Today’s 3D modeling community has a waste variety of 3D modelingsoftware to choose from, with upgrades that come out each year and new andimproved types of software for every purpose imaginable. However the leading 3D modeling software developingsuch as Dassault Systems and Autodesk still claim the majority of the market. SolidWorks  One of Dassault’s front runners in the past years, with an astonishingnumber of 1.

5 million licenses and a great number of pirate users has been SolidWorks. With an annual upgrade andmultiple versions, SolidWorks is a parametric, solid modeler which usesfeatures based approach to create models and assemblies. The workflow of SolidWorks allowscreating 2D drawings consisting of geometries such as lines, curves, arcs,point and etc. and their transformation in 3D volume with a variety ofavailable features. Once a part is made as a 3D volume, it can be assembledwith other parts, used in a simulation, rendered or used for an extraction of a2D technical drawing.  One of the mainbenefits of the workflow is the possibility of interactively changing aninitial drawing and distributing automatically the changes trough out all of thefiles where the part was used (drawings, assemblies, simulations an etc.) As a suite of multiple modules for differentdisciplines and uses, one of the most exploited are:·        The Simulation toolsapplied to LCA(Life cycle assessment) and variety of different simulationscenarios where different forces are being examined ·        The Rendering tools used for producing high qualityphoto-realistic images of the products and systems that are being manipulatedin the software ·        The CAM tools which allow the user to interact withthe manufacturing processes·        Productdata management tools, allowing users to share information about their models  In addition SolidWorkshas created a number of modules purposed for different domains in the industry,such as SolidWorks Plastics, which allows a betterworkflow and a preliminary analysis of the manufacturing of plastic products; SolidWorks MBD (Model Based Definition) used forthe manipulating with all data of the model intended for manufacturing; CircuitWorks, a module specialized for the electricalaspect of a product or a system.

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     CATIA  As one of Dassault System’s most appreciated, CATIA is advertised as acomplex high-end 3D modeling software.  CATIA is a slightly more mechanically orientedand links the user to the manufacturing process, early in theproduct development phase. It combines high- end precise solid modeling,detailed analysis and simulation of the model and it allows the user to examinethe model or system  in its operatingenvironment.

   CATIA Engineering enables the creation of any type of 3D assembly,for a wide variety of engineering processes. It connects all parties includedin the process by allowing them to exchange data while developing the model, anduses performance based systems engineering approach that minimizes the productioncost. CATIA has integratedmodules for ·        Product development (CAx)·        Conceptualization and design (CAD), ·        Engineering (CAE) ·        Manufacturing (CAM)·        Surfacing & shape design·        Electrical, fluid and electronic systems design·        Mechanical engineering and systems engineering.CATIA enables thedesign of electronic, electrical, and distributed systems along with thetechnical documentation needed for manufacturing.      AutoCAD AutoCADis one of the first CAD programs to run on personal computers in 1982, andsince then it has been upgraded into 2D and 3D computer aided drafting softwareused in multiple industries such as architecture, construction, producingmanufacturing blueprints and engineering applications.

  Whenit was first developed AutoCAD was focused on the creation of 2D drawings andtechnical documentation. Today’s version of AutoCAD features a full set ofbasic solid modeling and 3D tools, high quality renderings with the integrationof the  mental ray engine included inrendering, parametric functionality and mesh modeling.AutoCADhas also established DWG (drawing), their native file format for as a basicstandard for CAD data interoperability.     The maindomains of application for this software are: Mechanical drafting – technical drawings and 3D models for machines and devices. Architectural drafting- creating plans for residential and commercial buildings. Civil drafting – creating plans used for building roadways, bridges and other public service units. Electrical drafting – preparation of schematics for wiring electrical systems.

Electronics drafting – preparation of layouts for the electrical installation and repairing of electronic gadgets.  Because of its wide usage indifferent domains, Autodesk has also developed a number of vertical programssuch as AutoCAD Architecture (architectural applications ), Civil Design (publicservice unit planning), AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Map 3D,AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD P&ID, AutoCAD Plant 3D and AutoCADStructural Detailing.     Comparison  Having the basic information for the 3 leading 3D solid modelingsoftware, we can focus on their comparison. All three modeling softwares arewidely used and praised, but their general comparison is hard to conduct due tosome fundamental differences in their purpose and features. The comparison isgoing to be shown through a repartition into different fields and based on expertsand user’s experience and analysis. ·        Principal purposeThe main categories in which thesesoftwares are used are architectural, design, electrics and mechanics. With CATIA and AutoCADbeing adapted to all four, in this category Solidworks has the poorestqualities amongst the three due to the lack of features that would initiate itsusage in the architectural sector.

 ·        User Interface The user interface criteriais the ease and intuitivism that characterizes the use of each software. Inthis category SolidWorks has the best performances. New users have no problemgetting accustomed and statistically SolidWorks takes the least time to belearnt. ·        Advanced Surfacing FeaturesSurface modelingfeatures come in handy when dealing with complex organic models and fluid formsthat are most commonly present in plastic products. With the basic options likeheal, trim and create organic shapes, CATIA has the last place in this categorywith performances similar to those of AutoCAD, whereas SolidWorks has awell-equipped Surface modeling menu that recreates and deals with the mostorganic shapes found in products.

·        Collaboration FeaturesBeing able to have multiple user reviews or a quickconversion with no middle man applications for 3D printing are just examples ofsome of the useful collaborative features that are implemented in 3D softwaresnowadays.  SolidWorks once more has thepoorest performance in the category with the lack of 3D printing features and2D to 3D CAD conversions.  ·        Writable/ Readable file formats With anastonishing number of 22 readable and 21 writable file formats, SolidWorksdominates this category. The list of file formats that can be manipulated inthese software includes: IGES, IGS, JPEG, Parasolid,PARASOLID XT, PDF, DWG, STP, TIF/TIFF, VRML, WRL, DXF and etc.         


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