Solid Edge is a drafting, solid modeling, and simulation CAD software for mechanical and electrical designs, and product development. It is owned by Siemens PLM software. Through the use of synchronous technology, Solid Edge merges the simplicity and speed of direct modeling, with the control and flexibility of parametric technology. The software package has a comprehensive portfolio of the tools needed for all aspects of the product development process. This portfolio includes mechanical and electrical design, simulation, data management, technical publications, manufacturing solutions, and cloud-based collaboration. Considering these features, we can agree that Solid Edge is a powerful and complete CAD software solution. The question is, is it suitable for you?
After capability, the next consideration before choosing the right application for you is cost. Solid Edge has different packages that can each be procured through various licensing options. As a result of this, carrying out a cost analysis of the application on your own can be a daunting task. But do not despair! To make things a lot easier for you, Scan2CAD has put together this exhaustive pricing article on Solid Edge. In this article, we will be exploring the different Solid Edge packages and the different purchasing options for them.
Table of Contents
Solid Edge Packages
Before we take a look at the different purchasing options and their prices, it is important that we take a look at what each Solid Edge package contains so that you know what you are getting for your money. There are four different Solid Edge packages with the fundamental difference between them being advancements in functionality. In ascending order of level of functionality, the packages are Solid Edge Design and Drafting, Solid Edge Foundation, Solid Edge Classic, and Solid Edge Premium. We have listed and discussed the functionalities of each package below.
1. Solid Edge Design and Drafting
This is the most basic and cheapest (tier 1) Solid Edge package. It only contains rudimentary features to facilitate basic processes such as 2D drafting and basic 3D parts and assembly design. Below is a list of the capabilities packed into the Solid Edge Design and Drafting package:
- 2D drafting
- Automated 2D drawing
- Basic 3D part design
- Standard parts library
- Basic 3D assembly design
- Intelligent direct editing: using synchronous technology, Solid Edge helps you make revisions faster, accelerate product design, and enhance design data reuse
- Data management: This CAD file management feature helps parties struggling to work with an ever-expanding volume of CAD files. It works using an index-based approach, where you just place an index on the folders where you save the Solid Edge files. It facilitates the sharing and synchronization of the Solid Edge files with cloud-based storage and sharing platforms such as Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive
- Mesh data reuse (convergent modeling): This tool enables you to repurpose and reuse scanned mesh data from physical data for which no 3D model or 2D draft exist
- Visualization tools
- Cloud-enabled/cloud-ready productivity, including free cloud-based viewing and collaboration tools
- Additive manufacturing: Solid Edge offers a detailed picture of all the support materials needed for a particular part. It achieves this by displaying the support materials using different colors, enabling you to visualize, identify, and isolate parts that may give rise to issues during the 3D printing stage.
- 3D print preparation
- Import/export of all popular 2D/3D file formats
2. Solid Edge Foundation
This is the tier 2 package. It is pricier than the Solid Edge Design and Drafting package as it has all the features and capabilities of the tier 1 package as well as additional capabilities. The additional capabilities packed into the Solid Edge Foundation package are:
- Advanced 3D part design
- Advanced 3D assembly design
- Model-Based Definition (MBD) preparation: This tool allows quicker manufacturing documentation as it produces complete digital definitions of parts or assemblies based on the 3D models
- Sheet metal design
- Frame and weldment design
- Plastic part design
- Jig and fixture design
- Conceptual assembly layout
- Design configurator: This feature enables the automatic creation of new designs based on defined rules and parameters
- Bulk data migrators: Solid Edge Foundation supports the migration of data from SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, Pro/Engineer, and Creo
- Surface modeling
- 2.5 axis milling
- Data import and reuse
- Basic motion simulation: This feature enables the evaluation and visualization of how parts interact within an assembly
- Basic stress simulation: This entails the use of finite element analysis (FEA) to validate part and assembly designs
- Basic vibration simulation: This simulation uses normal modes analysis to determine the natural frequencies of a part of an assembly that is in free vibration. It also provides insights into the expected relative displacements of a structure at the natural frequency.
