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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

SolidWorks 2015 Best of Show Hardware and Software

February 12th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We just returned from SolidWorks World 2015 in Phoenix, AZ this week, and what a week it was! We recorded a several video interviews, met briefly with just about every exhibiting partner, talked with a lot of SolidWorks staffers and users, and even sat in on a couple of the technical sessions.

Among many events at SolidWorks World 2015, the new CEO of SolidWorks, Gian-Paolo Bassi, was introduced. Several times during the conference, he reassured current SolidWorks users that SolidWorks as we know it will continue and so will the investment in continual improvement. I took those words to mean that SolidWorks in its current form is here for the long haul. It will be supplemented by new products, such as SolidWorks Concept Design and SolidWorks Industrial Design, but the flagship product will stay the course for some time to come.

Based on what I saw and heard this week and have experienced the past couple of years, I think Gian-Paolo will be good for SolidWorks corporate and community going forward. Most of the people we spoke with this week at SolidWorks World had similar positive sentiments about the future with a more “technical guy” at the helm.

Starting with SolidWorks World 2015, whenever possible at future events with exhibitors, we will choose a Best of Show in both Hardware and Software categories. Every exhibitor is eligible, including the sponsoring vendors, but we also look long and hard at smaller companies as well with innovative technologies, products, and services.

Best of Show Hardware: Artec Spider 3D Scanner

Although about a year old, we’d never seen this 3D scanner up close until this week at SolidWorks World. What impressed us most was the unit’s capture speed and quality, as well as its portability.

Artec Spider 3D Scanning Tutorial

Priced at $22,600 (US, MSRP), it weighs just under two pounds, and runs on 12V, so with an optional external power pack, the Spider is portable enough for field work. The unit’s light sources is blue LED, has a working distance of 0.17-0.30 m, has the ability to capture texture at 1.3 mp resolution, and can acquire data at a rate of up 1,000,000 points/s.

The company claims that the Artec Spider is the first handheld 3D scanner for CAD applications. It scans with accuracy of up to 50 microns and resolution of up to 100 microns, meaning that this scanner can be used when digitizing small-sized objects with intricate details, sharp edges and thin ribs.

It is really simple to scan, process, and export object captures with the Spider. It’s relatively speedy at scanning and requires no manual alignment, which also helps with speed. Scan data can be exported in several formats for point cloud processing with third-party applications, or to Artec Studio software for processing.

The Spider 3D scanner is especially suited for reverse engineering and inspection/QA.

For More Information:

Best of Show Software: nPower Software Power Surfacing for SolidWorks 2.0

SolidWorks is good for a wide variety of design tasks, but using the core product for real industrial design has been kind of a stretch. That’s not to say that a number of users haven’t tried using it for industrial design, but most encountered shortcomings of the core product when it came to creating and handling complex Class-A surfaces used extensively in automotive and aerospace design. Enter Power Surfacing for Solidworks.

Power Surfacing for SolidWorks

Knowing the surfacing limitations of SolidWorks really sparked our interest in Power Surfacing for SolidWorks.

Power Surfacing is a SolidWorks plugin product that fundamentally changes the way that industrial designers can design parts in SolidWorks. With Power Surfacing, complex free form, aesthetically pleasing Class-A surfaces can be designed in SolidWorks. No longer will you have to patch sets of trimmed surfaces together to form complex curved shapes; manipulating Power Surfacing parts is analogous to modeling with clay. With the release of Version 2.0, nPower added parametric dimension driven capabilities to Power Surfacing freeform objects. In a nutshell, starting with sketches you can build Power Surfacing models directly from existing SolidWorks geometry.

Neither Sub-D (Subdivision Surface) modeling nor NURBS modeling can effectively solve all 3D design problems, specifically surfacing in SolidWorks. Each technique has strengths and weaknesses. Sub-D modeling is great at producing and modifying complex freeform/organic shapes with smooth surfaces, and NURBS modeling is good at combining shapes via. Boolean and Feature operations, as well as refining shapes with operations like filleting, blending and face editing. Power Surfacing is actually a unification between the two methods. Being able to use both modeling paradigms together in the modeling process provides huge productivity advantages in both the design and revision process.

With the ability to connect Power Surface Sub-D objects directly to existing SolidWorks objects and to update the Sub-D to correspond to history tree modifications. Power Surfacing essentially provides dimension-driven Sub-D modeling.

What this all means is that Power Surfacing freeform capabilities combined with SolidWorks parametric capabilities provide SolidWorks users with a true toolkit finally suited for true industrial design.

For More Information:

Over the coming weeks, we will describe in detail what we saw, what we learned, and who we met with at SolidWorks World 2015. As always, there was a lot to cover.

By the way, the next SolidWorks World will take place January 31-February 3, 2016 in Dallas, TX.

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