SolidWorks is a 3D mechanical CAD (computer-aided design) program that runs on Microsoft Windows and was developed by SolidWorks Corporation - now a subsidiary of Dassault Systèmes, S. A. (Suresnes, France). It is currently one of the most popular products in the 3D mechanical CAD market.

SolidWorks was introduced in 1995 as a low-cost competitor to CAD programs such as Pro/ENGINEER, I-DEAS, Unigraphics, AutoCAD and CATIA. SolidWorks Corporation was founded in 1993 by Jon Hirschtick, with its headquarters at Concord, Massachusetts, and released its first product, SolidWorks 95, in 1995. In 1997 Dassault Systèmes, best known for its CATIA CAD software, acquired the company and currently owns 100% of its shares. SolidWorks was headed by John McEleney from 2001 to July, 2007, and is now headed by Jeff Ray.

Solidworks is used by product designers and mechanical engineers worldwide. Its user base ranges from individuals to large companies, and covers a very wide cross-section of manufacturing market segments. Commercial sales are made through an indirect channel, which includes dealers and partners throughout the world. Directly competitive products to SolidWorks include Pro/ENGINEER, Solid Edge, and Inventor.

SolidWorks is a parasolid-based solid modeler, and utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to creating models and assemblies.

Parameters refer to constraints whose values determine the shape or geometry of the model or assembly. Parameters can be either numeric parameters, such as line lengths or circle diameters, or geometric parameters, such as tangent, parallel, concentric, horizontal or vertical, etc. Numeric parameters can be associated with each other through the use of relations, which allows them to capture design intent.

Design Intent is how the creator of the part wants it to respond to changes and updates. For example, you would want the hole at the top of a pop can to stay at the top surface, regardless of the height or size of the can. Instead of setting dimensions to the top pop hole, you would set a relation to the pop top surface. SolidWorks would then recognize your design intent and keep the hole on the top surface, no matter what the height you later gave to the can.

Features refer to the building blocks of the part. They are the shapes and operations that construct the part. Shape-based features typically begin with a 2D or 3D sketch of shapes such as bosses, holes, slots, etc. This shape is then extruded or cut to add or remove material from the part. Operation-based features are not sketch-based, and include features such fillets, chamfers, shells, applying draft to the faces of a part, etc.

Building a model in SolidWorks usually starts with a 2D sketch (although 3D sketches are available for power users). The sketch consists of geometry such as points, lines, arcs, conics, and splines. Dimensions are added to the sketch to define the size and location of the geometry. Relations are used to define attributes such as tangency, parallelism, perpendicularity, and concentricity. The parametric nature of SolidWorks means that the dimensions and relations drive the geometry, not the other way around. The dimensions in the sketch can be controlled independently, or by relationships to other parameters inside or outside of the sketch.

SolidWorks pioneered the ability of a user to roll back through the history of the part in order to make changes, add additional features, or change to sequence in which operations are performed. Later feature-based solid modeling software also copied this idea.[citation needed]

In an assembly, the analog to sketch relations are mates. Just as sketch relations define conditions such as tangency, parallelism, and concentricity with respect to sketch geometry, assembly mates define equivalent relations with respect to the individual parts or components, allowing the easy construction of assemblies. SolidWorks also includes additional advanced mating features such as gear and cam follower mates, which allow modeled gear assemblies to accurately reproduce the rotational movement of an actual gear train.

Finally, drawings can be created either from parts or assemblies. Views are automatically generated from the solid model, and notes, dimensions and tolerances can then be easily added to the drawing as needed. The drawing module includes most paper sizes and standards (ANSI, ISO, DIN, GOST, JIS, BSI and GB).

Dassault SystèmesSolidWorks Corp., a world leader in 3D solutions, today in a worldwide press event unveiled SolidWorks® 2009 Premium, the newest version of the most widely adopted 3D CAD software with a documented speed increase of up to 65 percent over SolidWorks 2008. No 3D CAD software is faster or easier to use in helping users transform their innovative ideas into intelligent 3D models that are ready for manufacturing.

SolidWorks 2009 enhances what was already among the highest-performing products in the 3D CAD market. The new software reflects an intensive R&D effort focused directly on performance, which company research reveals is designers’ and engineers’ most valued CAD software trait.