3. Solid Edge Classic
This is Solid Edge’s tier 3 package. Solid Edge Classic has all the features and capabilities of the cheaper tier 1 and tier 2 offerings, including basic features such as basic motion simulation and basic stress and vibration simulation. At the same time, it offers more features and capabilities than both the tier 1 (Solid Edge Design and Drafting) and tier 2 (Solid Edge Foundation) packages. These additional features include:
- Advanced surfacing (subdivision modeling): Subdivision modeling enables you to create free-form spline shapes (sheet or solid bodies) by subdividing and manipulating the outer mesh (control cage) of an initial basic shape such as a sphere, cylinder, or block
- Cam and gear design
- Pulley and shaft design
- Spring design
- Beam and column design
- Generative design: It integrates advanced topology optimization, enabling designers to minimize material waste and create lighter components
- Reverse engineering (3D scanning): This tool helps you create native surfaces using imported or 3D scanned data
- Photorealistic modeling
- Vendor catalog integration: This feature allows you to access hundreds of manufacturer-verified CAD catalogs
- Adaptive UI: This tool improves productivity by harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the next steps based on previous use or user behavior
- Dynamic visualization: It generates visual reports of the design, enabling you to dynamically view and sort assembly parts and components
- Engineering reference: This is a formula- and calculation-driven design tool that enables you to design gears, springs, shafts, and cams
- CAD Direct: This tool allows you to use non-Solid Edge CAD data (data that is native to other 3D modeling software) without translation
- Design for cost: This feature enables users to analyze the geometry of sheet metal parts, determine the manufacturing operation needed to make them, and accurately estimate the cost to manufacture them.
4. Solid Edge Premium
Solid Edge Premium is the most expensive package. It has all the features of the other three packages – Solid Edge Design and Drafting, Solid Edge Foundation, and Solid Edge Classic. Being the premium offering, it also has other features and capabilities that are unique only to itself. These additional Solid-Edge-Premium-only capabilities are:
- Pipe and tube design
- PCB collaboration: This feature enables better integration and communication between electrical CAD and mechanical CAD domains, thereby enabling the creation of homogenous and concurrent printed circuit board (PCB) designs. It allows electrical and mechanical engineers to use the toolsets they have grown used to.
- Electrical routing: This tool creates paths of electrical cables, pipes, or tubes between components
- Point cloud visualization: This is an assembly measurement and viewing tool that enables you to position and design parts and equipment in the context of a point cloud. This facilitates the visualization of a design in its intended environment.
- Linear stress simulation for parts and assemblies (advanced stress simulation)
- Advanced motion simulation
- Simulation optimization: This wizard-based tool enables you to define the objectives of a simulation exercise. It lets you customize how parts can be modified to converge on the most optimized version.
- Advanced photorealistic rendering
- Basic vibration simulation
Solid Edge License Options and Maintenance Agreement
This is where it starts to get a bit tricky. There are several license options which apply to every Solid Edge package. For ease of understanding, we have broadly categorized them into three: device-based license options, special licenses, and period-based license options. In addition, SIEMENS PLM offers value-based licensing through a token-based flexible license.
Solid Edge Device-based License Options
There are three Solid Edge device-based license options:
1. Node-locked (Standalone) License
A node-locked license is a single-seat license that allows a single user to load and use Solid Edge on a single machine. This license is locked to a specific machine using a number known as the SE CID (Solid Edge Composite Host ID), for older versions of Solid Edge, or COMPOSITE2, for newer versions of the software (post 2020). The number is generated automatically by the Solid Edge Utility application. You need to input this number along with an identifiable name of the computer during the product activation phase to activate the standalone license. Thus, it is important to take note of the ID.
2. Cloud-Enabled License
The cloud-enabled license works similarly to the node-locked license, albeit with one significant difference. It is locked to a person, via their WebKey username and password, rather than the machine name and SE CID/COMPOSITE2 number. (WebKey is Siemens’ user authentication system.)
As such, the cloud-enabled license offers more flexibility than the node-locked license, as it can be used on more than one machine. It also enables users to access and use the Solid Edge software from different locations. However, as detailed below, the cloud-enabled license does not cover usage across a geographical border. It is only meant for use within the country of registration. Therefore, if you need to use Solid Edge in another country, you must possess a special license known as a travel license.
