Not much is known or talked about the solid modelling CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software Solidworks, which is one of the most extensively used modelling software and is relied upon by more than 200,000 engineers, designers and students worldwide.
Solidworks primarily runs on Windows, though unsupported MacOS versions do exist. The first iteration of Solidworks was released in 1995 and since then, every subsequent version has taken a steady jump in its Version History Value (currently at 13000).
Solidworks has a wide range of users. From students participating in FSAE events to large-scale corporations. Solidworks comes in many editions with ascending functionalities from Solidworks Student to Premium.
- Solidworks Student Edition: A perfect package to begin materialising scenarios covered in the classroom. Students can use the latest tools available at the 3DExperience Platform to sharpen their designing skills.
- Solidworks Standard: Alongwith assembling parts, specialised 2D drawing functionality, and tools like sheet metal, weldments are provided.
- Solidworks Professional: Builds on Solidworks Standard with a vast parts library, photorealistic rendering, and collaborative options.
- Solidworks Premium: Adds more motion analysis and structural capabilities to the Professional edition. Some interesting operations include reverse engineering, cable and pipe routing, and surface flattening.
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Technology and User Environment
Solidworks, which was developed using Parasolid-kernel, capitalises on PTC’s (Creo/Pro-Engineer) parametric feature-based approach.
Constraints are referred to as ‘parameters’, which define the geometry or shape of the assembly. Parameters encompass both numeric and geometric parameters.
Design intent takes care of the part’s response to any changes and updates. If the user defines an object’s plane, Design intent makes sure the specification is respected.
‘Features’ allow users to construct the part. Shapes initially appear with a 2D or 3D sketch, which can be then operated on using extrusion, chamfer, fillet or any desired operation.
In Solidworks, the geometry relies on the dimensions and relations. This gives you independent and relational control over dimensions.
‘Assembly mates’ use a similar relations aspect to sketch relations to define them with respect to the assemblies. Drawings can be directly created from parts or assemblies and tolerance dimensions can be added at will.
Solidworks has a quite vocal user-base where people connect to each other through blogs, podcasts, and user group meetings.
Connecting and learning are very easy with a user group where interested individuals learn, teach, and collaborate. The Solidworks blog has an ocean of information about possible enhancements and solutions by the users, for the users.
An insight into a world of designers tackling sometimes similar problems improves user productivity and helps inculcate new methods to their skill sets.
Should you buy Solidworks?
Solidworks offers 1-day/week/month free trials with full functionality. Going with user satisfaction and software capabilities, it is a good building ground. The software is easy to grasp. Availability of many tools and plenty of third-party presets make it user friendly.
People can envision their designs with the desired complexity. While making a decision the nature of work you’re going to be handling should be kept in mind.
For exploring niches like the construction of aerofoils and boat hulls, Solidworks Premium would be apt to use. If an individual plays a specific role like an educator, they should use the user-specific release to extract the most value for money.
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The table below takes us through the minimum system and hardware requirements over the last three SolidWorks 2021, 2020, and 2019.
|Parameter||Minimum System Requirement||Recommended System Requirement|
|Windows||7 or newer (64 bit)||10 (64 bit)|
|Processor||3.3 GHz||4.5 Ghz|
|RAM||8 GB||16 GB|
|Graphics||8 GB||16 GB|
(NVIDIA Quadro, Ge Force, Tesla)
|GPU RAM||2 GB||4 GB|
|Disk Space||2 GB||5 GB|
|Driver version (NVIDIA)||385.41||398.36|
|CUDA 9.0||GTX 1050 ti|
|Video memory||4 GB||6 GB|
Also read: Solidworks system requirements and compatibility (Windows, Mac and Server)