October 10, 2011
SolidWorks 2012 Launched
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. recently unveiled SolidWorks 2012 with a variety of improvements in areas such as assembly and drawing capabilities, built-in simulation, design costing, routing, image and animation creation and product data management that will positively impact design teams.

SolidWorks 2012 offers improvements in the areas of:

Drawings – New tools help create better-looking and more-accurate drawings in order to cut down on the revision process and help users detail designs faster. For example, changed dimensions are automatically highlighted and show previous values to help with revisions. Sequential balloon ordering and magnetic lines automatically help order and position balloons, allowing users to spend less time detailing and aligning drawings.

Sustainability – SolidWorks Sustainability’s new, advanced user interface means users can more accurately model products with “what if” scenarios and better support unique and custom materials. Users can also closely model processes with parameters such as recycled content and duration of use. Also, access to the latest SolidWorks Sustainability supplemental materials will be instant and continuous as they become available.

Large design review – Allows instant opening and review of massive assemblies or any individual component with walkthroughs, sectioning and measuring without the need for a high-powered computer or any special file preparation.

Feature freeze – Eliminates unwanted feature rebuilds by locking all features above the “freeze” bar, speeding up the design of complex models where rebuilding of specific features isn’t needed. Features can also be unfrozen at any point.

Equation editor – New equation capabilities allow users to create equations faster and understand order more easily, providing new levels of flexibility and productivity.

Design costing – A flexible tool that automates manufacturing cost calculations for sheet metal and machined parts. Designers can make more informed decisions based on cost throughout the design process and continually model new scenarios for instant up-to-the-minute manufacturing estimates.

Sheet metal – Design from scratch or convert customer 3D parts to sheet metal with new tools that provide control over the unique challenges of working with sheet metal — such as precise control of edge flanges, including up-to-vertex end conditions. Designs can be automatically flattened and documented for manufacturing, with export to CNC and manufacturing equipment.

Simulation – SolidWorks Simulation includes enhanced motion optimization that automatically uses motion study results to create sensors and refine complex and time-intensive machine aspects such as motor size, bearing loads and range of travel. Users can optimize designs in a fraction of the time as they refine inputs and immediately see changes to restraints or goals.

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

We attended the SolidWorks 2012 press launch event last month and came away with several impressions surrounding the launch of SolidWorks 2012.

The event began with a presentation by Bertrand Sicot, CEO of SolidWorks. Some of the highlights included:
  • Desire for a continued smooth transition of former management (Jeff Ray era) to the new management team that includes Sicot.
  • Listen to customers (this seems like a no-brainer, but few CAD vendors actually do it beyond lip service).
  • Put users first (another no-brainer, but SolidWorks does a better job than most, especially with its user group community).
  • Keep it simple (not sure exactly what he meant here, product or business model, but a good thought anyway).
  • SolidWorks software is an evolution, not a revolution (and from what we saw on SolidWorks 2012 later in the day, this is definitely true and is good for ensuring product stability).
  • Company is investing in the channel (resellers are the lifeblood of SolidWorks because they are the company's “face,” so investment here is a good thing).
  • Extending the professional market for 3D -- industrial design, medical, AEC, manufacturing, consumer product design (the company has whispered for some time about expanding the SolidWorks product line into other non-historically traditional CAD markets, but have witnessed little penetration or presence as yet).
  • -nFuze for online design collaboration could be a Dropbox equivalent for SoldWorks (and its first mainstream entree into the “cloud” as a pretty safe gamble into these untested waters).

    Finally, Sicot proudly proclaimed that he is an official Certified SolidWorks Professional (CSWP). John McEleney, a former SolidWorks CEO was also a CSWP and that was always a positive image in the eyes of customers and resellers. We're sure that Sicot's CSWP status will also put him in good stead with end users as “one of us.” Sicot challenged all media in attendance to study for and pass one level lower than CSWP, Certified Solidworks Associate (CSWA). I'm taking up the challenge and should be a CSWA in the next few weeks.

    David Stott, SolidWorks CFO was next up. As you would expect, he discussed the company's financials in relatively simple terms of revenue and so on. He also presented some interesting facts and figures about the company, customers, and its products, including:
  • SolidWorks now consists of 23 offices with ~825 employees.
  • Number of active partners at all levels is now up to 750.
  • -Installed base (including education) ~1.6 million users (this is a number that is perpetually cumulative, meaning it always increases, regardless of actual sales).
  • SolidWorks has 50,000 certified users.
  • Worldwide, 207 SolidWorks user groups (what we still consider to be one of SolidWorks' best intangible benefits).
  • SolidWorks represents ~20% of Dassault Systemes overall revenue.
  • - ~20% of SolidWorks product revenue is derived from non-CAD products, such as SolidWorks Simulation, data management (SolidWorks Enterprise PDM; has biggest potential for the future), documentation (3DVIA), and environmental analysis (SolidWorks Sustainability).
  • Average selling price for SolidWorks is ~$8,000 (when considering add-ins, reseller cost, etc.).
  • -Total SolidWorks sales are comprised of approximately 40% SolidWorks core product, 40% SolidWorks Professional, and 20% SolidWorks Premium.

    Continuing to appeal to its main customer base, small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies, SolidWorks was positioned and touted as “a business in a box for small design firms.” That struck a good chord with us, because even the core Solidworks product is helping a lot of small design firms pay their bills and compete with larger firms.

    Also, realizing that with time there are fewer “mechanical” products that are purely mechanical, the company is posturing itself as a strong proponent of mechatronics, where Mechanics + Physics + Circuits = mechatronic design. We like this philosophy and approach because it is the continuing wave of the future, the company understands this design direction, and continues to accommodate it.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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