3. Floating License
A floating license allows a limited amount of multiple users to use the software simultaneously on a network. This license allows for greater flexibility as it can be installed on as many computers as needed, provided the number of simultaneous users does not exceed the number stipulated in the license configuration (number of purchased seats). Floating licenses are ideal for companies with many employees.
Solid Edge Special Licenses
In addition to the node-locked and floating licenses, Siemens PLM also offers special licenses: travel and home use licenses. These licenses can only be purchased as an addition to the node-locked or floating license.
1. Solid Edge Home-use License
The home-use license allows node-locked or floating licenses purchased and installed on an employer’s computer, to be used at home by an employee on a PC. Home use licenses expire after 6 months and have to be renewed. This prevents a situation where a former employee continues to use an employer’s license even after they no longer work together. That said, the ability to renew the Solid Edge home-use license is contingent on having a valid maintenance contract.
2. Solid-Edge Travel License
Users can apply for a travel license for up to 30 days from the date of issue per year. It also entitles users to 30 days per-license of Solid Edge in-maintenance on their accounts. This license allows them to temporarily use Solid Edge on a different machine off-site. The 30-day allowance resets after 12 months.
Solid Edge Period-based License Options
There are two main Solid Edge license options by period: subscription license and perpetual licenses.
1. Subscription License
The subscription license is a period based option that allows you to use Solid Edge for a limited period of time. This option is best when you are on a budget or when you have the end of your project in sight. Subscriptions are available as monthly or yearly plans with yearly plans being more expensive than monthly plans. These plans are renewed automatically but you can cancel at any time. All subscription plans are single-seat and node-locked. To purchase a Solid Edge subscription license, simply head to the software’s online store.
Do not that all subscription plans include the Xcelerator Share, a next-generation collaboration tool that provides the following capabilities:
- E-mail address based sharing
- Secure, central storage
- Optional data management tools
- Augmented reality
- Desktop file syncing
- Permission-based project sharing
- Browser-based access on any device or OS
- Task management (ability to set due dates, priority files, and reference files)
- Multi-user overwrite protection and more
2. Perpetual License
As the name implies, payment for this license is made once after which you can use the application indefinitely. However, the license is attached to the Solid Edge version purchased. You can always upgrade to a newer version for a fee. Perpetual licenses may be single-seat (node-locked) or floating.
There are many factors to consider when going for a perpetual license; what industry do you work in? What does your company do? Do you require Solid Edge for private use? Do you want a node-locked or floating license? How many users? Would you like to add travel and home use licenses? Because of this, Siemens PLM doesn’t fix any definite price on perpetual licenses. The price of these licenses varies with the factors earlier listed. Price also varies by country. To purchase a perpetual license, you’ll need to contact Siemens PLM or any authorized reseller and provide your details and preferences. You’ll then receive a quote from them on the plan that best suits you.
Solid Edge Flexible Licensing
Solid Edge flexible licensing functions similarly to AutoCAD Flex in that it is based on the purchase of tokens. The tokens then allow you to add specific capabilities to the Solid Edge software through add ons. These add ons include PCB Collaboration, Electric Routing, Point Cloud Visualization, Simulation, Advanced PMI (Product and Manufacturing Information), and more.
Solid Edge Maintenance Contract
In addition to the various license options above, Siemens PLM recommends that users enter the Solid Edge Maintenance, Enhancements, and Support (ME&S) contract to maximize the value of their software investments. Renewed annually, the ME&S agreement offers the following benefits:
- Lower software upgrade costs for major new releases
- Timely updates of software improvements and patches
- 24/7 technical support, including telephone support and web-based technical support resources and documentation
- Ability to purchase the home-use and travel licenses
Solid Edge Pricing
Now that we’ve understood the different Solid Edge packages and their license options, let us explore the pricing. We can only explore subscription licenses as prices of perpetual licenses differ according to your requirements. The table below shows Solid Edge packages and their prices in $USD. These prices were sourced from the official Siemens PLM Solid Edge store.
Price of monthly subscription
Price of annual subscription
Amount saved on annual subscription
Solid Edge Design and Drafting
Solid Edge Foundation
Solid Edge Classic
Solid Edge Premium
Do note that Solid Edge Foundation is more expensive than Autodesk Inventor’s monthly and annual pricing and Fusion 360 monthly and annual pricing. It is, however, cheaper than SolidWorks annual pricing.
