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Creo vs. Solidworks vs. Inventor


Creo vs. Solidworks vs. Inventor

I feel like I need to vent a little, so I was hoping to get a discussion started as to why Creo has any advantage over the other popular 3D CAD modeling systems. I want to like this product, I really do, but right now, I feel like I am being forced to learn a dying system. Creo will not survive if they do not change the way things are done.


I am new to Creo (6 weeks), but I have used Inventor for the past 3 years. In my opinion, there is no comparison between the two. Inventor is significantly better than Creo in pretty much every single way I have been using the system.


Component Modeling:

Creo is completely unintuitive. For the novice trying to obtain a grasp on this program, it is next to impossible without a significant amount of training from PTC. This is probably part of their business plan because truthfully, their documentation and training programs are superior to the software itself. It seems like the designers of this software have had no personal experience using a system. The user interface is obviously a copy of what Autodesk has been doing - the Ribbon UI. However, they have failed at the ease and convenience that Inventor provides and it seems like their employees do not understand why they are programming their product in this way.


Right clicking for everything is a nuisance. The commands should be explicit. Once a command has been initialized, it should state what is needed to accomplish a successful feature. When I hover over some of the commands, it's as if the programmer just did not understand the point of what he/she was trying to create. For instance if you hover over swept blend, the information contained says "create a swept blend". Inventor shows a preview of what the function actually does in a quick movie if you hover over it, plus it provides a link to learn further information and even provides an exercise showing explicitly how to use the function and what must be defined for the function to work. PTC expects that you just know that you need to add certain references without actually telling you that you need it. For instance, the rotate feature needs a centerline (should be able to use any datum axis) which you then need to right click and define it as the rotational axis. If you try to do this through the message box, it will not work. There is no documentation in the help file saying this needs to be done. My anger continues to grow.


Also, patterning complex features is pretty much a null exercise, since it takes Creo 20 minutes to regenerate the model. I have never experienced this with Inventor. Their software updates automatically after a function is confirmed. There is no need to repaint/regenerate.



The constraint system seems to have a mind of its own. After applying an angle constraint just this morning, and the preview showing the correct orientation, after confirming, the model just sort of reversed the direction and tilted on another axis which was untouched. I know it's difficult to picture this. But just picture me wishing that Creo was tangible and that I could soak it in Ethanol and watch it burn a slow painful death.


That's enough.


Please provide some insight as to why this program is any good at all. I need to like it. I want to like it. I have to like it. But right now, it is the bane of my existence. Some of the simplest commands that I try to initiate do not work as intended. There are way too many idiosycrasies that 'just have to be known' through experience. There is no way that someone could just hop on this program and start using it. However, with Inventor, they have actually put work and research into making their product user friendly. So much so that at my previous position, I could educate a technician in a day or two and they are off and running producing components, assemblies, and even drawings.


Please help me think of Creo as a helpful tool instead of a hinderence and outdated piece of garbage.


Thanks for your help.






172 REPLIES 172

I think what I like best about CREO is that I am getting a new computer, since the one I am using currently (that is above minimum specs) continually crashes from the program, delightfully in the middle of a model. Even though I save every 5 minutes, it still takes another 5 minutes to reboot, and another 5 minutes to redo the work that was lost.

So maybe I will start to like it better when/if it actually works as intended.

I seriously do want to like it, and am starting to learn some of the idiosyncrasies, but it could just be so much better if for every feature, there was a sample of its use with the necessary workflow outlined explicitly, so as Paul mentioned in a previous post, you do not have to spend hours trying to find the correct click orders.

PTC definitely needs to perform some user polls for improvements instead of just deciding what to do themselves. Hopefully at least one manager sees these posts and most of the users' gripes and makes a concerted effort to effect some change.

I've resisted responding to this thread for quite some time, but it's kind of like a car wreck on the side of a just gotta take a peak and see how the carnage is.

For my part, I was one of those "dinosaurs" that started on Rev. 17 with "no live neurons" in my brain left to solve design problems I'm happy to be mostly done with the menu mangler of Pre-Wildfire, sometimes miss the robustness of 2001 and Wildfire 4 and don't miss the preemptive Creo attempt in Creo Elements /Pro 5.0. I can say that today I'm fairly comfortable with Creo 2.

