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


by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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The introductory presentations provided some good insight into the historical and current state of the company, but we really came to witness what was truly new in SolidWorks 2012. For now, we'll let the new features and capabilities outlined in the press release above stand on their own as incremental improvements. However, one of the new aspects of SolidWorks 2012 that really caught our attention was design costing.


Over the years, with the introduction of capabilities into software products beyond pure CAD, such as simulation, visualization, and sustainability, we consider costing one of CAD's “Final Frontiers.”


The costing capabilities will be found in SolidWorks 2012 Professional and Premium and will compare design costs and evaluate manufacturing costs of sheetmetal and machined components. The costing capabilities will let users design for cost with speed, repeatability, and accuracy.


Costing is available for sheet metal or machined components; rough and finish operations, and uses a template approach, much like Excel spreadsheets. For costing purposes, model geometry is mapped to manufacturing processes.

SolidWorks costing tracks costs and performs baseline comparisons with the ability to do "what-if" scenarios for cost, and make design changes to impact cost. Users can track ratio of manufacturing operations cost versus materials cost, as well as examine prices of individual features, such as cuts and bends. Costing also supports product configurations and their impact on cost.


SolidWorks created this costing solution largely on its own, but did partner for assistance with Geometric on feature recognition libraries. With today's increasing competition in design, engineering, and manufacturing, SolidWorks' costing should find a ready audience.


That's a synopsis of what we saw and heard at the SolidWorks 2012 launch press event. Overall, a day very well spent. We will be installing and licensing SolidWorks 2012 for an extensive evaluation in the near future. If there is anything specific you would like to see evaluated, just let us know.


Editor's Note: While we were assembling this edition of MCADCafe Weekly, we received news of a couple of significant events impacting SolidWorks. First, Jon Hirschtick, SolidWorks' founder, has parted ways with the company. In a short Tweet on October 4 he said simply, “Today was my last day at SolidWorks and DS. A tough decision for me but one I feel is right.” As for Jon's future plans, he later Tweeted, “For now I am starting to learn and experiment with technologies of all sorts . . . have some ideas but not exactly sure what's next.”


A couple days later we were informed that Austin O'Malley, Executive VP of R&D and longtime SolidWorks employee was also leaving the company. Taking his place is Gian Paolo Bassi, most recently vice president and CTO of ImpactXoft, where he was responsible for the R&D of Functional Modeling and also collaborated with Dassault Systemes on AEC projects.


We wish our good friends and colleagues Jon and Austin the best in their future endeavors, whatever they might be and wherever they might take them.


Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of
and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
or 719.221.1867.


The Week’s Top 5


At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.



Autodesk introduced Autodesk Cloud, a collection of web-based capabilities, products, and services that enable customers to extend their desktops with greater mobility, new viewing and sharing capabilities, and more computing power, helping them better design, visualize and simulate their ideas. In addition, Autodesk Subscription customers will now have exclusive access to cloud-based, high-performance rendering and design optimization, and enhanced collaboration capabilities. Autodesk Subscription now provides 3GB of online storage for each seat of software on Subscription for access to design and engineering documents.
Additional cloud services exclusive to Autodesk Subscription customers give designers, engineers and digital artists sophisticated new capabilities, such as high-performance 3D visual communication, simulation and collaboration that were once limited to organizations with access to high-end supercomputing centers.


The cloud-based services of interest to MCAD users include:
  • Autodesk Cloud Rendering ― Customers with an Autodesk Subscription to the Premium or Ultimate editions of Autodesk Design Suite will have access to rendering capabilities, helping them better visualize designs, increase the number of renderings they can create and reduce hardware investments.
  • Autodesk Inventor Optimization ― Customers with Subscription to the Premium or Ultimate editions of Autodesk Product Design Suites will gain an intuitive cloud-based simulation tool, enabling them to test multiple design options in the cloud, and to create more sustainable designs and higher-quality products while reducing costs.



    CIMdata announced a new paper about the use of Business Intelligence and Analytics in PLM. In today’s highly competitive global market, bringing differentiating, right to market products faster is critical to a company’s success as they strive to obtain a “first mover” competitive advantage. To effectively leverage their product information, companies are using business intelligence (BI) and analytics solutions to provide users the right information, in context, for their needs. This paper provides a perspective on the importance of BI and analytics within product development: the pressures that
    motivate its use; BI’s role; its value and future; and how one company, eQ Technologic, is developing and delivering BI solutions for the PLM market. “Smarter Decisions—Differentiating Products” is available for download at:



    Granta Design released Eco Materials Adviser Full Version. This new sustainable design tool for Autodesk Inventor software extends the functionality of Eco Materials Adviser Base Version, which is available as standard within Autodesk Inventor 2012. Eco Materials Adviser enables designers to quickly generate eco impact analyses of their product parts or assemblies as they evolve their designs in Autodesk Inventor. A dashboard display shows key indicators such as CO2 footprint, energy usage, materials cost, water usage, and compatibility with legislation on hazardous substances. Users can interactively explore the sustainability impact of changes in materials choice or the design of their digital prototype. The new Full Version builds on the capabilities provided in the Base Version by enabling users to study assemblies of any size, to investigate materials options in greater depth using Granta’s comprehensive database of around 3,000 materials, and to account for a wider range of contributions to environmental impact. These include finishing processes and the transport and use of the finished product. The software works by connecting over the Internet to a Cloud-hosted database that provides the necessary materials, process, and environmental data. Access is available by annual subscription.
    The list price is US$995, but a launch price of US$795 is available until November 30, 2011.




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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.




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