When it comes to 3D printing, it is reasonable to get confused with all the machinery. Plus, there are many options available to execute projects like this. And for the execution process, you need to find the perfect software that suits your needs. The hardware you choose can only be as capable as the software wants it to be. And coming to the popular software deciding between AutoCAD vs SolidWorks can also be challenging.
Talking about AutoCAD vs SolidWorks, both software is excellent for drafting and 3D Modelling and provides plenty of support. Even though at first, it may seem like it is better to choose whatever is less expensive at that moment, that might not be the correct approach. Both of the software will give you almost the same end result, but you need to see which one makes the entire procedure smooth.
However, the users of both these software need to have some basic idea regarding Computer-aided drafting and design experience. We don’t mean that you need an engineering degree to understand the concepts, but a basic familiarity with drafting concepts will help you to get used to the software with them a less amount of time.
In this article, we will be discussing which software is best for 3D printing and everything else that you need to know about it before coming to a final decision regarding the question- AutoCAD vs SolidWorks.
What is AutoCAD?
Autodesk came up with this Computer-aided drafting software in 1982. The software became extremely popular within a short time and acted as a massive boost to the drafting game. When AutoCAD started, it only offered 2D geometry. As time passed, the software evolved to include different 3D modelling options, including solids, surfaces and meshes.
The drafters usually use the software for 2D drawings, but the different features make it ideal for 3D printing projects. The recent version that is AutoCAD 2018 released in March and supports 4K monitors and Ultra high definition monitors where the amount of pixels is four times more than the traditional ones. The latest edition uses an improved version of the file format so that you do not have to worry about losing your work.
Price of AutoCAD
If you apply for the food licence for AutoCAD, it will cost you around $195 per month. Additionally, if you subscribe for a more extended period, the amount per month decreases. The students for educator’s out there are eligible for a free licence, but they won’t be able to accept all the different variations. If you are sure about which one you need to use, then it’s definitely worth it. You will also be able to access cloud storage services of AutoCAD, and you can share projects across different Geographic locations. However, the result won’t be as robust as the full version.
Applications of AutoCAD
To know more about AutoCAD vs SolidWorks, you need to have a brief idea of where and how you can use this Autocad software to get optimum benefits. AutoCAD has excellent architecture benefits and has different features like doors, windows, and an entire collection of individual components. In the electrical sector, it can control system design and allow the users to make the electrical engineering tasks automatic. Even the people related to the mechanical department can create, modify and save different mechanical configurations.
Almost all design and Engineering sectors on the planet have made use of AutoCAD sometime or the other.
Advantages of using AutoCAD for 3D printing
- AutoCAD is a thoroughly professional software which has an incredible amount of options and features to try out.
- It has been an innovator in Computer-aided drafting and has been present at the top since its evolution in the beginning.
- The options for file storing, accessing and sharing across different software are wide.
- If you qualify for the education licence, you do not have to pay any subscription fee.
- You get a vast accessibility choice using the mobile app and cloud storage.
Disadvantages of AutoCAD for 3D printing
- It was initially meant for 2D design, and some people still say 2D printing is its best feature rather than 3D printing.
- The annual subscription fee of AutoCAD is more than 1000 dollars if you want to use the software for benches, which includes profit-making.
- It is better for users who are more familiar with the drafting principles rather than the newbies.
What are SolidWorks?
Solidworks is a software for Computer-aided drafting and was developed in 1995. It is an extremely strong competitor of the AutoCAD vs SolidWorks debate. As the name already suggests, this software is mostly used for modelling solid objects. It works mainly on the engineering principles like bosses and holes rather than using geometric shapes like AutoCAD. The simulation tools in the app were incorporated around 20 years ago, so the users have always been able to test their designs in situations that involve the real world.
The users can check how their designs will adapt according to environmental pressures and if they will fulfill the purpose that was intended. It also includes an electrical package so that the users can add accurate schemas and circuit data, which reduces the requirement for physical prototyping. Because of all these features, SolidWorks has become one of the favourite software for engineers who use a lot of 3D modelling for their profession.
Price of SolidWorks
The permanent licence for SolidWorks is around $3995, along with an annual maintenance fee of $1295. For the users who want to go for the professional version, the cost is about $7995, with a yearly fee of $1450 for maintenance. There is also a student version available for $150, but that is only usable for one year. Using the student version, there will also be a watermark on the design which you won’t be able to remove and cannot be used for commercial Ventures.
You cannot use SolidWorks with Mac operating systems; it only works on Windows. So if there is a lack of hardware, you need to choose another program. The files are saved with an extension of DWG and are readable almost across all platforms without any problems.
Applications of SolidWorks
This software can be used in a wide variety of industries. It was primarily created for 3D Modelling, and later 2D drawing components were are also brought in. Because the initial focus of the software was for 3D, hence it is a favourite software for many of the 3D printers.
Solidworks is mainly used in different industries like automotive, aerospace, machinery and electronics industry. It helps in creating 3D part and assembly design, engineering drawings and animations with realistic rendering. It is also used in the Computer-aided manufacturing as the solution for any business that is looking to integrate design and manufacturing processes.
Solidworks also creates photorealistic visuals of your projects, which includes both Static and animated content. This gives another point to the software in the AutoCAD vs SolidWorks dispute.
Advantages of SolidWorks in 3D printing
- Solidworks is a parametric feature-based Modelling, and you do not have to be a genius in geometry to understand the features that you want.
- You just have to pay for the licence fee once.
- There is also a discount available for the student edition.
- There is a wide range of simulation options that will let you test your design before you print them.
- The software includes sheet metal tools for designing and has capabilities for cloud storage and sharing.
- It is used across a variety of engineering industries and hence is a recognized software.
- The file formats are standardized and are compatible with any other CAD programs.
- The latest version of SolidWorks allows you to sketch freehand on mobile devices.
Disadvantages of SolidWorks for 3D printing
- Solidworks is only compatible with Windows operating systems.
- The maintenance fee that is required every year is around the same price as a one-year annual subscription for AutoCAD.
- The capabilities for 2D design is reduced.
Final verdict- AutoCAD vs SolidWorks
AutoCAD vs SolidWorks has been a debate for a long time, and hopefully, this article has given some amount of clarity regarding which one you want to go for. We have discussed the pros and cons of the two most popular 3D modelling systems present in the market right now. You can also go for user reviews on different tech websites to find out how you can use these programs to fulfill your specific needs.
We always suggest reading the entire process before you choose any software to get started on it so that you do not run into any unwanted surprises Midway. Both AutoCAD and SolidWorks software are comprehensive programs and will help you with all the 3D printing requirements you have irrespective of whether they are primary or advanced.
Overall when it comes to AutoCAD vs SolidWorks for 3D printing, our vote goes to Solidworks as it takes care of all the 3D printing requirements that you might have. The main focus of the software is on 3D Modelling, and the different simulation abilities are better than AutoCAD to transform your ideas into a reality with the best details possible.