From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Developer(s)Dassault Systèmes
Initial releaseNovember 1, 1995; 27 years ago (1995-11-01)[1]
Stable release
SolidWorks 2023 / September 29, 2022
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
Available inChinese, Chinese Simplified, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish
LicenseProprietary, term

SolidWorks (stylized as SOLIDWORKS) is a brand within Dassault Systèmes that develops and markets solid modeling computer-aided design, computer-aided engineering, 3D CAD design an collaboration, analysis, and product data management software.[2]

The SolidWorks brand was founded as Winchester Design Systems by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate Jon Hirschtick on December 30, 1993.[3] Jon and cofounders Dr. Constantine Dokos, Scott Harris, Bob Zuffante, Mike Payne, and Tommy Li aimed to create 3D design software that was affordable, easy to use, and available on a Windows NT personal computer.

SolidWorks developed the world's first 3D CAD solution that ran on a desktop PC.[4] They had a simple mission statement of “3D on every engineer’s desktop.[5]

SolidWorks released its first product, SolidWorks 95, on November 1, 1995. Within two months, it established a new benchmark for ease of use.[6] Since then, the 3D CAD product, now known as SolidWorks, has become the flagship product for the SolidWorks brand.

By 2023, approximately 7 million engineers and designers were using SolidWorks software to create production-ready 2D and 3D engineering drawings and advanced 3D models using a parametric feature-based approach.[7] SolidWorks also gives users the ability to perform analyses and simulations, including Finite Element Analysis. The product places an emphasis on faster modeling, new design tools, and enhanced collaboration.


The SolidWorks brand was founded in December 1993 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate Jon Hirschtick and cofounders Dr. Constantine Dokos, Scott Harris, Bob Zuffante, Mike Payne, and Tommy Li.[8] Hirschtick used $1 million he made while a member of the MIT Blackjack Team to set up the company.[9]

Initially based in Concord, Massachusetts, United States, Hirschtick recruited a team of engineers with the goal of building 3D CAD software that was easy to use, affordable, and available on the Windows desktop. Operating later from Waltham, Massachusetts, SolidWorks released its first product SolidWorks 95, in November 1995.[10]

On July 25, 1997, Dassault Systèmes, best known for its CATIA CAD software, acquired SolidWorks for $310 million in stock. SolidWorks became a brand within Dassault Systèmes.[11] The founder Jon Hirschtick stayed as a board member for the next 14 years, guiding its growth under a series of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), he went on to found Onshape, another successful 3D CAD company.

Following Jon Hirschtick, SolidWorks was headed by John McEleney from 2001 to July 2007,[12] Jeff Ray from 2007 to January 2011,[13] Bertrand Sicot from 2011 to Jan 2015,[14] and Gian Paolo Bassi from 2015 to Jan 2022.[15] In February 2022, Manish Kumar was named the new CEO of SolidWorks, while Gian Paolo Bassi was promoted to the Executive VP of 3DExperience Works at Dassault Systèmes.[16]

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks acquired and successfully integrated a number of technologies over the years:

  • On April 4, 2001, Dassault Systèmes acquired SRAC to bring simulation into mainstream design.[17]
  • On June 1, 2002, Dassault Systèmes acquired Design Source Technology for its PDM product PDMWorks.[18]
  • On May 7, 2006, Dassault Systèmes acquired GCS Scandinavia to leverage Conisio, their product data management software.[19]
  • On October 2, 2007, Dassault Systèmes acquired Seemage, a leader in the creation of 3D interactive product documentation.[20]
  • On March 26, 2008, Dassault Systèmes acquired CircuitWorks provider Priware to bridge the gap between electronic CAD and mechanical CAD software.[21]
  • On May 7, 2013, Dassault Systèmes acquired software maker Simpoe SAS to provide more options for planning injection molds.[22]
  • On April 1, 2019, Dassault Systèmes acquired the elecworks electrical and automation design software product line from Trace Software International, a developer of software solutions and services dedicated to industrial engineering.[23]


The SolidWorks’ user base ranges from individuals to large corporations and covers a wide cross-section of manufacturing market segments. Its core industries include industrial equipment, high-tech, life sciences, and home and lifestyle, and architecture, engineering, and construction. Commercial sales go through an indirect channel that consists of 500+ partner resellers throughout the world. SolidWorks also partners with third-party developers to add functionality in niche market applications such as circuit layout and tolerance checking.[24]

Directly competitive products to SolidWorks 3D CAD include PTC Creo Elements/Pro, Solid Edge, and Autodesk Inventor.

