We're considering switching CAD softwares from Inventor to Solidworks. What are some reasons to switch?

Our team has been using Autodesk Inventor (upgrading to the newest version every year) for the past 6+ years. We’re looking into the possiblity of switching over to Solidworks, are there any reasons why we should?

For context, the middle school and high school classes teach Autodesk Inventor, though the middle schools are considering switching over to Fusion 360.
We use GrabCAD for version control.

Thanks in advance.

Let me ask the question this way:

Why are YOU looking at switching?

That is, what about Inventor isn’t meeting your needs, or could be improved? Maybe somebody else will have a solution or insight.

Second question: Is there any particular reason you’re specifically looking to switch to Solidworks?


I’m head coach of 8014 and we use Inventor primarily because its what the schools use. Solidworks is certainly more of an industry standard and I’ve had a lot of pushback to use it on our team because of this. I’ve used NX, ProE, Solidworks, Solid Edge and Fusion 360. For what its worth, I’m a mechanical engineer at Argonne National Lab and choose to use Inventor there too.

Dang, beat me to the punch.

The only definition of a good tool that I subscribe to is “A tool that gets the job done better”.

“Better” could mean faster, higher quality, fewer headaches, safer… you choose!

If you’re still evaluating options, https://www.onshape.com/ is a hip-and-happening solution. I definitely find all-browser an attractive feature.



To clarify, does your schools’ CAD/engineering program teach Inventor, or are you just saying that Inventor is common in communication?

We’re a community team. Most of the schools around us use Inventor.

Inventor (Autodesk programs as a whole really) is very clearly pulling a Texas Instruments* at the moment and helping develop curricula specifically tailored to their software, like PLTW’s IED. Basically anybody can claim to be a student and get an Inventor license, but Dassault Systèmes keeps everything under more control (though it’s still pretty easy for a school to get licenses). From pooling over job/internship listings, Solidworks (and other Dassault programs) show up a lot more than Inventor for MechE positions. 4201 currently runs Solidworks while the school teaches Inventor for that and a few other advantages of the software for their workflow; 330 flipped to SW after 2017 season for program features and being a relatively minor change for us.

Starting my Internship as the 11th member of a defense startup, I don’t think me and the first official MechE person even discussed which CAD software we were going to use.
The one genuine advantage I can think of is that Inventor can run okay on a system that Solidworks will have a hard time booting in, but at that point, why not Onshape?

It comes down to what makes sense for your team. If you have the hardware, I’d full send Solidworks for the potential work experience. My 1st year college CAD class in SW was a complete joke, which is usually a good sign you’re on the right path.

*side tangent: Why did your courses require a TI graphing calculator? That’s what the book used. Why did the book use that? TI worked with and paid the textbook writers to do that. Why did they do that? They actually kinda sucked compared to Casio for a long while.


Mine too, except we learned a lot of general random engineering programs (by “here’s the program, here’s a couple basics, you can find a tutorial”). Coming from an Inventor team, I transitioned to Solidworks easily enough, and was able to assist other students who were having a harder time. I went the other way where I work now with minimal issues.

Long Beach has now effectively taken the stance that if you did anything other than Solidworks for the freshman cad course (MAE 172, which also comes in Catia and Autocad flavor) you’ve wasted your time. Every following MechE course is taught for SW, and they double down on the SW tutoring at every possible opportunity b/c is messes up all your pre-reqs. I’m pretty sure the lab length was also extended recently just to ensure students had more potential instructor time. Seeing that nobody really complains, that’s as good of a sign as any for me

Yeah, the other section of the course I was in went heavy on the “how to use this” for SW.

Personally, I can work in Inventor or Solidworks, and I’m learning Onshape (team is looking at switching). Fusion is an option that I don’t particularly like but can use at least a little bit. I’d admit to being able to use Sketchup but I only even suggest that for people with zero CAD knowledge and no time to get a decent amount of that. :wink:

The key question, as I mentioned, is “What does software X NOT do for you that software Y can?” The secondary question is “what other factors exist?” which may include things like sponsorship deals, already taught at the school, and other similar things.

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I think you answered your own question and should further develop the application skills students will learn within their classes. Having students that come in knowing how to use Inventor will save you some training time too.

You can still request licenses of Solidworks as well though. Knowing multiple CAD packages is a good thing. From an FRC perspective, they are both totally fine for designing robots and equally get the job done.


I came to say the same thing. Use what your school uses. It just makes things easier. What is important is learning how to design. The software is just a tool.

Most CAD software products are very similar to each other. I started with Inventor in high school, because that is what the school taught. I learned Solidworks during my internship after high school. NX was taught in my first-year engineering courses in college, and now I (occasionally) use CATIA at work.

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I can’t speak to the inventor side of this, but in my experience, Solidworks just makes it easy to get stuff done. It’s the same process as most other software, but has tons of built in shortcuts/ time saving tools.

However, the best way to figure it out is just to try both and see which works best for your team.

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Related question from someone who uses too much Inventor, how had is it to switch?

Not bad at all. Solidworks and Inventor are for the most part, directly competing products and have a very similar feature set. It’s more of re-finding what button does what and retraining muscle memory, but all the conceptual parts of modeling remain exactly the same.

I found switching to OnShape slightly more difficult, as OnShape’s default paradigm is multibody modeling. This is certainly a feature of SW and Inventor, as shown by 973’s RAMP videos, but just not the path the software leads new users. Switching back to Solidworks for a recent project, I was able to pick it back up again pretty much instantly, but I found myself doing way more multibody parts than I had before using OnShape.


I recently used Inventor for the CADathon this past week, Coming from someone who uses primarily Solidworks and now Onshape(might switch to it next season), there’s not real growing pain due to Inventor and Solidworks being relatively similar programs. But I can say the switch to Onshape has a bit of a learning curve with their method of mates and multi-body parts(which was something I seldom did on Solidworks). Now I can go back to Solidworks today and still be able to do everything I would be able to do but would, as @Knufire said, tend to do more multi-body parts.

Side Note: Only reason I went into Onshape hard recently was cause my Solidworks license decided to expire for some reason.

I’ve used Inventor for 17 years and have started learning Onshape over the past month. As I progress through the Onshape lessons, there were many times that I’ve said “Wow, this is so well done. This is the way it should have been for any CAD program.” So for 696, we’re going to be doing more practice in it and consider switching to it for 2021. There’s really a lot to like. For CAM though, I’ll be hanging onto either Inventor or Fusion.


I really like Solidworks’ configurations, path length dimension, belt tool, chain pattern, how the design in context works, and generally how the sketching and assembly feels. Inventor and onshape both have advantages and disadvantages in comparison with SW, but in the end if you’re using one of the three I don’t see a strong reason to switch. It’s mostly personal preference.

Multibodied parts in SW are kind of a giant pain because you need to save the bodies. I tend to just abuse configurations.