SolidWorks is a kick ass CAD program. It does everything AutoCAD does better. (I have too say i may be a little biased because i work there) Here is the official company statement of what we do

SolidWorks Corporation, a Dassault Systèmes S.A. (Nasdaq: DASTY, Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) company, develops and markets mechanical design software solutions. Founded in 1993, SolidWorks' mission is to deliver the power of 3D to everybody in design and manufacturing. In 5 years of shipping product, SolidWorks has shipped more than 131,000 total seats of software consisting of over 73,000 commercial seats and more than 58,000 educational seats worldwide. SolidWorks has offices worldwide and distributes its products through a network of resellers selling in 70 countries. For the latest news, information, or a live online demonstration, visit the company's Web site (

Basically you can do anything with this program from making simple drawings to full blown 3D design with almost no training at all. We have some real big companies design their stuff with us. I'm not sure if i am allowed to tell you who, so i won't for now. Check out the online streaming 3D it's pretty bad ass. You'll like it i promise.
SolidWorks deserves a bit more exposition, so that's what it will get.

SW, as it is abbreviated, differs from different CAD programs in that its basic state is that of 3D design. It would be very easy for a Maya developer to jump into CAD with this program. SW begins at the part level where 2D sketches are extruded into 3D objects that can be anything to basic blocks to sweeping curves. From there all the detailing that goes into CAD is as simple as selecting a face or an edge and giving it rounding/filleting or chamfer, sketching on a face to extrude a hole or using the wizard to put in a bolt or screwhole and using the variety of Xpert wizards that are available to complete a slew of different designs. The sketching tools were created with the intent of making the drawing of curves as easy as possible and as instantly customizable as possible. Bundled is an engineering tool that will allow you to choose the part's material be it high grade steel or plastic and then calculating the stresses that you might put on it. It's an easy process to find out how much load your part can take, or at least a safe lower bound. There is even a tool, on very high end machines, to make a photorealistic 3D image of the part.

Once the parts are completed, you can build assemblies of parts, mating sides and faces together into machines, machines that can be animated in their 3D environment in a manner which is physically realistic. If you want to see how your part will move before you have even sent it to be built, this is how you would do it.

And finally once the machine is ready SolidWorks has a blueprint drafting tool that fully references all the parts that you care to put into it. If you go back and change a part in your machines, the paper copy can be easily rebuilt with those changes accounted for. This part of the program can also create a customizable bill of materials in either xls or SW format from a variety of templates.

SolidWorks is an intuitive and useful tool to any engineer or other designer. The ease of use and quick training, I've been using it for a week and find that it is fairly straightforward for me to take a schematic and turn it into a 3D model, makes it so that bringing a group of people up to speed with SW very quick and productive.

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