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Direction the industry is taking


Direction the industry is taking

Hi all,

We're a mid-size company who has a small group that is trying to bring
SolidWorks into the company. I'm clear on the opinions surrounding the
capabilities between the two software's and don't want to revisit that.
One of the main arguments that is being brought to the table is that the
"industry" is currently leaning heavily towards SolidWorks. I know last
year's PtcUser event broke the 5000 attendee barrier, and the equivalent
SolidWorks conference was close to the same. I also realize that Ptc once
stood alone and that SolidWorks has crept up and is now a strong
competitor, especially for those companies who are choosing a 3d CAD tool
for the first time. As people associated with the industries that use
these softwares, do you think that the "industry" is currently leaning
heavily towards SolidWorks is an accurate statement?



I have no hard evident on what I am about to tell you, but it is anecdotal
evidence based on my own observation. Concerning the number of Pro-E vs. SW
users, it is a relative statement , and I believe this depends on the size
and age of the company. If you are referring to start-ups, or small
businesses, I would agree that more are probably using SW than Pro-E as SW
seems to take a more active interest in its small clients that have only one
or two licenses of SW. I do not seem to hear as much about comparisons
between Pro-E & Catia as I did a few years ago. How does Pro-E (with ISDX)
compare to Catia, as Catia is more powerful than SolidWorks (both are owned
by Dassault Systems)?

Pro-E does appears to have a larger install base with Larger, or older
companies. I have noticed that some countries (from user forums), such as
India, China, and Eastern Europe seem to use Pro-E more frequently than SW.
When PTC discusses install base compared to SW, they typically talk about
number of licenses issued, and not the number of clients. PTC may indeed
lead in the number of seats, but I suspect when looking at the sheer number
of clients, more are using SW in the United States & Western Europe,
especially if the small companies are removed from the survey.

As an independent consultant / contractor, I use both Pro-E & SW. Because my
clients are typically small businesses (medical device, consumer products,
machine design, etc), I now use SW more frequently than Pro-E. With SW
Office Premium, I have access to add-ins (modules) that my current license
of Pro-E does not support (unless I wish to spend $$$ to upgrade): static
FEA, motion simulation, routing (electrical cabling), rendering ,
reverse-engineering (ScanTo3D), etc. Until I tested the Pro-E WF 5.0
pre-release in a hands-on workshop, which has some nice enhancements BTW, I
was under the impression PTC was more interested in its PDM solution than
its CAD products. Have you noticed that you can no longer purchase
DesignDataManger (DDM) if you have active Pro-E maintenance over the past
two years, and are not a current DDM customer? This forces Pro-E clients to
adopt Windchill instead of looking for PDM alternatives.

One of the issues I have with Pro-E is the extra cost of purchasing the
freeform surfacing module (ISDX). Although I have it, often I cannot use it
as some of my clients do not have access to ISDX, and cannot modify the
models I provide them if I use ISDX. With SW, the freeform modeling tools
are included in every license pack, so I can use all the surfacing tools at
my disposal without my client complaining they do not have access to modify
the CAD models. Pro-E does, however, have MathCAD integration which SW
currently lacks. Also, I still prefer Pro-E for sheet metal design, but more
often I use SW more per client & manufacturer request.

This is not to necessary to state SW is better than Pro-E, just a better
value in my opinion for the cost of the product. Pro-E has some advantages,
and I know of a few companies that have switched back to Pro-E from SW due
to large assembly issues. I believe the large assembly issue has improved
with the release of SW 2009 (SpeedPak), but have not yet tested this
feature. Another area of frustration among some SW users is when SW releases
the next version of SW, some of the video cards that were previously
approved are no longer supported. This is a frequent complaint among SW
laptop users as they do not want to upgrade hardware with each release of

If you have a specific question you would like to ask, let me know.


Chris Thompson

Appian Way Technologies LLC

Powell, Ohio 43065

(614) 595-3751

SW Office Premium 2007 & 2009

Pro-E WF 2.0 & 3.0 (including ISDX)


Size of a user base has no barring. Computervision, Applicon, and Intergarph all had large user bases and they are now defunct. Why are they defunct; because they didn't give their customers what they wanted. Companies like PTC came along and offered new functionality and ease of use. Now Solid Works (SW), Solid Edge, IronCad and others are doing the same thing. So much so that PTC is being threatened. You don't have to study ProE very much before you find that PTC has been playing catch up with many of the new features found in all versions of Wildfire.

