Article by Rachael Buhl on Jul 31, 2023

Traditional SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software installed on a desktop is no longer the only option. You may have heard other terms, such as 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS Connected. So, what are these new options, how do they differ, and most importantly, how do you choose? We'll break it all down here.


SOLIDWORKS installed on a computer is often referred to as desktop SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS is a locally installed CAD tool that is licensed with a serial number. It offers integrated tools for product data management, collaboration, and enterprise-level design workflows.  


The difference between SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS can be broken down into four main categories: 

  1. Interface and capabilities
  2. Licensing
  3. Upgrades
  4. 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS browser-based tools 


Interface and Capabilities

The user interface of 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS is almost identical to that of SOLIDWORKS; an extra tab on the CommandManager and an extra tab on the task pane allow collaboration amongst teams, data management, and lifecycle management. Simulation and analysis tools on 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS are more extensive, including structural analysis, fluid dynamics, and kinematics.


3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS is installed locally, but licensed through the cloud, which means internet access is necessary to use the software. (Offline mode is accessible for a period of 30 days.) 

With named user licensing, each user’s login and password grants them access, no matter what internet-connected device they’re using, even mobile devices. There is no perpetual license for 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS. Rather, it is leased quarterly or yearly, so if you choose to terminate the lease, you lose access to the software at that time. 


Because 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS is a software-as-a-service model (SaaS), it updates automatically. This ensures not only that you have the latest version, but also that there is no mismatch of versions between collaborators. This means you don’t need to plan for your annual upgrade and worry about when you can apply the latest features.

Additional & Included Browser-based Tools 

3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS comes in three tiers: Standard, Professional, and Premium. These include additional browser-based tools 3D Creator, 3D Sculptor, Collaborative Industry Innovator, and 3DSwymer.

3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Standard, Professional, and Premium Differences

3D Creator

3D Creator is a browser-based parametric design tool that allows designers and engineers to create precise 3D parts and assemblies using solid modeling techniques. It offers a wide range of features for creating complex parts and optimizing designs for manufacturability. It can be used to create both simple and complex parts and assemblies and offers several simulation capabilities as well. On top of that, any changes made to a SOLIDWORKS model using 3D Creator will automatically propagate back to the model when it’s opened in SOLIDWORKS.


3D Sculptor

3D Sculptor , on the other hand, is a browser-based modeling tool that enables designers to create complex 3D shapes and organic geometries using subdivision modeling techniques. It provides an intuitive interface and a range of tools for creating, manipulating, and refining 3D models. It allows for the fast creation of concept models and intuitive sculpting in a web-based environment. It could be compared to SOLIDWORKS surface modeling tools, but it is much more user-friendly and capable. And, to tie it all together, just like with 3D Creator, any changes to SOLIDWORKS models apply directly to the model. This makes collaboration between SOLIDWORKS users and browser-based CAD virtually seamless.


Collaborative Industry Innovator and 3DSwymer

Using Collaborative Industry Innovator and 3DSwymer, multiple users can work on a project simultaneously and use cloud storage for storing and accessing design files, enabling easy sharing and collaboration. There are forums and other social collaboration communities as well. 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS includes built-in and easy-to-use data management (versions, revisions, and managing file access), project management (tracking design projects, tasks, and deadlines), and lifecycle management capabilities (end-to-end).


3rd party add-ins can expand your toolkit beyond out-of-the-box SOLIDWORKS. However, it's important to note that with 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS, not all of the add-ins you're accustomed to have Platform integrations. However, that list is always changing, so ensure you have access to what you're looking for. 

Get the Best of Both with SOLIDWORKS Connected

If you prefer SOLIDWORKS desktop but want to take advantage of what 3DEXPERIENCE has to offer, (e.g., browser-based access or online data management tools) you can get the SOLIDWORKS Connector to leverage the 3DEXPERIENCE without committing to 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS. Uploaded files to the 3DEXPERIENCE space can be seen and modified in browser-based applications by collaborators.

I hope this article helped clarify the difference between SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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About Rachael Buhl

Rachael Buhl is a Sr. SOLIDWORKS Instructor at GoEngineer.

View all posts by Rachael Buhl