As far as new users adapting to the software, I've had the fortune of training many high school kids in each release since Wildfire 4. None of these kids had seen CAD before and for the most part, they've latched onto the concept with no problems and some with truly astounding success. They key for them was in their expectations. Starting out they had no preconceptions about what button should do what, they just followed instructions and got used to what it took to make the software work. Incidentally, one thing I always teach them is to watch for things changing color to red, because that usually means the software needs another input. Creo 2 has been the release that they've started using the quickest and with the least amount of training.

Last thing...I generally play around with Solidworks every other release or so. It's not the most fun to pick up again, but after a while I can make it do the job.

SpaceClaim was quite easy to pick up and does have some neat features, while it is challenging to make some features work.

CoCreate is a royal pain to me despite how much its user base loves the software.

Creo Direct seems fairly easy but still lacking in some features.

Autodesk's Fusion was also similar to SpaceClaim to me.

That's my 2 cents.

Sheesh, this thread is freaking me out. Well, not really, but maybe I'm a little worried. I've been using Pro/E for almost 15 years and don't know much else. My company currently is on WF5, but we're talking about going to Creo 2 soon. We have a couple seats of SolidWorks now, but I haven't used it. We're only using it to share data with some of our vendors, but our guys who are using it seem to like it.

So after all this time, my career is pretty well tied to Pro/E. This thread has me worried that I'm tied to a dinosaur. I thought Pro/E was still the #1 CAD software out there, even if it has lost ground in recent years. In fact, I heard somewhere that PTC was making a bit of a comeback in the CAD market. Is that not true? Does anybody know the numbers now? I mean, what's the market share for each CAD package, and how is it trending? I don't want to be stuck some day with nothing but a couple decades of experience in a software package that nobody uses any more. In other words, do I need to pester my boss to allow me to get trained in SolidWorks before it's too late?


I popped onto SolidWorks for 3 months and within a week I was productive with no formal training. If you get the option, definitely try it. What you learned in Pro/E is relevant in SW. Parametric modeling is a discipline more than tool dependent.

As for WF to Creo, not sure if you will be completely lost. It is just as fun as it was promised to be. If you go through the turorials, all seems fine... but the tutorials are geared to the "simple mode" of operation. I will suggest making use of the available tutorials that your upgrade license will provide.

There was only a few gotcha's that really locked me up. They are easily fixed or simply things I needed to understand. Relative Accuracy was probably the biggy. Again, if you get stuck, you have the customer support team. Frustrating as they may be, they will reply and try to get your questions answered in a reasonable amount of time. That reminds me, I need to check on a couple of open cases.

Market share? I think PTC has launched the Creo campaign to hype the software once again. This is the same that happened with the WildFire release. I think it is all hype and the bump in the numbers comes from this and this alone. In general, PTC has solution partners that have very expensive seats and a large install base. These are the core customers that keep PTC alive. Dragging in the small users is only a sideline. We are probably more a pain in their bum then we are revenue. I am sure that their CS is costing them as much as I pay for maintenance. With the bugs remaining the software, you almost cannot afford to drop maintenance.

I like SolidWorks because it has a lot in the core package, not all the optional, and costly extensions. Since the tool I use is my option for most clients, I am seriously considering SW as an expanded solution. Then again, and this is important, SolidWorks is built on a licensed engine from 2006. There will be big changes when they build their own core. This could change the cost structure, option packages, and overall user experience with the company. PTC may be a dinasour, but at least it is still alive and well. I see no reason for it to suddenly disappear. There are simply too many huge accounts depending on PTC.

mmm you may be quite right, however let me ask you one thing.

When you switch girlfriend, do you talk to her in the same way you use to talk to your ex?

I hope your answer is no, so my point is forget abour your previous CAD software think in the way the new CAD software you are using, that´s it.

I started with autocad , then worked with Mechanical Desktop so no too much difference, then I worked with IDEAS , I wanted IDEAS to think in the way I was thinking (Mechanical Desktop) but i was wrong I started thinking the way IDEAS thougth.

Then I swiched to PRO/Wildfire 2.0 and I forgot about IDEAS everytime that I work with PRO or CREO.. It helps a lot


Hi Antonio,

Before I was engaged; when I switched girlfriends, I usually made sure that they were at least as intelligent or more intelligent than my last girlfriend. I also made sure that they were stable, predictable, typically gave acceptable answers to my requests, and did not make me go on a wild goose chase to figure out what's wrong. I would give them a fair trial time and if they were found to not fit my criteria, I dropped them for a better one.

