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Guest MikahB

Autodesk Inventor Vs. Solidworks For Mechanical Design

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Guest MikahB

Hi folks, great site - I just found it over the weekend and have been reading through a ton of stuff since then. Very impressive skills on this site, some of the renderings I've seen are breathtaking! I'm going to start participating in the 3D design competitions as soon as I have a little bit of time to do so.

 

My business is geared much more towards the mechanical design side of things and my creativity comes out in function more than form at this point, but aesthetics are important for some of what I do too. Within the next couple of weeks, I will purchase either Autodesk Inventor Simulation Studio or Solidworks Premium. I'm leaning pretty far towards Inventor at this point because from what I've seen it has much better engineering tools built in, especially around gear systems which are very important to me (SolidWorks has very little support for sophisticated gear systems and almost no native analysis functionality).

 

But, I see on this site almost nobody (that I can find) using Inventor for design work. Is it just because SolidWorks has better surface modeling tools, or? Anybody use both and have opinions on the idfferences?

 

Any thoughts are welcome, thanks for your input!

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Guest Skint

Inventor has advantages for those familiar with autocad. When picking packages, consider the learning curve that you can expect too. Solidworks can do gears but i do find it tedious. I use pro-engineer now ( wildfire 4 & 5 ).

 

You should be able to get a trial period of each software to give it a go. You may find either one 100% better than the other. The CAD program is just the tool, they all can do the same things more or less, its a matter of which one suits you best!

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Guest MikahB
Inventor has advantages for those familiar with autocad. When picking packages, consider the learning curve that you can expect too. Solidworks can do gears but i do find it tedious. I use pro-engineer now ( wildfire 4 & 5 ).

 

You should be able to get a trial period of each software to give it a go. You may find either one 100% better than the other. The CAD program is just the tool, they all can do the same things more or less, its a matter of which one suits you best!

 

Thanks Skint. Yes I have used both packages for several months, certainly enough to get a feel for each. I think I prefer Solidworks on "usability" grounds but, as I mentioned before, it lacks functionality that I would use a lot. I have not played with Pro-E at all, perhaps I should add that to the mix.

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I honestly don't see how one could go wrong with Solidworks, if you want affordable parametric solid modeling - you go Solidworks.

 

While it's true in raw feature-count Solidworks and Inventor are very similar, think about it this way: Solidworks is solidworks. Autodesk is everything and inventor too.

 

The guys over at Solidworks know what they're talking about and have been doing it for over nearly 15 years.

 

If you're looking for a more high-end software (which I don't think a lot of companies but the really big boys do) then you could look at Pro/E.

 

Certainly Solidworks and Pro/E are the standards in parametric CAD, for the mid-range and high ends, respectively.

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Guest Buff

Having used Inventor since it's first releas and been a previous Mechanical deskto and AutoCAD user, the move to inventor was logical.

 

In terms of user friendlyness and learning curve, its OK

 

I changed recently to SolidEdge, which was a close run thing between that and Pro/E which I've always liked even pre 2000 with the cascading menus

 

The main reason for moving from Inventor was lack of surfacing tools, and the thing just fell over too often.

 

The ACIS math engine doesnt help too much with interoperability either and the Parasolid engine is much better when transfaring data

 

These opinions are muine alone and are based only on my personal experiances.

 

I chose SolidEdge over Pro/E only because I wanted to use a good PLM system and Team Centre looked the better over Windchill.

 

Pro/E does have the advantage of being truly scalable in so much that you can design a simple jig right through to a Formula One car (assuming you have the skill and resource, though using just Pro/E would possibly make for the slowest car on the grid)

 

I would have gone for NX6 but I could not justify the extra expence for the work I do.

 

SolidEdge is very good with differant data types and allowes editing. The Synchronious Technology (direct editing/explicit modeling) is very easy to use and fast, comes in very hand when developing a concept.

 

Inventor Fusion looks very interestin as does Pro/E Wildfire 5

 

For me and the benchmarking I did, Solidworks came out not much better than Inventor... Solidworks main advatage that I can see is that many people already use it, making data transfare easier, and there are quite a few vendors of other software/kit that integrate really well wit Solidworks, e.g. Rhino, Hypershot, Nex Engin 3D scanners, some rapid prototyping machines, Optis optical modeling software etc, etc.

 

Another advantage Solidworks has over its competitors is the rendering output is much easier and better quality. Inventor Fusion with the Showcase add on looks like it will match the performance when its available for general release

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MikahB: We have passed the threshold of one program being better than the other. There is very little that one can do that the others "can't". I put that in quote in that it is all about understanding the tool, what rules to live by, and how to achieve the results you need. When you start to look at the community of each of the different software packages, also take a look at what 3rd parties also support it. By that I mean if you need to do a lot of gears there are plug in that will generate those gears or FEA or what ever is needed at that point in time.

 

3Dcontentcentral.com, is probably one of the best independent resources out there for motors, casters, bearings, and the likes. So instead of reinventing the wheel, down load it from there and keep it moving.

 

People will always argue that "mine" is better than "yours" till they are blue in the face. You won't go wrong with any of them. Right tool for the right job.

 

What I would encourage is that you post or at least give something that is giving you troubles. Be it Pro/E, SW, SE, or IV depending on the approach one of these may very well work better for you. But don't sell a program short if your not 100% that it can't do it. I have seen some amazing models created and it's all about your knowledge of the suite of tools that it has.

 

Hope this helps...

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Guest MikahB

Thanks for the input folks, it's all well thought out and well appreciated; exactly what I was hoping for.

 

Buff: Thanks for the insight, you make a lot of good points and observations. I think ProE is probably overkill for me at this point, but if I land a job working with USF1 maybe I'll spring for it. :(

 

Cadjunkie: Your first paragraph summarizes well what I've found to be the case as I've evaluated these two programs thus far. I've spent more time with Solidworks, and am faster with it and it feels more intuitive, but after I work with Inventor for a couple days the pendulum begins to swing.

 

Functionally, the one big hangup I have with Solidworks is that it's native gear functionality is very weak - you can only insert standard gears just like bearings, bolts, or other pieces. But, there is no ability to do engineering calculations on the gears: factors of safety at various load/speed combinations, etc. Much of what I have worked on thus far is automotive and being able to do these calculations with gears is very important to me. Inventor has it built right in - along with the same type of functionality for complex shafts and splines and cams as well. There is an add-on for SW called GearTeq from a company called Camnetics that brings some of this functionality to SW, but it's not well-integrated in my opinion. Like, you run through all the calcs and it generates an assembly in SW. If you want to change it, you either manually remodel it in SW (which means you wouldn't get new calculations) or you yank it out and try again from the GearTeq software.

 

I'm doing a web demo of Inventor and Showcase on Friday, what I've seen on YouTube as far as rendering quality has impressed me thus far.

 

Thanks again for all the input, it's appreciated and I'll let y'all know where I end up. I suspect, as Cadjunkie pointed out, that it'd be tough to go far wrong either way.

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