North America's Leading Siemens PLM Partner

Designfusion Blog

It is time for an honest comparison of CAD/CAM software

John Pearson - Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The internet is loaded with websites and articles offering a wide variety of opinions on CAD and CAM software, but most of these are bias to particular needs, software companies, or the author. Furthermore, many of the articles focus on sales rather than the technical capabilities of the software. So how do you, the user, determine which CAD or CAM software is best for your needs? In this article, I will offer you a simple, yet reliable, method to achieve this goal.



Marketing vs. Reality example:


If you want to do an honest evaluation, of CAD or CAM software packages, you need to avoid getting sucked into the marketing. Software companies spend a lot of money to entice you into buying their products. For example, it is common to see them promote their seat count. The logic being that their package sells the most seats, therefore it must be the best product. If you buy into this marketing ploy, then you are also less likely to compare with any other software packages. The reality of this marketing is as follows:


1) Seat count does not equate to capability or performance. For a comparative example, let us look at the fast food industry. If you ask anyone who sells the most hamburgers, most people will say MacDonald’s, which would be true. According to, they sell 75 hamburgers per second. Now ask the same people, “Who makes the best hamburger?” I think most would have a different opinion.


2) How are the seat count numbers obtained? My late granddad use to say that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Companies will always look for statistics that bolster their product, but how are these numbers really obtained? For example, does the seat count represent active seats only, or is it every seat ever sold. How do they count educational seats? I know of one CAD company that counts every education license as 500 seats. Do the numbers only include the main package, or do add-ons and companion products get added as well?


3) Companies can also artificially boost their numbers. Several years ago, we lost an opportunity to replace a 2D package with Solid Edge. Why? Because the 2D vendor offered to provide them with their new 3D package for free if they paid the maintenance renewal on the original 2D package. The Engineering Department had done an evaluation of several 3D packages, and chose Solid Edge as the best. However, the owner ignored this recommendation and opted for the free software.


As you can see, seat numbers are unreliable indicator of a CAD or CAM packages’ capability or performance. Furthermore, this is just one example of how the vendors try and convince you to buy their product. The bottom line is that no company will ever use negative information to promote their product. So, if you can’t rely on marketing, how can you get an honest comparison? The obvious best way is to try every product yourself, and pick the one that works best for you. But this is unrealistic… or is it?



Real time comparison:


Over the last several years we have adopted a somewhat different approach to demonstrating our product to prospects. Most resellers are happy to show canned demonstrations, which are smooth and fast. Unfortunately, they may not relate to your products or needs. Instead of using this approach, we ask our prospect to provide us with a typical product that they design or manufacture. Furthermore, we get detailed information on how long it takes to complete the project using their current software. We then prepare a demonstration which does the following:


1) Provides an overview of the software, focusing on the aspects that they require to do their work.


2) Demonstrates the software using their product(s).


This approach sounds simple, but it requires extra effort on our part to prepare these unique custom demonstrations. However, the results have more than justified the extra effort. The prospect gets to see how their product works in our software. They don’t waste their time watching someone design a table taw, and try to guess how that would work on their products. They also get a real time comparison without any costly upfront training or software purchase.





The results of this approach have been eye-opening, even for me. I have been with Designfusion for over 16 years, and I am admittedly bias to our products. I have always felt that they were powerful and reliable. The results of these custom demonstrations have not only supported my beliefs, but strengthened them.


For example, I had one prospect state that the time savings in are draft environment alone justified the cost of replacing his current 3D design software. Another group of designers provided me with a thumb drive of an assembly. I opened the assembly from another 3D CAD package and made a significant change to the assembly in under 3 minutes. The designers just stared at me in shock. Finally, one stated “You just did that a hundred times faster then we can do in the assemblies native CAD package!”. A third prospect, who bought Solid Edge, sent one of his users to training. At the end of the week long course he noted that not only was Solid Edge a better overall design package, but he was amazed that it had not crashed once in the entire week.


