What Sets Solid Edge Apart from SolidWorks?

The first question I’ve got to answer here is what is so different between Edge and Works that it would cause people to entertain the idea of changing? Aren’t they just about the same thing? After all, you’ve got a big investment in your CAD tools. Not just in money, but in time, experience, and a certain emotional stake. Why should you change?

I’d like to think I have some qualifications to answer that question, mainly because I had all of those investments as well, and I went ahead and made the change. My career was pretty heavily invested in the SolidWorks way of doing things, but over time, it became apparent to me that I was going to have to change. In hindsight, this makes me chuckle a little bit. SW2008 had some changes I didn’t speak well of, and a certain set of people accused me of being resistant to change, or something to that effect. I made the point that not all changes are equally good.

Just to say that I’ve got several reasons for having made the rather drastic change that I made. What sets Solid Edge apart from SolidWorks in my mind is as much about the two businesses as about the two products.

If you have been a long-time Works fan, one of the reasons you got started with them was because there were a lot of cool things going on. Real 3D CAD on a sub $5k PC, on an easy-to-use Windows OS. That was all new at the time. Works was a small player with good ideas. It all resonated. These days they have lost that underdog charm, and most of the charismatic individuals that really made it special are long gone.

Probably the biggest difference is that Solid Edge integrates innovation in a way that allows customers to maintain their business plan, while Works just rips out stuff and replaces it and you have to deal with the consequences. Examples of this would be Synchronous Technology, which was integrated into Solid Edge without requiring users to adopt a new software, or even change the way they worked. Customers could use ST or not, even while still adopting the latest version of the software. After a couple of years, Solid Edge integrated Synchronous Technology and their traditional history-based methods so that both could be used at the same time on the same model.

If you have lived through Works multiple changes of rendering software in the past several years, you can comment for yourself how graceful that has been, and how interchangeable your data has been. How about data management issues? More recently, with SolidWorks being absorbed by Dassault Systemes, we see that DS has made multiple starts at morphing SolidWorks, but the image of what is to come is still not very clear.

When it comes to the product, the big difference is that the main modeling method in Works is still the decades-old history-based scheme. As you’ve probably read elsewhere, history-based modeling was a crutch that PTC invented because the hardware of the time had to break larger models down into smaller pieces to solve them bit-by-bit. It was necessary at the time, and has been very successful. But we are in a different age now. Our hardware has grown up, and we understand the overall process better. History-based modeling has always had weaknesses, but when you look at those weaknesses in the light of another method, say direct editing, it doesn’t make sense to live with those weaknesses. The problem is that direct editing, taken on its own, also has weaknesses.

A trend started with Synchronous Technology, about 6 years ago. I think a lot of the engineering media misunderstood the trend at the time. They all thought direct edit was taking over. But direct edit was nothing new, and it wasn’t going to take over. What was starting to form was the merger of the two techniques, rather than the triumph of either. For certain types of modeling, there is no question that direct edit is a great way to work. But at other times, you really need some of the aspects of history-based modeling. Synchronous Technology gives that to us. On a single model, you can combine techniques. And now SolidWorks is the only mid-range tool out there that doesn’t offer some combination of history and direct methods. This is another signal of impending change at SolidWorks.

This leads us to the question of “design intent”, which we can tackle next.

Updated: September 27, 2013 — 9:45 pm

65 Comments

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  1. I’m out of the CAD business for now. But if I ever got back into it, I would chose Solid Edge over SolidWorks for sure. You’ve done a good job explaining why.

    Devon Sowell

     

    1. Hey, Devon, great to hear from you again. It must be a big relief looking at all of this from the outside in, although the medical world is probably in even more chaos. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Matt, for all of us SWX users, can you tell us about rebuild and load times? I can imagine that non history based could be a big advantage over SWX, but it would be interesting to know if that’s true or not. We suffer with SWX parts with hundreds of features that make network based load and save, and rebuild times a real pain.

    1. James,

      Part of the beauty of this is that on the direct edit side of things, rebuild times should disappear. Just because of the nature of how the change is made, you edit the geometry directly, there is nothing that has to recalculate in the background. Now there are some types of features like patterns that may require some time, and Solid Edge still does allow you to build using ordered (history-style) features, but if your base model is synchronous, and only the detail features (fillets, small extrudes) are ordered, rebuild times should be minimal. Load times are also very fast. Solid Edge has some great tools for dealing with large assemblies, and I’ve seen some ridiculously huge assemblies.

      In some ways being full time on this blogging bit is nice, but it also means that I don’t have as much time for real modeling. I do most of my modeling in the course of little research projects. It’s going to take a while to develop the kind of practical experience I had with Works, but this software is full of surprises.

