You are right - Solidworks is a mechanical CAD, same as Inventor. For that we use Solidworks with Pascam Woodworks, which is fully integrated in SWX. We build our individual doors with it since years and itīs working fine for us. SWX without Woodworks didnīt work.
I only have experiencece with Solidworks but from my understanding Inventor and Solidworks are very comparable in terms of features and functionality. As Hans mentioned Solidworks is a mechanical CAD package and a lot of it's features are more than what's required for designing millwork. However you can easily generate custom millwork in Solidworks as well as build libraries of more standard products.
The problem I always had with Solidworks was how to efficiently get the information out of Solidworks and into my CAM system. Pathfinder 3D is a plugin for Solidworks that extracts all your components as layered DXF files that can be imported into your CAM package. For me it is what really makes Solidworks a viable option for millwork.
If you have any more questions about Pathfinder please contact me.
Thanks for both of your responses. The information regarding the add-ons is helpful.
I am concerned a little about your comments about transferring files to your CAM system. We have a Biesse Rover that we use for machining doors parts as well as other parts. Currenty we draw all the parts using BiesseWorks and then run them. We would like to start using whatever drawing program we choose to send information to the machine.
From what I am reading - I need another program to run millwork items in Solidworks because it does not have a CAM package?
Can you explain further why Solid works did not work without PasCam Woodworking? Is PasCam Woodworking available in the US? Does it have good support?
I would like to hear from someone that uses Inventor in a millwork shop as well as any other comments from either Solidworks or Inventor.
Both Solidworks and Inventor are CAD programs and so either will require additional software in order to generate code for your Biesse.
Pathfinder is a plugin for Solidworks that automates the extraction of DXF files. The DXF files use different layers to indicate what tools should be used. These files can be configured so that your Biesse will automatically generate CNC files when they are imported.
Please take a look at the videos on the website as they do illustrate the process. Let me know if you have other questions.
4/16/14 #6: Inventor vs. Solidworks ...
I know the purpose of Woodweb is to contribute generally useful information and exchange ideas, and to not pitch products, but - Router-CIM works directly from Inventor OR Solidworks models and assemblies and it does full six sided feature recognition and tool path programming including aggregate tooling needed for window, doors, and millwork.
We work closely with Widom associates who offers woodworking tools for Inventor to boost your productivity.
Both Inventor and Solidworks are very good programs and have almost identical features. One advantage I see with Inventor is that you can purchase the design suite that includes a full copy of AutoCAD with it. I never heard anyone say they were not happy having a copy of AutoCAD.
I started using SolidWorks in 2001 primarily for the custom staircases that we were building (elliptical, radial, etc), but also found it useful for many other custom millwork applications. To accurately generate a lot of the geometry requires working the parts in the flat and then wrapping them into the required shapes. Naturally, this also enables us to "unfold" the faces for the shop floor's benefit. To do so requires the functions from its "sheet metal" palette of tools. These tools have been incredibly powerful and what (at one time) separated it from Inventor. At this point, I'm sure that Inventor has similar tools, though I have to say that SW robustness and consistency reflects their product's development. I think that by NOT producing a wide array of products so that there is "something for everyone", SW and its users have actually benefited.
One thing to consider is that for cabinets CV or MV are not going to be beat because of global parametrics. For the custom stuff 3d is not going be beat because of flexibility and to detail complex shapes.
But don't get the idea that a modeler is going to do what CV or MV does.
I couldn't agree more with Pat. I'm finding that the architects love the 3D because it makes their presentation easier. The problem is by the time a 3D model in SW or Inventor is completed, most of the engineering for the entire assembly is completed. Too much data gets thrown away at this early stage. What's needed at the concept stage is something fast and not necessarily accurate just for concept. So if the parts are mostly rectilinear, then CV or MV would be m choice too.
generating a library with multiple configurations is no problem (or so the salespeople will have you believe) and in fact, it's not that difficult. However as we all know; the 'devil's in the details'. So while changing dimensions for components is easy, let's say you want to add a lock rail to a french door. Cosmetically, it may be easy, but there's still the joinery to consider (dowels, mortises, tenons, etc) This is where the automated parametric 3D modeling with multiple configurations gets tricky (and I've been using it since 2001). I know it's done and done ALOT in Europe with window, door, conservatory and stair fabricators. It sounds like they tend to favor SW, though I think it's more of a regional thing (we seem to be more Autodesk orientated here in the states). Anyway, to it set up automated libraries properly is a major investment of time, so take your time, visit with some expert users who know the business, tinker with the output to develop a realistic understanding of the software's limitations and make sure that whichever product you use will pay for itself over time.
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