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Alignex Blog

Automatic Cost Estimation without Leaving SOLIDWORKS

The Alignex Team on May 30, 2017 at 11:20 AM

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There are several built-in capabilities of SOLIDWORKS that many customers don’t know about. One of the major ones often overlooked is the SOLIDWORKS costing tool.

The automatic cost estimation tools in SOLIDWORKS debuted back in 2012. These costing tools are fully integrated with 3D CAD, making it simple for designers and engineers to continuously check their designs against cost targets. Customers who use this feature tell us it helps them avoid redesigns and production delays later on. 

Costing is available in both SOLIDWORKS Professional and Premium, and can be found in the evaluation toolbar.

SOLIDWORKS Costing Tool

A few core features:

  • Automatic Manufacturing Cost Estimation – Assess cost for sheet metal and machined parts, with automatic updates every time the design is changed
  • Customizable Manufacturing Settings – Customize costing inputs
  • Design optimization for cost, function, and environmental impact – Change designs, remove material, or change materials based on the results generated by simulation tools included with SOLIDWORKS

While the costing tools don’t replace the purchasing department, it can save time and prevent headaches later in the process. 

The tool allows you to input specific parameters like:

  • Material 
  • Manufacturing process (laser cut, bending, etc.)
  • Associated costs of materials and manufacturing operations
  • Packaging
  • ERP
  • Painting/Cleaning

The way it works is that the program creates separate features based upon manufacturing technique, not design technique. For example, an extruded feature on a 3D printed part becomes a shell with in-fill. In this way, SOLIDWORKS costing provides a way to assess manufacturability or to create an estimate for a quote.

So, what happens if there’s a feature of the part that doesn’t fit the template? The costing tool approximates the closest operation it can to provide as accurate of an estimate as possible. 

SOLIDWORKS 2017 brings a handful of great improvements to the costing tools. These include the ability to:

  • Apply sheet metal to rules-based costing
  • Import custom templates directly from suppliers 
  • Use five alternative quantities to determine the effect lot size has on the total price


All in all, SOLIDWORKS Costing is a great tool that more designers should be using. If you want to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Costing and other great add-ins available in SOLIDWORKS, make sure to subscribe to the Alignex Blog or contact an Alignex representative today!

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

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