  3. Hi Matt,

    Somewhat unrelated question. We are currently a Solidworks shop. We are considering moving our whole Network to Linux. Does (or will) SolidEdge ever run in Linux? I know Siemen’s NX product runs in Linux, so I have some hope that SolidEdge might.

    Solidworks is one of the few Software Products we have that would hold us up from switching to Linux.

    Thanks,

    Daniel

    1. Daniel,

      I don’t know of any plans to port SE to Linux. I agree it would be a good move. With iOS and Android out there, there are an awful lot of machines running Linux variants. It doesn’t hurt to ask, SE does respond to user requests.

      1. Thanks for the answer Matt. I will contact them and see what they say!

        Daniel

  4. Matt,

    ST is crazy good at how it does many things and true it isn’t for everything yet…. maybe SE 12 it will be…..  also in SE when using the ordered mode (history) performance is way better than SW ever was.  Parts just rebuild almost as fast as Sync parts.  No waiting minutes and minutes for a part to rebuild.  Also in SE ordered mode there is “Dynamic Edit” that modifies the dimensions of a feature “real time” no matter where it is in the ordered hierarchy.

    The SE experience is a better one…. no screen clutter…. pathfinder is very clean and you are not overwhelmed with a bunch of unneeded icons and graphics all over the screen (unnecessary information overload).

    And all of the interfaces are very clean and efficient not a bunch of windows and boxes continuously changing on 20 or 30 percent of you screen.   Much more usable screen real estate.

     

    1. we are looking for a solidedge application engineer in Minnesota.

  5. All,

    So i see many comments here about SE being better than SW but none address what for us is most important – drawings. How does the drafting compare?

    Thanks,

    JCA

    1. Jon,

      The drawings bit is my fault. In my former life as a surfacing contractor, I very rarely did drawings, so I don’t talk about them here as much as I should. Solid Edge has been traditionally known for excelling in two areas: sheet metal and drawings. I’ll make sure to write more about drawings in the near future. Thanks for pointing that out.

  6. Great article. We are just at the place where we were going to jump over to SW’s. But now we are reconsidering. We are currently Kubotek end users and we are looking to be more competitive and able to interface more readily with our customer base. The issue you are stating are worth our re-evaluating our plans to incorporate SW into our engineering group. You gave us some objections we Wil need to consider.

    1. Fred,

      When we first built Synchronous, we were fully aware of Kubotek and that approach (along with CoCreate) so when we built Synchronous we tried to do “one better” in every respect over existing direct modelers. I think you will find Synchronous to be far superior to direct modeling techniques, but still similar to the techniques you are using in Kubotek today — so a MUCH easier leap for your users than other options. You can get a free 45 day eval on the web. You can even “rent” it for a few months online if you like.

      Dan Staples

      Director, Solid Edge Product Development

      1. Hello Dan,

        As you can see in an comment I have above, we are in the process of switching our network to Linux. We currently use Solidworks, and this would be the perfect time to switch to SolidEdge. Are there any plans or thoughts of making a version of SolidEdge that runs on Linux?

        Thanks,

        Daniel

        1. No, sorry, no plans for Linux. Solid Edge is very “Windows Native” and this consistency with the base platform remains a very powerful force. We intend to remain a Windows-based product. Out of curiosity — why the interest in Linux for the end user — I understand servers and such, but why “the desktop”?

          1. Well to be quite blunt, I have lost trust in most commercial infrastructure software. All the revelations about the NSA and the backdoors they have put into products like Exchange and Windows, and other Crypto products have made me look to other options. We are right now in the process to moving our email back in house onto a Linux email server. That is kind of our experiment in how easy it will be to move to Linux. So far it is going much smoother then I expected.

            If I have to, we will stay with either dual boot or virtual machines to run the few applications that will require windows. So far I have found Linux replacements for everything but our CAD and CAM software. That’s why I was hoping SolidEdge might run on Linux.

            As an aside, one thing that is holding me back from considering SolidEdge (beyond the Linux issue) is our VAR. We have a top notch VAR for SolidWorks right now, that I have been with all the way back to when we used Cadkey. And from what I can see, the local VAR for SolidEdge barely has a presence. To switch to a new CAD product would take a lot of hand holding to get our files converted and other migration issues. I would really need to know I could count on our VAR to walk us through that.

            Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question.

            Regards,

            Daniel

          2. I understand that Solid Edge is Windows native and there’s no plan for a Linux version, but what about a PDM that runs on Linux instead of SharePoint?

          3. JRCormier,

            That’s a great idea, and fits in with Dan’s understanding of switching servers to Linux.

  7. Thanks, if you don’t mind, can you send me the name of your VAR privately. Dan.staples@siemens.com. I have a pretty good guess, but would like to know.