These results are not restricted to our design packages. I have personally demonstrated our NX CAM and Solid Edge CAM Pro packages to prospects with similar results. In one case I showed a company that I could create their CAM program 4 times faster with more efficient tool paths, leading to less machine time.



Dare to compare


These results have motivated me to write this blog. I want to challenge anyone who reads this to compare your current software with ours. Even if you are already using our software, contact us about our design audit service. In a design audit, we look at your processes and products to ensure that you are using the software in the most efficient way. Companies that have used this service have all seen positive results. For example, one company saw over 20% improvement in the Engineering Departments output after implementing our suggestions from the design audit.


As a Value-Added Reseller for Siemens PLM Software, Designfusion strongly believes in working with our prospects and customers to ensure that they get the best CAD/CAM software available, and that they use it in the most efficient, cost effective ways. We don’t want to waste your time with misleading marketing. We prefer to show you how our software will work directly on your product. So if you really want an honest comparison, just contact us at [email protected] or call our toll free number at 1-888-567-EZ3D(3933).







Highlights from Solid Edge 2020

John Pearson - Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Solid Edge 2020 will be available for download soon (mid-July), so I thought I’d share my thoughts on this latest release from Siemens PLM Software. Click the links, if you haven’t already read the Press Release or seen the Fact Sheet. Plus, there have been numerous articles already posted about the new enhancements in Solid Edge 2020. So, I will not try and cover everything added or enhanced in this article. Instead I will focus on several features that I believe will benefit the average designer, or ones that I feel will have an impact on their current procedures. Hence the name of this blog article.



Switching to the Common License Platform


Solid Edge 2020 has adopted the Common Licensing Toolkit (CLT). This is the same license platform as NX, Teamcenter, NX CAM, Tecnomatix, etc. How will this affect the average user? There is only one major impact. V220 licenses will NOT validate previous versions. Siemens PLM recognizes that this can be a bit of an issue, if you wish to continue using an older version of Solid Edge, as you migrate to Solid Edge 2020. Therefore, they have stated that: “Customers may continue using their pre-v220 license in parallel during the migration to v220”.



My favorite Part environment enhancement


Solid Edge 2020 has made an enhancement to the existing Rectangular and Circular Pattern commands to support patterning of sketch elements, in the Ordered paradigm. This includes:


•Additional support of selection of sketch elements

•Support of orientation angle for rectangle pattern

•Preview of patterned instances within sketch

•Editing of pattern

•Add and delete support of sketch elements in pattern geometry


This is something that Users have been requesting for a long time, and I feel will be well received by most, if not all, designers.



My favorite Part environment new feature


Solid Edge 2020 has added a new Compare Models tool. Using the Compare Models tool allows a designer to compare two versions of a design file and easily understand what was added, removed, or modified between the two versions.



Similar to the compare drawings tool, this tool will compare models based on geometry (volume comparison), and File properties. This supports comparisons of parts, sheet metal parts, Assemblies, and FOP/FOA members.



My favorite Sheet Metal environment enhancement


Solid Edge 2020 has made an enhancement to the Ordered Lofted Flange, in the Bends option. The Bends option now creates real bends between planar plates. Previously, the bend marks were only written to DXF from within sheet metal environment. Therefore, the bend table would only pick up the 2 bends whether you used bend lines or not.



With this new enhancement, bend lines can now be listed individually.



My favorite Sheet Metal environment new feature.


Solid Edge 2020 has added a new Bend Bulge Relief command that will add relief to simple bend ends, where it is needed. A bend bulge is a model deformation that occurs when metal plates are bent. It’s more evident in parts with larger thickness and small bend radius. This deformation is not shown in bends created in Solid Edge sheet metal parts, but a need exists to create a relief to deal with them during manufacturing.



