Bild vs 3DExperience Overview

March 4, 2024

SolidWorks is the most popular CAD design tool for hardware teams around the world. Many engineers “grew up” with SolidWorks, having started learning how to use it at university, and sometimes even highschool. Managing those CAD assets on the other hand occurs in PDM & PLM systems. SolidWorks users have a plethora of choices - whether to cross-stream via offerings by PTC, Siemens, Autodesk, etc; or stick with Dassault via SolidWorks PDM and Enovia PLM. Over the past several years, Dassault has made concerted efforts to onboard users to the 3DExperience (3DX) platform, with the proposition of a single, unified experience across CAD and PLM. While 3DX is an incredibly feature-rich platform, many teams find it difficult to efficiently utilize all the functionality available.

In this series of posts, we will take a look at a side-by-side comparison of 3DX and Bild’s cloud PDM/PLM to help teams understand which system is the right fit. In this post, we will cover implementation, ease of use, core workflows,

1. Implementation & Migration


As a breath of fresh air - users can purchase 3DX directly from Dassault vs a value add reseller (VAR). While this may address the ambiguous nature of costs and the variability across partners, the responsibility of migration falls on the users. If teams have to migrate themselves, users quickly run into various points of confusion on how to actually migrate. One way is for teams to “Batch Save to 3DExperience” via SolidWorks. Another option is to run a bulk upload command prompt if the user does not have access to SolidWorks, though this is complex and this methodology does not support the design history. Depending on the amount of data, some teams may choose to incur the cost of having VARs migrate their data- with specialized migration tooling that only VARs have access to. A prime example of a great tool only VARs have access to - the “Translation Assistant”- unfortunately, also requires the assignment of additional roles (see below on Ease of Use).

Whether teams uncover the information above via self-learning or via costly training from VARs, users also need awareness of the functionality of two 3DX applications: 3DSpace and the Bookmark Editor. 3DSpace is the application that actually stores documents in various “Collaborative Spaces,” while the Bookmark Editor is used to more quickly navigate to relevant documents, regardless of the Collaborative Space those files may live in. However, users cannot upload native SolidWorks part, assembly, or drawing files to 3DSpace directly - those files need to first be uploaded to a Bookmark in the Bookmark Editor, and then saved to one of the Collaborative Spaces in 3DSpace.

Native Files need to be uploaded to the Bookmark Editor first, not to 3D Space directly

Any of the options above entail implementation/migration timelines measured in weeks or months, with the full setup of 3DX necessitating expensive training from a VAR (especially for PLM Admins).


With Bild - the two options are either self-migrate or through white-glove migration by the Bild team. During the week-long trial, users and the Bild Solutions Engineering team will discuss project structures (where files will be stored) and best path forward. If teams choose to self-migrate, users can upload files via both the web and desktop applications to their projects, retaining existing folder structures and file references. In most cases, teams schedule a CAD freeze on a given Friday, migration is completed over the weekend, and users are onboarded the following Monday.

While all teams go through structured training during the trial/evaluation process, the Bild Customer Success team is also available at no additional cost for further or refresher trainings.

The implementation/migration timelines for Bild are measured in days or weeks instead.

2. Ease of Use


While the 3DX ecosystem, entailing dozens of applications, provides an enterprise level of functionality, the actual usage of these apps is based on the roles assigned to a given user. Even after users have access to the required app, they may not have the required knowledge to effectively use their applications. This can be solved through extensive self-training by reviewing content from VARs or going through expensive live VAR-led training. As seen above with the Bookmark Editor and 3DSpace applications - it’s not immediately apparent that native files cannot be uploaded directly to 3DSpace, or why.

This 3DX methodology enables teams to 1) control data access via Collaborative Spaces and 2) more easily navigate to parts via the Bookmark Editor. However, for different members of the hardware team (e.g. Manufacturing or Supply Chain) who are not day to day contributors for updated versions/revisions - finding relevant files in 3DSpace may prove to be challenging as Collaborative Spaces just display files in a list view. In other cases, workflows to find relevant information may require other applications in the 3DX ecosystem - such as Engineering BOM Management for EBOMs, Change Execution for ECOs, Collaboration & Approvals for ECRs, Issue Management for problem reports, and 3DDrive to share files.

Thumbnails for a subset of available Applications utilized across the NPI cycle

For teams looking to move quickly in their NPI, this lack of centralized views can disrupt day-to-day activities versus facilitating them. Especially due to the high bar to adoption due to the training required for proper utilization.

byu/Brompton4ever from discussion


As a parallel to Collaborative Spaces in 3DSpace, Bild enables teams to organize files via top level projects. Within these projects, teams can replicate the same file/folder structures as they have in PDM or by other methodologies such as sub-assemblies, commodities, SKU/product lines, etc. Access to data is controlled through project-level user permissions, with further granularity for what can be done based on customizable roles. Alongside offering a low barrier to adoption for day-to-day contributors (design engineers who check files out/check back in), other members on the manufacturing or supply chain teams can just as easily onboard to Bild, leveraging features such as robust search/sort/filter functionality to quickly find and start collaborating on relevant files.

As all team members are working off 1) the same dataset, 2) in similar views, and 3) in one application, this centralized approach helps all users (whether or not they are day-to-day contributors) develop an understanding of where to find the latest data and information.