  8. Daniel,

    The cloud and being forced to be there by software precludes me from ever considering it. I have been a crusader against the whole thing and believe that the forced move to the cloud as expressed by Carl Bass with Autodesk, Bernard of Dassault fame, Adobe and Microsoft Office 360 are committing forcible breach of contract upon every one of their customers who have to sign confidentiality agreements. They are doing so to lock in users to pay as you go and higher monthly fees for themselves and duplicitously make false statements about how secure you will be.

    That having been said I have looked for any signs that SE users would be forced to the cloud in any way. What I have been told and I believe the messengers is that the way I operate now is the way it will stay. I do not ever have to go to the cloud for anything and my workstation can stay offline forever. How this will be handled in the future with SE as Microsoft tries the data hostage monthly fee check in over the internet breach of security I don’t know. I assume here that the required Microsoft products to make SE work will be licensed differently and we will not have to go online for anything.

    But at this time A, forget Linux as there is no serious set of design tools available there in most cases and you limit yourself as to what you can do. B, SE IS the safest harbor for security of all the midrange MCAD programs out there and has the rather nice bonus of being good software to boot.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thanks for the input on data security with Solid Edge versus what other CAD vendors are planning. I agree with you whole heartedly. I can’t imagine ever putting our proprietary drawings in the cloud, it seems to be the height of foolishness to me. Now if you were a company that had to share data with your customers and partners, I could see putting JUST that data on a publicly accessable venue. But never your whole entire data stack.

      I have been enthralled with technology since I was a teenager, always getting the latest and greatest. But you reach a point where you realize that not everything new is better. You need to take a step back and review what your needs are and not get hypnotized by the glitz. I think people in the technology business have become trapped in their world. Only seeing what their competition is doing and not what their customer needs, then panicing and making the wrong move by trying copy them. We need people to think in the long term for their product plans, and right now we just have a bunch of reactive thinkers.

      So your description of Solid Edge’s approach sounds very promising. I just need to consider and solve all the hurdles that would come with switching products. If I was just starting out, Solid Edge would be my first choice.

      Thanks,

      Daniel

  9. Daniel,

    When I was facing growing problems with VX now ZW3D the time arrived when the pain of staying was greater than the pain of leaving. I would sit there and just  fulminate over having to deal with problems and paying for that privilege. I was 55 and I most certainly did not want to have to learn and buy another program for all the reasons you are well aware of. It was worth it and I figure the decision will provide a safe stable harbor for the rest of my career.

    One thing here should be reassuring about the philosophy behind SE. They made no bones about it and Dan  Staples said a while back that they had a logical plan and were going to adhere to it. The plan was to first develop SE to be the best MCAD program thus fulfilling the needs of the vast majority of the design market which is mechanical design.  Then they would go for complex surfacing. They are given the latitude to plan this way and they do.

    Another thing worth noting is this. I hear of the departure of most of the talent that made SW so pervasive in the marketplace. What is left is new people and  with clueless Parisians dictating what will be the future. Autodesk wants  to jettison user autonomy and they are throwing it all into a serious state of disruption to further their goals and not the users. I go to the SE headquarters in Huntsville and talk to the developers there and I am amazed at how many of these guys have been there since Integraph days and they have no intention of leaving. SE and Siemens have no intention of running them off either.

    What I am saying with the above two paragraphs is that there is continuity in direction and the philosophy behind the software.

    I just deleted a paragraph complaining about  thread information. I assumed it was the same in ST6 as it was in ST5 and I thought I better double check before I put my foot to far into my mouth. The 1/4 20 hole size I was using as a reference now reflects real world manufacturing. I will have to play with this and see if it is true across the board. This was my only real complaint with SE by the way.

    Update, threaded shafts are still screwed up. Finish the job guys, you are only half way done.

     

  10. News dump. Siemens secure another customer. http://gfxspeak.com/2013/09/06/stealth-mode-cad-developer-belmont-technology-selects-parasolid/ Wonder if that includes synch tech? Probably not if Siemens are looking after themselves.. Interesting to see if it generally looks and feels like SW as well when it arrives. Seriously its time for Siemens to form up a master plan for the next decade for SE and do it right else they are just wasting everyone’s time including their own. ;)

    1. Neil,
      Yeah, I saw that. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include synch tech. Siemens PLM didn’t include ST in its deal with SolidWorks.

  11. It is nice to see this blog revive. I am concerned that any serious negative attention to SE bugs or management will get it closed. I still use Solidworks but refuse to go back on subscription. SW management attitudes are disturbing. Bugs still last for years. SW files are still pigs.

