SolidWorks and Siemens NX are two different professional CAD software packages. Having worked with both SolidWorks and Siemens NX professionally for the past 15 years, I can appreciate the pros and cons of both options.
Personally, I prefer Siemens NX for CAD modelling as the advanced synchronous modelling tools in Siemens NX are superior to SolidWorks, however which option is best for you will depend on many factors from cost to career opportunities.
In this article, I want to take an objective view of both Siemens NX and SolidWorks and share what I have learned from using both options in the acoustic and mechanical design industry.
Which Is Better, Siemens NX or SolidWorks?
It is very easy for me to proclaim that Siemens NX is the superior software, but it is important to consider your user level and applications before deciding which option is the best for you.
Here are the top differences and comparisons between Siemens NX and SolidWorks.
1. User Interface
When it comes to the user interface, Siemens NX and SolidWorks are both very similar.
Although some engineers pick a favourite, this often has more to do with familiarity and sticking to what they know.
For a side-by-side comparison, there is not a significant distinction between Siemens NX or SolidWorks when it comes to user interface.
2. Assembly Handling
Although both Siemens NX and SolidWorks are designed to handle large assemblies in theory, I have found SolidWorks notoriously slow when managing large assemblies.
At first, I thought this was network related, as the company I worked at used to share large files over a network. However, when I moved to a smaller company without network issues, the large assembly handling was still bad.
To date, I have had no speed issues with large assembly handling when working with Siemens NX. In addition, Siemens NX is used at large manufacturing companies where very large assemblies are shared amongst many engineers, for example, companies like Apple, Tesla, and Red Bull F1 Team.
When it comes to large assembly handling, Siemens NX is definitely the winner for me.
3. File Structure
When working with SolidWorks, part files and assemblies have different file extensions. This is a nice way to structure files, as you can see from the file extension if you are opening an assembly or part file.
Siemens NX calls everything a part file. This is a pet hate of mine as it makes browsing for assembly files in a folder a pain. Unless the file is called “assembly” you really have to have a good system for part naming to find your files.
Siemens NX is far more versatile than SolidWorks.
As Siemens NX has many extra application tools, from automotive tools to ship-building specific tools, Siemens NX has many extra features that can help, particularly if you are working in a specific industry, such as the automotive industry.
In addition, the CAM (computer aided manufacture) and CAE (computer aided engineering) tools in Siemens NX are really excellent and allow for a smooth transition from CAD, to CAM, to CAE.
All these extra tools come at a cost though, with all these extra design modules costing more than just the basic price that you pay for Siemens NX.
5. Class A Surface
When it comes to Class A surface modelling, Siemens NX is the master.
SolidWorks does not seem to handle or create Class A surfaces well.
A Class A surface is a surface with exceptional quality. No blemishes and completely smooth.
When working in the automotive and aerospace industry, Class A surfaces are essential to get top quality products that look and perform at their best.
When you see car designers shaping and working on their car body profile, they will create a high-quality smooth body that will look perfect when manufactured.
6. Synchronous Modelling
Siemens NX has a wonderful option called “synchronous modelling”. In a nutshell, you can move, push, pull and modify a CAD model in a heartbeat with just a drag of a mouse.
With the synchronous modelling feature, you can even grab an edge and move it, and the CAD geometry will automatically update to make a new profile.
This is incredibly powerful and not something that is found in SolidWorks.
When you start using synchronous modelling in Siemens NX, it is hard to go back to SolidWorks.
Siemens NX is significantly more expensive than SolidWorks. A Siemens NX basic installation is double the cost of SolidWorks at the time of writing.
Is NX The Best CAD?
For me, Siemens NX is the better CAD package due to the extra functionality. However, it may not be the best for you.
Siemens NX comes with a high price tag, and SolidWorks is also a great CAD package that does a lot for a much lower cost.
Personally, I would describe Siemens NX as a high level CAD package and SolidWorks as a mid-level CAD package.
If you learn either Siemens NX or SolidWorks, you will find it very easy to transition from one to the other.
From my experience, very large companies use Siemens NX such as Apple, Tesla and Dyson. Smaller companies tend to stick with SolidWorks because of the cost-saving benefits.
There is no clear “winner” when it comes to Siemens NX vs SolidWorks – both software packages have their own benefits and drawbacks.
It ultimately depends on what you need out of a CAD program and how much money you’re willing to spend.
In general, Siemens NX is seen as the more expensive but more versatile option, while SolidWorks is cheaper and good for basic design work. Whichever package you decide on, be sure to take the time to learn how to use it properly and explore all functionality in order to get the most out of your investment.