I have updated my viewpoint on this subject. Read through this article and then continue to following article.

Welcome aboard Solidworks Reecrite! (Rewritten)


I suppose I should completely rewrite this article. I have been beating the drum of having both history and direct edit design available in the design process for almost two decades. Not because it sounds like a good idea, but this is how I have been designing for almost 20 years.

All of the major 3D CAD programs have added direct edit functionality. But after a bit of investigation I have found that it can not be effectively used in the design process. The problem: Each direct edit function adds a step in the history and this can make the history more complex than ever. The expert users have abandoned it as a viable design process. This closes the door on my dream of having a 3D CAD interoperability standard.

Pro/e Clones cannot add direct edit functionality to the design process. This really does not effect most of the users. Many are happy creating parts with their systems. Many would not even know how it would be implemented. But adding direct edit functionality increase productivity, at least with IronCAD, 5X on conceptual design and 10X on changing the design over history only.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

Solidworks Conceptual Designer is Dassault's only history/direct edit solution. Sadly, they have priced it beyond the reach of most designers.

So what is the future?

IronCAD offers complete integrated history/direct edit functionality in the design process. This is how all 3D CAD systems should work.

ZW3D has a different history process that allows direct edit to be effectively used in the design process. It has made huge advancements in their direct edit funtionality.

I have heard that Fusion 360 is moving to this direction.

Onshape has direct editing but it is basically like Solidworks. Sadly, Onshape did not add any innovation in 3D CAD design. I suppose in the hope to move all of the Solidwork users to their product.

The major Pro/e Clones will never be able to move the productive history/direct edit process.

But there is another level of design called hybrid modeling. This is where 3D wireframe, robust surfacing and solid modeling coexist in one usable process.

There are only two programs that I know meet this criteria. One is ZW3D standard.


Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual is now Solidworks Conceptual Designer. It is touted under the 3DEXPERIENCE Solutions. I always gives me a chuckle when I see 3DEXPERIENCE, all CAD systems are a 3D experience.

The name change made sense. I again laughed at the original name, as Dassault promoted this to their existing SW users, what did they think they were doing non-mechanical conceptual design. They have now added Solidworks Industrial Designer to the line.

This seems like a good solid package. But at $2,988.00 "per year" there are many more productive and cost effective CAD solutions. I do not understand why it wasn't also released to work with Catia 5. SW has good direct edit functionality and since Catia 5 is the only CAD product that doesn't offer direct edit functionality it would be a great add-on. The information in this article is a bit data but still gets the idea across and may interest you.


I was told by a SW VAR that this package does include history based design capabilities. I have looked over the promotional materials and it has only promote the direct edit functionality and they do not have evaluation available for download. This is an important feature and should not be overlooked.

SWMC does not offer any translators besides SW and STEP. Now I am not sure anyone would be buying this package without having SW available but if you need robust native translators for all of popular programs take a look at ZW3D Lite at $1,295.00.


Dassault has released a video describing its new SW Mechanical Conceptual. I was amused that they have release a modeling only package with abundant social collaboration tools that seem to tell us how we should be doing our engineering, I find it a bit arrogant. We also now find out that the price is a subscription of $2988.00 per year, which I consider a poor ROI as compared to another modeling only package like IronCAD INOVATE having the full price of $1,270.00. Those bells and whistles better pay off!!

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual

What Dassault says about SWMC:

Make Conceptual Design Your Business Advantage
Innovate in an instinctive, powerful modeling environment
that gives you the freedom to design the way you want.

Just like SpaceClaim, Fusion, ST and Creo Direct (CoCreate)!

Price??? $2988.00 uh... per year!! What?? Add this to your already high $2,000.00
 Annual Maintenance for Solidworks and we are starting to talk some real money!!

Please watch the video, they seem to be saying "How could you existing SW users have ever been able to do conceptual design without this new functionality?"

I have watched the video and they have incorporated 3 of the 4 functions I define in this article. Four Functions that Increase CAD Productivity!!

They have added Single Modeling Environment (UDE), Direct Modeling/Editing and a direct face/feature modification tool. (Triball) They do not have the drag and drop design. I am not sure they even utilize the basic Boolean shapes.

If you are an existing SW user you have to almost be insulted by this presentation.

A few questions are not answered.

How does it work with your existing SW?

Is it a replacement for SW?

The Worst to Best CAD System and Why!

CONCEPTUAL DESIGN - Which CAD Paradigm is Best?

Are Solidworks Users Stupid? 

As you know I represent IronCAD that has flexible history and unique robust direct editing, fully integrated in the design process. We truly need both. SW and ZW3D both have direct editing functionality integrated into the programs but are included as steps in the history.

I will be writing a couple more articles on my views of SWMC as they pertain to the program and to the video and the social collaboration they tell us we need. Stay tuned.

Welcome aboard Solidworks!!

When I started in CAD it was with 3D wire frame, surfaces arrived and soon we were solid modeling. I was a CAD dealer selling CADKEY. The 3rd party product was Fast Solids created by a fellow named Robert White. A very bright fellow indeed. The basis of Fast Solids was ACIS and Boolean operations which we would add and subtract shapes. It was the beginning of Direct Edit modeling. Then I was introduced to Trispectives, a graphic design solid modeling program. It was bought by a company in 1994 and they incorporated the functionality of CoCreate, creating IronCAD the only system with integrated history and direct editing.

Why am I telling you this??

I have always had direct editing available. Pro/E entered the scene in the late 1980's. I will not go into the complexity of its history based parametric design system, but needless to say it did become the de facto standard paradigm of the industry with Pro/E wanna be's like Catia 5, NX, Solid Edge, Solidworks, Inventor and Alibre. Sorry if I left one out, but these are the most popular. I tried Pro/E, in fact, became a dealer. But the product demanded a huge amount of support that was beyond my capabilities. As compared to what I was using and selling, this product just took much more work to do design. It was just too complicated.