Key events[edit]

SolidWorks held the first edition of its user conference, SolidWorks World, in Palm Springs in February 1999.[25] The event was renamed 3DExperience World in February 2019.[26] Since the event’s founding, it has gathered current and prospective SolidWorks customers, value-added resellers, technology partners, students, educators, the press, and SolidWorks employees annually, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.[27]

The user conference provides an opportunity for the close-knit community of engineers and designers that use SolidWorks products to connect and share ideas with each other. The community shares a passion for solving problems, helping people and organizations, and making the world a better place.[28]

An image of the large number of attendees at the 2023 3DExperience World. The image shows neatly organized seats, filled with participants viewing images and speakers on stage.
3DExperience World 2023

Modeling technology[edit]

Screenshot captured from a SolidWorks top-down design approach

SolidWorks is a solid modeler, and utilizes a parametric feature-based approach which was initially developed by PTC (Creo/Pro-Engineer) to create 3D CAD models and assemblies. The software uses the Parasolid modeling kernel.[29]

Parameters refer to constraints whose values determine the shape or geometry of the model or assembly. Parameters can be either numeric parameters, such as line lengths or circle diameters, or geometric parameters, such as tangent, parallel, concentric, horizontal or vertical, etc. Numeric parameters can be associated with each other through the use of relations, which allows them to capture design intent.[30]

Design intent is how the creator of the part wants it to respond to changes and updates. For example, the user would want the hole at the top of a beverage can to stay at the top surface, regardless of the height or size of the can. SolidWorks allows the user to specify that the hole is a feature on the top surface, and will then honor their design intent no matter what height they later assign to the can.[30]

Features refer to the building blocks of the part. They are the shapes and operations that construct the part. Shape-based features typically begin with a 2D or 3D sketch of shapes such as bosses, holes, slots, etc. This shape is then extruded to add or cut to remove material from the part. Operation-based features are not sketch-based, and include features such as fillets, chamfers, shells, applying draft to the faces of a part, etc.[30]

Screenshot captured from a SolidWorks top-down design approach

Building a model in SolidWorks usually starts with a 2D sketch (although 3D sketches are available for power users). The sketch consists of geometry such as points, lines, arcs, conics (except the hyperbola), and splines. Dimensions are added to the sketch to define the size and location of the geometry. Relations are used to define attributes such as tangency, parallelism, perpendicularity, and concentricity. The parametric nature of SolidWorks means that the dimensions and relations drive the geometry, not the other way around. The dimensions in the sketch can be controlled independently, or by relationships to other parameters inside or outside the sketch.[30]

In an assembly, the analog to sketch relations are mates. Just as sketch relations define conditions such as tangency, parallelism, and concentricity with respect to sketch geometry, assembly mates define equivalent relations with respect to the individual parts or components, allowing the easy construction of assemblies. SolidWorks also includes additional advanced mating features such as gear and cam follower mates, which allow modeled gear assemblies to accurately reproduce the rotational movement of an actual gear train.[30]

Finally, drawings can be created either from parts or assemblies. Views are automatically generated from the solid model, and notes, dimensions and tolerances can then be easily added to the drawing as needed. The drawing module includes most paper sizes and standards (ANSI, ISO, DIN, GOST, JIS, BSI and SAC).[30]

Product portfolio[edit]

SolidWorks’ goal is to “build new development models that address the major challenges currently facing the world".[31] Challenges for CAD/CAM engineers and designers include software compatibility, hardware reliability, and affordability of these tools.[32] The SolidWorks mission began with the release of SolidWorks 95 in 1995 and continues today.

