Ok, so I am about a month into the newest version of Solidworks 2012. I am seriously impressed with the simplicity to generate full, complex, photorealistic assemblies. Prior to pulling the trigger on the Professional package (~$6000), I had spent countless hours comparing the likes of AutoCAD, ProEngineer, etc,… While they all had their own pro’s and con’s, Solidworks really seemed to be the industry leader in terms of 3D design and rendering. I have extensive experience in both AutoCAD and ProE and figured at first I would end up with either one on my computer. Another thing I need to tell you is that my computer setup is a Mac Pro so I was fortunate to be able to run Parallels 7 to create the Windows environment for the purposes of installing the CAD program of choice. Solidworks is very similar in the way that a part is created to ProE which is by way of extrusions and rotations, etc,… However, SW is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition when talking about ease of use and intuitive user interfacing.
I had a couple of simple parts I needed to create and assemble to inspect the clearances and fit of the assembly. It was a matter of 20 minutes from start up to completion. Ok, this assembly is rather simple indeed but, if I had been using the other programs, it would have taken me nearly twice the time. In my business as in most others, time is money. For that reason, I highly recommend taking a look at Solidworks 2012 when thinking about purchasing a 3D CAD software.
**12/26/2012 UPDATE: I wanted to share some information to anyone reading this post that since posting the above, I have chosen to upgrade the RAM to help with the rendering and overall video performance on Solidworks in the Windows VM. I now have 16gb of DDR3 RAM installed and 4gb allocated to the Windows VM. This appears to have helped a lot with the quality and performance.”**