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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 »

First Look At SOLIDWORKS 2018

September 14th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe

Well, another Labor Day has come and gone, and summer is almost over, but that means that a new version of SOLIDWORKS is about to launch. It actually and officially launched earlier this week.

I spoke with Kishore Boyalakuntla, SOLIDWORKS Vice President, Portfolio Management and Brand UX Leader about what was new in SOLIDWORKS 2018, and there was a lot to cover. Keep in mind, though, that I’ll just be touching on what I consider to be the highlights in SOLIDWORKS 2018 this time around. In the coming weeks and months I’ll be going into much more detail on the new version’s features and capabilities

Design To Smart Manufacturing

This time around, SOLIDWORKS says its design-to-manufacturing process provides the tools needed to implement a comprehensive design-through-manufacturing strategy, all inside the SOLIDWORKS environment. These tools let you work without having to export and import data from one system to another. With IP embedded in the 3D design model, and at the center of the model-based definition (MBD) process,, and thanks to associativity, changes from design or manufacturing are automatically reflected in all related CAD models, CAM programs, drawings, and documentation.

Additionally, all the information for manufacturing, inspection, and simulation and verification is directly linked to the design, so it always reflects the current design iteration (which is always a good thing).

Quickie Tour of What’s New

SOLIDWORKS CAM – This is the biggest new capability in SOLIDWORKS 2018 powered by technology from a long-time SOLDIWORKS partner, CAMWorks.

Knowledge-based machining is at the heart of SOLIDWORKS CAM, an easy-to-use 2.5-axis milling and turning solution which allows users to program in either part or assembly environments.

Rules-based machining with knowledge capture allows for the automation of manufacturing programming for executing CAM programming and tasks.

While SOLIDWORKS CAM can be used like any other CAM software—setting up operations, picking tools, setting speeds and feeds—the real advantage is found running SOLIDWORKS CAM in the automated mode (also called “rules-based” machining). Proven machining strategies, or rules, embedded into the software allow for faster toolpath creation. These rules are included out of the box, and can be easily modified while the CAM user is programming by simply changing the parameters and clicking Save.

In essence, rules-based machining is like having a built-in manufacturing consultant helping to make decisions for the team. It allows novice CAM users to get up to speed quickly by automating the tedious and repetitive tasks associated with most mainstream CAM software. It also aides experienced users by allowing them to program much faster.

Knowledge-Based Machining (or KBM) is a relatively new concept, but one that is rapidly gaining significance in manufacturing circles. While a single, concise definition has yet to be decided on, it generally refers to a CAM software’s ability to make essential knowledge a part of its automation. The system’s knowledge is then translated directly into “smart” features which help streamline and strengthen the design process, potentially eliminating or severely reducing the need to manage and document changes.

Model-Based Enterprise (MBE) – SOLIDWORKS has literally expanded model-based definition (MBD) to a new level with MBE for speeding up design detailing while streamlining and automating downstream manufacturing tasks, such as CNC programming and inspection, by importing 3D models along with PMI from all major CAD formats, as well as STEP 242.

Inspection for MBD – With the enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2018, you can now create inspection documentation directly from 3D models with Production Manufacturing Information (PMI), as well as from 2D drawings, PDFs, and TIFFs. SOLIDWORKS Inspection is now integrated with SOLIDWORKS PDM, and supports SOLIDWORKS part and assembly files (*.sldprt, *.sldasm), as well as non-native 3D CAD formats.

3D Interconnect – You can work with more file formats including ACIS, STEP, and IGES, and automatically update your design whenever new files are received. In addition, 3D Interconnect now supports internal file information like custom properties, materials properties and reference axes.

Working With Mesh Data – You can now work directly with mesh data as you would with surface or solid geometry. Combine, intersect, split, move/copy, cut with surface, and check for interference. In addition, you can quickly fit surface bodies to regions of mesh models.

Sheet Metal – SOLIDWORKS 2018 includes tab and slot features for self-fixturing of parts for welding. A normal cut feature ensures that clearances are included for manufacturing, and tools to easily create or flatten corners that include three bends.

Generative Design – SOLIDWORKS Simulation Topology Study tool can automatically optimize the shape of a design based on weight, function, and manufacturing criteria. You can improve performance or reduce product weight based on simulation and manufacturing constraints.

As I said at the outset, this is just a brief overview of some of what’s new in SOLIDWORKS 2018. Stay tuned for a deeper dive in the near future.

Catching Up with One Of My All-Time Favorite SOLIDWORKS People, Richard Doyle (“Mr. SOLIDWORKS User Group Community”), At A Local SOLIDWORKS User Group Meeting, September 7, 2017. A Little SOLIDWORKS 2018 And A Lot Of Good SOLIDWORKS Tips & Tricks. Great Job Richard!

And, We Have A Winner!

At the Westec Manufacturing show in Los Angeles this week we talked to a lot of attendees and recorded videos with a number of the exhibitors. We also held a drawing for a new Amazon Echo. Our winner by random drawing is Rebecca Wolzinger, Project Manager at Powerminds Inc. Congratulations Rebecca!

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One Response to “First Look At SOLIDWORKS 2018”

  1. Richard Doyle says:

    Always great to see you Jeff!!


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