin.

12/17/14       #7: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...


For some time we drew mostly in 3d AutoCad along with Smartlister to extrude the part information I need. Yet, I have also added a couple seats of Inventor as my thought is Inventor is a longer term solution to what I need. (Personally I have not used SolidWorks.)

I can do what I need in AutoCad, yet Inventor has plenty of features AutoCad does not. The reason I went with Inventor over SolidWorks, 1) I was comforable working with AutoDesk and their products. 2) With as much as I have done currently in 3d AutoCad the transfer of drawings / products from AutoCad to Inventor would be easier. 3) The additional software I use for the most part has support for Inventor.

One thing I quickly learned when I stared drawing in Inventor, was that drawing in Inventor has little in common with drawing in AutoCad. In the end the look may be the same, yet the processes are quite different. An AutoCad user cannot sit down and run Inventor efficiently without some training.

I also use Router-Cim for producing code for our machines, and have used Solid-Cim some jobs. Router-Cim does a good job processing parts and nesting.


I spoke with some people from HSM last week at AutoDesk training. From what I was told, HSM will produce code for woodworking machinery, yet does not support automatically nesting of parts. Nesting can be done by manually laying ot a nest in the HSM software. From what I was told, nesting for woodworking is not very high on the list of priorities at HSM. I wish it was because as an AutoDesk customer I can use HSM at no additional cost.

12/17/14       #8: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Pat Gilbert


I used SW from the mid 90s until about 2007. I then switched to Auto Cad in conjunction with Smartlister.

There is nothing you are going to run into in woodworking that you are going to need SW or Inventor for.

As suggested, stick with Auto Cad. With SL you can adjust your drawings quite nicely with out the parametric pia and SL will export parts ready for what ever CAM you want to use.

I suppose the downside is you would have to use LongBow as a work around as SL does not work with the latest version of Windows.

12/17/14       #9: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Todd Kottke

We have two aspects of our work as detailers where I work. One is the creation of construction drawings, the other is the creation of setup drawings and show floor plans for the trade show industry. We do all of our work in 3D solid models. When we draw trade shows an its necessary to create the models to show both the client and the show set up people. In the past we did not have a viable cnc, our company recently purchased a used cnc and now we are being asked to keep it running all day long. In the past, simple drawings would suffice, the bench guys would simply do take offs and go to the slider saw and cut what was necessary. We have two new detailers that have used SW in the store fixture industry...I, used Inventor back in 2007. We have a LOT of changes during the engineering portion of our business. Our designers use 3D Max to create some spectacular stuff. Our job is to create the real thing. Our department can't keep up with the high volume with the tools we currently have. That is why we are investing in the CIM-TECH package. We see our bottle neck after that being our 3D manufacturing software.

12/17/14       #10: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Pat Gilbert

How is SW or Inventor going to solve that problem?

12/17/14       #11: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Todd Kottke

When you design in SW and I you get a 3D model that can be controlled dimensionally. Associated parts move with things that are constrained. First savings in time (In AutoCAD using 3D there are no "smartness" to the parts and how they relate). Next SW and I allow you to quickly create drawings from 3D model in a matter of clicks. BOMs appear with a click. Exploded views are a few clicks away. If the client comes along and during the week of engineering review of the project and wants to add or change something to it we are simply changing the model and very simple tweaks to the final printout due to the features in SW and I. The following youtube video shows how flexible SW is in designing...and changes

12/17/14       #12: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...

As you already have AutoCad and 3dsMax, you may want to look into the AutoDesk Product Design Suite, which includes AutoCad, 3dsMax and Inventor. The cost of the suite is much less than purchasing individual licenses for each piece of software.

There is a reasonably priced add on software for Inventor, called Woodworking for Inventor, which has some useful tools such as adding hardware with associated machining, edgebanding and cutlists. If you are using Router-Cim, Cim-Tech offers Solid-Cim which can take the Inventor or AutoCad parts and create the files needed for Router-Cim.

12/17/14       #13: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Lenny Scianna  Member


For people who use Microvellum for their back-end manufacturing, we now have a new module that can take these solids and convert them into actual Microvellum products. This gives people the best of both worlds. They can have a library based solution for the typical stuff AND can use AutoCAD/Inventor/SolidWorks to make the custom one-off items. Then batch them all together for manufacturing.

12/17/14       #14: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
pat gilbert


I used SW for 10 years, all of what you mention can be done in Auto Cad.

Parametrics are a double edged sword and not necescarily the fastest way to go. The advantage of Smartlister is that you do not have to constrain anyting. Yet can stretch or shrink in a few strokes.

SL will give you a BOM and a cutlist.

As per Derricks comments a few months ago, he has a cad guy who works in SW and another in Auto Cad 3d, he said both take about the same amount of time.

It sounds like you have already decided that SW is the holy grail.

