19 Replies Latest reply on Feb 7, 2018 4:43 PM by Matt Peneguy

    Considering solidworks. Have questions

    Dan Mechuta

      I want to get into 3D CAD in order to advance my capabilities relative to my hobbies. I want to get from 3D CAD to CNC router / milling and 3D printing. Will Solidworks do that or do I need multiple programs. Very new to 3D. Been using AutoCAD 2D for many years.

        • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
          Bob Van Dick

          Dan,

           

          I believe you would need multiple programs.  In my opinion, SolidWorks cam is in its infancy at this time.  I would suggest you look at MasterCam for your cnc router/milling needs......It also does 3D of course, however, not sheetmetal.....

           

          Bob

          • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
            Alex Burnett

            There is an add-in for SolidWorks called CAMWorks. If you search online, there is a lot of information about what it can do.

            I haven't used it myself but we have this add-in and it's been useful to our machinists in prototyping new metal parts.

             

            As for 3D printing, all you have to do is export the file from SolidWorks as an STL. Any 3D printer on the market should have a separate software that will slice the file and generate tool-paths based on the parameters of the model of printer that you have. This software is unfortunately not a one size fits all solution. Many consumer level printers utilize an open-source software that will require a bit of calibration to get your specific printer to perform properly. Some of this software costs money and I believe some is free.

              • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                Dan Mechuta

                Thank you Alex. I apologize for not conveying my message very well. I am aware of the need for the slicer program needed for the 3D printer. I just wanted to make sure that the Solidworks 3D file could be used with it. I have a number of Slicer programs. But your answer was right on.

                 

                I will also look into the CAMWorks

                  • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                    Alex Burnett

                    Dan Mechuta wrote:

                     

                    Thank you Alex. I apologize for not conveying my message very well. I am aware of the need for the slicer program needed for the 3D printer. I just wanted to make sure that the Solidworks 3D file could be used with it. I have a number of Slicer programs. But your answer was right on.

                     

                    I will also look into the CAMWorks

                    No worries, we use a Fortus printer with their Insight software. It requires the input file be .stl format and this is a standard export option in SolidWorks. There should be no issues with compatibility of slicer programs.

                     

                    Part file export options (2016 version at least):

                • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                  Daen Hendrickson

                  You can also take a look at HMSXpress from Autodesk - a free cam plugin for Solidworks. Being the free version, it is limited to 2.5 axis. But it has been around for a long time and is a stable product.

                   

                  Daen

                    • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                      Carter West

                      Totally agree with Daen.  If you're not already a CNC machinist and are familiar with all the complexities of CNC Machining, then HSMXspress is a free 2.5D add-on and is a great baby step toward full 3D machining.  I use it for my CNC router is perfect for that.  Plus, if you find you need more features and the true 3D, then you can always upgrade and will already have the basic knowledge on how to use the software.

                       

                      In answer to your decision to move into SolidWorks - I too had been using AutoCAD 2D for years and in 2008 decided to move to 3D.  I bought both Inventor and SolidWorks.  Both being almost equal in features and ease of use.  SolidWorks won out for only one reason.  The massive amount of user support available (like this forum).  Autodesk users are now much more active and it would be unfair of me to suggest that they less supportive.  I'm just saying, 10 years ago, SW had a larger following.

                       

                      Would I make the same decision now as then?  Meh, all softwares are equal in my eye.  All have bugs, all have 'goodie's the other doesn't... etc.  So, I picked a horse and stayed on.  I think it was a good choice for me.

                    • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                      Patrick Couture

                      Have a look at Autodesk Fusion 360 it's marketed toward hobbyist who want to go from design to manufacture easily. SolidWorks is very popular in the market but you'll need add-on for CNC and it may get pricey.

                       

                      There's Also OnShape which I think has an add-on for CNC also. OnShape and Fusion 360 can be free if you don't care about sharing your work with the world in the case of OnShape and unless there's been a change, Fusion 360 is free for hobbyist.

