Two of the most popular 3D modeling applications used in industry today are ProE and Solidworks. Having used both of these, there really is not a clear winner about which software is better. Each has it's strengths and each has it's weaknesses.
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3D Modeling and ProE vs. Solidworks
ProE and SolidWorks are two of the most popular 3D modeling applications used in the industry today. Both have very similar tools and use the same tools in slightly different ways to create 3D models.
ProEngineer was created prior to SolidWorks and was pioneering in the range of tools it brought. It became the most prominent 3D modeling software in the late 1990's. Engineers were finally able to view a part and rotate it on the screen. This created a rush for others to try to mock this ability. ProE, being the first, did have a lot of features that needed to mature over a period of time, just like AutoCAD and other 2D programs when they first came out. The software was very graphics intensive and required a lot of the computer's resources, which resulted in a slow and sometimes difficult to operate interface. Also the original set up then involved sub-windows on the right side of the screen.
ProEngineer evolved and a lot of the features were upgraded, and a lot of the bugs were fixed. The software focused on performance and building upon what they already had.
Another group of engineers, however, believed that some inherent problems with the ProEngineer existed and were not likely to be improved. This led them to develop SolidWorks.
The primary difference between SolidWorks and ProE is truly the interface. The main focus of SolidWorks was to try to make the tools more intuitive and user friendly. SolidWorks focused on functionality and efficiency. As both applications progressed, each in their own direction, they became further distinct and unique.
Other 3D modeling software appeared, too. These included I-DEAS, Unigraphics (now called Siemens PLM NX), AutoCAD, and CATIA. SolidWorks seemed to be the low-cost solution and was readily adopted by the industry.
When asked what software is best, the answer generally is that it depends on the application. If there is a tremendous model which has thousands and thousands of parts in an assembly, then it is generally recommended that ProE is the solution. If you are more interested in user friendly and more intuitive applications, then SolidWorks is the way to go. Both are equally useful for simple, straightforward parts. SolidWorks has a much easier interface and has quicker tools, while ProEngineer has more complex tools and custom sub-programs that can be applied.
Cost wise, SolidWorks is clearly the winner and is generally preferred by small businesses. Larger firms that prefer custom sub-applications and custom software integrated into their 3D applications prefer ProE. Both have really advanced engineering and helped to move us forward into the 21st century. What used to take years to design in 2D and all the various amounts of checking that needed to be done is now very simple and straightforward with these modern 3D tools. Automobiles, airplanes, large industrial machinery, and all sorts of mechanical engineering applications have all benefited from the advent of 3D design, which was pioneered by ProEngineer.