Goodbye, SolidWorks!

Happy New Year! It’s now 2022, and for some strange reason, SolidWorks is officially terrible! My New Year’s resolution is to ditch SolidWorks. Let me explain.

Dassault used to have a partnership with the Experimental Aircraft Association with a free yearly subscription to the educational version of SolidWorks. This included all of the goodies such as structural analysis tools. I liked it so much that I added a graphics card to my PC for the sole purpose of helping my CAD work.

As of 2021, they have chosen to discontinue this partnership in order to push their new product, 3DExperience. This is very unfortunate. I went from having one of the most capable CAD packages at my disposal to having something that was less functional than FreeCAD. I have no access to simulation. I have no access to sheet metal tools (this is what I find absolutely insane). I will never use another product of Dassault again if I can help it.

What’s the Cost of the Status Quo?

I contacted SolidWorks to get a quote. In order to have the similar software, I would have to pay $3,995 for the initial subscription and $1,295 for a yearly subscription service fee. Yes, this is what it costs for a personal license that is making no profit at all. No, this doesn’t make any sense.

How Bad Is It?

3DExperience the single worst piece of software from a large company that I have ever used. I subscribed for a reduced-rate plan through the EAA, and I asked for a refund about a week later. I will not be using it again. Somehow, it is slower than Fusion 360. I’m not being dramatic here. ProTools had a more intuitive UI than 3DExperience!

What to Use Instead?

First, let me say that I use Autodesk’s Fusion 360 for my CAM work and simple designs. It is great for CAM, but it is by no means an outstanding design tool. It is easy to get started but lacks some serious design considerations that kill my workflow. It crashes constantly for both my MacOS and Windows installations, which is unbearable. Further, it takes forever to handle file I/O (save, copy, rename, etc.) because AutoDesk did a poor job at syncing with the cloud.

At the advice of the people at DarkAero, I have switched most of my designing to OnShape. Sadly, OnShape is not a magical solution. It’s still missing some really important features. For instance, OnShape can’t make a linear pattern of holes. This is ridiculous. It’s sheet metal functionality can’t handle swept flanges like SolidWorks can (although no other CAD package can handle this yet to my knowledge). I haven’t figured great work-arounds yet, but I will figure something out, somehow.

Hats off to Creo for figuring out how to make CAD easier and cloud-native. Thumbs down to Dassault for killing their own product.