Since 1995, SolidWorks’ has filed hundreds of patents worldwide and holds over 70 active US-granted patents.[33] Examples of active patents include patent “Predictive Modeling” (US20210240881A1),[34] patent “Constructing Multi-Element Features Using A 3D CAD System” (US10,430,524),[35] patent “Automatic creation of fasteners for simulating a computer-aided design (CAD) model” (US10,303,809),[36] patent “Computer-aided interactive learning” (US10,635,461),[37] and patent “Generation of section view cutting lines with automatic constraints” (US9,465,894).[38]

Design-to-Manufacturing solutions[edit]

In 1999, the SolidWorks brand started introducing solutions complementary to 3D modeling and in 2006 introduced SolidWorks Design-to-Manufacturing solutions, an integrated system enabling design and manufacturing teams to work together concurrently. As a result, companies can go from conceptual design to manufactured parts faster and more easily using 3D CAD.[39]

SolidWorks desktop portfolio[10]
Name Product features Release date
SolidWorks eDrawings Enables users to interrogate and share 3D models using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) capabilities as well as create and share markups September 1999
SolidWorks Explorer A file management tool designed to help users perform tasks such as renaming, replacing, and copying SolidWorks files. Later replaced by SolidWorks File Utilities. September 2000
SolidWorks Simulation Structural analysis tools that use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) as well as rigid-body dynamics tools to predict a product’s real-world physical behavior by virtually testing CAD models. Initially launched as COSMOSWorks, the software was renamed SolidWorks Simulation in September 2008 September 2002
SolidWorks Workgroup PDM Simple data management tool for single-site companies using SolidWorks 3D CAD offering tracked versions, applied status changes and controlled access. Initially launched as PDMWorks, the software was renamed to SolidWorks Workgroup PDM in October 2009. It was discontinued in October 2017 and replaced by SolidWorks PDM Standard. September 2002
3DContentCentral Provides users with a community to interact with shared models. November 2002
SolidWorks Flow Simulation A Computational Fluid Dynamics tool that uses a finite volume approach to solve the Naiver-Stokes equations for continuum flow. SolidWorks Flow Simulation solves for both fluid characteristics as well as solid temperatures. Initially launched as COSMOSFloWorks, the software was renamed to SolidWorks Simulation in September 2008. September 2003
SolidWorks PDM Professional A mainstream Product Data Management (PDM) system that stores and organizes engineering CAD data and other documents in a central vault that has a relational database to manage all the information about files and references, user and group permissions, electronic workflow processes, and more. Initially launched as PDMWorks Enterprise, the software was renamed to Enterprise PDM in October 2009. SolidWorks PDM Standard was introduced in September 2015 and was included in SolidWorks 3D CAD Professional and Premium. July 2006
SolidWorks Composer Work directly from 3D CAD data to create high-quality illustrations, photorealistic images, and interactive animations and to import design data. Initially launched as 3DVIA Composer, the software was renamed SolidWorks Composer in September 2013. September 2008
SolidWorks Plastics A finite element analysis tool that simulates the flow of melted plastic during the injection molding process to predict manufacturing-related defects so users can quickly evaluate part manufacturability. SolidWorks Plastics simulates the mold fill, packing, and cooling processes to produce real-world results prior to manufacture. April 2012
SolidWorks Electrical Unified electrical toolset that provides single- and multi-line schematic tools and enables 2D and 3D work to be synchronized for both mechanical and electrical parts. August 2012
SolidWorks Inspection Automates the creation of ballooned inspection drawings and inspection sheets for the first article inspection (FAI) and in-process inspection. April 2014
SolidWorks MBD Define, organize, and publish 3D annotations, including 3D model data in industry-standard file formats. September 2014
SolidWorks Visualize Allows users to leverage 3D CAD data to create photo-quality content from images to animations, interactive web content, and immersive Virtual Reality. October 2015
SolidWorks CAM Quickly program individual milled parts and configurations without leaving the SolidWorks 3D CAD environment. Define rules to create and build to users’ company standards. The software uses rules-based technology that enables users to integrate design and manufacturing in one application, connecting design and manufacturing teams through a common software tool and 3D model. Includes High-Speed Machining (HSM), configurations, assembly machining, turning, and 3+2 programming to drive four- and five-axis machines. September 2017
SolidWorks Manage A set of advanced data management tools that adds powerful project, process, and item management capabilities with interactive dashboards and reports on top of the file management capabilities of SolidWorks PDM Professional. January 2018

