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Why use SolidWorks instead of AutoCAD?

AutoCAD and SolidWorks.  They’re not alike, and from a business design standpoint they’re complements.

AutoCAD is a 2D CAD tool created by AutoDesk and it’s the industry standard for 2D CAD. Although it does have 3D modeling tools, 3D modeling isn’t its main purpose. As such, AutoCAD isn’t as effective as programs that were specifically designed for 3D modeling.

SolidWorks is a 3D CAD tool created by Dassault Systèmes, and it’s the industry standard for 3D CAD. Although it does have tools for 2D drafting, you’re not meant to draw 2D views from scratch. The program doesn’t have the optimal tools for it. Instead, the usual practice is to generate 2D views from an existing 3D model.

Though different, both programs complement each other. If you’re an architect, the obvious choice is AutoCAD, but if you’re a mechanical or electrical engineer. Either program can be useful depending on what it will be used for. For example, you might design a metal sheet in SolidWorks, export your design as a DWG file, and finish preparing it with AutoCAD so that it can be machined.


AutoCAD is expensive. while prices range from about $220 per month to $1,775 per year, or get three years of access for about $5,060.

SolidWorks is also known to be expensive while the standard SolidWorks license is about $1,295 per year, including support and the newest version available when you renew your license.


Both programs work in fundamentally different ways. For example, on the left side of the SolidWorks window, we find the Feature Manager Design Tree, where we can find the listing of all features done to our model. This doesn’t exist in AutoCAD, because it’s not necessary.

Instead, in the AutoCAD ribbon, we find a layer functionality that separates different lines in our project. This function makes more sense here because a project in AutoCAD will typically have loads of lines with a variety of functions, such as centerlines, construction lines, dimensions, and hidden lines.

Features & Functions

In AutoCAD, it’s to draw projected views of an object. In SolidWorks, it’s to create a sketch that can be made into a 3D model.

Both AutoCAD and SolidWorks allow you to create labeling formats to easily label all your projects the same way, and there are annotation formats for standardizing the font family, size, color, the color of dimension lines, and more.

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