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CAD - What people are using

Page history last edited by Krista Donaldson 13 years, 2 months ago

Krista Donaldson - May 2009


Question to list:

What CAD are people using?  Any problems with Solidworks crashing?  Any experience with Inventor? 


Summary of responses:

  • The consensus was Solidworks except for speciality applications
  • The crashing is likely due to hardware issues, but also it sounds like there are often bugs with Solidworks prior to service pack fixes.
  • No one is currently using Inventor (other than Stanford's Civil Engineering Dept, according to Craig Milroy)
  • SW maintenance subscription is relatively pricey, but it allows you to access older versions


Condensed individual responses:

i don't have any recommendations bu i hear you on the crashing. we "upgraded" to SW08 and vista late last year. not psyched is an understatement.

Fred Bould

I'm still using SolidWorks 2008 SP3.1.  By now they seem to have gotten it pretty stable as long as you have a good enough video card.  I'm not upgrading to 2009 yet!  Those early service packs are always dubious.

I also use Pro/E Wildfire 3.0.  It's pretty stable too, but then again you have to run Pro/E, which I'm happy with but most aren't.

Christine McElhaney


I am reasonably happy with Solidworks; I think the trick is to not upgrade to the new release until at least a few service packs have come out.  I don't do a lot of complicated assemblies or surfacing; Rob does more of that stuff and has more crashing problems. 

Chuck McCall 

We use Rhino and Solidworks in my office.  They both have their place in our world.  We find Solidworks way better for mechanical design, rhino way better when things get blobby.  I think a lot depends on what the NGO is using the software for.

RE: crashing, all I can say is that we don't have much trouble.  I suspect a lot depends on file size, processor demand, and the hardware they are using.  I have minor file issues every month on average in Solidworks, and a full crash every three months.  Rhino needs to restart often (it gets draggy) with really large files but crashes rarely. 

I'm no expert, but those are my two cents for what it's worth.

Cory Bloome

SolidWorks 2008. Moving to 2009 later this year. Wish it was faster, more robust. Too lazy to search for something better.

Back in 1997 when I switched from AutoCAD LT to SolidWorks, my work practices were forever changed – and mostly for the better. I used to spend most of my time working on the drawings and just some of the time thinking through the design. Now I hardly spend any time on drawings and spend most of my time on the designs. I love working in a 3D environment. It’s one of the most empowering tools I have. The only thing I miss is the time I used to spend in my sketchbook working out a design on paper. I still sometimes do that, but find that it’s less efficient than SolidWorks and I become overly vested in my pencil sketched designs.

Dave Duff

In my experience computer crashes are generally the result of the hardware configuration and OS limitations. Windows is simply more unstable when compared to Unix and Mac OS.

Since CAD applications use a lot of resources they can overwhelm a system that has limited memory or graphic computing power, and in the case of Windows that leads to crashing the system. I have used systems that will run well with small assemblies but will crash with larger files, because they were configured with borderline memory and graphic resources. With a higher end system those crashes don't happen. Many people settle for a cheaper graphics card that can have very high resolution but does not have the processing power (game cards are not adequate for CAD). That is a common misconfiguration because CAD graphics cards are expensive.

Over the years computer prices have come down substantially. Today you can probably get a system to run Solidworks for under $1500 (desktop) or $2000 (laptop). Just 5 years ago you would have to pay twice, and double that ten years ago.

Miguel Praca

For Solidworks vs Pro-E:


Dave Maltz

I learned Autodesk Inventor as an undergraduate and quickly picked up SolidWorks (2007?) when I was working at an Engineering firm.  I think the short form response is that Inventor is a tiny bit less functionality at a greatly reduced price.  If you need to do high-level Engineering work that requires quality finite element analysis and rendering, you should be investing in SolidWorks and the associated plug-ins (COSMOSWorks, PHOTOWorks) but otherwise, Inventor gets the job done well.

.david goligorsky

SW2007 Service Pack 5.  doesn't crash a whole lot, has a couple of bugs.  am waiting for at least SP3 of SW2009 before switching to 2009.

[our office has about 18 users with 9 network licences.]

Jeff Spivack

We are using Catia and Solidworks. Catia is much more stable but it's also $25k per seat....

Paul Frey

I wouldn't be overly concerned with a report from a single entity about SW crashing.  It may be related to their hardware or using a non-optimal graphics card.  My recommendation is to go with SW because of its power and the wealth of support and user base.  Many vendors these days will take native SW part files (without even needing 2d drawings).

Jamie Page

funny... I just deleted some CAD newsletter and noticed the headline was about Solidworks crashes... here's the link (apparently--it's the users fault!).


I'm a proE guy from WAY back... was using UG NX (Unigraphics) for the last year (and hating it).  Went back to proE for the past two weeks and was hating it... Just based on using Solidworks to interigate and existing model for the past-two-weeks project... it's seems pretty nice.  Of course, that's the latest version of SW on my clients IT-group maintained, high-end workstation with a zillion GB of ram (I started using their machine because mine was crashing too much)...

Robert Garrett

Tthe last service pack version of SolidWorks 2007 was very stable (in my experience) and runs well on less powerful machines.  I currently have it on a underpowered laptop and have had good luck with it.  We pay for the SolidWorks maintenance subscription, which I think is a bit of a rip-off, but it allows us access to older versions of the software.

Elliot Sather


Comments (1)

Dexter Francis said

at 10:12 pm on Jan 16, 2010

I've used ProE, AutoCAD, VersaCAD, UG, SolidWorks, and most recently TurboCAD for both Mac and PC. As an individual user who bought my own seat an older version of TurboCAD was very reasonable (under $40, new in the box on eBay) and did everything I needed to do; importing an existing model from another application, extracting the surfaces so I could rebuild part of the geometry as a solid, and exporting the solid model as a .sla file for prototyping. It's not a parametric modeler and may not be as easy to use for rapid sketching, but was very easy and intuitive to use (the Mac version). Once I got used to how sensitive it was to things, like projecting one entity onto another where the projected feature's limits didn't line up with the one it was projecting onto causing it to hang, I found it to be very useful. It may be hard to imagine a $30 CAD package competing with one that costs ten times that, but if you are willing to settle for last years' code until you are making enough to afford this year's version it's a good place to start. TurboCAD has tools for wireframe, surfaces and solids and does a reasonable job with all your basic solids (rectangulars, cylindircals, conics, and does complex curves, handles nurbs, drafts, radii and blends. It's not going to give you everything you need to easily model like Giugiaro, but for an all around solid modeler, it was hard for beat for the cost. - Dexter Francis

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