Sophisticated 3D modeling programs are used by creators such as mechanical engineers, designers, and manufacturers across a wide range of industry sectors. Advances in 3D modeling technology have allowed the development of more efficient, more durable, and more sustainable products, tools, parts, and machinery. Using 3D modeling software means that optimum designs can be developed, manufacturing costs can be minimized, and time to market can be drastically reduced. It’s no wonder that 3D modeling software is now a vital tool for industrial designers and engineers across the globe.
These days, there are hundreds of 3D modeling programs on the market. With so many choices available, it can be difficult to find the right software for your needs. Exactly what 3D modeler is the preferred choice of industry experts? We look at three of the most popular 3D modeling programs to see which one can deliver everything that a mechanical design professional needs.
Fusion 360 – The Newcomer
Fusion 360 is a popular 3D CAD program developed by Autodesk, the company behind AutoCAD. Operating via a cloud-based platform, one of the main advantages of Fusion 360 is that it allows for easy collaboration between team members. This software contains a range of tools that are useful for technical parametric design work, 3D printing jobs, or assembly design.
Fusion 360 is available as a free version, but, like all things in life, you get what you pay for. Although equipped with cloud technology, Fusion 360 can lag and does take a lot of processing power to operate. The free version only has three-axis machining capabilities and only allows for access to ten documents. Users report other issues with Fusion 360, such as not being able to replace parts easily during design assembly work, problems with licensing, a challenging design environment, and poor customer support.
Solid Edge – The Contender
Solid Edge is produced by industry giant Siemens. This 3D modeling software is often used by mechanical engineers for highly complex projects. Solid Edge is best known for its synchronous technology which allows users to change from direct modeling to parametric modeling, which makes editing complicated objects easier. Solid Edge can provide accurate and reliable 3D simulations and has 2D orthographic view capabilities.
As well as being used by professional designers, Solid Edge is also popular amongst students, teachers, and academics. This is mainly because it offers free licenses for educational purposes. While it is a robust piece of 3D modeling software, Solid Edge can be quite difficult to learn and does not have 3D sketching capabilities. This limitation is a major disadvantage for CAD professionals.
SOLIDWORKS 3D Creator – The Industry Standard
SOLIDWORKS has been the top 3D modeling software since it was released by Dassault Systèmes back in 1995. Originally developed by Jon Hirschtick, SOLIDWORKS 3D modeling software now has more than six million users worldwide. With a powerful array of 2D and 3D modeling tools and an intuitive easy-to-learn interface, SOLIDWORKS is the preferred choice of designers and engineers at all skill levels.
Dassault Systèmes has further enhanced SOLIDWORKS by incorporating parametric 3D modeling in the cloud via the 3D Creator. 3D Creator is a cloud-based platform that allows designers and engineers to share, store, and collaborate on projects easily and securely. The highly complex AI Design Assistant technology in 3D Creator can be used to automate tasks, greatly reducing design time. Iterations can be done quickly without the usual rebuild errors. Built-in tutorials and design guidance help students come to grips with the software and enable engineers to solve issues faster.
What 3D Modeling Software Should You Choose?
Fusion 360 may be a good choice if you are on a tight budget, but professional designers will quickly become frustrated at its limitations. Solid Edge is a better option as it has the power that engineers and designers need, but the steep learning curve and lack of 3D sketching capabilities may be problematic.
If you are looking for reliable, accurate, and flexible 3D modeling software, then SOLIDWORKS 3D Creator is a smart choice. By combining the power of SOLIDWORKS with the cloud-based capabilities of 3D Creator, Dassault Systèmes has once again proven why they remain at the forefront of 3D modeling technology.