Filtered search for extruded parts in the 580 product group

Aside from storing and managing data, Bild’s additional capabilities around issue tracking/ project management, BOM management, change management, and supplier collaboration are also all centralized within the Bild application - each seamlessly integrated into the core platform. This further enables the overall ease of use as opposed to various users in 3DX requiring additional role assignments for all the Enovia applications listed above.

3. Core Workflows

The two pillars for the overall 3DX vision for a single, unified experience are SolidWorks CAD and Enovia PLM. Teams who migrate to 3DX from an existing PDM system (SolidWorks PDM, Windchill, Teamcenter, etc) have a bit of a learning curve to understand how to replicate common workflows in 3DX. We’ll go over the three most common workflows for engineering teams: the check out/in process, running an approval, and releasing files.

Check Out/Check In


With 3DX, users need to open the file(s) that need to be modified in SolidWorks. This is done via the 3DX plugin and navigating to Bookmarks to more easily find files. Once the file is open, users will then “Reserve” files to enable editing. Once edits have been made, files can be saved.

This is where complications arise - when files are saved, users have the option to increment revision. Intuitively, as this is a new version (revision) of a file, this should automatically be done. However, 3DX tracks versions separately in data cards only accessible through the 3DX web platform.

Increment Revision when saving


Bild is foundationally a PDM system, and as such follows core check out/in workflows most engineers are familiar with for version control. Via either the desktop or web apps, users can check files out, preventing others on the team from making concurrent edits to a model. A further benefit of the desktop application is the connection to local Windows folders - the same location CAD systems like SolidWorks save to. This enables automated tags and status to indicate to users what can be checked in, when there are outdated versions locally compared to master versions in the cloud, and when new files are detected (when they are not in Bild already in that specified location).

Status tags for files actively worked on

Approvals & Releases


To perform approvals, users need to utilize the Route Management app to set up approvals for files prior to release. When creating a “Route” users will need to navigate back/forth between different apps (recommended to custom create dashboards for easier navigation) to add the necessary files for the approval. Once files are added, additional information can be specified such as the Approver. By adding additional functional boxes in the builder below, users can specify multiple other team members to create a sequenced approval. The creator of this Route can also specify automatic release of files after approval. If the creator does not select this option, they will change the maturity state of the file to “Released” via the Change Execution app.

Creating a Route with one approver


While approvals and releasing files in Bild are distinct activities - this is a customization available for teams who require the automatic trigger to release based on approvals. The process to create an Approval is more straightforward - users simply click “Start Approval” for a file and input the Approvers. Based on pre-set approval groups, users can easily set up approvals based on peer review, defined sequence, or first-response methodologies by simply adding those users vs creating additional functional blocks. Similar to 3DX - all approvers would provide their dispositions prior to release.

Structuring a defined approval sequences

4. Performance and Stability


In most cases, teams are using the desktop application of SolidWorks connected to the 3DX cloud platform - facilitated by the 3DX plugin. While this is the preference for most design engineers - to not have to navigate away from CAD, many actions from the plugin still require users to navigate to the web based version of 3DX. Additionally, the installation of the plugin causes a drastic drop in overall application performance - leading to frequent crashes of SolidWorks. With the plugin installed, there is a delay between actions occurring in the web version and information getting updated in the plugin (and vice versa). Users have also reported a higher frequency of hotfixes for SolidWorks - many of which are mandatory and some as optional. If users decide to install the hotfix - they need to navigate through the 3DX Compass (web) to do so.

From a usage perspective, the overall 3DX platform will require some level of configuration for most teams as opposed to using out-of-the-box. Although workflows can be customized by Admins, this requires the additional costs of those roles and training, or using a VAR. A key point is the sheer amount of apps users have access to or that are required to facilitate overall product data and lifecycle management. Each app leading to a new tab with slightly differing UI, or used in split views with custom dashboards. This is akin to utilizing a dozen different apps from an iPhone, and toggling through those.


Cloud native since inception, Bild provides a modern UI across the web and desktop apps. While most users use the web app that is accessible through any browser, core users such as design engineers who check files out/back in leverage the desktop app’s connection to the same local directories as CAD systems. Additionally, most customers find the out-of-the-box solution meeting overall needs for internal workflows - rarely requiring customizations or configurations made to the platform. All Bild functionality such as BOM management, ECOs, etc is available through the application, resulting in less context switching for users.

5. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)


The estimated cost of all roles including those for BOM and change/lifecycle management, and training is $24,720 for a team of 10 users, with costs increasing for any migration support or configurations to the 3DX platform.


The cost for an equivalent 10 user team is $15,000, including the functionality for BOMs and change/lifecycle management. Most teams do not incur any implementation costs and training is included.

In Conclusion...

While 3DX offers a lot of functionality across the dozens of applications users have access to, only a subset of organizations (e.g. hardware engineering team sizes of thousands of full time employees) are suited to leverage many aspects of 3DX after extensive configuration and costs. Teams that are looking to move quickly with informed stakeholders in the design process need tools like Bild that are built with ease of use in mind, all while working with our beloved SolidWorks CAD application. For teams who are currently on SolidWorks PDM, see this for a similar comparison.

Want to take a deeper look into Bild and see if it can be a good fit for your team? Meet with the team.