SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD is one of the most powerful and intuitive 3D CAD systems on the market. Produced by Dassault Systèmes, it is a solid modelling program that runs on Microsoft Windows.The first product was released in 1995 by SOLIDWORKS, Corporation, then based in Concord, Massachusetts

Trusted by millions

The product is currently used by over three million engineers and designers at more than 245,000 companies worldwide. The user base ranges from individuals to large corporations, 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.

SOLIDWORKS is a solid modeller, and utilises a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies. Such systems are very good at capturing the design intent of the creator of the part being worked on. Building a model in SOLIDWORKS usually starts with a 2D sketch (although 3D sketches are available for power users).

There are currently several versions of SOLIDWORKS, in addition to eDrawings, a collaboration tool, and DraftSight, a 2D CAD product.

SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD comes in three packages - Standard, Professional and Premium. What are the differences between the three? When does it make sense to upgrade?

Take a look at our matrix to see the different features of each version to help decide which is the right one for you.

Although there are many factors involved, our expert team will be pleased to look at which main functionalities you need and whether upgrading is needed to streamline your design processes.


A fully functional suite of SOLIDWORKS' core 3D design capabilities, allowing the rapid creation of parts, assemblies and 2D drawings. SOLIDWORKS Standard also includes some FEA capability to perform static and stress analysis on parts.

SOLIDWORKS Professional:

All the power of SOLIDWORKS Standard but with additional capabilities:

  • Extensive CAD libraries
  • SOLIDWORKS Costings
  • PhotoView 360
  • eDrawings Professional.
Ultimately SOLIDWORKS Professional will increase your productivity, ensure greater accuracy and help you to communicate design information more effectively.


The complete 3D design system, SOLIDWORKS Premium has the following additional features:

  • Advanced FEA simulation capabilities, allowing static, stress and motion analyses to be performed.
  • A routing feature for tooling and harnessing, including support for rectangular ducting and cable trays
  • CircuitWorks, to create enclosures for circuit boards Automated Tolerance Stack-Up Analyst (Tol Analyst) to determine sizing allowances.

Key Benefits

  • Easy to learn, easy to use
  • Customisable to fit experience and expertise
  • Wizards, experts and diagnostics tools take the complexity out of CAD, with powerful modelling tools making it easy to create the complex forms needed
  •  Sketches update automatically in the 3D CAD model
  • Powerful modelling tools produce sophisticated, beautiful forms that differentiate products in today's competitive market
  • Tools such as copy, mirror and pattern geometry automate repetitive design and development tasks
  • Quickly and easily create design variations from a single model
  • View, rotate and even fly-through complex assembly designs for more clarity
  • Check interferences, clearances and alignment throughout the full range of motion
  • Intelligent libraries of reusable parts, including intelligent fasteners that assemble themselves automatically
  • Create brochure-ready high quality product renderings selecting from a range of options for materials, textures and backgrounds; capture animations of your design to share with suppliers and customers
  • SOLIDWORKS Large Design Review will quickly open, navigate, walk-through, measure, section and create snapshot views of massive assemblies, adding annotations as you go
  • Creates comprehensive 2D drawings that are automatically linked with the 3D model - as the 3D model is modified so too is the 2D drawing updated ensuring all views are up to date and drawings are to scale
  • Standard templates and automated drawing checks streamline common design checking tasks
    Automated creation of bills of material (BOMS), balloons and annotations, plus expert tools for dimensioning and tolerancing


Astro: Lighting up America with SOLIDWORKS

Astro Lighting header


The Company

Astro is one of the leading lighting designers in the UK. Founded in 1997 by John Fearon and James Bassant through a shared passion for quality design and precision, Astro has built up a world-class reputation for delivering high-end, contemporary lighting products. Selling in more than 70 countries with 1,300 different product units (SKUs) its lights are the go-to choice for architects, interior designers and high-end residential customers. Recently winning a Red Dot 2017 Product Design Award for its Edge Reader light, the company has been a SOLIDWORKS user since 1999 and is based in Harlow, Essex.

The Challenge

As part of Astro's strategy for sustainable growth, the company decided to expand into the American market with a full catalogue of products. More than 360 products had to be converted for the American market to meet the ETL certification mark and UL safety standards required and 100 products had to be sent off for testing. Astro needed everything to run as smoothly as possible without delay.

The Solution

Astro needed to produce new assemblies, part drawings and instructions for the American market fast. Using SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD for its whole design process, from concept and form all the way through to final engineering, the design team had everything it needed at its fingertips for the American conversions.

Stuart Wells, Head of Product Development, says, "For the American market, we were on a steep learning cure of what we needed to do in terms of test, rules and regulations. Everything had to be redesigned to make sure it was compatible and would fit.

"With SOLIDWORKS, we could take standard components, which we knew were compliant in Europe, and then model up and hot swap them in and out to find the best fit."

One of the key aspects of the software was being able to create a customised library of standard components, which Astro could then pull into the new designs. The company also used SOLIDWORKS for its documentation creation.


  • Reduced time to market
  • CAD compatibility with suppliers
  • Increased accuracy, particularly of complex products, plastic moldings and die-castings
  • Seamlessly penetrating the traditionally difficult US market with the same design ethos and technical excellence


NT CADCAM supplied Astro with its first seat of SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD in 1999 and has received the SOLIDWORKS Elite Reseller Award in recognition of its high levels of customer support, technical expertise and subscription services. NT CADCAM now supports Astro's 14 SOLIDWORKS licenses including 4 seats of SOLIDWORKS Professional.

"NT CADCAM is great. We get great service, good support and our account manager is always popping by to check everything is going well. It is tantamount to SOLIDWORKS and NT CADCAM that 20 years on we are still very happy with the software. We are constantly evaluating the CAD market to see if we could do things better, but SOLIDWORKS does everything we need it to do. The success of our products confirms that."

Stuart Wells

Head of Product Development, Astro