September 07, 2009
SolidWorks 2010 Prepares For Takeoff
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor


by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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On September 1, Dassault Systèmes (DS) SolidWorks Corp. unveiled the SolidWorks 2010 product line, a new set of software products that optimize and bulletproof the core product design functions that make designers and engineers successful every day. Through the use of CAD, simulation, data management, documentation, and environmental impact assessment, organizations will transform their inspirations into innovation, supported by a vibrant community of CAD users, content, technology, and expertise.


This new SolidWorks product line also improves depth and performance by extending the DS SolidWorks tradition of including hundreds of new enhancements specifically requested by customers.


“When I saw the sneak preview of SolidWorks 2010 at the SolidWorks World 2009 conference in Orlando, I was very excited about most of the new functionality,” said Wayne Tiffany, senior machine designer at Automatic Systems Inc. of Kansas City, Mo. “Now that I’m using SolidWorks 2010, I’m already seeing some payback. The new drawing enhancements have helped speed up drawing creation while the new DXF export and preview capabilities have helped make data output for manufacturing faster and more efficient. Most important, using the new assembly visualization functionality, I found a mistake where I had assigned the wrong material density to one of the parts in a recent design and
was able to quickly remedy the issue. Bottom line, SolidWorks 2010 is already helping me be more productive.”


What’s new in the SolidWorks 2010 product line


SolidWorks Premium CAD software improves designers’ and engineers’ productivity with a wide range of new capabilities. Patent-pending rapid dimensions, for example, display new dimension placement alternatives and neatly re-arrange existing dimensions to make room for the selection. A configuration publisher lets users easily publish a model configurator interface to the 3D ContentCentral service – a Web-based marketplace for 3D parts, assemblies, and other content – to enable simple selection of model alternatives. Patent-pending heads-up mouse gesturing puts unprecedented power in simple movements of the hand. SolidWorks 2010 also provides greatly enhanced reference plane
creation methods, sheet metal functionality, weldment performance, component mirroring capabilities, and direct editing tools. And PhotoView 360 makes it even easier for novices to render photorealistic images like professionals.


SolidWorks Simulation Premium empowers teams by arming them with tools to easily validate design decisions, uncover hidden problems before they affect production, and potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars. The new version adds first-ever capabilities like event-based motion simulation, which mimics the way machines really work, as well as proximity sensors and automatic edge-weld sizing. The overhauled simulation advisor, part of the SimulationXpress software included with every license of SolidWorks CAD software, guides novices through their first few successful simulations, shortening the learning curve and adding a layer of protection against errors.


SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software includes new productivity features for preparing models and drawings for distribution. A new convert, publish, print, and plot capability, for example, automatically converts hundreds of manufacturing drawings into neutral formats for quoting, collaboration, batch printing, and sharing with other systems. The new SolidWorks Enterprise PDM streamlines collaboration with a single centralized SolidWorks Toolbox library and introduces a new suite of rapid implementation tools for quicker return on investment.


3DVIA Composer automatically creates product documentation and keeps it updated with every design change. It helps organizations repurpose 3D assets to quickly create product manuals, brochures, catalogs, assembly instructions, training videos, and more. 3DVIA Composer 2010 further reduces documentation time by repurposing SolidWorks configurations and exploded views, thus putting intelligent design data to work. It includes a new time-saving ability to auto-create explode lines for multiple exploded views. Users can also create richer, more informative documentation with scalable detail views, BOMs in 3D, a shadow caster, and photorealistic background objects.


SolidWorks Sustainability software for the first time makes sustainable design accessible, credible, and SolidWorks simple. SolidWorks Sustainability helps users determine the carbon footprint, energy consumption, and air/water impacts in a product design’s raw material sourcing, manufacture, use, and disposal. An assembly visualization tool color-codes parts based on their total environmental impact. Configuration support in the software also lets users compare multiple design iterations for sustainability concerns.


