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SolidWorks Logo.svg
The SOLIDWORKS user interface, showing feature based history dependent modeling.
The SOLIDWORKS interface.
Developer(s)Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS Corp.
Initial release1995; 20 years ago (1995)
Stable releaseSOLIDWORKS 2014 SP3 / April 14, 2014; 10 months ago (2014-04-14) [1]
Preview releaseSOLIDWORKS 2014 SP4.0 EV / June 2, 2014; 8 months ago (2014-06-02) [1]
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
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SolidWorks Logo.svg
The SOLIDWORKS user interface, showing feature based history dependent modeling.
The SOLIDWORKS interface.
Developer(s)Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS Corp.
Initial release1995; 20 years ago (1995)
Stable releaseSOLIDWORKS 2014 SP3 / April 14, 2014; 10 months ago (2014-04-14) [1]
Preview releaseSOLIDWORKS 2014 SP4.0 EV / June 2, 2014; 8 months ago (2014-06-02) [1]
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows

SOLIDWORKS (originally SolidWorks) is solid modeling CAD (computer-aided design) software that runs on Microsoft Windows and is since 1997 produced by Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS Corp., a subsidiary of Dassault Systèmes, S. A. (Vélizy, France). SOLIDWORKS is currently used by over 2 million engineers[2] and designers at more than 165,000 companies worldwide. FY2011 revenue for SOLIDWORKS was 483 million dollars.[3]


SOLIDWORKS Corporation was founded in December 1993 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate Jon Hirschtick; Hirschtick used $1 million he had made while a member of the MIT Blackjack Team to set up the company.[4] Initially based in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, Hirschtick recruited a team of engineers with the goal of building 3D CAD software that was easy-to-use, affordable, and available on the Windows desktop. Operating later from Concord, Massachusetts, SOLIDWORKS released its first product SolidWorks 95, in 1995.[5][6] In 1997 Dassault, best known for its CATIA CAD software, acquired SolidWorks for $310 million in stock.[5]

SOLIDWORKS currently markets several versions of the SOLIDWORKS CAD software in addition to eDrawings, a collaboration tool, and DraftSight, a 2D CAD product.

SOLIDWORKS was headed by John McEleney from 2001 to July 2007 and Jeff Ray from 2007 to January 2011. The current CEO is Gian Paolo Bassi from Jan 2015. Gian Paolo Bassi replaces Bertrand Sicot, who is promoted Vice President Sales of Dassault Systèmes’ Value Solutions sales channel.

Release history[edit]

Name/VersionVersion History ValueRelease Date
SolidWorks 954400001995
SolidWorks 962701996
SolidWorks 974831996
SolidWorks 97Plus6291997
SolidWorks 988171997
SolidWorks 98Plus10081998
SolidWorks 9911371998
SolidWorks 200015001999
SolidWorks 200117502000
SolidWorks 2001Plus19502001
SolidWorks 200322002002
SolidWorks 200425002003
SolidWorks 200528002004
SolidWorks 200631002005
SolidWorks 200734002006
SolidWorks 20083800July 1, 2007
SolidWorks 20094100January 28, 2008
SolidWorks 20104400December 9, 2009
SolidWorks 20114700June 17, 2010
SolidWorks 20125000September, 2011
SolidWorks 20136000September, 2012
SolidWorks 20147000October 7, 2013
SolidWorks 20158000September 9, 2014


DS Solidworks Corp. has sold over 1.5 million licenses of SOLIDWORKS worldwide.[7] This includes a large proportion of educational licenses. The Sheffield Telegraph comments that Solidworks is the world's most popular CAD software.[8] Its user base ranges from individuals to large corporations, and covers a very wide cross-section of manufacturing market segments. Commercial sales are made through an indirect channel, which includes dealers and partners throughout the world. In the United States, the first reseller of SOLIDWORKS, in 1995, was Computer Aided Technology, Inc, headquartered in Chicago. Directly competitive products to SOLIDWORKS include Solid Edge, and Autodesk Inventor. SOLIDWORKS also partners with third party developers to add functionality in niche market applications like finite element analysis, circuit layout, tolerance checking, etc. SOLIDWORKS has also licensed its 3D modeling capabilities to other CAD software vendors, notably ANVIL.[9]

Modeling methodology[edit]

screen shot captured from a SOLIDWORKS top-down design approach.