    How do the SE file sizes compare to similar SW parts? Are the files full of crap for features that are long ago deleted? Does SE files record all of the file reference history and system history like SW?

    1. Rick,

      I really need to sit down and model the same part in Works and in Edge. I haven’t done that yet, top to bottom. My gut tells me Edge has smaller file sizes, especially when you use Synch, just because there are no feature definitions within the part. The intelligence is in the software rather than in the data.

      If you’re talking about parts or assemblies with configurations, Edge uses separate files for “family of parts/assemblies”, so for single file size, I’m sure Edge wins with smaller sizes that hands down. Total disk space required may be a different issue.

      1. I will send you a simple part to re-model in SE. Then you can send me the SE file and I will look at it at the byte level. Hopefully the files are not encripted.

        1. Rick,
          Yeah, send me that, and I’ll do the part in SE. That’ll give us a good comparison.

    2. Hi Rick,
      I am not sure how many of your questions may be answered but I did a post comparing parts made in SW and then working with an equivalent in SE. I did not have the original file from SW so I winged it but it does show how SW grows in complexity with edits and SE does not.

      http://solidedging.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/solid-edge-st6-direct-editing-and-some-observations/

    3. I totally agree. We didn’t upgrade Solidworks for years only because of problems
      that never get fixed. And if things are fixed they are a kind of half baked
      solution. I am using Solidworks more than 15 year and this is not the
      company that I know from 1996. Contacting support is just frustrating,
      you always get into discussions about the impact of the bug.
      They just don’t get it, it is a marketing company busy with “experience”.
      They can’t get CAD right anymore, if you use it very professional and
      you are under production pressure then for us it is a show stopper.
      We are seriously considering Solid Edge.
      But we do not like the subscription service of Solid Edge.
      With Solidworks you can stop service for a couple of years if
      NECESSAIRY because of bugs. You pay a kind of reinstallation
      fee but not the money for all the missed releases.

      I understand this is different with Edge, that’s why we are not
      switching yet. I don’t know if bugs at Solid Edge take much less
      time to fix but with Solidworks it is years for obvious bugs.

  12. This article is so full of bullshit, i’ve been using SE for 4 years and it was ok. ( no more…)

    But 2 years ago we switch to SolidWorks.
    I was blind, and now i see…SolidWorks is so much better

    1. Fabio,
      If you don’t have any specific examples, then why reply? I’ll be glad to talk about anything specific. I’m pretty familiar with Works.

      1. well..I’ve noticed that SolidEdge is missing key capabilities (compared to SW) with a poor sketching environment, poor drawing associativity, and limited weldment environment. Simple example of a revolved geometry with a fully defined profile is enough to highlight some of Edge’s sketching and modeling limitations.

        Some Features such as Gusset are lacking. This increases the amount of time I must spend creating a welded frame (compared to Solidworks) and time is money my friend…)

        Solid Edge’s cumbersome approach to direct editing forces users to constantly switch between two distinct modes with their own rules and UI, and convert created geometry to one mode or the other.

        I also found that Solid Edge Lacks vector import when working with industrial design Tools (Photoshop, illustration etc…) They need to be converted to DWG/DXF before SolidEdge can read them…

        Simulation tools are limited and not as integrated into Solid Edge. Advanced users like me would have to rely on an expensive FEMAP standalone application for their simulation needs which requires me to learn a completely new set of tools.(again… time is money!)

        Siemens lacks a strong 3rd party Solution Partner Channel…..

        SolidWorks’ strength is a massive community exceeding 2 million users and over 250 user groups. The availability of trained SolidWorks users is 10+ times that of Solid Edge users. Go see Monster.com / YouTube / Google statistics for proof…

        1. Fabio, I’m bewildered by your statement below… SolidWorks has no direct edit modeling capabilities beyond the simple history edits similar to what has been in SE for many years. If you truly were an SE user, you would know that, as well as know that the Synchronous mode you are speaking of doesn’t have a comparable feature in SolidWorks and that the user does not have to switch geometry back and forth between Synchronous and Ordered modes, and in fact cannot because once it is in Synchronous, it is there to stay.

          Fabio says: “Solid Edge’s cumbersome approach to direct editing forces users to constantly switch between two distinct modes with their own rules and UI, and convert created geometry to one mode or the other.”

        2. “Poor sketching?” you’re going to have to back that up with something specific. If these examples are easy to show, I invite you to show them. How about an example of a SolidWorks bug that has existed for at least a decade using one of their training assemblies? Make an isometric view of the universal joint assembly that they have used for years, and you’ll see that one of the hidden lines on the top yoke part shows through the bracket part.

