Most of the engineering colleges nowadays have AutoCAD in their curriculum. So it is expected that you know about AutoCAD even if you are a fresher. Heading for your first job and you were asked: “ Do you Know SolidWorks”. Do you feel like what the heck is this SolidWorks? So in this article, we will discuss the Difference Between Autocad and Solidworks: Autocad vs Solidworks
It is unlikely that you will get an engineer who does not know about AutoCAD. In fact, AutoCAD is the first CAD software which was running in personal computers. It was the first software which brought the revolution to the CAD industry. People were reluctant to move away from traditional handmade drawing when AutoCAD started to shine.
Over time people started moving away from traditional 2D and that’s when SolidWorks was developed. SolidWorks is currently one of the best 3D CAD software, especially for Mechanical Engineers. It would not be unfair to say that nowadays you won’t find a single mechanical engineer who never used SolidWorks
- AutoCAD Vs SolidWorks
History Of AutoCAD
Many of us may not know that the concept of AutoCAD was originally developed by a company called Interact CAD. Autodesk bought Interact CAD in 1980 and launched the first version of AutoCAD in 1982
AutoCAD was the first CAD software which uses can install in their personal computers rather than microcomputers. Within a few months of launch, AutoCAD becomes a big hit and most of the industries started using it. Designers got relief from hand made drawings as AutoCAD has reduced the cycle time of creating drawings.
Over the years AutoCAD was revised many times, added many features but AutoCAD is still considered as a 2D CAD software. Autodesk also understands that and they always revamp the software to retain the title number one 2D CAD software. Presently there are many 2D and 3D CAD software but no software could beat the 2D CAD capabilities of AutoCAD.
Capabilities of AutoCAD
AutoCAD is primarily a 2D CAD software but over the years AutoDesk has added 3D CAD capabilities. Trust me, AutoCAD was never successful in capturing the 3D CAD market. Reason being AutoCAD was never serious about getting into 3D CAD. Creating a 3D model in AutoCAD is much tougher than any other 3D CAD software so people prefer to use it as 2D CAD software.
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Though 2D CAD software is not in demand nowadays but companies could not dump AutoCad . You know why? Because most of the CNC machine supports .dxf file as an input and only AutoCAD can generate it. However many software nowadays can generate .dxf file but editing is very easy only in AutoCAD.
Pros Of AutoCAD
- Best software for 2D CAD
- Creating 2D CAD geometry is super easy
- No major technical knowledge is required to learn AutoCAD.
- AutoCAD generated .dxf file is still the preferred input file for modern CNC machines.
- AutoCAD can generate basic 3D models very easily.
- Industry-specific CAD customization is very easy using Autolisp.
- Forum based help is great as this is the oldest CAD software
Cons of AutoCAD
- Strickly a 2D CAD software.
- Creating a complex 3D model is super tough
- No assembly module available.
- Industry trending modules like mechanism, animation, FEA is not present.
- No product data management tool.
Which industries use AutoCAD?
- Architecture engineering field uses AutoCAD as their preferred CAD software.
- Civil engineering projects find AutoCAD very easy to create layout drawings
- Electrical and electronics industry uses AutoCAD to design their logic board diagram and electrical routings.
- Map and GIS industry still uses as it’s super easy to work with.
- Basic mechanical engineering drawing can also be done easily with AutoCAD
To conclude I can say that every engineering industry uses AutoCAD or used AutoCAD in the past. It is the benchmark CAD software and many CAD software was developed based on it.
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History Of SolidWorks
SolidWorks is a product of Dassault systems but do you know that the first version of SolidWorks was not developed by Dassault. Jon Hirschtick was an MIT graduate who started developing SolidWorks in 1993 along with his few friends. Soon in 1995, the first version of SolidWorks was launched.
SolidWorks was a instant hit. It simply redefined the way people does 3D modelling. In 1995 , 3D CAD software were not intuitive. SolidWorks was the first software which was intuitive as well as feature rich. People just loved SolidWorks when it was launched.