SOLIDWORKS is a solid modeler, and utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies. The software is written on Parasolid-kernel.

Parameters refer to constraints whose values determine the shape or geometry of the model or assembly. Parameters can be either numeric parameters, such as line lengths or circle diameters, or geometric parameters, such as tangent, parallel, concentric, horizontal or vertical, etc. Numeric parameters can be associated with each other through the use of relations, which allows them to capture design intent.

Design intent is how the creator of the part wants it to respond to changes and updates. For example, you would want the hole at the top of a beverage can to stay at the top surface, regardless of the height or size of the can. SOLIDWORKS allows the user to specify that the hole is a feature on the top surface, and will then honor their design intent no matter what height they later assign to the can.

Features refer to the building blocks of the part. They are the shapes and operations that construct the part. Shape-based features typically begin with a 2D or 3D sketch of shapes such as bosses, holes, slots, etc. This shape is then extruded or cut to add or remove material from the part. Operation-based features are not sketch-based, and include features such as fillets, chamfers, shells, applying draft to the faces of a part, etc.

screen shot captured from a SOLIDWORKS top-down design approach.

Building a model in SOLIDWORKS usually starts with a 2D sketch (although 3D sketches are available for power users). The sketch consists of geometry such as points, lines, arcs, conics (except the hyperbola), and splines. Dimensions are added to the sketch to define the size and location of the geometry. Relations are used to define attributes such as tangency, parallelism, perpendicularity, and concentricity. The parametric nature of SOLIDWORKS means that the dimensions and relations drive the geometry, not the other way around. The dimensions in the sketch can be controlled independently, or by relationships to other parameters inside or outside of the sketch.

In an assembly, the analog to sketch relations are mates. Just as sketch relations define conditions such as tangency, parallelism, and concentricity with respect to sketch geometry, assembly mates define equivalent relations with respect to the individual parts or components, allowing the easy construction of assemblies. SOLIDWORKS also includes additional advanced mating features such as gear and cam follower mates, which allow modeled gear assemblies to accurately reproduce the rotational movement of an actual gear train.

Finally, drawings can be created either from parts or assemblies. Views are automatically generated from the solid model, and notes, dimensions and tolerances can then be easily added to the drawing as needed. The drawing module includes most paper sizes and standards (ANSI, ISO, DIN, GOST, JIS, BSI and SAC).


3D mechanical design applications[edit]


SOLIDWORKS Professional

SOLIDWORKS Premium provides a suite of product development tools mechanical design, design verification, data management, and communication tools. SOLIDWORKS Premium includes all of the capabilities of SOLIDWORKS Professional as well as routing and analysis tools, including SOLIDWORKS Routing, SOLIDWORKS Simulation, and SOLIDWORKS Motion.

SOLIDWORKS Education Edition provides the same design functionality but is configured and packaged for engineering and industrial design students.

Design validation tools[edit]

SOLIDWORKS Simulation is a design validation tool that shows engineers how their designs will behave as physical objects.

SOLIDWORKS Motion is a virtual prototyping tool that provides motion simulation capabilities to ensure designs function properly.

SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation is a tool that tests internal and external fluid-flow simulation and thermal analysis so designers can conduct tests on virtual prototypes.

SOLIDWORKS Simulation Standard is a new FEA module for 2014.

SOLIDWORKS Simulation Professional is a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) design validation tool with Thermal, Frequency, Buckling, Drop test, Optimization that can handle some multiphysics simulations.

SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium is a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) design validation tool that can handle some multiphysics simulations as well as nonlinear materials.

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability is a product that measures the environmental impact of designs while they are modeled in SOLIDWORKS.

Product data management tools[edit]

SOLIDWORKS Workgroup PDM is a PDM tool that allows SOLIDWORKS users operating in teams of 10 members or less to work on designs concurrently. With SOLIDWORKS PDM Workgroup, designers can search, revise, and vault CAD data while maintaining an accurate design history.

SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM is a PDM tool that allows SOLIDWORKS users operating in teams at various separate facilities to work on designs concurrently. With SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM, designers can search, revise, and vault CAD data while maintaining an accurate design history. Enterprise PDM maintains an audit trail, is compatible with a variety of CAE packages (SOLIDWORKS, AutoCAD, Solid Edge, Pro/E) to maintain interfile relations, and will manage the revisions of any document saved in the vault. Enterprise PDM also uses a workflow diagram to control access to files, to automatically notify team members when a project moves from one stage to the next, as well as tracking comments. Enterprise PDM is capable of interfacing with various MRP/ERP systems using XML and can be used online to interface with customers and the supply chain.

Design communication and collaboration tools[edit]

eDrawings Professional An e-mail-enabled communication tool for reviewing 2D and 3D product design data across the extended product development team. eDrawings generates accurate representations of DWGgateway is a free data translation tool that enables any AutoCAD software user to open and edit any DWG file, regardless of the version of AutoCAD it was made in.

Mobile eDrawings

SOLIDWORKS Viewer is a free plug-in for viewing SOLIDWORKS parts, assemblies, and drawings.

'3DVIA Composer', now known as 'SOLIDWORKS Composer', is a technical communications software that allows 3D views of models to be integrated into documents such as work instructions, internal or external manuals, marketing materials, or web applications. The 3D views can be updated automatically when the design updates, reducing the workload of the employee creating the technical document, as editing for changes is not as severe.

CAD productivity tools[edit]

SOLIDWORKS Toolbox is a library of parts that uses "Smart Part" Technology to automatically select fasteners and assemble them in the desired sequence.

SOLIDWORKS Utilities is software that lets designers find differences between two versions of the same part, or locate, modify, and suppress features within a model.

FeatureWorks is feature recognition software that lets designers make changes to static geometric data, increasing the value of translated files. With FeatureWorks, designers can preserve or introduce new design intent when bringing 3D models created in other software into the SOLIDWORKS environment.

Specialty design tools[edit]



SOLIDWORKS Plastics is a mold design validation tool that was built into a solid modeling environment. It enables mold designers to quickly and easily validate whether a plastic injection-molded part can be filled.

SOLIDWORKS MoldBase is a catalog of standard mold base assemblies and components. The package enables designers to generate a completely assembled mold base.

Print3D is a 3D printing feature that allows users to convert their 3D CAD model to an .STL file and then have it sent to specialty manufacturers for quote. The .STL files can be used to generate an instant binding quoted using the Quickquote technology.

DriveWorks Xpress DriveWorksXpress is rules-based design automation tool for engineers.

File format[edit]

SOLIDWORKS files use the Microsoft Structured Storage file format. This means that there are various files embedded within each SLDDRW (drawing files), SLDPRT (part files), SLDASM (assembly files) file, including preview bitmaps and metadata sub-files. Various third-party tools (see COM Structured Storage) can be used to extract these sub-files, although the subfiles in many cases use proprietary binary file formats.

Solidworks 2010 SP3.1 opens/saves following file formats:

A TransMagic plug-in for SOLIDWORKS is available that expands its import/export capability via native CAD kernels.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Technical Alerts & News". SOLIDWORKS. Jun 19, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-19. 
  2. ^ Opening statement by CEO Bertrand Sicot at 2013 Solidworks World YouTube Video Link
  3. ^ SolidWorks Fact Sheet, July 30, 2012
  4. ^ Bob Tremblay (March 26, 2008). "Former MIT blackjack team member talks about breaking the bank". Galesburg Register News. 
  5. ^ a b Solidworks Company History. Solidworks company website
  6. ^ Solidworks Company Information, Solidworks company website
  7. ^ "Thanks for helping us reach our millionth license!". SolidWorks. April 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  8. ^ "Solid finds solution in business park switch". The Sheffield Telegraph. December 10, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  9. ^ "ANVIL EXPRESS® SOLIDWORKS® Connectivity". MCS ANVIL. September 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 

External links[edit]