Unfortunately I cannot drop CREO, so I am making my best efforts to get to like her. She is a wiley, mysterious creature; often upredictable. She is extremely intelligent, but in the dumbest way imaginable. So, she fits at least one criteria. Hopefully she will figure out soon how to work best with me and all the other guys and girls that get to use her because her social skill of initial impressions is terrible. Contrary to what I looked for in previous girlfriends, I would like her to be extremely easy. It takes entirely too much physical action (clicks and mouse movement) to get her to do what I want.

Hello Bart,

It was just my personal view point, it is the way things work better for me, The only thing that I can tell about is that no woman in the world is always predictable.

You are right we can not just drop CREO the cost is huge. So I just recommend try to think the way CREO is thinking, I know it is not easy but helps to coutermeasure the issues.

Have a nice day


I am going to give it a try. I have started to grow somewhat of an appreciation for CREO now that I am learning some of the idiosyncrasies. As with anything, the more I learn the more I like it. I think the main point of this post is just for the powers that be at PTC to recognize that something needs to be done to make the average new user be able to instantly find that appreciation.

Thanks for your input!



So CREO has crashed on me 7 times in the last 2 days (even after I was given a new computer with accelerated graphics, processor, and RAM) from using the Save As command. Just terrible...

Creo crashes a lot if used with old Pro/E details/assemblies. Just save often and you'll be safe. Once saved in Creo format, everything will be OK. This is per my experience.

I now save after literally every single action.

Autodesk has a FREE 3D CAD system (123D) that is superior to this overpriced garbage. I wish I could make it not crash on me all the freaking time. It should never do that. There should be a memory warning or it should let me know that it is going to get to a point of no return, but it shouldn't just pause and get stuck in purgatory. Save As???


Thanks so much for bringing humor to this Monday. You are spot on.

The bottom line is that we have to work with Creo but it's not easy. There is a lot of intelligence in this software, but it goes about this in a very backwards, hard to comprehend way.

23-Emerald II

Reminds me of RPN on the HP11C caluculator - backwards way of thinking while doing math, but it sure worked great.

When I started using CREO 2.0 I had the same problem, for some reason there is a conflict with Windows.

so I am an independent professional therefore I have to look by my self for a solution in regards of technical support with my laptop. So I have had some not good experiences taking my laptop with IT guys because they do not understand very well how CREO or other softwares that I run ( SAUER PLUS1 GUIDE) work.

then I decided to try fix my pc software...guess what.. after I run it CREO has not crashed again so far.

It has been 4 or 5 months ago. anyway this is my experience but you should contact the CREO support in order to let them fix it.

Have a nice day


Awesome...thanks for the advice Antonio.

I was hoping there was just some small conflict. I will get with PTC Support and let you know.

Bart, I had a serious problem with a corrupt model that pretty much became useless once I started playing with PhotoRender. This file also had images that somehow became corrupt. I went back to an earlier file and deleted all the likely offender having to do with these two actions and everything became reliable again.

Save those backup copies (don't purge) until you know you have a stable copy. Over all, my system is pretty stable with Creo. So it could well have something to do with file corruption. Once it starts, I recommend stepping back to an earlier version just in case.


I am hoping that it these problems are just some misconfiguration of my system. I just was given a new computer by our CAD administrator to combat these problems. I am starting to like aspects of Creo, but the system crashes are stirring too much frustration and profanity.

I sent a request for assistance from the PTC support team. Surely they have seen these issues before and have a way to combat them.

Thanks for your response!



This is the very reason I bought a "qualified" computer. We shouldn't have to do this, but the old code simply isn't robust enough to run on "anything". Even with Pro|E 2000i, I ran into occasional crashes. It always seems to be graphics related.


Your second paragraph says it all - Inventor 3 years Creo 6 weeks. I have been using Creo2 since its intro and Inventor for 6 weeks and I feels Creo2 has so much more to offer.

Automatic dimensioning, very robust automatic constraints and excellent graphics. You say PTC has copied the Inventor interface - well SolidWorks also has had the system for longer, and that doesn't stop it being better.

In Creo2 - you cant find a command then just use the search option - great for new users.

Use of Patterns in Creo2 is very easy both for features and components, as for it taking 20mins you must have nodded off or have a PC with petit mal.