3DExperience Works portfolio[edit]

Since 1995 SolidWorks has expanded beyond the desktop portfolio. Dassault Systèmes introduced 3DExperience (stylized as 3DEXPERIENCE) Works, a business that connects people, data, and applications to take products from idea to delivery.[40] 3DExperience Works leverages the cloud-based 3DExperience platform to provide a single, unified collaborative environment, enabling everyone involved in product development to contribute to the innovation process.[41]

At the center of the 3DExperience Works portfolio are the Design and Engineering solutions built by the SolidWorks brand. The SolidWorks Governance roles connect SolidWorks desktop to the 3DExperience platform.[42] The portfolio also features simulation, manufacturing, governance, and marketing solutions from other Dassault Systèmes brands including 3DEXCITE, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, NETVIBES, and SIMULIA.

The SolidWorks roles include both browser-based and cloud-connected roles. Each role is a collection of apps focused on a particular job function (e.g., 3D Creator), enabling a broad set of activities that users in that function typically perform.[43]

Browser-based roles
Name Description Release date
3D Creator[44] 3D parametric design solution that runs in a browser and gives users unrivaled design freedom in terms of creating and modifying designs July 2019
3D Sculptor[45] Browser-based solution enabling users to create highly stylized, ergonomic 3D designs using subdivision-modeling technology July 2019
3D SheetMetal Creator[46] Offers associative parametric sheet metal design capabilities to build components, assemblies and enclosures July 2020
3D Structure Creator[47] 3D modeling tool that provides structure design capabilities with a dedicated structure design interface and feature set January 2021
3D Mold Creator[48] Provides features for the design of mold core, cavity, and inserts, bridging the gap between plastic part designers and mold makers January 2021
Manufacturing Definition Creator[49] Combines model-based and drawing-based capabilities in one integrated solution January 2021
Cloud-connected roles
Name Product features Release date
3DExperience SolidWorks (Premium, Professional, Standard)[50] Provides industry-leading SolidWorks desktop CAD along with powerful browser-based CAD solutions and built-in data management capabilities in the cloud July 2020
3DExperience Draftsight (Mechanical, Premium, Professional)[51] 2D and 3D CAD solutions enabling users to create, view, edit, and markup DWG and DXF files Mechanical (Feb 2023)

Professional (Sep 2021) Premium (July 2020)

Collaborative Designer for SolidWorks[52] Enables users to access the cloud-based 3DExperience platform from within SolidWorks for secure data and product lifecycle management February 2020
Collaborative Designer for DraftSight[53] Combine DraftSight’s 2D drafting tools with cloud-based collaboration, data, and product lifecycle management tools July 2020

