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October 10, 2011
SolidWorks 2012 Launched
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
Each MCAD Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the MCAD industry, MCAD product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by MCADCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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.

    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
    MCADCafé  and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
    Email Contact 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 Cloud Enables Access to Design Capability from Anywhere, at Anytime

    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 Publishes “Smarter Decisions—Differentiating Products”

    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.

    Research and Markets announced the " Global Product Data Management Software Market 2010-2014" report. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is faster time to market of a product. The Global PDM Software market has been witnessing integrated product data management software with enterprise applications. However, the lack of knowledge and participation by supply chain partners could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. This report, which covers the Americas as well as the EMEA and APAC regions, indicates that the market is being driven by the proven ability of this software to improve quality.
    According to the report, PDM software provides solutions that connect different stages of a product development cycle. The report also highlights that the high investment required is hindering the growth of this market. However, with the implementation of this software, organizations have been witnessing reduced product recall rates. This market is also marked by the emergence of web-based product management. Key vendors in this market include SAP AG, Siemens PLM Software Inc., Parametric Technology Corp., and Oracle Corp.

    MSC Software Corp. announced that The Hadley Group, one of Europe's largest privately owned cold rolled steel manufacturers, has invested in Marc and Patran to simulate their patented UltraSTEEL process, as well as for press tool design, product development, and other ancillary processes. The UltraSTEEL process was first developed in 1984 and results in stronger roll formed products, thereby allowing the use of lighter sections. To enhance understanding of UltraSTEEL, The Hadley Group undertook a research project in 2009 in collaboration with the University of Wolverhampton. To support this project, the team evaluated a
    number of commercial CAE software systems for advanced nonlinear simulation technology before deciding on MSC Marc and Patran.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.