Surfacing Showdown: Autodesk Inventor Vs. Dassault Systemes Solidworks

The  Benchmark Demo

The surfacing demo being benchmarked is of a shaver, where two images of the shaver are inserted into perpendicular planes and used as a reference to create the body, a revolved cut for the switch at the top, shelling out the body, then split the body and add fillets.

Here’s the video of how this is done in Inventor:

Here’s the video of how this is done in Solidworks:

Benchmark Results

As you can see below the difference in the two is clear and the results are not as close as you would expect.

Speed

The surface demo was completed with Inventor 51% faster than the same demo in Solidworks.

Around the 15 minute mark, in the Solidworks demo, the demonstrator is 3D Sketching and instead of constraining the sketch, swaps the file with another file created earlier with 3D sketches constrained, so the gap would have been greater. I didn’t really care because by that stage the surface demo with Inventor was already completed.

autodesk inventor vs dassault systemes solidworks surfacing speed graph

Browser Tree

One of the main reasons why Inventor did it so quickly over Solidworks was that it didn’t require the same amount of planes, sketches and features to create the part file. Inventor had 57% less in the browser tree, 57% less planes, 64% less sketches and 50% less features.

Less planes, sketches and features provide benefits such as easier modification the file later because you can isolate and narrow down what you need edit to achieve your desired result and file size is also reduced, which may lead to greater computing performance.

 autodesk inventor vs dassault systemes solidworks surfacing browser tree

Surface Quality

Let’s take a look at the two finished surfaces and see what the differences are.

Visually, the Inventor model looks rounded and the Solidworks model looks boxy with sharp edges.

Autodesk Inventor 3D Model
Autodesk Inventor 3D Model
Dassault Systemes Solidworks 3d Model
Dassault Systemes Solidworks 3d Model

We can apply Zebra Lines across the surface and analyse the quality of the model done with Inventor and I’ve taken the Inventor model, representing that of the Solidworks’ finished product so you can see what the surface quality looks like with most G1 fillets applied would look like under Zebra lines. It’s not an exact replica but it illustrates what happens to surface quality when you have G1 fillets applied to sharp edges.

Autodesk Inventor 3D Model - Rear Iso Vew with Zebra Line Analysis
Autodesk Inventor 3D Model – Rear Iso Vew with Zebra Line Analysis
Dassault Systemes Solidworks 3D Model with G1 Fillets Highlighted
Dassault Systemes Solidworks 3D Model with G1 Fillets Highlighted

Applying Fillets to a surface, breaks the continuity of the surface. here’s what The Inventor model wouldl ook like if I applied extruded cuts with sharp edges and applied G1 fillets like the ones modelled in Solidworks:

What Extruded Cuts with sharp edges and G1 fillets look like under Zebra Line Anlaysis.
What Extruded Cuts with sharp edges and G1 fillets look like under Zebra Line Anlaysis.

As you can see under surface analysis, there are shaper line breaks compared to the Autodesk Inventor model which has smooth surface continuity along the model.

This picture to the left is the Inventor model with cuts and fillets. If I remodelled it exactly like the Soldiworks version, it would look much worse as the photo to the left doesn’t show all the surface breaks along the side and rear.

Summary Autodesk Inventor Vs. Dassault Solidworks

The reasons why Inventor’s surfacing tools can do it faster, more efficiently with better quality is because the focus is on the design not the tools. In Autodesk Inventor, you pick a plane, drop the surface in and start designing. With N.U.R.B.S. and T-Splines, the control and feedback you get from your design is amazing in comparison to Solidworks and much easier to learn, understand use and modify.

With Solidworks Surfacing tools, the focus is on knowing which tool to use, creating planes, 2D sketches, 3D sketches and knowing which surfacing command to use to execute a desired result, so the focus is more on the tools rather than on the design. Most CAD users have a decent workstation anyway, but, with twice as many items in the browser tree, a more complex part or assembly of parts decreases system performance.

On top of that, when making modifications to the design, the focus is back on knowing what tool did you use to create that part of the design and how do you modify it. Then after that, how it affects other features and fixing errors that arise when a one change causes a chain of events in the browser tree. This gets tricky when it’s a big change and requires editing of multiple features to achieve a simple outcome.

