SolidWorks 2018 Review

SolidWorks is one of the most widely-used CAD programs on the market due to its relatively low cost, powerful 3D rendering abilities and interface. For this reason, it is often used in academic institutions.

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

SolidWorks is much easier to use and costs much less than its sister program, CATIA. Its 2D and 3D tools are powerful and offer a highly competitive option in the CAD market, especially given the relatively lower price.


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    This program helps you check your designs for weak points and safety issues.


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    Image rendering isn’t as good as programs like CATIA.

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SolidWorks is one of the most widely-used CAD programs on the market due to its relatively low cost, powerful 3D rendering abilities and interface. For this reason, it is often used in academic institutions. That being said, its rendering abilities aren’t as powerful as Dassault Systèmes other program, CATIA, but it can still create professional results. It is used mainly by engineers and designers but isn’t as popular with architects.

This software is classified as an intermediate CAD software, and it is one of the easier CAD programs to use. However, it will still require some training, as there are a lot of features and tools to become acquainted with.

This software can help you create both 2D and 3D designs. You can add hatchings or adjust the opacity of specific elements to make your design easier to read. The software also gives you a library of materials that include wood, brick and glass. You can even create custom materials and save them to your library. While the lighting and photorealistic rendering aren’t as believable as CATIA, they are still powerful and will help your customers, coworkers and bosses visualize your work. These tools are especially helpful when working on small projects, like specific components, but don’t work as well with large complex projects, like plane engines.

To make the design process easier, you can use the snap tools to make elements line up to specific areas. You can also turn some of the snap tools off to give you more accuracy. You can add and edit any text, whether it’s 2D or 3D, and like other CAD software, this one works in layers, so you can easily select and change different parts without manipulating the entire design. You can create 3D models from 2D images and vice versa, which can help save time when annotating and working with files from other programs.

SolidWorks’ Factor of Safety Wizard also helps you examine your work to see if there are any structural weaknesses that might lead to your designs being unsafe. This allows you to make changes to your designs before creating physical versions. 

One of the things that makes this software easier to use than some CAD programs is the ability to adjust and customize your tool palette. You can have your most frequently used tools in specific locations to make your workflow more efficient.

While this software does offer a command line, it doesn’t handle as many properties as some other programs, but you can create macros to make your creation process a little faster.

SolidWorks is compatible with DWG, DXF, STEP, STL, which allows you to work with files from AutoCAD and SketchUp Pro as well as 3D print your designs. It also allows you to work with PDFs and various raster image files, so you have more flexibility when working with your designs. This software can support eDrawings, but it isn’t compatible with Mac operating systems.

Since this is a popular CAD software, it has a thriving user community, so you can generally get help from others users, either through the user forum or through user-created tutorials and videos that you can find online. SolidWorks’ technical support also comes with your purchase of the software, so you’ll be able to get the help you need without spending additional money like you have to with SketchUp Pro.

You will need to get a quote from the company to know just how much this software will cost, but you should expect to spend a few thousand dollars on a yearly subscription. That being said, it is known among the designer and engineering community as a more affordable option, considering how powerful it is.

You can test out this software for 30 days with a free trial before deciding if you want to purchase it. And SolidWork’s student edition sells for $99.95 for a year subscription, which is much cheaper than the regular version. Although, to acquire it, you will need to fill out a form on SolidWork’s website and get in contact with a salesperson.

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Rebecca Spear

Rebecca is a writer who has covered everything from photo books to graphic design and small kitchen appliances for Top Ten Reviews. Now a gaming writer for Future Labs, she's also contributed to big publications like TechRadar, Windows Central, Android Central, Reuters Legal Solutions Blog, iMore, and more. She no longer works for TTR.