Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks


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    Default Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Hi guys

    I understand the very subjective nature of this request, but nonetheless I need to find a more modern program to replace my venerable Solidworks 2008. It was given to me years back by someone who had bought it for semi professional use, and he moved on to a newer better program and let me have the now surplus copy of Solidworks. I have become very proficient at using it for the tasks I need it for, which is relatively simple 3d part design for 3d printed parts and bits an bobs I make on my CNC router and laser cutter, together with CAD and CamBam. Please understand that I am only using a small fraction of what it is capable of, but need no more.

    The problem is that it only runs on Win XP machines, and that mean that now I can only use it on an old laptop specifically set up for it. It also means I can't import files to it, as it is not compatible with the newer stuff.

    Solidworks suits me because of the fact that it fits my thinking concepts in terms of the way I design things - the extrusion, cut hole, rotate to form a solid, they all fit my rather prosaic engineering way of thinking about a task. I tried Autocad, but just couldn't get my head around it. I know there is a learning curve, but somehow the philosophy Solidworks employs just works well with me.

    So if I was looking for (preferably free of course) similar capability and useability software, what would you guys point me to? Remember, I am not interested in advanced physical modelling, photo realistic rendering, I just need a simple to use engineering orientated modern CAD program that runs on modern hardware and software. It doesn't have to do anything else that Solidworks can't do.

    Cheers

    Les

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    Member Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Fusion 360. Full featured professional 3D modeling and CAM. Free to hobbyists, startups, and educators. Extensive online support through videos and user forums. https://www.autodesk.com/campaigns/f...-for-hobbyists

    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA


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    Member Mecanix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    If this is not too personal, what is your current budget allocated to the CAD end alone? Equally important questions are; will this be used for professional purposes, permanent hobby, or hobby with possibilities to develop commercially? Keep in mind that at a professional level (aka commercial), nobody uses cloud based CAD systems mainly due to intellectual property issues and obviously, internal policies RE data sharing. Meaning... shall you opt for a hobby cloud based CAD, you need to add the risk of having to convert (replicate from scratch?) your existing CAD data to another format e.g. if this eventually move to a commercial operation (product line, outsourcing of manufacturing processes, simulations, etc).

    Give us so more info, it'll be easier to help out.



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    Member Mecanix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Just noticed the (preferably free) in your OP, apologies.

    In that case, and since you are already familiar with CAD, you'll want to look at FreeCAD. Industry friendly, essentially generates "true" engineering parametric CAD data and installs local (you have control over your intellectual property). The scripting env of freecam is extremely powerful and capable also. You can add CAM, sim, other features, all running locally and free.

    Community, add-ons, tutorials here: https://forum.freecadweb.org/index.php



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Fusion 360

    Gerry

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    Member dharmic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    I run Solidworks at school, Fusion 360 at home. Have used IronCAD, AutoCAD, Inventor, Creo, ZW3D, Alibre, NX, FreeCAD and others before as well.

    If you want to run legally, have a solid internet connection, don't mind your designs living out in the cloud, don't mind the subscription licensing approach where one day you could wake up and be ransomed for access to your designs? Fusion 360. Free for students, hobbyists, businesses with under $100k turnover.

    It's probably the closest you're going to get to Solidworks for your price. And it's super comprehensive - the usual constructive geometry parametric modelling, t-spline sculpting, sheet metal, CAM, mechanisms, simulations, generative design, topology optimisation etc. From someone who bounces back and forth between the two, you're going to notice that Fusion's surface modelling / sculpting leaves even SolidWorks 2019 for dead. And the Fusion 360 5 axis CAM is seriously the easiest I've used to get sane toolpaths.

    But you're really going to miss the workflow of Solidworks - having to move your mouse over to click on another box for an operation gets old fast when you're used to just right clicking, for example. And there are some gaping holes in the way equations work in Fusion, some big chunks of missing functionality in the sheet metal, no provision for moulding design, no routing, the generative design is not available on the free version and the rendering kinda sucks.

    FreeCAD is worth a look if your needs are very limited. Free, open source. I haven't used it for a few years and apparently it's come a long way since then, probably time for a re-visit. But it's old school - once you've installed it on your machine no internet required.

    Personally, if I was in the position of being used to Solidworks, I'd stick with it. Either find the coin for the full retail (probably too far back for an upgrade), enrol in any course to get a student ID so you can get a student licence for it, or sniff around the dodgier side of the internets.



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    Member Mecanix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    "...ransomed for access to your designs". LMAO

    I can live with a library of fasteners and cheap springs in the cloud, but user/corporate based CAD data?! By far the most awkward industry 'thing' I've came across during all those years LOL

    +1 on SolidWorks regardless of its release date.



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Personally, if I was in the position of being used to Solidworks, I'd stick with it. Either find the coin for the full retail (probably too far back for an upgrade)
    Solidworks upgrade policy requires you to pay for each year you don't upgrade. It's $4K upfront, and $1300/year after that if you ever want to upgrade. So $4K every 3 years if you want to upgrade.

    Gerry

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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    hence the "probably too far back".



