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The SolidWorks World Effect? Alibre’s Lower Prices, VX 50% Sale

SolidWorks World 2010 just finished.  Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe it’s not, but at the start of SolidWorks World Alibre announced “permanent” lower prices (no guarantees they won’t change prices again, but I suspect they’ll stay the same for a while).  And VX has just about everything 50% off until March 1.

Alibre’s prices now include Alibre Translate (which was $499).  (Alibre pricing info via World CAD Access).

Alibre Product Base Price Annual Maintenance With Maintenance
Design Standard $97 $97 $194
Design Professional $497 $147 $644
Design Expert $997 $197 $1197

VX’s current sale (through March 1, 2010) is VX Innovator for $495, VX Designer for $2000, VX Mold & Die for $3000, VX 3D Machinist for $4000, and VX End To End for $5000.

VX definitely looks more capable than Alibre, but it’s significantly more expensive (including, I’m sure, the annual maintenance fees).  So far, I’ve been able to do some things in VX Innovator I can’t do in Alibre, but Alibre has very few license restrictions.  For example, VX Innovator limits assembly creation to 40 parts maximum (it can import models with more), while Alibre Design Standard does not have any hard limits.  Also, Alibre lets you install Design on up to three computers, which is very nice for those of us with multiple PCs.

I think that if you do anything with 3D solid modeling (not surfacing), then Alibre is definitely worth a look due to its low price, lack of artificial limits, and good import/export options (especially now with Alibre Translate).  If Alibre can improve the ease of use, maybe it can become what SpaceClaim originally claimed to be: MCAD for the rest of us (non-designers), people who need to occasionally work with 3D, but aren’t designing complex parts all day long.

Right now, I’m still sticking with Alibre Design Standard V11 and VX Innovator; if I do a lot of CAD this year, I’ll look at upgrading to Alibre V12.

NOTE: Updated 2/4/10 to reflect Max Freeman’s comment.


1 Max Freeman { 02.04.10 at 7:30 am }

Just a correction – we have never made people purchase maintenance, and we do not currently make people purchase maintenance. So, the out the door cost, if people do not want the year of updates and support, would be $97 for Standard, $497 for Pro, or $997 for Expert.

Max Freeman
Alibre, Inc.

2 Tony { 02.04.10 at 12:01 pm }


I thought Ralph’s post said maintenance was required. I’ll update this post shortly.

3 Dave M. { 02.24.10 at 11:32 pm }

I’ve been very happy with Alibre Design for the simple stuff I have to model. I purchased it when I saw your blog months back referring to the promotional price. Thanks, Tony! 🙂

4 Tony { 02.26.10 at 12:37 pm }

You’re welcome. I expect to write more about Alibre Design in the future (but probably not for a few months).

5 Daniel { 05.17.10 at 12:26 pm }

I just spoke to Alibre and was told by tech support Alibre Design Personal Edition will only export to .STL (.STP or .IGES). Can you confirm your version does in fact export to .STP?

6 Tony { 05.17.10 at 10:31 pm }

I’ll believe that — last time I checked, the Personal Edition didn’t import or export to much (often true of free versions, e.g. CoCreate imports STEP files, but won’t export them).

I’ll check on Alibre Standard soon — IIRC, it’s supposed to export STEP, but it’s best to verify.

7 Tony { 05.19.10 at 4:36 pm }

Ouch! Alibre is changing things again! Looks like they’ve dropped Alibre Design Standard and substituted the Personal Edition (which is closer to VX Innovator Light in capabilities). OTOH, I just got an e-mail promoting the maintenance plan for Alibre Design Standard — and Novedge is still listing Standard. Alibre Design PE doesn’t look like a good option for my uses.

I just checked on my PC, and Alibre 11.2 Standard lists STEP AP203 and AP214 as export options. The product comparision at Novedge also lists STEP import and export for Standard.

Figure out what you want (STEP, IGES import/export, part creation, assemblies, etc); here are some options to consider:
1. Try buying Alibre Design Standard V12 with 1 year maintenance for $185 at Novedge while it’s still available.
2. If you can live with IGES files and 10 parts per assembly, consider VX Innovator Light for $95; I recommend trying the trial version first to verify (and you have to anyway if you want the $95 price).
3. Look at PunchCAD’s ViaCAD 2D/3D ($99) and ViaCAD Pro ($249); both claim to import and export STEP files. I’m not sure they’re the best choices for typical MCAD-style design (e.g. there’s no mention of doing assemblies).

8 Jens { 06.16.11 at 3:03 am }

As this is still high in her link ranks, it is important for this article that Alibre has doubled their prices since then.

The Alibre programs work well, but I find that you need to invest in the now 2000$ (or higher in some markets) Expert to be able to collaborate and import assemblies, that are constrained – this ability to import SW, ProE, Inventor might however be valuable to many. You seem to get good value, but not the same capabilities for less as some will try to tell you.

9 Tony { 06.16.11 at 1:58 pm }


My policy is that I don’t remove or change existing posts, just add updates to them. I’ve been slowly going through and adding notes to my old posts, and will update this post with additional information in the (hopefully near) future.

Also, the MCAD market changes frequently, and I don’t feel the need to compete with those who follow it closely (such as Deelip). Alibre is still worth considering (possibly used with another program), but it’s not such a great deal as it was a couple years ago. Alibre Design Professional can import neutral formats such as STEP, but not vendor-specific formats such as Solidworks.

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