                       

                      Cheers

                       

                      Patrick

                      • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                        Matt K

                        I want to get into 3D CAD in order to advance my capabilities relative to my hobbies. I want to get from 3D CAD to CNC router / milling and 3D printing.

                        At thousands of dollars for a license, SolidWorks is a pretty expensive tool for hobbiest.  Autodesk Fusion 360 is friendlier to the hobbiest cost-wise, and (from what I'm told) has some pretty cool modeling features too (and CAM built in).

                         

                        I haven't used it, but Moment of Inspiration is another one to check.  At around $295 it wouldn't break the bank.  But CAM functionality would come from somewhere else.

                         

                        "MoI is focused just on modeling. Typically after you have created a model in MoI you will need to export it to another program to perform additional tasks.

                        For example, you may want to take your model into a CAM program to calculate toolpaths for cutting your design on a CNC device."

                         

                        Free 30 day trial:

                        MoI, 3D modeling for designers and artists

                        (check out their gallery as well)

                        • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                          Matt Peneguy

                          I think you are getting some good answers and SWX is expensive.  You may demo some of the free software packages before taking the plunge (financial and learning curve) to SWX.  And I don't know if you are aware of the back dating fees that SWX charges to upgrade, Back dating fees.  It is a stiff penalty if you go off of maintenance.  So, if you aren't planning to dive into this commitment, you may want to wait until you are committed to buy SWX.

                          One thing I'll add is that I really like Simplify3D as a slicer.  I think it's only $100 or $150, but it is way better than the free packages.  It may not do as much as some of the "professional" slicers, but it has been worth the money for me.

                          • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                            Bobby Penland

                            SolidWorks 2018 does have a CAMWORKS interface. We are in the process of updating to 2018 so I cannot state if it is standard with a SW license or is purchased separably.

                            Info at the link:

                            SOLIDWORKS CAM | Products | SOLIDWORKS

                              • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                                Paul Risley

                                The camworks is built in with all versions of Solidworks. There is a professional version available for an extra fee for more 3-d work and complicated parts. I believe it is readily accessible for the OP's operations. The biggest downside for a hobbyist would be the maintenance fee of $1200 a year for a seat of software. Without that if there are future patches to the software after initial purchase you are up the old muddy brown crick.

                                 

                                Personally as a hobbyist, which I am, I use Solidworks because of my availability of floating license and remote access. If I did not have access to those I would probably use onshape or something of that nature. As far as output to a 2d router exporting a scale drawing as a DXF into a nesting software may be an option depending on if your router has such software for it.

                                 

                                Any software that creates a 3d model should have the output to be able to turn that solid into an STL so you should be good for 3d printing.

                                 

                                While I don't have a cnc router I can get decent results printing 1:1 prints and hand working my materials to where they need to be for final fit and finish. Wood is pretty forgiving in that respect.

                                 

                                To summarize my thoughts on it I would not buy Solidworks with the 1 time purchase in mind. The maintenance fee has to be a factor. As everyone who has been in this field for awhile releases are made throughout the year to "fix" the software. Without an active maintenance the software is only going to be as good as the version that you purchased initially.

                              • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                                Ryan McVay

                                I'm surprised no one mentioned Onshape. I think it is still free. It is fully cloud based. If you have a browser you can run it. That means on a tablet, phone or workstation or office pc.

                                • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                                  Matt K

                                  Dan Mechuta how did you fare?  Did you get started with a CAD system yet?

                                    • Re: Considering solidworks. Have questions
                                      Dan Mechuta

                                      Matt,

                                       

                                      I am basically at the point where I have gotten my info on computer hardware, CAD - CAM interface, and what capabilities the Student version has, and am now ready to move toward using Solidworks. I will spend my time learning it and then see what will need to be added to have CAD to G-code.

                                       

                                      I had look at some free and low cost versions of software but for what I can get SW standard for, it is the way to go.

                                       

                                      Dan