Here are some key points about this new feature:


•The user will select single or multiple eligible bend ends and define relief parameters

•The command will have three different options: Circular, V-Shaped and U-Shaped

•Relief cutouts will be created in the flat state and then bent back (hidden from user)

•The feature will be available in “Ordered” only, Sync users should use a hybrid approach



My favorite Assembly environment enhancement


Solid Edge 2020 has made several enhancements to improve assembly performance, including combining several display and interaction settings into a new high- performance mode for large assemblies.



The assembly enters this mode based on total component count setting, found on the “Assembly Open As” tab in the Solid Edge Options. Users can exit this mode from ribbon as needed.




This new command replaces the need to create a query, and can be accessed from the Select group. It allows you to search the assembly for components based on criteria.



My favorite Draft environment enhancement


Solid Edge 2020 has enhanced 2D geometry display performance. They do this by not displaying insignificant geometry (less than a pixel). This is controlled by the culling option on the View Tab, in Solid Edge options. Below is an example:


Example: Large Layout Drawing

  • •1,448,937 displayed objects

No culling – Display everything

•5.702 seconds to display



Culling enabled – Does not display tiny objects

•Perceived display change is insignificant

•1.56 seconds to display



My favorite Draft environment new feature


Alas, Solid Edge 2020 has no new features in Draft this time. Just enhancements to existing features. Efforts seemed to have gone into integrating the add-on packages for this release. Which leads me into my final section.



My favorite Add-on enhancement


For years now Solid Edge has had the Simply Motion environment built into the assembly environment. This is the introductory module for motion simulation from Design Simulation Technologies. In Solid Edge 2020, full functionalities of motion simulation are now available to validate various applications, such as:


•Size motors and actuators

•Determine power consumption

•Determine boundary conditions for stress analysis


•Force Transmission

•Spring and Damper Stiffness

•Hydraulic actuators

•Reduce vibrations

•Understand unbalance effects on mechanisms

•Understand bearing loads



Solid Edge Motion creates moving parts directly from your assembly components and motion joints directly from assembly constraints. Solid Edge Motion enables you to:


•Ensure your assembly performs as expected without parts colliding.


•Increase the efficiency of your mechanical design process by utilizing a familiar interface/environment.


•Use a single engineering model, without transferring geometry to/from another application.


•Eliminate expensive design changes late in the manufacturing process.


Furthermore, if you already own a Solid Edge Premium license, you will get this enhanced functionality for free.



My favorite new Add-on


Solid Edge 2020 is introducing the new Solid Edge 2D Nesting package. This add-on will allow you to place your 2D flat patterns onto a flat sheet and efficiently nest them to ensure less waste of material.



The benefits are numerous, and include the following:


•New Manufacturing product for Solid Edge portfolio


•Works with Solid Edge files (PSM, PAR)

•Imports neutral data formats (DXF, DWG)

•Automatically extracts required data (if it exists)

•Most efficient nesting algorithm

•Continuous nesting improvement until Stop

•Export data into Solid Edge format (PAR, ASM, DFT)

•Export data into a neutral format (DXF, DWG)

•ROI very high based on material costs

•Can nest to multiple sheet sizes (reduce “tailings” AKA partial sheets)

•User can select the best nest from a list (not just latest one)

•Will nest inside openings (increase sheet usage)

•Angular control of parts + tilt allowance

•Universal spacing

•Generate both summary and detailed reports

•Save time while multi-tasking





Let me just emphasize that there are a lot more new and improved features, in Solid Edge 2020, than what I have mentioned in the article. Plus, I have only focused on several features that I believe will benefit the average designer, or ones that I feel will have an impact on their current procedures. Personally, I feel that this is another powerful release of Solid Edge, which will benefit all users. On the negative side, I was hoping for a Sheet Metal Manufacturing Add-on and a complete Architectural Symbol Library added to the Draft environment. I have been told that they are investigating these enhancements for future releases. If you would like to see these, or any other features added, please make sure you log an enhancement request (ER) with us by calling our tech line at 1-877-215-1883 or contact GTAC to log an ER.


Recent Posts