“With SolidWorks 2009, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in assembly and drawing performance, especially when working with large assemblies,” said Mike Baljak, SolidWorks CAD administrator, ATS Automation Tooling Systems “SolidWorks 2009 will enable us to quickly open large layouts, make changes to the design, and update the associated drawing with ease, which will make our design process more efficient. This will ultimately help ATS get our SolidWorks-generated designs to manufacturing faster, shorten the design and build cycle, and enable our customers to get their products to market quicker than their competition.”

In addition to raw out-of-the-box performance, SolidWorks 2009 introduces SpeedPak (video at, a new approach to large assembly handling that dramatically reduces the amount of computer memory needed while maintaining full graphic detail and associativity. As a result, users can build and work with massive assemblies and drawings with high performance and memory efficiency.

“Given that the point of software solutions is to automate tasks and the point of automation is to make common tasks happen faster, then a significant increase in performance will deeply benefit every designer and engineer,” said John MacKrell, senior analyst with CIMdata. “SpeedPak technology increases performance while decreasing resource consumption, providing a double benefit for designers, especially those who work with large assemblies.”


Performance improvements reflect just a few of more than 260 enhancements in SolidWorks 2009, nearly all of which directly satisfy customer requests submitted in surveys, user groups, customer visits, formal voice-of-the-customer analysis, and prospect/user studies. The product is the result of thousands of interviews, countless hours of customer research, usability testing, and the most thorough vetting by beta customers to date. The many improvements help product development organizations improve business performance, satisfy customers, design elegant products, and develop new users into power users. Click here to listen to a podcast interview with SolidWorks 2009 customer Scott Maro of Maro & Associates, Inc.

Designing Better Products

And though speed improves productivity, nothing is more important than product quality. With improved workflow and verification capabilities, SolidWorks 2009 also helps designers and engineers develop better, higher-quality products. For example, SolidWorks 2009 includes a new Simulation Advisor that helps users analyze designs for hidden flaws, guiding them through every stage of a simulation.

Building on the integration of SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation software, new Simulation Sensors alert users when parts and assemblies deviate from user-defined limits. At any point in the design process, users can set goals like allowable stress, displacement, part weight, measurement, interference, or simulation data. No CAD software possesses this level of “set it and forget it” alerting capability.

SolidWorks 2009 adds a new quality capability, Assembly Clearance Verification, that lets designers and engineers specify keep-out areas around parts because of operating requirements like heat or electromagnetics.

SolidWorks 2009 also incorporates CircuitWorks™ software (, which enables designers and engineers to integrate electronic and mechanical designs like those required by the millions of electronic products developed every year.

Always improving 2D

Understanding that 2D is still vital in a 3D world, SolidWorks 2009 includes numerous drawing enhancements that directly benefit those many users whose final output is a manufacturing drawing. The new Title Block Wizard (video:, for example, automates the creation, editing, and standardization of title block information. The SolidWorks 2009 Dimension

Jog capability (video: enables users to make drawing details clearer and easier to interpret.

SolidWorks 2009 also simplifies plastics design. For example, users no longer have to resort to advanced modeling commands to create the ubiquitous lips and grooves used in snapping together molded parts. A new Lip and Groove command (video: handles this automatically, saving multiple steps for every designer and shortening the learning curve.

Finally, for the third consecutive year, SolidWorks 2009 introduces a product based on SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology (SWIFT), which helps beginning CAD users achieve expert results. A new simple-to-use progressive rendering tool called PhotoView 360 lets users photorealistically render a scene while allowing the user to continue working on the same scene, unlike software that forces users to wait until scenes are complete.

“Designers and engineers want a great user experience, allowing them to focus on the product they are developing, not the software, and perform their work faster without compromise,” said Austin O’Malley, CTO of Dassault SystèmesSolidWorks Corp. “We listened hard to our customers, and the early SolidWorks 2009 feedback shows that we’ve successfully advanced this objective.”

In addition, SWIFT Instant 3D toolsets now allow dynamic editing throughout all stages of design, regardless of whether the user is working in a sketch, part, or assembly.


SolidWorks 2009 supplies single-window, fully associative integration with all of SolidWorks software products, including simulation, data management, and 3D content collaboration.