SolidWorks is a registered trademark of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation.[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The future of Solidworks". September 27, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  2. ^ Durham, Phil (2022-01-25). "What is SolidWorks?". Technia (US). Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  3. ^ "Celebrating 25 Years of SolidWorks: Founding Memories From 1993". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  4. ^ Bethany (2017-12-07). "A Brief History Of SolidWorks". Scan2CAD. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  5. ^ "Solidworks: Engineering 4.0". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  6. ^ NASA Tech Briefs. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 1996.
  7. ^ "What Did Dassault Promise Solidworks Users?". WorldCAD Access. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  8. ^ "SolidWorks Founders Reunite to Ponder Their Second Act". The CAD Insider. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  9. ^ Service, Bob Tremblay, GateHouse News (2008-03-26). "Fomer MIT blackjack team member talks about breaking the bank". Retrieved 2023-09-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ a b "The History of SolidWorks". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  11. ^ "Dassault Systemes Is Acquiring SolidWorks". The New York Times. 1997-06-25. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  12. ^ "John McEleney Named CEO of SolidWorks Corporation". MCADCafe. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  13. ^ "Jeff Ray Named as SolidWorks CEO". MCADCafe. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  14. ^ "Bertrand Sicot Named DS SolidWorks CEO". Digital Engineering. 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  15. ^ "Dassault Systèmes Appoints Gian Paolo Bassi CEO of SolidWorks". 2015-01-15. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  16. ^ "Dassault Systèmes Replaces CEO of SolidWorks. What Does This Mean for the Future of SolidWorks?". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  17. ^ "Dassault Systemes acquires SRAC". 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  18. ^ "SolidWorks Manage, RevZone & 3rd "PDM evolution"". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  19. ^ "SolidWorks Acquires GCS Scandinavia | Cadalyst". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  20. ^ "Dassault Systèmes acquires Seemage". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  21. ^ "SolidWorks acquires CircuitWorks provider Priware". Design World. 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  22. ^ "Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks buys software firm Simpoe". Plastics News. 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  23. ^ "Dassault Systems Acquires elecworks!". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  24. ^ "Solidworks - History of CAD". Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  25. ^ "Looking Back on the History of SolidWorks Worlds". The SolidWorks Blog. 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  26. ^ "SolidWorks World 2019: The Times They Are a-Changin'". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  27. ^ TriMech (2023-01-11). "Guide To 3DExperience World 2023". TriMech. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  28. ^ Fox, Chris (2023-03-15). "Building a Career with Help from the SolidWorks Community". Engineers Rule. Retrieved September 13, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ "Stepping outside of the parametric feature-based paradigm in SolidWorks". 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  30. ^ a b c d e f "SolidWorks 3D". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  31. ^ "What we do". Dassault Systèmes. 2020-07-29. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  32. ^ "What are some of the challenges or limitations of CAD/CAM manufacturing processes?". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  33. ^ "Google Patents". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  34. ^ US20210240881A1, Apte, Makarand; Mule, Girish & Stiles, Jody et al., "Predictive Modeling", issued 2021-08-05 
  35. ^ US10430524B1, Stiles, Jody Todd; Kanjarkar, Satish Rao & Darwatkar, Sachin, "Constructing multi-element features using a 3D CAD system", issued 2019-10-01 
  36. ^ US10303809B2, Banta, Marlon Robert Leon; Huang, Li-Ling & Chirla, Subbi Reddy, "Automatic creation of fasteners for simulating a computer-aided design (CAD) model", issued 2019-05-28 
  37. ^ US10635461B2, Padmanabhan, Hari & Roderick, Amina M., "Computer-aided interactive learning", issued 2020-04-28 
  38. ^ US9465894B1, Lorono, Matthew; Kulkarni, Nikhil & Spine, Thomas M., "Generation of section view cutting lines with automatic constraints", issued 2016-10-11 
  39. ^ "SolidWorks Design to Manufacturing Process White Paper". 2018-02-22. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  40. ^ "Dassault Systèmes Introduces". Digital Engineering. 2019-02-14. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  41. ^ "Lead the Next Generation of Product Development with 3DExperience Works". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  42. ^ "3DExperience Works Governance PDM & PLM for SolidWorks". 2023-05-02. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  43. ^ "3DExperience - Roles". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  44. ^ "SolidWorks 3D Creator Browser-based Modeling Solution". 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  45. ^ "3DExperience Platform: Designing in SolidWorks 3D Sculptor". 2022-03-27. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  46. ^ "SolidWorks 3D SheetMetal Creator Cloud 3DExperience Software". 2020-07-07. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  47. ^ "SolidWorks 3D Structure Creator 3DExperience Cloud Software". 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  48. ^ "SolidWorks 3D Mold Creator Cloud-based 3DExperience Software". 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  49. ^ "SolidWorks Manufacturing Definition Creator 3DExperience Role". 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  50. ^ "3DExperience SolidWorks Offers 3D CAD & PDM Software". 2020-07-08. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  51. ^ "3DExperience DraftSight 2D and 3D DWG CAD connected on the cloud". 2020-07-10. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  52. ^ "Collaborative Designer for SolidWorks on 3DExperience Platform". 2020-05-15. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  53. ^ "DraftSight is a powerful 2D Design and Drafting software solution". 2017-07-02. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  54. ^;!!fbcvdoc3r24syhfw!6wqtchnumvqeakg0-psp9ne-uteb7sopcnrhewjemwvdawmgox8fagy12gahldkj_kfqrher3usdfq9-f9sab4koj-gybta$. Retrieved 2023-09-20. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]