Included with every license of SolidWorks software, SolidWorks SustainabilityXpress helps users immediately determine the environmental impact of any part. SolidWorks Sustainability products include an environmental impact dashboard, customizable reports, and a tool to find alternative materials to easily compare and instantly improve the sustainability of a part.


Both SolidWorks Sustainability and SolidWorks SustainabilityXpress draw on the expertise, research, development, and data of Germany-based partner PE INTERNATIONAL, the largest and oldest network of sustainability experts in the world, and PE Americas, its U.S. division. Together, the new products give the SolidWorks community a way to make a significant collective impact on the environment by incrementally improving every design.


“SolidWorks 2010 is designed to provide every design team with an improved work experience that can bring them to new levels of success regardless of their industry,” said Austin O’Malley, CTO of DS SolidWorks Corp. “We listened to what the engineering community was asking for, which was a rock solid work experience and depth of functionality to help them work faster and smarter. We’re confident we have delivered. The sustainability capabilities will also help our community make an important contribution to the world in creating environmentally friendly products.”


Availability


SolidWorks 2010 products are available for purchase worldwide through SolidWorks authorized resellers and will ship in October.


Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor


It’s September and it’s time for new beginnings. Time to get back to school for some of us, while it’s back to real work for those fortunate enough to be employed. Also, it’s time to launch into the new software release season, and SolidWorks 2010 is one of the first major releases on tap after a relatively slow summer, as is typical.


I’ve had a beta copy of SolidWorks 2010 for several weeks and have taken a preliminary look at some of the new features and capabilities that I’ll discuss below. I also spent a day discussing and demoing with a couple SolidWorks managers -- Fielder Hiss, VP Product Management and Ian Hogg, Product Marketing Manager, Simulation.


It’s hard to believe that SolidWorks 2010 marks the 18th release of the flagship product. It’s really come a long way, but the leaps and bounds, scads and piles of new features that were commonplace have slowed somewhat to a more sane pace and volume. In fact, with SolidWorks 2010, the company continues to stress the importance of software stability and dependability over feature bloat and piling on features that relatively few customers actually use.


Breaking from past tradition, this release of SolidWorks was previewed to a number of different media groups in a number of different ways. The company was trying to get the most bang for its buck, and understandably so, therefore the break from tradition of PowerPoints for the masses and hands-on for those that chose to do so. First, let me say that contrary to some pronouncements and claims by the “new, social media, I (as well as most of my peers) am not a shill, hack, or parrot for software and hardware vendors. We have to stay on top of a broad industry that has diverse needs and requirements. It’s not easy trying to stay on top of hundreds of currently marketed CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM core products, add-ins, partners, and services; much less emerging technologies and R&D efforts. I constantly get requests to demo and review software and hardware (beta and shipping). This year, in fact, I have received 378 such requests, so I am very selective because they can be demanding and time consuming. I wish I had the luxury of becoming an expert with a given software technology or small group of technologies, but that’s not the case. I do not review and report on products that are, in my opinion, obviously bad or “me too” products. Why waste my time and the time of my readers? It just doesn’t make sense. So, the different technical software media have
different voices because our media consumers have different needs and expectations. We’re all relevant to the people we try to serve, so tone down some of the self-promotion, self-aggrandizing, and self-importance proclamations by continually stating how great you are and how bad the vendors, their products, and other media members are.


Anyway, back to the issue at hand – some of the more significant aspects of SolidWorks 2010. These are far from all the new features and enhancements, but are the ones that interested me most in evaluating the beta version.
  • Mouse Gestures. I like shortcuts that quickly execute commands, and so-called mouse gestures in SolidWorks 2010 really keep things moving if you map commands you use a lot with mouse gestures. Mouse gestures are activated in the graphics window by right clicking and dragging the mouse. There are eight command areas displayed in a ring that can be invoked by moving the
    mouse over a specific command. The eight gestures can be customized using just about all of SolidWorks’ commands for sketches, parts, assemblies, and drawings. For example, you could customize gestures to create a sketch for a simple part, add a dimension, extrude it, and view it with the magnifying glass tool. I found the mouse gestures easier and more intuitive to use than keyboard shortcuts. In the future, I’d like to see concentric rings that let you add as many gestures as you want.