To PTC's credit, they have also added many of their own innovations and I believe this is keeping them competitive. Wildfire 5 & 6 will bring many new innovations that will help PTC keep their leadership position for the near future. I particularly think the update of ProWeld will be great. PTC's working on implementing JT files into wildfire, once they can embed functional JT files into ProE and keep them as JT files, ProE will be able to manage huge assemblies in ways we have only dreamed of. 3D annotation is almost to the point of usability in WF5 and probably will be in WF6. Even ProE's detailing is being upgraded and will be able to easily compete with anyone. I can't wait to see that.

The real advantages of the Solid Works like packages are the ability to create quick designs and detailing. Their weakness are anything thing beyond that. Each company has to determine what their requirements are. Do they require an advanced CAD Data Management or PLM system. Do they require any combination of advanced modules like RSD, Cabling, Human Simulation (manikin), CAM, Piping, Mechanisms, Tolerance Analysis, MathCAD, Arbortext, or IsoDraw. If so, why go with a CAD system that only does the basics. If they only require the basics, and those basics are extensive with the inclusion of Sheetmetal Design and Surfaces, one could argue that a package like SW could meet their needs.

Whatever you decide, make sure you don't create a mixed CAD environment. The extra work that creates is a real drain on company resources (time, finances, & personnel), and who can afford to waste them these days.


Will Swank
CNH America LLC

Principal CAD/PDM Engineer
500 Diller Ave. M/S 640
New Holland, PA, USA 17557-0903

I found this VERY informative. Thank you for sharing this with the group.

Michael P. Locascio

First, I hear these 'SW is gaining while Pro|E is loosing' or 'everyone
is going SW' comments all the time from SW fan boys. Never have any of
them backed it up with anything but anecdotal evidence. On several
occasions I've challenged them, usually on the MCAD Central forums, and
they have not come back with any evidence, not even a SW press release.

At PTC|User 2007, **** Harrison made the claim that the over all CAD
market was growing at 5% while Pro|E was growing at 15%. Now, that's an
old stat and it's a claim made be PTC, which of course is colored to
make them look the best possible. However, it is 1 more stat than the
SW fan boys have.

Challenge those saying that the world is going to SW to provide some
stats. If they find some, I'd like to see them. I'm betting they
won't. Lots of anecdotes like Chris' (and I have some of my own, read
on), but no real stats.

Second, what is the cost to your company to convert? Training? Lost
productivity? How will you manage legacy data? What functions of Pro|E
will you miss? For example, Pro|E has a robust mechanism for managing
the configuration of the software across the enterprise with config
files. It may be a little clunky, no argument there, but it's very
configurable and it works well. SW has no means at all for ensuring
that company standards are met. Simple things like making sure everyone
is on the same start part are not possible with SW, there's just no way
to pass standards down through your group.

We also had a recent situation where we were given an ID model built in
Alias and told to reproduce it in SW. The engineer assigned to it, a
talented guy, battled SW for hours trying to get it right and ultimately
had to compromise on the form. Just for giggles, he tried it in Pro|E
and had is made in an hour. If you rely on accurate, complex surfacing,
you may want to try to reproduce one of your designs in SW first.

Third, the old adage your mama told you applies, if everyone jumped off
the bridge, would you? You have to look at what you gain as a company
by making the switch.

Last, I do have to say that in recent years, my experience is similar to
Chris'. When I started here 7.5 years ago, we had no engineering
clients using SW. Now we have several. I was recently involved in
trying to negotiate our software maintenance and it was an eye opener.
We have high end seats of both SW & Pro||E. The SW maintenance was
close to 1/3 of the Pro|E. Now, I prefer Pro|E, but if it were my
dollars, I'd have a hard time justifying nearly 3X the price. Even
worse, we have a small user base with 8 seats of Enterprise SE and we
could find no one willing to work with us on maintenance cost. We
contacted 2 VARs and PTC direct and got nothing but list price quotes.

So, while I would challenge the SW fan boys to get their facts, my
anecdotal evidence seems to support their conclusions.

Doug Schaefer
Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer
Business Continuity with Creo: Learn more about it here.

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