Yu would like to create assembly and service instructions from your SolidWorks CAD data and someone has mentioned SolidWorks Composer. Before you make any decisions check out cadasio.
Both cadasio and SolidWorks Composer allow you to create images from your CAD data for use in your instruction manuals, however both software have distinct differences which you need to understand before making the right decision for your business. We have highlighted what we believe to be the major considerations to make when comparing the software.
Whilst there is no doubt that printed instruction manuals still have their place, people are increasingly looking for alternatives. cadasio focuses on 3D output as we believe it to be the future. We generate 3D, interactive content which can improve the end users experience and understanding of your product whilst also reducing printing costs, making your business more sustainable.
SolidWorks Composer can produce 3D content. It has a separate player which allows people to view Composer documents, but who wants to download an additional viewer just to see how to assemble something? The viewer itself is based on ActiveX technology, which is so old and vulnerable to security issues that it is actually blocked on modern browsers, and certainly won't work on Android or IOS devices. You need specific hardware to run Composer (see below) and the same is true for the Composer Player. Can you guarantee the people you want to share your documents with have a CAD grade computer?
cadasio, on the other hand, is built using cutting edge WebGL technology. This means your projects can be viewed on any device with a modern Internet browser. Your customers will simply browse to a unique URL or scan a QR code which are automatically generated for you and then your project will be displayed fully in 3D on any device including mobiles and tablets..
Solidworks Composer can create vector and raster images as well as AVI animations. We cant deny, the vector images produced are excellent, giving you crisp, scalable images. You can also create AVI movies, which have some limitations but generally can look pretty good.
Whilst cadasio can save out high quality PNG's from your projects, unfortunately at this time we cannot export vector images. However, from experience, there are a lot of people who want to create images for their instructions and service manuals who have no idea what a vector file is and no experience in using, editing or manipulating them. Consider whether this is really a must or whether a high resolution PNG file would suffice.
We are committed to making our software the best it can possibly be and like to keep our customers informed of the direction we are taking. At the moment we cannot save out an AVI animation of your project however it is on our list as a future feature. Since projects you create in cadasio will automatically animate between steps, you may not need an AVI (or maybe any 2D output at all!) when you could just share a fully 3D animated model instead
Let's face it, when buying anything, a huge consideration is the cost.
SolidWorks Composer can only be purchased from a Value Added Reseller. Often the pricing isn't that clear from their website and you have to request a quote. At the time of writing, we could only find a few resellers which listed it anywhere from $5490 to $7466. That is the initial price to purchase the software. It does not always take into account the subscription cost that you will pay if you want to receive updates, which is typically in the region of $1000 a year.
cadasio, on the other hand, is very transparent about its pricing structure. We offer a free version and a Professional version at $50 a month. If you find yourself reaching your project limit, you can simply purchase more. It is very likely to work out cheaper than the yearly maintenance fee a SolidWorks reseller would charge, plus you would not have the huge up front outlay, not to mention the time and cost of carrying out installs and upgrades.
SolidWorks Composer needs a computer with the Windows operating system and ideally a SolidWorks certified graphics card in it. If you do not, you cannot guarantee that it will run without issues or receive full support. Whilst the machines your CAD engineers use are no doubt suitable, are those of the person responsible for creating your instructions? Upgrading or replacing a computer just to use Composer could be very expensive, so factor this in when deciding.
cadasio will run on any modern computer. Mac, Windows, we don't mind. You won't need to buy any specific hardware. If your computer can handle our examples then you are good to go!
There's an official training course for SolidWorks Composer. This is typically a two day course which can set you back hundreds, not only in the course fee but with the time out of the office. Compared to cadasio there is a steeper learning curve and you would be hard pushed to get up to speed with Composer without attending a course, which ultimately adds to your investment cost.
We have tried to make cadasio as user friendly and clutter free as possible. Training guides are available for you to watch at your own pace, you can access the software straight away and we would expect users to be able to pick it up very quickly with no time out of the office.
SolidWorks Composer receives 5 service pack updates throughout its yearly release cycle. To receive these updates you will need to be on subscription. You will also have to take time out of your day to install the updates yourself. You may also want to check out what updates have actually come out for Composer over the last few years, as most users have not found anything too meaningful for your money.
If you prefer the idea of regular, useful updates which you automatically receive and a responsive development team, then cadasio is a wiser choice.
We would love you to use cadasio and hopefully the above has helped you make a more informed decision.
If you are specifically after outputs of SVG or CGM images then SolidWorks Composer is the software for you, however it comes at a cost.
No viable online 3D sharing of your manuals, high initial cost and the steep learning curve of SolidWorks Composer should be enough to at least consider cadasio, after all you can sign up for free now, so what have you got to lose?!
Ultimately if you are looking at updating the way you deliver your instructions and service manuals then cadasio is the choice to make.