Let's say you can invest in only one of two different CAD/parametric modelling products that serve essentially the same purpose and you have been trained in both. What factors would help you come to a decision as to which one to choose? I'm sort of in that situation right now.
I had the same dilemma a number of years ago, ptc Creo, Autodesk Inventor or Solidworks.
ptc Creo 2 gave me the least features and cost the most. I chose Creo because of 15 years working with it. I had never used the other 2 much but it did not concern me because once you can use 1 of them the others will be pretty easy to pick up.
The main reason I chose Creo was that I could buy it and not rent it.
If you are renting then which system is the quickest to create the job you use it for.
Which system does your main customer use.
Which system does your main supplier use.
Which features can you live without.
Which system has the most online help. Creo has buckets full.
Which system creates the most robust models. My last contract was reverse engineering a complex casting because the supplier could not read the iges/step files produced by Inventor.
I have used Creo, solidworks and inventor. CREO hands down the best IMO. Great for surfacing, can handle big assemblies, love it. Solidworks and inventor are a joke in my experience - unless you are only doing flat parts like furniture panels or sheet metal.
I have used both of it for lots of years.
Right before my current company I was working with Creo 6.0.
Creo did the job well and it has robust as well constrained environment too. Never had much issues while working there for 2 Years.
I know SolidWorks from 2016 and I am best at it. Bugs are still there and will require high budget system while working with it. Still does the job and now it's getting better.
It's my personal opinion, You can go with budget as well need of the customers you are serving.
At a professional level, cost is almost irrelevant. The relative costs of these systems is already close and payback will come very quickly. I dislike subscription plans for software like Inventor. It feels too much like ransomware. However, in the long run it doesn’t really differ from the maintenance costs of software in which you own a license. You’re going to pay a maintenance fee of some sort every year.
I would tend to ignore what is most popular and widely used except it terms of guiding a long term decision. For example: Go back 25+ years. AutoCad was one of the most popular yet worst performing CAD programs available. It was only popular because it was one of the few that didn’t have a convoluted copy protection scheme. This allowed many to bootleg it and learn to use it. Because of its popularity it has become the defacto standard of 2D CAD. It’s now the only real choice for 2D. There are many reasons a 3D CAD program may be popular today. Actual capability, stability, and performance may not necessarily be the reasons. I’m not saying the programs you mentioned aren’t good in these respects. I’m just saying I would not give much weight to popularity.
SOLIDWORKS has been hands down the best. Easy to use and easy to learn to use and totally customizable.
I paid up front for Creo 2 and got a perpetual license. I have used it for about 4 years and don't have to pay any maintenance. The drawback is that I dont get updates but I don't need them, Creo 2 does everything I want and there are workarounds for most of the new features you get.
On a separate note, I had the option to buy Creo 4 but went back to Creo 2 because it was more stable. A company I worked for went from Creo 2 to Creo 4 and our suppliers could not open the step or iges files we sent them for CAM so we went back to Creo 2
I'd pick the one that makes me (in order):
if they are similar, I'd pick the one I like the UI most
Been using SW since late 90's and it is the only CAD I have actually ever used. Fusion is interesting yet I don't like the cloud side of it. SW is expensive yet you made the cost back on one design as noted above. They are coming along nicely with the simulation topology / optimization generative design as well, yet it is an add-in. Never even looked at Creo but will have a look and see what it has to offer.
So you Creo users above suggest that Creo 2 is the best and most stable version despite the fact that Creo 8 is the current version(!), I can only deduce that PTC/Creo has dropped the ball completely just like Dassault/Solidworks whose older versions just run better and smoother than their recent bloatware. That's why I still use Solidworks 2014/2015 as my main CAD tool.
But this is not the only consideration. The good old versions generally don't run well, or at all, on modern PCs. This is because modern hardware demands Windows 10, and Windows 10 a) sucks big time, and b) generally won't support CAD software from 2015 or earlier. And now Windows 11 is lurking in the shadows. I can only imagine the horrors....!
So I believe that the CAD world is very close to branching into two segments: 1) Online subscription CAD for professionals and 2) Stand-alone CAD for hobbyists and one-person businesses who stick to old(er) hardware and Windows versions for as long as possible.
I personally would choose Onshape for any major future project involving lots of collaboration to avoid the inherent and incessant problems with exchanging and proofing designs, being certain that all players are looking at the same product revisions; and being online in a collaborative environment simply makes this a breeze.