Any Solid Edge Discount or Free Software Package?
Yes! Siemens PLM offers a number of discounts and free applications. For starters, for any Solid Edge package you purchase as a new customer, you get the first month for only $1. In addition to this, the following are some free software packages from Solid Edge.
1. Solid Edge Free Trial
The free trial download includes the full version of Solid Edge Premium, online training, videos, and “how-to” tips and tricks. In addition, you also get access to the Solid Edge online community that contains tips and ideas from expert users. Do note that you not only need an internet connection to download the free trial, but you also need it the first time the software starts.
2. Solid Edge Community Edition
The Solid Edge Community Edition is a free professional 3D CAD software for enthusiasts and hobbyists. It is specifically designed for engineers solving problems off the clock or makers on a journey to expand their Solid Edge knowledge and skills. In this regard, it is perfect for users who are practicing their craft and are not earning from their work. In fact, this version limits professional use by ensuring that the files created using this edition of Solid Edge cannot be opened in commercial versions of the software. At the same time, 2D drawings are watermarked.
Other than that, the Solid Edge Community Edition does not contain other limitations. Users can, therefore, use it to design sheet metal, assemblies, and parts. It also includes capabilities such as advanced rendering and simulation, automated drafting, animation, and exploded view creation.
3. Solid Edge 2D Drafting
Solid Edge 2D Drafting is a free 2D software that provides 2D drafting capabilities at no cost. It features a familiar user interface with several ways to access commands, including a customizable radial menu, text search, and a ribbon toolbar. Moreover, it offers easy-to-use tools – dimensioning controls, annotation, diagramming, and simple drawing layout – that align with popular drafting standards. Combined, these elements simplify the user experience.
In addition, this software enables you to create a drawing from scratch or import existing DWG files. The latter capability is anchored in the fact that the software has translation wizards that map entities in documents from AutoCAD or other 2D programs to Solid Edge documents.
4. Solid Edge for Students
The Solid Edge Student Edition is a free professional 3D CAD software for students. It enables budding engineers and makers currently undertaking academic coursework to build their 3D modeling skills. In fact, SIEMENS PLM bills it as a free version of the same easy-to-use software suite used by professionals.
Students using this edition get to design parts, assemblies, and sheet metal. They can also enjoy capabilities and features such as animation, automated drafting, advanced rendering and simulation, as well as exploded view creation.
5. Solid Edge for Teachers
The Solid Edge Teacher Edition is a free professional 3D CAD application for teachers. It enables them to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This edition is available through a campus-wide license and is meant to aid in coursework. Its capabilities include facilitating part, assembly, and sheet metal design. It also boasts advanced rendering and simulation, automated drafting, animation, and exploded view creation capabilities.
6. Solid Edge Free Viewer
The Solid Edge Free Viewer is a free solution that allows you to view 3D models and drawings created in Solid Edge. More specifically, it can open and view Solid Edge draft, sheet metal, part, and assembly files, as well as 2D files such as DXF and DWG. In addition, the Solid Edge Free Viewer contains zoom, pan, and rotate functions. It also allows users to save images and email them to different recipients, facilitating collaboration.
7. Solid Edge for Startups
SIEMENS PLM helps entrepreneurs get their upstarts off the ground. Through the Solid Edge for Startups program, the company provides eligible startups with free access to the complete Solid Edge software that includes all the CAD, CAM, and CAE capabilities. To be eligible, startups must fulfill the following requirements:
- Legal entity less than three years old
- Design firm or product manufacturer
- Less than $1 million (USD) in funding
- Less than $1 million (USD) in annual revenue
Are There Alternatives to Solid Edge?
Having gone through the capabilities and pricing of Solid Edge, you may be wondering if it has any alternatives. In the world of CAD, you always a number of options. The following are some CAD software packages worth considering:
Incidentally, all the options listed above feature in our discussion on the top 10 best 3D CAD software. Additionally, you may also find our popular CAD software comparisons useful in your purchase decision such as: SolidWorks vs Autodesk Inventor, Solidworks vs Fusion 360, Solid Edge vs NX, and Catia vs Solidworks.