          Gusset is lacking? SolidWorks didn’t even have this until a couple of years ago. In fact, I demonstrated sheet metal gussets could be done in SW using some ugly library features long before they added the real function. SE does gussets with ease. Check out this link written 3 years ago, right at the end of the page:
          http://www.dezignstuff.com/blog/?s=solid+edge+gusset

          Here’s an entry from the 2010 bible showing an ugly workaround in SolidWorks: http://books.google.com/books?id=wEfd_Ct9u6AC&pg=PT788&lpg=PT788&dq=solidworks+form+across+bends+lombard&source=bl&ots=u-oCYT6WFM&sig=l2t_5Xz_EiLOIYyqGEqh38zeC2Q&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zlRYUq3DDPel4AOG34CACw&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=solidworks%20form%20across%20bends%20lombard&f=false

          SE’s Cumbersome approach to direct editing?!? SolidWorks doesn’t even DO direct editing. How can you get less cumbersome than click on a face, pull an arrow? You aren’t “forced” and you don’t have to “convert”.

        3. Fabio, Dude,

          SolidWorks reseller employees really should do a better job of defending their product. Next time, do more to back up your point of view, and you really should understand the competition better. Remember, there are people here who know both products pretty well. If you want to argue, I don’t mind, but you’d better come prepared better than you did this time.

    2. I couldn’t agree more Fabio, having used Solidworks for 3 years and Solid Edge for 7 months, I have to say Edge is so ill-thought out and buggy I cannot believe they get away with selling it. My present company bought it 5 years ago as the annual quote came in several £1000s cheaper than SW. After realising that this is false economy giving the hundreds of man-hours we must waste tearing our hair out, we’re switching to Solidworks as of December. I think the collective office blood-pressure will be taking a turn for the better. I feel it is only right to warn people, because if you google for Solid Edge and read the first few sources (as I did before I took my current job) you could easily get the wrong impression. Anyone who will be working in Solid Edge, be aware that you will likely to spending far more time fighting the CAD system rather than actually doing engineering. This is the wrong way round, it’s not what professional engineers are employed for.

      1. Fabio is a SolidWorks reseller employee at SolidXperts in Montreal.

        Can you give us some examples? Just saying “it’s bad” doesn’t count for much. List a couple of bugs for us.

        1. Liam, I second Matt’s request. The only “bullshit” in Fabio’s post was him, and you’re not coming in too far off from that as you are agreeing with an outed “shill” who had really bad information at that.

      2. So Liam like Fabio you present absolutely nothing to back up your claim, other then a childish rant. So just what are you “fighting” in Solid Edge… chances are it’s you my friend and not the software.

        Silly rants like your and and Fabio’s actually do more damage to SW and it’s users then you think. A tough question or constructive criticism about Solid Edge’s capabilities is fair game and would help show others you’re not some adolescent fool just looking for a fight. Since you won’t go into details I have to assume you’re nothing more then a crank like Fabio.

        Good luck with your new job, where ever that is. I once employed an Engineer who always blamed the software…. turned out he just SUCKED at both.

  13. So in your statement below, how does this highlight any issue you had with sketching in Solid Edge? Please provide some detail. I’ve never had an issue with something like this…

    Fabio says: “Simple example of a revolved geometry with a fully defined profile is enough to highlight some of Edge’s sketching and modeling limitations.”

  14. So from your statement below, what is lacking with the fully integrated Solid Edge Simulation product, that you would need to select separate product like FEMAP or ANSYS or other standalone FEA product?

    Fabio says: “Simulation tools are limited and not as integrated into Solid Edge. Advanced users like me would have to rely on an expensive FEMAP standalone application for their simulation needs which requires me to learn a completely new set of tools.(again… time is money!)”

  15. does anyone know a current and/or past solidedge application engineer in Minnesota.

    1. Hi Zac,
      We have Solid Edge AE’s here at Applied CIM Technologies in Minneapolis, MN (www.appcim.com)

      Thanks,
      Brent Nagel
      bnagel[at]appcim[dot]com

  16. It is a strange world sometimes. I have a guy who tries to convince me SW is as good as SE. Now I am not a user of SW and never have been so sometimes I have no answers for his claims. But once I start digging into stuff the story changes. I have a part recently that I posted on and the size of the file when edited went from 911KB to 956KB. Just for the heck of it I undid and redid the edits and the file size went from 954KB to 957KB and the pathfinder or equivalent to the history tree in SW did not change at all. So I go back to this guy who says that move face is the same as ST and tell him about the files sizes in my edits and the resultant stuff in pathfinder. My point was that I can do things quickly and easily and not have growing baggage that follows me around to blow up later because of quickly growing complexities introduced by every edit. He was going to check into file sizes with SW and a week and a half later I still have no reply. I wonder why?

