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


World-Leading Prosthetics in SOLIDWORKS

steeper banner pic

Steeper is a leading manufacturer of innovative prosthetic, orthotic and assistive technology. Based in Leeds, its prosthetic development team has developed some of the world's best upper extremity prosthetics including their bebionic range and natural Skinergy coverings. The company also works in partnership with the NHS in the UK as well as the London Prosthetics Centre to provide cutting-edge prosthetic services.

The Challenge

To build the world's most lifelike bebionic hand for the female, adolescent and Asian market. Steeper's flagship bebionic prosthetic range currently features two hand sizes, large (measuring 200mm from middle finger tip to hand base) and medium (190mm). Market research revealed there was no hi-tech, multi-articulated prosthetics available for the smaller frame.
The challenge for Steeper would be in retaining all the functionality of the medium hand - including strength, robustness, ease-of-use and control - but with a 30 per cent reduction in size.

The Solution

A design team of seven electrical and mechanical engineers worked collaboratively in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD for all their conceptual and prototype designs of the bebionic small.
The prosthetics team used the full range of the SOLIDWORKS modelling functionality including lofting, surface profiles and splines to produce drawings quickly and easily. The Interference Detection and Mass Properties tools allowed them to set dimensions and work confidently within the confines of the small package spaces.
The key thing was that the team designed the shell of the hand first, and then designed the mechanisms to fit inside and not the other way around. This approach meant they could focus on both functionality and aesthetics equally but to do so they required an integrated workflow between mechanical and electrical.

SOLIDWORKS let them integrate their electronics hardware design in 3D to investigate and solve any component clashes or areas of concern, so with a lot of interactive, collaborative design between the electrical and mechanical teams, some give and take around designing a component around a circuit board or a circuit board needing a bit more space and reducing the chassis to make room, they finally had a solution.

Steeper used SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional to share assemblies work on certain models and crucially to keep all the drawings up to date when a part was changed.

Design validation was handled using SOLIDWORKS Simulation, allowing them to check and investigate any gaps and clearances to make sure there weren't any clashes in the assemblies.

The Results

The bebionic small was launched onto the market two years later. The device uses myoelectrical signals collected from the surface of the user's skin to control movement and individual motors in each finger means the hand can move in a natural, coordinated way.

In 2015 the bebionic small was awarded a British Engineering Excellence award for mechanical product of the year.

  • Enabled Electrical and mechanical integration
  • 30 per cent reduction of complex mechanisms
  • Fluid processes with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional
  • 80 per cent of design concept in SOLIDWORKS
"80 per cent of our design concept for the bebionic small is done in SOLIDWORKS. The software lets us get knee deep into designing without worrying about the tools we are using."

Ted Varley,
Technical Director, Steeper

"It encouraged a more efficient design and even more integration between the two disciplines of mechanical and electronics, which can only be a good thing."

Martin Wallace,
Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, Steeper