Solid Edge Vs. Solidworks – Are They All That Different?

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We published an article comparing SolidEdge to Solidworks. Jim, as mentioned in the article, makes his living utilizing CAD systems and teaching CAD. Although his primary tool is Solidworks he has looked at other options, and worked with other systems in the past. He is established enough to pass judgment on which tool is best equipped for his needs. That said his call of vast superiority by Solidworks seems inflated.
Solidworks is a wonderful tool, which has many advantages in developing great designs. There are two primary points that Jim makes in his comparison of Solid Edge and Solidworks. I will address each separately below, but the point is also made to compare Solidworks in their current form to ProE of the early 2000’s. First to address this issue:
Solidworks most certainly appealed to a new crowd and that appeal can be pointed to as one of the core reasons it succeeded over the years. That said a comparison of the user interaction from Solidworks to Solid Edge, or any other CAD software for that matter, is in my estimation misguided.
Thanks to their long-standing position as the market leader Solidworks has a vast user community that does most of the heavy lifting for them. Just take a look at their user groups, or this forum, where common users are significantly more active than the parent company. Certainly the cultivation of this community is due to the direct actions of Solidworks but smaller market disruptors should not be hindered simply based on their market share (a point that Jim makes, though pointing again at PTC of a decade ago).  As for the “arrogant jerk” comment I can safely say I have run into similar jerks at a variety of companies. Though an organization is at least in part responsible for the actions of their employees it is unfair to characterize an entire organization based on the actions of one sales representative.
As for the points made regarding why Solidworks “won” over ProE, these seem to be relatively subjective concerns. Personally I can attest to the Solid Edge crew being very straight shooters, fun, and above all very geeked out on their product. Through writing assignments I have had the privilege to spend time with a number of the Siemens staff and they have been simply fantastic. Further I’ve found their software to be just as easy to use as any other CAD program – though admittedly that still would not qualify it as “easy”.
As for Synchronous Technology (ST), the comparison to a wonder bra is incomplete. Solid Edge has all the same trappings of Solidworks and ST is better considered a feature add-on than an underlying principle. Yes it can remove some modeling history but this is not a default – Solid Edge also includes an ordered modeling system that is at least on par with Solidworks. ST as an addition is akin to the Instant3D capabilities of Solidworks and in my experience ST is vastly superior.  Some hesitation is warranted given the marketing behind ST but the software should not be knocked simply because the team has decided to showcase a point of differentiation in their marketing – who would but a system marketed as “On par with the market leader – with better additional features”.  It is surely easier to promote a message of simply “Better features than the market leader”.
Ultimately Jim and I agree. Solid Edge needs something more to jump ships. Considering the amount of time many users spend training on a new system making the change is a huge decision for engineers. Roll in that fact that both systems run in the thousands of dollars and it is going to take more than a few features to really change things.

With all that said, the CAD industry is ripe for a disruptor. A new system that changes the way designers think and model, a system that will make us all take a pause and likely say “that will never work” before ultimately succumbing to a new generation that is passing us by. At least that’s what my friends who used to work at drafting tables tell me.

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  1. I agree with that last paragraph. The disruptor may well be here already in the guise of Onshape. It’s still a long way from being a complete solution but once it gains more muscle it may be just the thing for the next step

  2. Well thought out article.
    I think its great that you take a step back and look at root issues and not feature by feature. I started my career with Solid Edge back in 1996 working for Intergraph and you are so right that core team is a great bunch of talented guys who never got the support they needed. I left to Join the Solidworks team and rode that great ride a long time (13 years). Your comments about the Solidworks user community are right on, that was fostered by the team built John McEleny, and Vic Leventhal through the Solidworks channel. FYI I recently left the Solidworks team to try a run at what I think could truly be the next disruptor in Fusion 360. Give it a look, I am hoping I get to be a part of the next great CAD revolution and I am going to do my best to make sure customers get the same experience.

  3. Well I can honestly say I can use both solidworks and Solidedge. They are both good but solidworks is very limited in what it can do, as to where solidedge your not, solidworks does not work well with huge assemblies takes twice as long as Solidedge to open save ect. Also simple things like a curved sheet metal part solidworks can not do this. Don’t believe me contact solidworks and ask them. As where solidworks is very user friendly, it is limited in what you can design. Forget trying to make a stamped sheet metal part in solidworks.

  4. Glad to see an opinion of someone who actually knows BOTH like Travis. I was a longtime user of SE, largely for bent parts. I had customers using SW sending me models that SW had deemed to be manufacturable which in fact were not – a LOT. Flat patterns where the same material was used twice. I was involved in the purchase decision and was freely given a time limited demo license of SE to actually evaluate while SW expected you to come and watch a pre-planned demo of THEIR model by an experienced operator. This irked me as did the business model which required continuous payment of a licensing fee or the software no longer works. Not as bad as another vendor where you lose access to your actual drawings as soon as you stop paying. Anyways I like to compare the battle to Beta vs vhs. For any of you old enough to know what that is, Beta was widely acknowledged to be a superior product, while VHS became the standard solely because of better ($$$)marketing. btw, ST ho hum

  5. I say do not trust any of the sales people I hate solidworks they give you all these videos and stuff on how easy it is to use, However it is on simple parts I work in the auto industry and solidworks is not capable of doing half of what other softwares are. Pretty sad when you can do more in auto cad mechanical can do more. we work with a lot of customer parts and if you have to edit the part good luck half the time solidworks just errors out.

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