In 1997, Dessault Systems bought SolidWorks although they had Catia in their portfolio . But Catia was serving a different market that time. Merging with Dessault helped SolidWorks to increase customer base and within 2 years SolidWorks had 3 million user base.
Over the year SolidWorks got revised multiple times and with every version they improved the software capabilities. SolidWorks is one of the widely used software in United States irrespective of the industry.
Capabilities Of SolidWorks
Frankly speaking , it would take multiple articles if I start writing about all capabilities of SolidWorks. Here I am writing about only about couple of key capabilities of SolidWorks which industries mostly use.
3D CAD modelling
SolidWorks is simply the best in 3D CAD modelling. It offers simple 3D modelling, surface modelling, free form modelling etc. It also has the capability to do sheet metal modelling and wiring harness design.
2D CAD drafting
The 2D CAD drafting is different than AutoCAD in the sense that 2D CAD drafting in SolidWorks is mainly for parts and assembles where as in AutoCAD it can do anything. All 2D drafting in SolidWorks is parametric, what that means is that, if you make any change to associated 3D model, the drawing auto get updated.
With SolidWorks it’s easy to create mechanism , animation and simulation. These features helps companies to validate design before actual production.
Finite Element Analysis
SolidWorks is not only a 3D CAD software. It does help to know how a physical part may behave under different loading conditions. It also helps to do thermal analysis which is a plus.
CAM ( Computer Aided Manufacturing)
SolidWorks has inbuilt capabilities to integrate with machines which we call computer aided machining. SolidWorks is one of the best software for CAM
This is one of the best software for electrical design or wire harness design. It has the capabilities of schematic design and 3D harness design
PDM ( Product Data Management)
Product data management tool is essential for keeping a records of a product life cycle. It helps to coordinate in multi user environment.
Pros of SolidWorks
- Best 3D CAD software
- Intuitive user interface
- Easy to use commands
- Smooth learning curve
- Easiest CAD software to learn
- Parametric CAD modelling
- Realistic 2D drafting
- Sheet Metal modelling
- Advanced assembly module
- Finite Element Analysis
- Mechanism and Simulation capability
- Product data management tools are available.
Cons of SolidWorks
- No cons except the fact that 2D CAD drafting is not as good as AutoCAD.
Which industries Use SolidWorks
Frankly speaking, SolidWorks is used by almost every industries. SolidWorks is such a versatile software to ignore. There is hardly any mechanical industry which does not use SoludWorks. But most of the industries that uses SolidWorks are Medical Device, Home Appliances, Automotive, Aviation and Heavy Machineries.
AutoCAD Vs SolidWorks
|Ideal for 2D Drafting||2D drafting is not as good as AutoCAD|
|Basic 3D CAD functionalities||Advanced 3D CAD modelling is possible|
|No option for dedicated sheet metal modelling||It has sheet metal dedicated module|
|No option for rendering||Advanced rendering is possible|
|Part validation is not possible||Advanced part validation is available|
|Mechanism and animation command are not available||SolidWorks has dedicated module for mechanism and animation|
|No simulation module||Dedicated simulation module|
|Mainly used in architectural and civil engineering field||Mainly used for mechanical engineering field|
|No option for virtual reality||Module for virtual reality is available|
|Free student version is available||No free student version is available|
|Smooth learning curve||Steeper learning curve|
|Excellent user base||Moderate user base|
|No integration with CNC apart from saving file as .dxf||Dedicated module for computer aided manufacturing|
|Subscription based Licence||Term based licence|
|Licence price is very cheap||Too costly for individuals|
By now it is evident that there is a huge difference between AutoCAD vs Solidworks. Both serves all together a different market and comparing both would not give a clear picture. Both softwares are the best at their respective field. Now it depends on you from which field you are belongs to.
If you are into civil engineering or architectural engineering then AutoCAD will be the tool that you should learn but for Mechanical Engineering its a must to learn SolidWorks.
I hope this article about AutoCAD vs Solidworks could help you to take a decision about which software you should prefer depending on your domain. If you have any question please do let me know in the comment section.