    Show us your problem with a file to demonstrate your point of view Fabio if you want to be taken seriously.

  17. Fabio, Are you serious? That is ridiculous! Sounds like the last gasps of a dying dinosaur!

  18. I have extensive experience with Solidworks. I currently work for a company that is using an archaic CAD software that was formerly called CoCreate…now called Creo Elements/Direct, not to be confused with PTC other software called Creo Elements which is the old ProE. PTC is unofficially phasing out CoCreate and pushing folks into the new ProE package. We decided that since we are switching we might as well examine all options: Solidworks, Solid Edge and ProE. I stumbled upon this website and a few impressions are that it seems like there are just as many Solid Edge reps on it as there were SolidWorks. Also, I am amazed by how childish some of these posts are. I guess folks get really emotional about their CAD platforms.

    Anyway, I created a detailed CAD script that all software companies followed for the demo. Initial impressions are that we would be good with any one. All three are vast improvements over our current software and at this point it seems like we are just nitpicking.

    I do think that Works had more stuff. Works had a part cost estimation tool, better at sheet metal, better at importing files with their feature works package, swapping out parts seemed easier (mates are automatically transferred), 3D measuring is more graphical and easier to use, hole alignment tools and tolerance stack-up tools. Also, the Works does have some sort of direct modeling. It is clearly not as extensive as CoCreate but neither is Edge. CoCreate is all direct modeling. I’ve downloaded a trial for Edge and I’ve found its direct modeling to be pretty difficult to use. I’ve only played with it for a couple of days but I don’t understand why it doesn’t snap to a face, why it doesn’t allow for you to adjust reference to a back face….etc.

    Also, I don’t like how Edge has different templates for parts and sheet. It is very simple in Works to switch back and forth to sheet metal and part drawings.

    Most importantly, I am concerned about the FEA on Edge. I have empirical testing so I know what to expect. The initial FEA analysis done by Siemens themselves looked like trash. They are going back to run it again so we shall see if things look better later on. I know very well that Works can accurately predict the high stress locations. The only thing that is bad about Works is how long it takes to run FEA. But apparently they are working on taking better advantage of multi-core processors. I was actually looking for a comparison for FEA packages and I stumbled upon this website. I’m concerned that this website is too biased to actually provide decent feedback though.

    1. Patrick,
      Yes, Works has more “stuff”. If you look a little deeper, though, the question you’ll want to ask is “how relevant is that stuff”? You’re looking at things like semi-annual renderer redesign, and automated routines that dissect your models overnight.

      Also since you are switching, you might do some research on the future of SolidWorks. They are this year starting to roll out the new “3Dexperience” software which is based on Catia V6. You’ll have to look to them to sum up what that all means, aside from the fact that the old SolidWorks is now in “maintenance mode”.

      About FeatureWorks, you might want to investigate that a little more before you declare it superior to much else. Even the need for something like FW doesn’t exist in some of the other packages. Try to do a real job with FeatureWorks, and I think you’ll have a different view.

      Solid Edge does snap to keypoints. Use PMI dimensions, Face Relations and Live Rules to establish your design intent. Works “direct edit” tools are really history-based features added to the part, which makes the weaknesses of history-based modelers even worse. Like putting a hood scoop on a Pinto doesn’t give it a turbo charger.

      On this site I don’t believe I’ve ever discussed FEA in real depth.

      Good luck with your evaluation. If you have a question about the Solid Edge software, someone here will give you a hand.

    2. Good feedback Patrick. When you did your “script” I guess you were working with a particular Solid Edge reseller partner? Where are you located and who did went through that script with you at your facility?

    3. Hi Patrick,

      As Andrew said below, Solid Edge uses NX Nastran as the solver and Femap tools for pre and post processing. These tools are very trusted in the industry (a good example is the Curiosity Mars Rover).

      It is always possible there could be a bug on the Solid Edge side but it is most likely that analysis wasn’t set up right. The bad part of it being easy to use (and I’d say Solid Edge Simulation is the easiest of all the FEA tools) is that anyone that that is able to get a pretty rainbow picture at the end now thinks he can do FEA.

      BTW, NX Nastran can also run on multiple cores and CPUs. It is a Nastran setting.

      1. Mark,

        I agree with you about novices using simulation and pretty pictures. I guess my point was that I was pretty concerned by the fact that the guys from Siemens couldn’t answer fairly simple questions about their own product. I was escalated 3 times until I finally got an answer on some really basic simulation issues. This tells me that either they weren’t taking our account serious…which doesn’t make sense because we are a fairly large company and we will require about 40 seats of CAD and PDM…or they are incompetent with their own software – either way, not a good look.

