SolidWorks is a computer aided design (CAD) program that also links with other packaged software and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology. Developed by Dassault Systemes, SolidWorks was originally aimed at product and mechanical part designers, with a focus on 3D modeling and simulation. Since its release in 1995, the software has become one of the industry-leading CAD packages for designers and engineers alike and remains popular with product designers in particular.
In recent years, SolidWorks added dozens of innovative features, extra toolsets, and a variety of add-on applications. For this reason, SolidWorks is now available for licensed use at three different subscription levels – Standard, Professional, and Premium.
Separate licences can also be “rented” using “term licenses”, which will be explained in greater depth later in this article.
In this section, we will briefly list the benefits and features of each SolidWorks package. Please also check out SolidWorks Standard vs Professional article for a detailed overview.
SolidWorks Standard is the simplest package and offers all the core design and modelling functions that make up the SolidWorks software.
The 3D-solid modelling tools are ideal for designing parts, products and assemblies. One of the main strengths of SolidWorks is that you can create associative links between the 3D models of your parts and assemblies, which means that drawings auto-update when any linked part is altered.
You can also use a tool to make lifelike visualisations, allowing you to virtually test the parts and products. Naturally, this helps reduce design and testing costs. SolidWorks also allows you to create shop-ready 2D drawings directly from the 3D model.
- Sheet metal
- Physical dynamics
- Welded frames
- Smart mate
- 3D content central
- Simulation Xpress
- Flow Xpress
- Driveworks Xpress
- DFM Xpress
- FeatureWorks SolidWorks utilities
- Magnetic mates
- Mate controller
- 3D interconnect
- SolidWorks CAM (Additional SolidWorks CAM subscription required for this feature)
- Most affordable – Standard is the cheapest and leanest package of the three
- Easy-to-use, powerful 3D modelling software with many other features
- Great for product design – especially if working individually or in a small team based in one location
SolidWorks Professional includes all the tools and features mentioned in the Standard tier. The added features include a version-control and data-management system. This powerful tool allows teams to collaborate on product development – even from long distances – while retaining secure, centrally-stored data and documents.
The Professional package also includes an expanded toolbox, which has a 3D model library of standard components, including nuts, bolts, bearings, etc., to save time during the design stage. A scan-to-3D tool is also included, which is a handy application for importing scans into SolidWorks and converting them to 3D models.
Features (also includes everything in Standard)
- Tolerance analysis
- PhotoView 360 & SolidWorks visualize
- EDrawings professional
- SolidWorks task scheduler
- Design checker
- Circuit works
- A wider range of tools and specialist features
- Automation tools to save time
- Extra libraries of standard components
The next step up, known as Premium, again includes everything found in the Standard and Professional packages. Its primary addition is SolidWorks Simulation, a program that offers deep analysis and design optimisation opportunities. The software has various tools for measuring properties such as linear stress, strain, and displacement.
Another addition is SolidWorks routing. For MEP engineers, this is a great specialist tool that allows you to design and optimise complex routed systems such as pipework, tubing, cables, and wires.
Features (also includes everything in Standard & Professional)
- Advanced surface flattening
- Stress hot spots
- SolidWorks simulation motion
- Offloaded simulation
- 3D interconnect: CATIA
- Powerful simulation software for engineering analysis
- Allows greater control over the surfaces of 3D models
SolidWorks Prices UK
Subscription model (Perpetual pricing model)
The following are average price ranges for an annual subscription in the UK at the time of writing:
- SolidWorks Standard – £1,145 to £1,450 (software price approx. £4,500)
- SolidWorks Professional – £1,445 to £1,750 (software price approx. £5,750)
- SolidWorks Premium – £1,745 to £2,050 (software price approx. £7,000)
Term licenses can be a cost-effective and flexible way to use SolidWorks if you only need to use it for a short time period. Rentals are offered in 6- or 12-month increments.
More than 20 pieces of software can be rented under term licences, with prices ranging from £240 to £3,200 for a 6-month rental, depending on the type of software.
- SolidWorks 3D CAD
- SolidWorks Simulation
- SolidWorks Technical Communications
- SolidWorks Electrical
- SolidWorks Visualize
*Prices are approximate; please contact a certified UK SolidWorks reseller for current prices and packages.