June 25, 2007
SolidWorks 2008 Launched
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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For improving designs, one of the most significant new capabilities is TolAnalyst, an automated tolerance stack-up function now in SolidWorks that helps you verify design fit and function. TolAnalyst analyzes a design based on the order and way parts are assembled, as well as DimXpert geometric dimensions and tolerances. This is a big deal because it strives to eliminate tedious and error-prone hand calculations, and helps you determine if a design meets fit and function requirements. COSMOSFloXpress is now part of SolidWorks for simple qualitative internal fluid flow analysis with one inlet and outlet. DFMXpress is a nice addition that lets you check a design for

manufacturability by identifying areas that might be difficult, expensive, or impossible to machine up front in the design process. In SolidWorks 2008, DFMXpress includes checks for milling manufacturability (sharp internal corners on pockets, deep pockets or slots, and non-standard hole sizes) and turning manufacturability (minimum corner radii and bore reliefs).

Obviously, with a release the size of SolidWorks 2008, I can only cover the highlights, but based on the overview that I got, I’d have to say this is another good one. It’s hard to believe that SolidWorks has been around now almost 15 years, and is coming up on the tenth anniversary of being acquired by Dassault Systemes, but time marches on, and so does the product line.

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.

UGS PLM Software, a division of Siemens Automation and Drives (A&D), in collaboration with HP, announced its new UGS Synergy program for the automotive industry for the vehicle design and manufacturing collaboration process. The new program provides for asynchronous design information sharing in a CAD-independent environment. For the first time, OEMs and suppliers at all levels of the supply chain will have a single optimized process for exchanging vehicle design and manufacturing information. UGS Synergy enables suppliers to set up their own PLM environment and leverage its power to optimize the entire enterprise. The UGS Synergy program leverages its JT
data format, which has emerged as a standard for 3D visual collaboration in the automotive industry. Both OEMs and suppliers alike use JT for a wide range of downstream applications from purchasing to manufacturing, as it is smaller in file size and protects intellectual property.

Stakeholders invested in fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology for prototyping and direct digital manufacturing are about to experience significant gains in rapid protptyping. Materialise and Stratasys finalized a worldwide distribution agreement whereby Stratasys will offer Materialise' Magics RP software with its FDM systems. Both Materialise and Stratasys consider their collaboration on Magics for FDM a further indicator of how strongly they're aligned. Magics' integrated tools will play a key role in Stratasys' goal of providing a total solution for users of their FDM systems. Magics RP is a range of software products that streamline, automate and provide
more power to every step in the RP&M process. A major element of Magics' success within the RP&M industry has been its capability for importing a wide range of CAD files and for exporting files suitable for rapid prototyping, tooling and manufacturing. It also allows the user to repair and optimize 3D models, analyze parts, and perform process-related design changes on STL files.

Applied Engineering Technology (AET) has entered into a new partnership with Autodesk to market and sell its engineering and manufacturing software products. Since 1986, Applied Engineering Technology has built a diversified business able to create or market engineering solutions that fit its customers’ specific needs. Today AET offers many services that span engineering design, prototyping, software training, software support and software customization. “When exploring a partnership with Autodesk, it became apparent early on that they had a clear vision of the manufacturing industry today and also what was required to maintain their solid position in the marketplace. During our evaluation, we looked at the products and the company, talked with the leadership team and reviewed what their customers were saying about them. It became obvious in a short timeframe that their philosophy was similar to our own. The advantage AET brings as a VAR is that we represent multiple software products and we are not limited to selling one company’s products. A VAR having this flexibility is a big benefit to the customer, because the customer gets a best-in-class solution that is appropriate for their industry and matches their corporate strategies. Some software companies today discourage or just don’t allow for this level of flexibility,”
said David Johanning, Vice President of Applied Engineering Technology.

The evolution of 3D printers driven by severe pricing pressures has made concept modeling and rapid prototyping affordable to most end users. Undoubtedly, the growing trend toward rapid manufacturing has taken the industry to the next level. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (
http://www.testandmeasurement.frost.com), World Rapid Prototyping Equipment Markets, reveals that the market earned revenues of $300.0 million in 2006 and estimates this to reach $859.4 million in 2013. With prices of 3D printers ranging from $15,000 to $60,000, small companies find them extremely affordable to use for concept modeling and design optimization. In addition, the use of additive fabrication technology to directly manufacture the product has become increasingly popular, especially for low volume applications. Rapid manufacturing is particularly useful when the part complexity is difficult to realize with traditional manufacturing processes. Hearing-aid application in the medical industry is a good example. Rapid manufacturing is expected to become mainstream in the future, and eventually drive the growth of the rapid prototyping equipment market. End-user education should focus on the acquisition and cost of new equipment as well as the capabilities of various technologies such as stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition modeling (FDM), jetted polymer techniques and their applications. With rapid manufacturing gaining interest among end users, it is imperative for equipment manufacturers to educate the users to
ensure sustenance for the market and accelerate the growth of the rapid prototyping equipment market in the future.

Ascent Systems, a professional services firm providing business process and information technology solutions that elevate business performance, announced the launch of its Ascent Technology Center (ATC) that it says cuts the total cost of information technology projects by up to 70%. The Ascent Technology Center will provide full-spectrum technology services to its clients and is expected to employ nearly 300 local technology professionals when fully staffed. Ascent offers technology consulting, custom software development, CRM/ERP/PLM systems integration, web content management, and IT project outsourcing to clients in the Pittsburgh region. Ultimately, the company
foresees a trend where its lower IT costs will enable clients of any size to increase their use of technology to be more competitive. A 2004 Deloitte Consulting study showed that Pennsylvania manufacturing firms lag the U.S. national average in productivity by 11%. As many of these firms experience increasing competitive pressures over time, they realize that information technology and process improvement are the two important growth engines that they must have to compete -- and that only a local partner, such as Ascent makes these engines affordable.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of

MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
Email Contact or 408.850.9230.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.

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