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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Another vote for Freecad here.Its on your computer and not dependent on being online and its getting better week by week.Might be worth checking whether it has a postprocessor that works for your machine.Being parametric it won't be a huge culture shock and it seems to have good backward compatibility with earlier Freecad file versions.I have noticed this because I have version 0.18 in the house and version 0.16 in the workshop.You won't ever find yourself being invited to subscribe to have access to your designs.



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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Lots of replies already, wow! And clearly opinion is divided...

    There was a request for more details, the first one being - end use, professional or otherwise. In my case, totally hobby use. Am I worried about people having access to my deigns? Well, if they are desperate enough that they need my help, a bit of charity is not a problem!

    What do I use it for? Well, examples are the gauge cluster I made for my home made flight sim cockpit, see the (hopefully) attached photo Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks-20190714_165319-jpg

    I also use it to design home made circuit boards, which doesn't sound too intuitive but the way that you can colour faces individually on solidworks helps me work out the circuitry. I also use it to model assemblies to identify interference, and basic movements like switch and lever throws.

    I suppose I also have to say, if I cannot import all my solidworks files (plenty of Gb there...) then I will be losing a huge amount of work.

    It happens that I actually tried the Fusion 360 thing but it didn't grab me, but being an old fart maybe I am stuck with an old attitude. That and FreeCad certainly seem to be a common theme so maybe I have to put my resistance to new things aside and force myself to learn. Qcad was certainly like that to start with, having come from Autosketch which I was really conversant with, it caused me a few hair pulling moments to get to the point where Autosketch was consigned to the past.

    Cheers guys

    Les



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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Quote Originally Posted by Mecanix View Post
    "...ransomed for access to your designs". LMAO

    I can live with a library of fasteners and cheap springs in the cloud, but user/corporate based CAD data?! By far the most awkward industry 'thing' I've came across during all those years LOL

    +1 on SolidWorks regardless of its release date.
    Kinda the problem with Fusion360.
    For small business use, paying clients aren't going to like their designs being in the cloud. They'll want them secure for sure.
    For hobbyist use then yes get it.



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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    just found Fusion 360 on my PC and opened it up. It says 'term expired' and will not open any of the Solidworks files, so if there is no way to address this Fusion 360 won't help me

    ***EDIT**** found a thread to fix the 'term expired' bit, and it seems to liberate the use of the Solidworks files. However uploading my existing assembly files is impossible, it always gives errors even though I have uploaded EVERY part file. Some assemblies have more than 50 parts, am I going to have to load everything up one by one? If so, it's quicker to remake the assembly

    Cheers

    Les

    Last edited by lesthegringo; 08-31-2019 at 06:52 AM.


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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Not sure if anything will be able to open SW assemblies, other than SW.

    Gerry

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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    upgrading from 08 to 19 would be more expensive than buying a new copy ( would also give you two licenses) From what you have said you might only need to get the standard version. Be aware that hardware may need an upgrade also.
    victor

    vic


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    Member Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    Not sure if anything will be able to open SW assemblies, other than SW.
    Fusion 360 will open the .asm file, but you have to upload all of the .prt files for that assembly.

    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA


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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    Quote Originally Posted by lesthegringo View Post
    part file. Some assemblies have more than 50 parts, am I going to have to load everything up one by one? If so, it's quicker to remake the assembly
    Never used nor seen F360 but would assume (hope?) it opens STEP 203/214. The assembly data is normally passed onto STEP during export so that's one way you could retrieve the assembly from another CAD. Hopefully you can re-open those from SW'08 and export to step. SW's proprietary geometric constraints would be lost during re-import however.

    Hope this helps a bit

    (Grateful for the details given btw, nice gauges and hobby!)



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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    As an alternative you might consider Alibre. I've seen some really nice work done with this CAD package, From my experience it is quite similar to Solidworks so the learning curve might not be as steep.

    vic


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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    One thing is being missed in the discussion of the F360 option !

    You only have to log into the 'cloud' every fortnight or so to keep in 'sync'

    You can export files to the hard drive of your PC every time you change any component/assembly.

    So you cannot 'lose everything' if you cannot access the 'cloud'. In fact you have a 'backup' available FOC if your PC hard drive crashes.



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    Member dharmic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks

    You can, but... Who do you know who exports every file, every time they save it? Who do you know who even marks every file in an assembly they're working on to be locally cached (which you can also do) on a regular basis?

    You don't need a local copy until the unexpected internet dropout happens. At which point it's too late to do anything about it.

    And what happens if Autodesk suddenly bashes up the price of the product on subscription once they've decided they've done enough crowdsourced debugging and product development? Internet connection or not, your licence goes and so does your ability to use any version of the software to access your collection of designs. There's no such thing as "meh, I'll just stop upgrading and use the version I have".

    Don't get me wrong. I still use it. I rate some of its features (sculpting and CAM in particular) far ahead of SolidWorks's lame implementation of same (I don't have SolidCAM). And the internet thing can be useful - super easy collaboration, always access to the current version without having to sync if you're back and forth between multiple locations and computers, commercially maintained storage facility for files (ie properly backed up etc).



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Recommendations for CAD program for someone used to Solidworks