12/18/14       #15: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...


i think your Ford vs Chevy is pretty accurate for the Inventor vs Solid Works. Both products can be used to accomplish what you intend to accomplish. For you one may be better, for someone else another may be better. In addition for some Autocad may be the best solution.

As you mentioned, you are manufacture, trade booths. unfortunately there is not an out of the box solution for the products you produce. There is no one vendor which supplies complete package software which takes a product from design to manufacturing. A person, needs, a design software, manufacturing software to produce shop drawings, a rendering software for those customer presentations and a CAM software to generate code for your machine. Somehow you need to get all of these to work together as seemlessly and effortlessly as possible. From my experience it takes a lot of work to accomplish that.

Whichever way you go, I would suggest investigating all of the options thoroughly before making the jump. Try to take and discuss with people using the different softwares and look for honest feedback. Once you choose a path invest the time and effort to attain your return on investment.

12/18/14       #16: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Todd Kottke


That is a great post. We are trying to look at all variations. The original reason for the post was to get some outside views on software. I want to thank everyone for the dialog. I know this board has a diverse set of users and is always a good resource.

We are currently pursuing a time and process study using the three software choices. AutoCAD 3D (current) vs SolidWorks vs Inventor.

We will be considering the overall ROI during our trials.

We are looking at how to handle legacy company drawings that were all done in AutoCAD. The licensing that we currently have across all of our different divisions. Training costs for those detailers that have never been exposed to the 3D modeling that is done within SW and I.

Again, thanks for the was all helpful to gain a different perspective.


12/19/14       #17: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Earl Morgan Member


I suggest you try Spaceclaim. ($2500) It exports 2D and 3D AutoCAD. It is a direct modeling program like sketchup that's so intuitive that you may find yourself modeling much faster than History/parametric programs like solidworks/Inventor. Parametrics are possible in spaceclaim with the free excel groups addin. It generates regular engineering views for Shop Drawings. Stretching groups of solids works the same way it would in 2d AutoCAD objects, while grouping works the same way it does in sketchup. You can try the free version which is called DesignSpark. Try it before you invest in big MCAD.


12/19/14       #18: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...

Hi Earl,

Spaceclaim does look interesting. I have had a demo of it before but I am unsure how easy it is to extract DXF files for nesting. Is there a solution for that available? Or does it mean having RouterCIM and importing solid model into it and then generating files from there?



12/21/14       #19: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
David Wishengrad

There is no such thing as a good car.

Both Ford and Chevy could have easily add a door to the firewall for easy heater core replacement.

12/24/14       #20: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...

Rhino costs way less and in my opinion more intuitive.

12/29/14       #21: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...


What is it about Rhino that makes it more intuitive?

What usable information beyond the picture can a user get from a Rhino drawing?

12/29/14       #22: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...

For one thing, when drawing you are viewing your object from for vantage points. The screen is displayed in "top", "side", "back" and "axonometric". You can also switch the vantage points to "bottom" or any variation. This becomes useful as the drawing gets more complex.
As far as the intuitiveness, the icons seem to make more sense to me. This isnt to say it is intuitive to everyone.
The information from a drawing can be sent to CAM. There are a ton of online vids on you tube as well as to give you a taste. Hope that helps.

12/31/14       #23: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
SuperSteve Member

Many Autodesk users , have transitioned to Autodesk Inventor . The ease of use as well as the excellent interface between
AutoCAD data and Inventor data assisted in an easy upward mobility path .

If there was ever a no brainer choice this is the one .

Low Cost
Full Migration
Inventor to Router-Cim development - World class on single part and full nesting

Check out several "Youtube" presentations for Inventor in the wood trades.

Full custom as well as catalog standard

12/31/14       #24: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
pat gilbert

How could anyone doubt a poster named super steve?

2/10/15       #25: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Edward Forer Member

I'm a die hard solidworks guy. To me, Inventor is not even in the same universe. We aren't a cabinet shop however, we are a display company and build different sorts of things. We are required to produce attractive renderings, produce complex and detailed shop drawings and even design the packaging around our designs. We use the Pathfinder 3D plugin with it and it works great. Inventor just feels like an also ran to me. My wife is a design engineer and has had experience with both professionally and also strongly prefers solidworks. That said, if I were only doing parametric cabinet stuff, solid modeling might be overkill.

9/17/19       #26: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
Hiral Patel  Member


SOLIDWORKS and Inventor, comparing these two platforms are like comparing apples vs apples. These two are the 3D CAD modeling platforms utilized in most of the industries today.

There is always a question on choosing from these platforms as each having its own differentiating factors. Design engineers use these models in different projects like sheet metal, solid modeling, large assemblies, design automation, and 3D rendering, but some important features can differentiate these two leading CAD modeling platforms.
Here are some of them which will help you to move on the right platform:

SolidWorks Vs Inventor: Which is Better?

10/11/19       #27: Solidworks vs Inventor = Ford vs Ch ...
david wishengrad

From what I understand Bricscad does everything they both do, + much more, for a fraction of the cost, with source code available.


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