        SE is still on the table. We have until the end of March to make a decision. I think the concerns about SW’s kernal are overstated…I’m not concerned. We shall see how things unfold here.

        Thanks for the feedback guys.

  19. Patrick
    I’m a Solid Edge reseller. Solid Edge uses the Nastran FEA engine that’s been around for decades and has proven reliability. It’s easy to get colourful plots with any FEA product, but takes a bit more skill to ensure boundary conditions, applied forces, units etc are correct. Perhaps a lack of said skill or care led to results differing from your empirical tests. Having said that, last year we discovered an obscure SE ST5 Simulation bug producing an incorrect result (as compared to Femap and hand calcs) for a particular model. We reported this to Siemens PLM support and it was fixed within 2 months. Solidworks has a good, reliable FEA engine too, based on COSMOS from SRAC which I sold for about 6 years as a Solid Edge add on before it was acquired by Solidworks. The COSMOS experts I know still use the “DOS like” GeoStar environment. Solidworks Advanced Simulation has more stuff in it than Solid Edge Simulation but one has to wonder if that level of investment is better spent on a dedicated FEA environment. In my experience analysts running dedicated FEA products like Femap with NX Nastran, Abaqus, MSC Nastran and Ansys see CAD based tools like Solidworks Simulation and Solid Edge Simulation as … limited (I’m being polite). Being able to export a complete study including model, BC’s, mesh from Solid Edge Simulation to Femap with NX Nastran with 100% fidelity gives Solid Edge users a bridge to a dedicated FEA Environment. The ability to rapidly tweak the model using Synchronous Technology also makes Solid Edge an “analyst friendly” CAD environment. We have just run a webinar on Solid Edge Simulation working with Femap and will eventually be posting at http://www.cadimageplm.com/learn/webinars or folks can contact me if they want to view the webinar.

  20. I’ve been working as a machine/tooling design engineer and using CAD (first 2D later 3D) software packages since 1980. When comes to 3D I was using Catia, SolidWorks (5 years), Inventor (8 months) and now SolidEdge (almost 3 years).

    For the pourpose of the discussion I am ignoring Catia simply because Catia is a totally different league.

    Mayby I have too many grey hairs by now, but I am still going to say this:

    on the scale from 1 to 10 I would give the following rating:

    – SolidWorks 8
    – Inventor 5
    – SolidEdge 2 or less.

    Over the past (almost) 3 years there were many, very many days I was so frustrated with SolidEdge that I would not give it even 2, perhaps minus 2.

    Personally, I would NEVER recommend SolidEdge to anybody. Over the time I’ve met 5 other contracting people who knew both SW and SE (and then some). Only one person was saying that SE was better than SW. The remaining 4 (plus myself) prefered SW over SE.

    During October 2013 SE presentation in Toronto there was a guest speaker who was running some sheet metal shop producing SS kitchen counters and employing 12 people.

    All the best for that guy – he employes himself and 12 other people.

    Having said the above I would like to say that the 5 contractors I mentionned above plus myself – we designed machinery and tooling that is by far more complex than kitchen counters.

    I also noticed that that guy at the beginning of his presentation mentionned that before aquiring SE he was working 2D. Hence I deducted that SE was the only 3D system he knows (or knew).

    Of course, SE is a tremendous leap forward from ANY 2D system (and I worked on CADAM, AutoCAD and Cadkey).

    But for someone who worked on other 3D systems, SE is simply at the very bottom of the preference.

    Regards,

    Jurek (Gerry) the Heckler

    1. Jurek,

      I’ve got 17 years experience with SolidWorks and about 2 with Solid Edge. You don’t give any reasons for your ratings. I think your ratings show that you don’t understand what you’re looking at.

      First, Works is built on an outdated premise – history only design method is unnecessarily restrictive. Edge has done a couple of things – expanded what “direct edit” means, and integrated direct edit with history-based modeling.

      Second, look at development. What is going into Works is generally not relevant to CAD. All the CAD development is going into Mechanical Conceptual. If you look at Edge, a huge percentage of the development is CAD.

      Take how Works deals with imported data. There is no comparison. How about how Works deals with “design intent”? Edge is infinitely easier, because you define the intent when you need it. If you want more examples, browse this blog.

      I’d like to hear details.

    2. Jerek, I have found the opposite. I have now worked for two separate companies where Solid Edge was selected because it was found to be superior to both SolidWorks and Inventor. Where I currently work, we do complex machine and tooling designs along with all of our product design. I would be interested in very specific examples of where you feel Solid Edge failed you and how SolidWorks and Inventor were better in that example. I look forward to your reply.

