Solidwork hands down is a great product. Easy to use, learn, lots a features, etc. This is one of those times that I had to air out an opinion. I generally keep these to myself and not put them online; however I think that this is a safe topic. In my opinion, which in the big scheme of things is totally irrelevant, Dassault Systems make a fantastic product. They have every right to charge an pretty penny for the product. My days of using Solidworks came to an end this week.
A little history here; About three years ago I started this website and with Steve started making the ATXPiHat boards. Originally it started out as a project just for me, which was great. The newsgroups on Facebook went nuts when they saw it. In the end the cost to produce the boards just killed it. During this process, I was starting down the 3D Printing rabbit hole, and was starting to make my own things, including items for the PiHats. My oldest son, who is an engineer convinced me to look into Solidworks as a design tool. I contacts Dessault, and inquired about there entrepreneur license. Essentially, if you are a certain size, and revenue; which in my case was nothing, they would extend a 1 year free license of the product. They approved me and I was off to the races.
At the end of the license year I asked CATI, the vendor that supports the program, about it and the answer was no. Not CATI’s no, Dessaults no. After looking around, I found that they had a limited license for makers via their education program. I got another 1 year key, downloaded and installed. The license just ran out and it look like they locked that program up.
I use Solidworks for all sorts of small projects for me. Most of which never see the light of day on Thingiverse. Now that the license has run out, most of these designs are now locked up inside of the software and I will have to see how to migrate them out.
What is the problem with having a program with a price point for makers and hobbyists that is something that we can afford. They have a program for makerspaces, just not for single makers. Say a few hundred dollars a year. I would pay it in a heartbeat. But $3k, there is no way that I can afford that. Embed the “hobbyists logo” in the output like they do with the education version. Make the user commit to a maximum sale amount. The press that Autodesk gets online from all of the makes using Fusion 360 is really quite remarkable.
The thing I think is so interesting, is how easy it is to download a illegal version of the Solidworks. Getting a key is even easier. I will never do this, I do not believe is taking and using someone’s intellectual property without paying for it. Embrace the community, take it to Autodesk, as well as others. Bring the best tool to everyone, not just the engineers. I have no problem paying for tools that I use, as long as they are reasonably priced. If they are concerned about support, remove the support component from the hobbyist license and only give support via the forums.
I will be honest, I have tried using Fusion 360 a few times, and to me, it is just cumbersome. Yesterday, I downloaded, registered and installed it. I started working on a model for my wife’s school. They need some screens for between the kids and I said that I would design one for her classroom. I needed to design a foot for some PVC pipe. Obviously, I am new to it and it will take some time to get used to fiddling with it. Think of the marketing, “Local maker helps small school using Solidworks”. I am in the middle of building a MPCNC, and I will be using it to make parts out of wood, plastic and aluminum.
What I am hoping is that someone from Dassault Systems reads this post and passes along the opinion. It is a great product, with a cult following. It is a terrible thing that I will no longer be able to use it.