When doing the surfacing in Inventor, I could have started with a box surface and modelled it out, however, my interpretation from the shaver images was a rounded ergonomic design that contoured to the hand, rather than a squared type of surface with contours along the Y axis that cut in and out. The beauty of the surfacing tools inside Inventor is that If I wanted to change it from round to square, I can do so very easily by moving, adding or deleting edges.

In terms of surface quality, I’m positive that Solidworks can achieve a better result, but, I think it would take much much longer, or knowing a different design approach, by then, the Inventor user is already finishing the next project or task. Since creating the video, I’ve learnt a few more tricks, so I think If I re-modelled it, I could have shaved off another couple minutes too.

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Autodesk Inventor Vs. Solidwork In-Depth Feature Comparison

14 thoughts on “Surfacing Showdown: Autodesk Inventor Vs. Dassault Systemes Solidworks

    1. Thanks Paul. I’ve been a regular visitor of your site and enjoy your work. My understanding was that the T-splines plugin for swx was discontinued a couple years ago and its only available for Rhino?

  1. May I ask you question?….Why don’t you compare same methods? If I had to desing this part with Solidworks…I’ll using the Freeform method!
    Not the video that your using….

    Your comparaison is quit fast and not objective!

    Don’t want to said that Inventor is not a good product…The Solidworks method demonstred…isn’t the better one!

    1. You bring up a valid point and I’ll look into a comparable demonstration.
      Even then, Inventor’s NURBS and tSplines method will still outperform Solidworks in speed, control and probably surface complexity because it has more control over the surface.
      Thank you for your feedback though. I’m always trying to provide quality work and feedback like this helps.

  2. less sketches and so on does not man more control, it means less. IV does something weird, but you cannot control it. There are options sometimes with values between 0 and 1, pretty meaningless. I tried a surface simliar to what law would do in Catia, painful. The shaver from IV looks like something mate with heatshrink. The Slidworks one looks more professional and the flat bits at one end are intended, will be a pain to do that in IV.
    Control also means for instance make surfaces tangential to each other, IV is pretty lean on this

    1. To me, those flat bits in Solidworks are done that way because to do it using other Surfacing methods and maintain higher surface continuity would be too time consuming. I could have made those flat bits too quite easily and still maintained better surface quality, aesthetics and ergonomics.
      Maybe I am just biased?
      Whenever I demonstrate t-splines to Solidworks users, their jaws drop. I demonstrated a very small part of what you can do. Watch this space for more jaw dropping features…

  3. I found out today that I can import an Autodesk Alias file into SolidWorks, via iges, knit the surfaces, then convert it into a solid model for editing. Can you provide a step by step on this?

  4. I just posted about importing Alias wires into SolidWorks, knitting the surfaces and converting the surface into a solid, editable model. If I can do the same by importing the Alias wire into Inventor, knitting the surface and converting it into an editable solid model, that would work even better since I’m more versed in Inventor than SolidWorks (sorry, Inventor is just faster with less keystrokes). Can you help me?

  5. This comparison is interesting, but it seems like your post is biased towards Inventor and isn’t a fair comparison of the two.

    Using comparisons for a justification is just a fan boy trying to convince himself one is better than the other.

    1. I’ve used both Solidworks and Inventor. I saw the new technologies in Inventor are better and more innovative.
      Anyone can say one is better than the other it is another thing to show it side by side.
      If the tools in Solidworks were far superior then no bias or fan boy mentality in the world could disprove that. As they say, you can’t polish a turd. if yuo can show me otherwise, I’m more than happy to post it and edit the article.

  6. This is not fair to compaire traditional surface modeling with tsplines what is standard in Inventor 2016 or 2016 but when you have Npower Power Surfacing for Solidworks then tsplines has no chance in form of speed and easyto use If you want a fair test try both 3D CAD programs with traditional surface modeling and my opnion is with traditional surface modeling is Solidworks better as Inventor

    1. You can also buy the 3D Experience Industrial Design app from Solidworks too as an add-on.

      You say it’s ‘not fair’ and that the N-Power add-on could show similar results to Autodesk Inventor, but is it also not fair to do an apples for apples comparison that involves 3rd party add-ons for Solidworks that cost extra money and not do the same for Autodesk Inventor and evaluate a better surfacing add-on too it has? Where does it end?

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