  21. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 at around 6:30 pm EST (and later)

    monster.com (USA),

    keywords: engineering designer AND solidworks OR inventor OR solidedge AND usa

    jobs found:

    – 55 SW

    – 39 Inventor

    – 3 SE

    monster.ca (Canada) does not report any jobs for SW/Inv/SE but I’ve heard many times before for some reason monster is not good neither popular in Canada (or my typing is not correct)

    workopolis.ca (Canada)

    keyworks: solidworks OR inventor OR solidedge AND canada

    jobs found:

    – 58 SW

    – 29 Inventor

    – 6 SE

    workopolis.ca (Canada)

    keyworks: solidworks OR inventor OR solidedge AND ontario

    (Ontario has roughly 40% of engineering jobs in Canada)

    jobs found:

    – 37 SW

    – 8 Inventor

    – 5 SE

    That’s for today, tomorrow might be different, but I assure you, not much different. I do the check on workopolis.ca once/twice a week and the above is about typical.

    I had cases when workopolis.ca reported over 100 jobs for SW, 25-30 for Inventor and none (yes, 0) for SE – but that’s an exception.

    BTW, I’ve heard that SE has over 0.5 milion seats but SW over 2 million …

    Regards,

    Jurek the Heckler

    1. This is like stating that drinking coffe is bad for you because 9 out of 10 caught in avalanches drink coffe…..

  22. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm EST

    monster.fr oui Monsieur, la douce France

    keywords: solidworks OR inventor OR solidedge AND france

    jobs found:

    – 59 SW

    – 6 Inventor

    – 4 SE

    1. A comparison of job ads reflects earlier success at marketing and product promotion. There was a time when AutoCad would have blitzed the job ad count compared to all other 3D CAD combined, which provides precisely zero evidence for relative merit or technical depth. First new thing in the market gets the head start, and other factors can also influence take-up. We could debate here for hours about job ads for PC users vs Mac users, and still be no wiser about functionality, reliability or useability merits. Your original post suggested you had reasons why you think Works is better. Is that only related to job opportunities, or is there a list of specific difficulties? In my field of interest (FEA), someone with almost 3 years full-time experience would still be beginner/intermediate level. Is that different for 3D CAD? Having used Solid Edge Simulation for a short while (but having 20+ years FEA experience), I realise I have more to learn before making too much noise about how it works compared to the stuff I know very well.

    2. Looks like the Solid Edge folks are happy at their jobs and turnover is really low, hence the low job numbers. Turnover at the SolidWorks establishments must be really high due to dissatisfied users, hence the high job numbers.

      I was once told that there are three severities of lies… Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. Point is, with the numbers you posted, it says nothing because it means different things depending on your view point.

      You were asked for specific points where you thought Solid Edge was more deficient than SolidWorks (we will ignore Inventor) and have provided nothing. If you cannot provide that information, then we will chalk you up as yet another “shill”.

  23. If you have learned how to use any Mechanical 3D Design Software and have any skill, you should be able to learn how to use any other product in that category. Seriously if you were looking for a job would you not bother to apply if they don’t currently use the same product as you?

    Beyond that, you’re going to learn the product your work uses. Whether you like it or not.

    Job listings would seem to me to be the last issue to worry about here.

  24. I am long time Solid Edge/NX reseller, so my point could not be so neutral. Having pushed to work with machine building companies, I have some proofs to claim, that SE is much better for mechanical design than SW, especially after ST has been introduced. At the other hand, SW is more flexible in areas, where there is no limitation with respect to design being manufactured, and ergo – more suitable for free industrial design tasks.

  25. What sets Solid Edge apart from SolidWorks, Inventor, and everything else?

    It does take a while to get used to Solid Edge (45 days is not enough IMHO), but you eventually realize it’s the next logical step in more effective design: Hand Drawn -> 2D CAD -> 3D CAD -> Synchronous Technology

    Ever since using Synchronous clicked, editing parts and assemblies in SolidWorks feels like a step backwards (and I have to endure it because my work uses SW).

    1. Dear Scott:
      I am a consulting engineer and work with various clients.
      How easy is it to work with SW using SE files and vice versa?
      Specifically, translators and import/export functions?
      Also, has SE fixed their “measurement” operations? They used to be very bad – years ago. Thank you.

      1. From what I remember SW opens SE files as if they were dumb solids (no feature tree). You can add features (extrude/rotate/sweep/etc.), and you have some basic direct editing to modify the existing geometry. SW has some feature recognition tools, but I’ve never found them useful.

        SE also opens SW files as if they were dumb solids, and you can also add features the same features to the geometry. The direct editing tools in SE are far superior, and can turn a dumb solid into an easily editable and useful part.

        The video highlighted in the April 20th, 2015 post does a good job of demonstrating how well SE uses imported data.

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