View Full Version : Lightwave vs solidworks for modeling

Lance Oscar
03-03-2010, 06:02 PM
I started using lightwave about 3 years ago. I really love Lightwave and have got very comfortable with its workflow and interface. I mainly model mechanical objects. I dont do any characters or very little organic objects.
I find mechanical objects very difficult to bulid in lightwave and even harder to re-design or edit. Many times its easier to just start over from scratch rather that try to re edit or change a model. Lightwave really shines in the rendering and texturing area. I really enjoy using Lightwave for texturing and rendering. I hope to still use Lightwave for texturing but not sure if this is really possible.

I just recently started to learn solidworks to use to build my models. Im blown away with how much easier solidworks is to use to design and edit models. In just a few days I can build some complex models that only take minutes to create with far less steps in solidworks. I dont really care for the interface so far. Theres alot of high end technical stuff I will never use in this program. It would be great if Newtek would change the modeling part of lightwave to work similar to solidworks.

Any advice or suggestions for using soildworks with lightwave would be great.


03-03-2010, 06:06 PM
Have you seen/do you have LWCad? It's as close as you'll get to a parametric style of modelling in LW.

Many people use one program to model and another to render as few of the top modelling apps have rendering to match and vice versa.

03-03-2010, 06:34 PM
Well, I have done much technical work from within LightWave. Mostly real world construction projects analyzed " for construction ". And that is . . . including most important components: Ducting, structural steel, concrete and reinforcing bar, sprinklers, final finishes, electrical large conduits and boxes . . . etc, you get the idea.

Lately, at home, I have been working modeling a tower crane in extraordinary detail. Probably too much detail. Needing a set of threaded bolts for it, I assembled a library of them for that purpose and shared it with the greater LW community. I used LW models for real world project layout from within a surveying total station and also have had a LW model manufactured using CAM technology.

Although I have not used solidworks, I have brought many sw components into LW. I find them to be "not elegant" in being resource hungry to say the least.

Bottom line: in my use of LightWave, that it can do many things other softwares cannot. And also, I am a proponent of using many different softwares as long as they play nice with each other.

03-03-2010, 06:53 PM
lightwave, max, maya, xsi are made for 'Images' [pixels] rather than a cad modeling app like formz, bonzai3d, rhino 3d etc and solidworks.... which may output to a cnc machine.

different apps for different goals

03-03-2010, 07:07 PM
.... which may output to a cnc machine.

different apps for different goals

Then how is it that I was able to use a LightWave model for input to a CNC machine?

03-03-2010, 07:14 PM
yes of course lw can create data for various output but it's not designed for that purpose..lightwave IS adapatable to most tasks..that's one of it's great strengths.

i think the guy is refering to dialing in blends and filets on stuff like in this app for example


03-03-2010, 07:14 PM
And CAD (computer aided design) has nothing what-so-ever to do with LightWave? I guess if you want to do that you need a REAL CAD app. Oh, forgot the photos:

Cresshead, I didn't see your post #6. Yes, I agree, for that you should use a solid modeler. But still, I dislike saying you cannot to computer aided design with LightWave.

03-03-2010, 10:20 PM
He never said you can't, just that it wasn't designed for that purpose.

I have also created parts for CNC cutting. In some ways, Lightwave is uniquely qualified for this task over other artistic-based 3d apps, but if I was working more extensively in prototyping and manufacture, I would probably want to have access to a solids (or at least nurbs based) modeler as well.


03-04-2010, 02:27 AM
Hi there,

We have both Lightwave and Solidworks and of course in 95 percent of the work, LW is great for visualisation (where SolidWorks is cumbersome and provides little control) while SW is great for technical modeling. It's quite simple really: a modeling tree built out of parametric features that can be adapted at any time is just superior for this type of work. You CAN, but should not be using LW for this.

As far as CNC goes, since STL is such a simple format (it's just a closed mesh of all triangles), of course LW plays nice (provided the point cloud isn't too dense). We've had our share of STL's to clean up inside Modeler, with patches curves doing the magic for us. But for a lot of mechanical shops IGES or STEP files are preferred, and LW can't deliver those (if you rule out dumping point cloud-type files inside an IGES or likewise - which is similar to putting a JPG inside an EPS when a client asks for a vector file :) )


03-04-2010, 03:19 AM
You CAN, but should not be using LW for this.

I think that's it in a nutshell.

Make life as easy as you can for yourself. Newtek never claimed modeler was anything other than a very intuitive and flexible all rounder.
Form z or Rhino it is not but that's why I like it for 99% of my work.

03-05-2010, 05:42 AM
Although I have not used solidworks, I have brought many sw components into LW. I find them to be "not elegant" in being resource hungry to say the least.

Well..Here at my work we go solidworks to lightwave for gymproduct rendering, and solidworks components being resource hungry would probably have to do with that Lightwave cant handle solids, but needs to convert to massive polys for machines with rich details.

When our product designer is workin on the machines in solidworks, he really can fly around the geometry without any lagging in working
in the open gl...thatīs some advantages with solids.

converting highly detailed solidworks models can of course be reduced in polys but might cause artifacts or loose details.

Handling changes and adding details bolts,fillets etc..are way much easier
to set up in solidworks..accuracy is another thing.

At the moment we can barely handle the geometry from solidworks, and machines are getting more detailed and with more polys, so we might have
to look at other renderers to get the job done.

Perhaps 3d max can handle that better, as I understand it thereīs no
need to convert the solids.


03-05-2010, 05:48 AM
cutting features and drilling holes are also some features much
more easier to work with in solidworks I guess..doing it with polys
requires some thought..

Lwcad is a good step ahead thou..canīt wait to see how
the nurbs thing is progressing.