My company is in the process of researching Solidworks. We have for the last six years been using strictly Inventor for all designs, renderings, animations, detail drawings etc. My question today is, how many companies have both Inventor and Solidworks? Do you use both to run your engineering departments? Inventor has been a good tool for us in the past, we build primarily metal weldments. No plastics, no surface modeling. I am not quite sure the reason for acquiring Solidworks, however I speculate there is a greater workforce available that are Solidworks users. I am looking for any thoughts or concerns in regards to having two different software packages. I know the models for each will not cross over well into the other. Is there anything else I should know, pros and cons?
The first question I would ask is:
What is the compelling reason to switch?
Is it internal politics? (New engineering management - more familiar with SW)
Is it customer driven? ( have customers that have both + UGS, Catia, etc, but all primary work is done in Inventor)
Is it due to non-existent/poor training?
Is it driven by top level management that are being sold by a sales executive from SW?
Is it because there ia a large pool of prospective engineers from the SW side? If so, in my experience, the average SW user can adapt within a month.
It's certainly not due to a lack of features or capabilities in IV. Actually, Inventor has bypassed SW in most of the areas of usage, and this will continue to be the case in future years.
You also have the issue of six years worth of legacy IV files. How would they be handled after a switch?
And then there's the issues of needing AutoCAD, incresed subscription costs, more frequent need for service packs, etc.
In our area, more people are switching TO Inventor, however, that may be a regional situation.
Been there, done that!!!
Being a CAD Admin, I know this situation/fight all too well.
SW has flooded the colleges with free software over the years and such, most engineers coming out of school only know of SW and it's a comfort thing. These are the people that will bend the ear of the managers claiming SW can do this and SW can do that better than Inventor. In all actuality it boils down to they don't know how to do the same thing in Inventor and thus they lash out claiming IV can't do the task rather than try and find out how.
Numerous times I've heard this claim from an engineer, asked them what they were attempting and then sat down and showed them how IV does it. Some were rather impressed saying IV does it much easier and then there were as always, others that even though they just saw it done in IV, insist IV can't do it.
We typically have tight toleranced parts (.001/.0001), when we compared files converted from one to the other, this is what we found:
(On 10 identical models)
Files converted into Inventor = 10 out of 10 (100%) accurate to the 9th decimal
Files converted into SW = 4 out of 10 (40%) were accurate to the 9th decimal
That's a 60% failure rate for us. Of those files that were inaccurate, the worst was off by .003".
All 10 files were created in their native software prior to conversion.
The software used: Inventor, SolidWorks, Pro/E & Catia and all were accurate prior to conversion.
This was one of the deciding factors to stay with Inventor as our CAD software of choice. We still have SW, but we only use it when needed and we don't export the files. Considering Inventor will import all of the above mentioned files, there isn't much need for us to keep SW anymore.
I also can only speak for our situation, again, we deal with rather tight toleranced parts, you may never have a need for a part to be accurate out to the 3rd decimal.
The key factor is training. I don't care what software you work on, you cannot utilize it if you don't know it. A majority of those people who have gone thru training and have used Inventor for a while, prefer Inventor over SW now.
One key thing to remember, have both come in and do their typical demo. If your resellers are anything like ours, the SW people will NOT go off the canned demo and will NOT do things "on the fly". They will request all questions at least two weeks ahead of time and will also request models. The Inventor people have ALWAYS been willing to do things "on the fly" (after the demo of course) and will field your questions as you come up with them. Ask real world questions and situations with management present for both demos, then do your math and figure out the costs associated with converting softwares like downtime during training, the typical learning curve, licensing, etc. Point that out to a bean counter.
Good luck, either way.
Just be aware, changing over to SW these days is frankly a step backwards in my opinion and experience.
.... I speculate there is a greater workforce available that are Solidworks users.
Where you located? I can send you a bunch of good people experienced in BOTH Inventor AND SolidWorks.
We were using Inventor 2010 and SW 2009.
Honestly, I was shocked at the amount the models were off by and the number of models that were off.
Thinking something went wrong, we did the process three times and things didn't get much better.
No one at SW has ever gotten back to us as far as an explaination.
the tolerance thing is a benefit of swx in some cases. Inventor's inability to do more freeform modeling that swx does well has been attributed to this.
Unless SolidWorks has changed in the last decade, the precision difference is partially due to the default unit of length that the software uses -- Inventor uses centimeters (cm) and SolidWorks uses meters (m).
This means that Inventor models have an additional 100 times accuracy for smaller parts (assuming that the rounding errors / representations are equivalent between the two modeling kernels).
For most applications this falls in the 1 x 10^-9 m (or the nanometer range) and is a minor inconvenience; but it can be critical when dealing with optics and other high precision applications.