So as time goes on, PTC soon realizes from the complaints of its users that the paradigm is not conducive to conceptual design. If you are a user of this paradigm it is relatively easy to create a design but torture to change it. So what do we do to make that easier?.

A product is planned by the Pro/E and Solidworks founder, Mike Payne, that is based on direct edit solid modeling only. They called it SpaceClaim. It was designed basically fill the needs of the Pro/E paradigm products to edit non-native parts. PTC could see the writing on the wall that the benefits of Direct Editing was now being presented to the industry.

But I had known this was coming for years, selling CADKEY and IronCAD. I watched as Boeing moved from a perfectly functional Catia 4 to the now complex Pro/E clone: Catia 5. This paradigm is fine in a small company where you have complete control of your products design. But when you are working with a multi-year project with multiple design groups and thousands of suppliers it failed miserably.

So what did Pro/E do??

They bought CoCreate. CoCreate was a direct editing only package. They have now offered  it as a new option in their newly packaged product: PTC Creo! Why not integrated it into Pro/E? Well that dated constrained design paradigm can not be modified to allow this type of freedom into the program.

So what does PTC say about its new product?


  • Easy to Learn
  • Easy to repurpose design
  • Lightweight - Smaller file size
  • Flexible
  • Rapidly evolve and explore designs
  • Maintain flexible design teams
  • Work with multi-source CAD data
  • Rapidly iterate designs

For more on this subject here:  STANDARDIZATION!!! THE FUTURE OF CAD!!

With Direct Editing there few complex parts.

Now we are done with that intro let's get to Welcoming Aboard Solidworks to the world of direct edit modeling.

I suppose we should take this announcement serious, but a couple of years ago they attempted to introduce a direct editing package. I always thought it was not in Solidworks interest to have direct modeling capabilities. They have a huge piece of the CAD market and having this capability only opens them up to the standardization I reference above.

With all the popular packages now having the ability to freely pass solid models back and forth, it really doesn't matter what CAD system you use.

Universal CAD Compatibility is Here! 

So let's Welcome Aboard: Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual!

You now have to realize that Dassault must be in charge of the management of Solidworks. Let's look at the name, Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual! What have all the SW users been doing for the past 15 years. I have seen a lot of work done by the SW users and they don't have a problem with conceptual design. I mean, do we have people that English is not their first language actually naming products?

So what is Dassault trying to say?

Again I will reference my STANDARDIZATION!!! THE FUTURE OF CAD article. Dassault is worried that they will lose users if they do not have this functionality and now that they have it, they will.

So at this time "ALL" of the major players admit that direct edit modeling is a necessary function to aid design. But there is a problem with implementing this functionality. It comes in as an external module. How many Solidworks users will realize that they need Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual to enhance their conceptual design. I know one very talented SW user that will be insulted.

You have to go back and forth between the two types of modeling as if they were two separate packages. I have experience with Autodesk Fusion. Even though Fusion is a very good direct editing package the interoperability with Inventor is very clunky.

From what I have read, Solidwork Mechanical Conceptual is a separate package. It may not even be based on the same Parasolid Kernel as Solidworks. So what do they offer the SW user. Another package to buy? Another level of complexity to add to your already complex design process? Give me a break.

I have never been impressed with Dassault Systemes. How they made it through the Catia 4 to Catia 5 fiasco is beyond me. Can you imagine your current software having an upgrade and not be able to read the previous version, not even have the same interface or be based on the same design paradigm and still call it the same name. Now if they would have released it as Dassault Mechanical Conceptual it would have made more sense. That would indicate this is a completely different paradigm, and I think not a better paradigm, and you better realize it is a new product. For years I considered that Boeing was a victim, but I now realize that Boeing was a co-conspirator in this fiasco driven by Pro/E envy.

The consensus with the release of Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual is that direct editing will become a normal part of our design process. At this time the only hold out in this area is Catia 5. I have been beating this drum for a decade please look at some of these articles I wrote:



And this, touting IronCAD's
Four Functions that Increase CAD Productivity!!

Leverage Your Engineering Data throughout your Organization !

With the introduction of "Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual" the beginning of the CAD standard has arrived!!

Now for The True Solution!!


I do like both concepts. But with the experience with Fusion I see that it is not going to be readily accepted. But I have a much better solution. How would you like a package that has both history and direct editing integrated into the process? Being able to edit a feature with the push of the right mouse button.

IronCAD/INOVATE - This program designed in the mid 1990's had both of these paradigm available. I have been using it for years. IronCAD is finally getting its marketing up and running to present this Next Generation combined functionality. Please sign up for IronCAD's Corporate Webinars.

ZW3D - This program presents the case for Inexpensive Professional CAD. I also has both paradigms available at an incredible entry price of $1,300.00. You can actually buy 3 seats for the price of a seat of Solidworks.

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If you are interested in adding professional hybrid modeling capabilities or looking for a new solution to increase your productivity, take some time to download a fully functional 30 day evaluation and play with these packages. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions or would like an on-line or on-site (Great NW Area) presentation.


The Ultimate CAD Program

Beyond Direct Edit: Surface and Hybrid Modeling

Reverse Engineering 2015 AK-47 Project

The Most Incredible Presentation of Hybrid CAD Modeling, Ever!!

How to Design Smooth Connection Surfaces

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Four Functions that Increase CAD Productivity!!

Reusing 3D CAD Models for a New Product

IronCAD vs Solidworks and the Pro/e Paradigm  

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Joe Brouwer

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