head to head CAD comparison

Solidworks vs Inventor: Head to Head Comparison

Another time, another place but same question. Which is better, Inventor or SolidWorks. It literally feels like ages having tried to get this across but the untimely nature of a question that makes you ponder about where you went wrong, gets the message across quite clearly. A two line answer is that SolidWorks is a geo-metery driven modeling tool where as Inventor is an engineer’s aid. This fundamentally changes the question as to when is which of these better, Inventor or SolidWorks. Read on to see what I really mean.

Before we start off have a look at the AutoCad vs Inventor where we covered Inventor previously.

Solidworks vs Inventor: Comparison

SolidWorks Drawing Tutorial for BeginnersSolidWorks is a design and development tool with 2D and 3D illustration/design capabilities amongst others whereas Inventor has a handful of neat features built into its default behavior so as to aid engineers by supplying the right information and analysis. To understand this better, let’s break the comparison down. Standards, analysis, documentation capabilities, motion-based calculations and collaboration tools are all well and good for both the industry giants, but what do they actually target. Lets find out.

Nitty Gritty Details: Purpose based compatibility

SolidWorks is a 2D illustrating and 3D designing tool that allows a host of other applications. From cost analysis to simulations and material specific fabrications when working on multi-body parts, SolidWorks beats CATIA and ProEngineer, needless to say it leaves Inventor in the dust. Inventor on the other hand takes on an entire discipline that SolidWorks tends to ignore with every one of its updates and that is architecture. Yes, Inventor allows architects and engineers to work on the same application whereas SolidWorks is limited to Engineering projects, also limited in the scale of the design. Apart from industrial designers, hobbyists and casual users use both packages around the world and in nearly every industry.

One last measure of work efficacy is the surface modeling routines of both software packages. Here, I must admit, to my personal dismay, SolidWorks takes a back seat with Inventor being faster in the rendering whilst producing better and smoother surfaces. Surface comparison under zebra line analysis paint a picture the naked eye would otherwise miss and this is one reason why even though SolidWorks hosts more functionality, still people keep Inventor in their arsenal. The thing with SolidWorks is that you have to know how to use the tool in order to be able to design effectively. Geometry driven design means it relies on the tool and the usage and hence the user is in charge of the geometry. In Inventor however, the geometry is handled automatically with NURBS and other Autodesk proprietary technology allowing one to add a surface and start designing whereas with SolidWorks you would have to setup the surface before beginning.

IndustryAerospace, Automotive, Construction, Consumer ProductsEngineering, Automotive, Construction
Learning curveShortLong
FunctionalityAssembly modeling, Simulation, cost estimation, rendering, documentationAssembly modeling, Simulation, documentation, Rendering.

My work would require…

Areas of specification are the quantity and nature of the work and the contribution. For specialists delivering new design ideas and part assemblies to the production/manufacturing industries (e.g. automotive etc.) the most common choice may be CATIA. After that is SolidWorks followed by AutoCAD then Inventor. The reason is the scale and scope of the projects. For delivering new ideas or parts on a small or medium scale Solidworks would work best with its industry-specific and generic tool set that allows the user to model and develop and then render the design. Since Inventor is primarily an illustration tool, developing the blue prints of a house should be dealt with Inventor.

Because of this proprietor’s technology and Inventor’s engineering module, the beauty of surfacing tools is that they would allow you to change a cube into a sphere and back simply with the subtraction or addition of edges and contours. Hence Inventor offers much more control over the feedback from the design and the package when designing as compared to SolidWorks.


We hope you found value in this Solidworks vs Inventor comparison. As discussed innumerable times it all boils down to what you want to achieve with the software. When scope of the work is defined the next question is to see which software is better suited to different aspects of your project. My experience being in 3D modelling, 2D drawing, renderings, motion analysis and simulation have been taken care of by Solidworks but the quality and efficacy in some departments are better achieved through Inventor.

With that being said for those of you who have just entered the world of CAD looking for a CAD software that is a cinch to use should without a doubt go for Solidworks. If you are learning, make sure to check out our Solidworks tutorials.






4 responses to “Solidworks vs Inventor: Head to Head Comparison”

  1. […] to students and hobbyists. Check out our head to head comparisons of different CAD softwares, e.g. SolidWorks vs Inventor,  Other CAD programs like Google Sketchup (you will need plugins so make sure to check out top […]

  2. Jim Beard Avatar
    Jim Beard

    You totally missed the boat on file types of Inventor: besides native files ipt, iam, et al., it can open & export to numerous others including SW, CATIA, ProE, iges, step, sat, jt, etc, pretty much all the file types you would need or encounter.

  3. Curtis Rasmussen Avatar
    Curtis Rasmussen

    This arrticle is not a comparison. There is so much more to both programs.

    However, I did have a brief stint with Inventor after using SolidWorks for years. I was stoked after reading the Inventor product literature only to be disappointed by its clunky methodologies. My biggest issue: Inventor does things externally, such as setting paths to project folders, many Inventor ipart and iassembly files that can be created in one respective file in SolidWorks, and 2D drawing problems when updating iparts in an assembly. During the design development phase this was a big productivity killer, especially if you wanted to rename working files to company proprietary ones.

    Which brings me to my main point. From reading the Inventor literature, the capability exists, sort of, but it takes work. When pressed, my reseller agreed and could only offer workshops to address the problems I brought to them. Why don’t you work with AutoDesk to fix the software bugs instead of making me work harder? As such, my impression is that AutoDesk is less concerned with customer satisfaction and will sweet talk you for a sale. Check it out yourself, get a 30 day demo license, don’t trust them.

  4. Emilio Avatar

    I have tried both, and i think that this article or comparison is quite unfair, Inventor is not that bad. But i can assure you that Solidworks is just better. Mainly for the advanced tools. If you want to design a basic shape get the cheapest but if you need to get something complex or fast or families of products, is better Solidworks.

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