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Consumer Product Design - SolidWorks 2005 brings high-end consumer product design capabilities into the mainstream 3D CAD market, enabling designers to make more attractive, functional products more quickly and affordably. These new features automate the design of companion parts, ultra-sleek curves, and bodies that are bent, stretched, twisted, or tapered. An industry-first Indent feature lets users automatically form a recess in a specified part based on a tool body. For example, SolidWorks 2005 can automatically design the base for an electric toothbrush using the toothbrush body for reference. The user need not specify additional inputs. Enhanced loft features automate the design of smooth, sleek, stylized surfaces to generate products with high consumer appeal. A new Flex feature lets users bend, stretch, twist, or taper solid bodies at any point or region in any direction, enabling dramatic changes to geometry in fewer steps.

System Enhancements - A new Task Pane collects all files, folders, and content in a single window on the SolidWorks 2005 interface, enabling users to work efficiently without the frustration of hunting for the resources they need. Users can find, open, drag, and drop files without leaving the SolidWorks interface and can view a list of all files currently loaded into their SolidWorks session. Other usability upgrades include a patent-pending Select Other feature that quickly peels away model faces to uncover interior parts. New productivity features include an Auto-Dimensioning feature that automatically adds chain, ordinate, or baseline dimensions to all entities in a drawing view, letting users work faster than ever. A new DrawCompare tool highlights changes to any two drawings similar to the way Microsoft Word tracks changes in documents. New multi-user tools manage version control so users can cooperate as intended rather than waste time clarifying offline who did what when to which file. The new Design Binder also supports multiple users, letting them insert text or voice comments, files, and links into a SolidWorks file to track design intent and progress.

System Management - SolidWorks 2005 includes a number of enhancements for easier administration and improved performance. The software's new capabilities for simplified central administration of new and updated software save time for managers and ensure users have the latest tools. SolidWorks 2005 now includes the SolidWorks Rx tool, which helps users optimize their hardware and operating system environment for maximum performance. And for the first time, SolidWorks 2005 permits users to borrow network licenses even when disconnected from the network, enabling users to work in SolidWorks any time and anywhere they have their laptop.

SolidWorks 2005 also provides two new ways to modify the user interface for enhanced productivity. A new Application-Specific User Interface presents users with functionality specific to their industry segment, for example, consumer, machine, sheet metal, mold design, etc. The Copy Settings Wizard lets administrators provide consistent, custom sets of toolbars, menus, and icons to all of their SolidWorks users. By presenting users with the tools that apply directly to their design tasks, SolidWorks has streamlined the user interface while increasing designer productivity.

Data Management - PDMWorks product data management software, embedded in SolidWorks Office Professional, now includes a Copy Project feature that lets users copy all the documents from an existing project into a new one - a way to save time, effort, and quality by reusing successful designs. PDMWorks also includes a simplified interface that enables authorized users to access documents in the vault without special commands.

Integrated Analysis - Further building on the success of mainstream design analysis software, a new Displacement Value feature in COSMOSXpress automatically provides users with precise measurements for the movement of any object that displaces, shifts, or bends during design.

AutoCAD Users - SolidWorks continues to do more than any other company to serve 2D AutoCAD users who embrace 3D design solutions. For example, SolidWorks 2005 includes the DWGEditor tool, giving users the ability to edit 2D DWG files in their native format in an AutoCAD-like interface. The tool is ideal for design engineers who use 3D design software but need to periodically maintain legacy 2D designs. Other functionality added to help 2D users embrace 3D includes snaps, crossing select, repeat, trim, mirror, circle, and line features that help Autodesk users very quickly become proficient in SolidWorks software. Likewise, SolidWorks 2005 automatically creates associative part files and drawing files from Autodesk Mechanical Desktop files a user imports, including assemblies and assembly drawings. Changes made to one file will automatically be reflected in the other.

"Our ongoing efforts to help design engineers quickly bring innovations to market have confirmed SolidWorks as the number-one supplier of mainstream 3D mechanical design software," said SolidWorks CEO John McEleney. "Customers are more satisfied with SolidWorks than any other 3D design product, and more AutoCAD 2D users choose SolidWorks than any other software. SolidWorks draws additional appeal from the expanding universe of users who bring their intelligence, creativity, and collaborative potential to the software. Together, as a community, we're building the bridge between ideas and innovation."

SolidWorks 2005 will be available in midsummer for purchase in 12 languages worldwide. It is available in three configurations: SolidWorks 2005 (the core modeling software in the company's 3D design product suites), SolidWorks Office, and SolidWorks Office Professional.

Last week we had a chance to meet with executives and developers at a press event hosted by SolidWorks in Chicago. We also saw SolidWorks 2005 demoed and had some brief hands-on time with it. It was a lot to take in in just a couple of days, but suffice it to say that SolidWorks 2005 looks like another great release and worth a close look if you're in the market for a new, replacement, or upgraded CAD seat. As yet, I have spent very little time with the product, so I honestly don't have a lot to say about it, but I will be getting very acquainted with it over the next few weeks and will report on it in detail. At first glance, however, there were a number of things that caught my eye. First, SolidWorks can now be customized for specific design disciplines - machine, mold, and consumer product design, for example. SolidWorks has implemented specific features and interfaces for these specialized design areas that could provide significant time savings for those involved with those types of design tasks. On the topic of consumer product design, SolidWorks has added several features and capabilities that industrial designers will appreciate and use, such as a new flex and indent features, and loft improvements. The SolidWorks DWGEditor lets you edit DWG and DXF files and save them in their native format (going back all the way to AutoCAD 2.5). SolidWorks did this by licensing and embedding IntelliCAD (an AutoCAD clone) from CADopia. Just like it did getting analysis into the hands and workflows of part designers with COSMOSXpress, SolidWorks has added MoldflowXpress to SolidWorks 2005 for analyzing plastic parts and molds based on geometry, material, temperature, and injection gate location. There are also major enhancements to sketching and drawings, but those will have to wait for a future Weekly. Like I said earlier, I'm just hitting the highlights of SolidWorks 2005, and will describe in more detail in the near future. Last week SolidWorks also announced the release of the entire COSMOS 2005 design analysis product line - COSMOSWorks, COSMOSFloWorks, and COSMOSMotion. I'll cover that announcement in more detail next week.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at Email Contact or 408.850.9230.


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