I do like the way Inventor links the help files to the commands, but the same, and possibly better is achieved by support videos such as those I supply to my clients.

Different systems work in different ways and a complete novice to 3D cad will find any software easier to use than one already using something else.

Perhaps you should either be blaming your trainers or be reassesing how you used the training opportunity - did you want it to fail ir be successful?


Unfortunately around 30% of the time I've found that the creo search option does not find the commands that I know exist. I'm thankful that I started back in the prewildfire days of pro-e when all of the options were grouped logically and visible in front of you in the menus.


I think you are accurate with the fact that preference for a 3D CAD system is typically based on the one you know best. However, I worked with SpaceClaim yesterday for the first time and you could feel the horsepower and cleanliness. Don't know how else to explain that.

For the pattern I was describing, it was a complex mirrored spline with surfacing features. The pattern was an iterative type with changing dimensions. The machine was not up to par, but I have a new one and already Creo has crashed several times when just using the 'Save As' command. It just locks up for some reason. I am hoping this is a configuration issue only. I asked for support from PTC by sending a direct email, but I still have not heard a response.

Consistent training would be nice - I attended a week intro at the beginning and have done a few tutorials online. I have found that some of the older Pro-E guys have quite a bit to offer, but they are still having some trouble getting acquainted with the interface.

I am starting to like the system, but that appreciation is growing very, very slowly.

What Pro|Engineer is to parametric modelling, Spaceclaim is too direct modelling. THE BEST!

CREO is still developing...and it would get better and better. CREO 3.0 is going to be quite a treat!

Yeah , Creo will be the number one CAD in every manufacturing area . Everyone will use PTC creo

Keep your backup versions! I had a complex surface part get corrupt even though it let me keep working for hours. Next day... I had to go back 15 versions to find a non-corrupt part. Open it or any relation to it crashed Creo. Some would open but not save; some would open but not the drawing or assembly; some simply wouldn't open.


Are you an Industrial or educational user?

I am a UK educational trainer and we normally give support to those we train.

I was also trained, industrially with Solidworks as well as being about to complete training as an Inventor eduactional trainer. I am still finding features in one piece of software that I like, so I go back to one of the others, particularly Creo and I find how to do the same in that software.

One thing I do wonder about with CAD trainer is that many move too quickly onto complex methods rather than fully investigating the basics. In schools I feel the earlier they are introduced to the software the better their grasp of it. Very early usage could be likened to play - no worries just see what you can do, problems just put it in the bin and have another go.

In the 70's Art School lecturers had a day when they had to work on their own stuff, perhaps CAD users would benefit from some play time in their week or possibly month.

Try to find time to have a play yourselves, and share the results

Perhaps we need a site where we can share ideas and finds and not, as I have been doing bitch about particular software - rather like a good news program with no bad news allowed!


Hey Paul,

you're concept of "play" is exactly how I teach my FIRST robotics teams Creo in the off-season. I encourage the kids to pick something cool or, bike, skate-board, whatever. Usually I get a ton of questions on creating funky features and I'm often learning new things from them as they learn.

My dream is to have a 3D printer in each of the schools that I work with, so they can actually print out their projects once they are done. There's nothing like creating something on a computer and then holding the real deal in your hand. Many of my robotics kids get the real deal out of sheetmetal, off a lathe or a CNC Mill, but we try to reduce frivolous items due to cost.



In the UK the Design & technology Association set up a network of funded 3D printers that could be used by schools to create their 3D products. Details on the Digital Design & Tchnology website.

I have been using one of the UP! 3D Printers marketed by Denford, which costs £1500 GBP - easy to use and produces quality outcomes. Could any of your schools afford one? May cost less in other countries.

Have you schools willing to do the same in whatever country you operate in.

Also have you considered using 123D Make - a free download from AutoDesk as a way of making 3D items using a laser. Can produce great results and you don't have to use any particular software for the source files just save as STL files.


Thanks Paul!

I think I've seen that printer in MAKE magazine, very cool! Since I work with robotics teams, my hope is really to have the kids design their own printer. Just haven't gotten there yet

It sounds like education is going in the right direction in the UK!


So I have given this program 6 months and I have come to the conclusion that it is officially the worst piece of software I have ever used in my life. That's it. No explanation needed. It's garbage.

After the bajillionth crash, the decision has been made.

Make sure to write PTC and tell them, they need to know this kind of stuff.