Over the years I’ve found it best to stay near the leading edge of the upgrade curve. But not -at- the leading edge. As new software and operating systems come out they are inherently full of bugs. Most of that gets worked out 6 months to a year after initial release. At some point though, usually about 3 to 5 years after release, you start running into compatibility issues with peripheral component drivers, operating systems, computer hardware, video drivers, etc. With everything being internet connected these days it’s nearly impossible to drive a stake in the ground and say your not going to update anything. Little updates here will always require other updates there. Eventually everything has to be updated.
By staying near the leading edge of the version curve, when I download a CAD model, I’m pretty much guaranteed that it will be compatible with the version I have. If I had older software, compatible CAD models may not even be available.
I tend to update our CAD software every 2 years to the latest version after it’s been out for 6 months or so. If I wait longer than that then I experience data migration issues that force me to install intermediate versions of the software. That creates a lot of extra work. I don’t do it every year because there are never enough new features to justify the weeks it takes to install, tweak, test, and deploy everything.
Our corporate IT department also forces us near the leading edge of the OS cycle. We have no choice but to maintain CAD software that’s fully comparable.
The bottom line: If someone feels the need to use a CAD software version that’s more that 2 or 3 releases old just to get a stable product (Creo) then I would seriously question the long term viability of the software. You will eventually have compatibility issues and you must upgrade. Or, if the later versions of the software were actually that bad then the company that produced the software may have wisely stopped selling it altogether.
I still prefer my SolidWorks 2016. Still has bug free experience. Now a days as you said hybrid system is the requirement. SolidWorks 2016 is working on my 8 gigabyte of Ram and i5. I found that dope.
I have worked in Inventor and Solidworks. I don't think you can say one is better than another. As others said, it depends on several factors. It comes down to what UI you prefer, what features you prefer, and which you can live without. We always "complain" when we want to do something that another software does a bit easier or better, but that is how it goes with everything.
I will say that it also depends on your product(s). Automotive industry uses mostly CATIA for example. Also, in my experience Inventor handles huge assemblies a bit better, but Solidworks can tell you exactly which items are slowing down the pc.
Nobody can surely tell you pick one over the other. Knowledge wise, you can learn one software well, and then and if you need, you can jump easily to another. The main idea stays the same.
Thank you all for your input. I appreciate it. But if anyone else wants to contribute to the discussion after I have made my decision, feel free as you never know who else might need the information. The information has altered my thinking on how to approach the decision in terms of what I thought I needed and what I actually need to accomplish my initial goals.
In most cases unless you are a student, hobbiest, or very small startup business, the choice of software is not your own, but that of the company and department of which you work !
Many times there are evolving CAD programs that are initially accepted (e,g, AutoCAD , CadKey, Ashlar Vellum, CADAM, CV) that get obsoleted and are replaced by other CAD packages.
The evolutionary path is not always clear cut as many companies make tough decisions based upon number of users, floating licenses, costs, capability, options, CAM, and may be 'forced' to accept a particular package based upon a 'fear' factor of future needs as well.
Once a CAD tool is selected there are thousands if not millions of parts and assemblies that are created that over time becomes a legacy database. This needs to be supported over time and may halt the progression to even better CAE/CAD/CAM tools.
Many companies that i have worked with have abandoned the single dedicated company wide toolset approach in favor for departmental efficiency based upon a program or project. With this approach only the program or project is tied to the tool, not the company, and therefore immediate shifts can happen for new programs or projects. The program and project must be *sustained* or maintained over the course of a few years, but changes can also be out-sourced if the toolset is abandoned.
In this approach there is much less worry or hindrance or limitations to the company or future projects and it opens up the possibilities for emerging or newer approaches with less worry and concern for migration when dealing with legacy databases.
Sometimes the legacy data of a company is enough to tie the company to the cad vendor. Such is ptc Creo, in part.
BAE design submarines in Creo and you need to be good at it to get a job there. Cummins and Caterpillar design their engines in Creo, Norton and Triumph design their bikes in Creo and you need to know it to work at these companies.
I have been using ptc CAD since 1997 from pro engineer version 17. Each time they made a new version the old models could be imported where they would be converted and all the features of the model would be editable as if they had been created in the new version.
It is easier for a small company to change software as they have a relatively small number of legacy parts, compared to a submarine or an engine.
If you are looking for a CAD job I would choose Creo, if you are looking for a CAD system that can hold massive assemblies Creo again. I don't know how the new creo is past my version 2 but i do know that every time i got a new version of ptc cad, and it had bugs, they fixed it pretty quick.