  • Configuration Publisher. What used to called the Create Property Manager is now known as the Configuration Publisher that can be used for prepping models for 3D ContentCentral. With Configuration Publisher you can use rules for defining different model configurations. To use it, a model must have an associated single or multiple row design table. This time around you can create a single-row design table that includes all the variables for different model configurations. You can also select a specific configuration and place it in an assembly. With the Configuration Publisher it’s pretty
    easy to build, preview, and publish different model configurations consisting of different attributes.


  • Surfaces. Being an industrial designer, surfaces have always held a special place for me, and SolidWorks 2010 has made some significant strides in this area. Extending and trimming surface enhancements are a welcome addition, but I found the biggest leap forward was in knitting surface feature options. While there are some rules of the road to be followed when knitting surfaces, in SolidWorks 2010 the Merge Entities and Gap Control options work very well for closing a volume as a solid or leaving it open as a surface body. Gap Control is especially interesting because with it you can
    view edges that might introduce problems, as well as view and edit the knitting tolerance or gap range, keeping in mind that the gap range is dependent on the knitting tolerance. When surfaces are successfully knit, a single surface is displayed as Surface-Knit in the FeatureManager design tree.


Motion Studies. I thought the most significant addition here was event-based motion analysis that calculates an assembly’s motion controlled by event triggers. Event-based motion requires tasks and the element of time (which can be a challenge to grasp unless you have used time elements in other types of applications, such as animation). Tasks are defined by triggering events and associated task actions that control or define motion during specific tasks. Task triggers are the events that drive motion for tasks. Task triggers can be defined based on time, completion of previous tasks, or
sensed values, such as proximity. The motion study possibilities provided by SolidWorks 2010 should prove invaluable for complex mechanism and production machine designers where efficient motion in minimum time for performing tasks can mean the difference between breaking even and making a profit.


  • SolidWorks Sustainability. Designing “green” products seems to be the bandwagon issue for CAD vendors and this release cycle. What started out as a SolidWorks Labs project earlier this year is now a real product that will be offered in two versions – SolidWorks SustainabilityXpress (for parts only and included in the core product) and SolidWorks Sustainability (for parts and assemblies with additional options, and available as a separate product at a not-too-distant future date). The SolidWorks Sustainability products are intended to assist in optimizing the creation of sustainable designs through life cycle assessment (how materials, manufacturing method, and location influence a design’s environmental impact throughout a design’s life cycle) and environmental impact factors (such as carbon emissions, energy consumed, air acidification, and water contamination). All of the impact factors are displayed on the Environmental Impact Dashboard that dynamically updates with any changes you make to the various factors. How well SolidWorks Sustainability will play remains to be seen, but I am sure it will enjoy wider acceptance over time as design sustainability becomes more highly
    regarded as an essential design factor.


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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


    Reviews:
    Review Article
    • Solidworks leaves me in the lurch September 07, 2009
      Reviewed by 'Mike des Ligneris'
      2009 is the first year out of 12 that I have defaulted on the Subscription payment to SW
      I applaud the advancements but I feel strongly about a software vendor that got me on board because they sold a PC-based 3D CAD system which one-man users such as myself were waiting for, but now are playing with the 'big boys' and still expecting me to fund the salaries of all the VAR's and programmers.
      I want a low-cost version of the basic functions that my son and other yougsters can buy and use without breaking the bank. Including a 'greenness' program that tells me to use aluminum rather than magnesium is just hype. Come on Solidworks, I supported you for 12 years, now give me a break and reduce my subscription fee as a reward for long service and also something that I can use economically when I retire.

        12 of 14 found this review helpful.
        Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)


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