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September 13, 2010
SolidWorks 2011 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!

CONCORD, Mass.-Dassault Systemes unveiled the
SolidWorks 2011 product line, delivering new ways to speed product design, deepen collaboration, and strengthen designers' engagement with manufacturing.

The new SolidWorks 2011 family of products includes hundreds of improvements requested by customers who use SolidWorks every day to design new products, validate their performance, communicate with partners, manage design data, and minimize a product's impact on the environment.

"In addition to refinements throughout, SolidWorks 2011's new CAD and PDM capabilities will enable our engineering groups to intelligently tackle new challenges in the design of our products and production systems," said Janine D. Essex, global product line manager for the SolidWorks application at Robert Bosch LLC, a leading global technology and services company. “We're expecting measurable, improved, and enhanced productivity throughout our customer base.”

“There are big changes,” said Robert Teele, lead mechanical designer for Nuvera Fuel Cells, a clean energy products company in Billerica, Mass. “Our production and marketing departments, for example, are eager to use the new walk-through animation capability to explore our equipment designs and our custom on-site installations with customers.”

Work faster and smarter

The more quickly you can move a great new product to market - and that pressure continues to intensify - the greater the success for everyone involved. SolidWorks has always focused on this imperative and continues to do so in SolidWorks 2011, which includes the following highlights:
  • New drawing detailing functions in SolidWorks CAD software eliminate the time and effort of manual dimensioning. Users can automatically align, stagger, or center dimensions in a single click without any overlap. Drawings look cleaner and more professional than ever with just a few clicks.

  • New 2D Simplification helps speed up parts analysis. Users simply select an intersecting plane and apply the loads and restraints to perform static, nonlinear, pressure vessel, and thermal studies. SolidWorks Simulation instantly calculates the results and displays them on the full 3D model - with no waiting.

  • A new Electronics Cooling Module lets users set up and execute thermal simulations quickly and easily, helping ensure that heat doesn't melt a product's electronics. A new HVAC module works the same way for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Expanded part libraries now include fans, materials, two-resistor components, and integrated circuit packages. New analysis variables include local air quality, ambient temperature, and Joule heating.

  • A new menu bar in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM product data management software speeds access to key designs. The menu bar, which slips right into Windows Explorer, combines the simplicity of Windows with the benefits of an enterprise data strategy for improved collaboration, control, and reuse of valuable design information.

  • All SolidWorks 2011 products improve speed and reliability by using memory more efficiently when working with large designs and during prolonged work sessions.

    Deepen communication and collaboration

    The better key stakeholders grasp intent and direction of a design from the start, the smoother the journey to the finished product. That's why DS SolidWorks consistently improves SolidWorks' powerful collaboration and visualization capabilities.
  • New in SolidWorks 2011, for example, is the ability to more easily create compelling photorealistic renderings in PhotoView 360. It is now fully integrated into SolidWorks CAD software, creating a single, unified environment for design and rendering.

  • For an immersive experience, SolidWorks users can lead their customers through designs using new Walk-Through capabilities. Users can easily navigate their design visions via their mouse or an onscreen console - no preset paths are required.

  • SolidWorks customers can also work more closely with partners by sending them detailed designs - but not too detailed. The new Defeature tool facilitates the removal of unnecessary detail or sensitive intellectual property before sharing.

  • For improved communication beyond the design team, 3DVIA Composer technical communication software, introduces a dynamic, interactive, “storyboard” capability that helps customers deliver process instructions through interactive images. Users can create a step-by-step linked narrative for recipients, such as a colleague in manufacturing, a prospect considering a big contract, or a consumer actually using the product. Users simply drag and drop views to create interactive procedures that are clear and effective. Magnetic lines are another innovative feature that increases productivity by neatly organizing content with minimal clicks.

  • Engage with manufacturing

    Active communication between design and manufacturing helps ensure that teams can actually build the products they conceive and that organizations minimize costly delays, scrap, and rework.

    For example:
  • SolidWorks 2011 includes powerful new features that automate weld placement and documentation. Users select and visualize weld bead paths with the Smart Weld tool, and they specify weld type and prepare joints with enhanced fillet and groove features. SolidWorks automatically compiles data on weld counts, length, and type in new weld tables, enabling detailed breakdowns for cost analysis and bidding. Users can apply new visible weld gaps to fitting-to-fitting, pipe-to-pipe, and fitting-to-pipe connections to ensure successful welds.

  • Designers will catch sheet metal errors early with new bend calculation tables that let them quickly calculate the developed length of parts.

  • The new integration of SolidWorks Design Checker into SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software helps streamline the release of designs to manufacturing.

  • It's easy to weigh the impact of manufacturing decisions on a product's carbon footprint through an expanded range of manufacturing and use regions (now including Australia and South America) in SolidWorks Sustainability software. The software also offers new support for custom materials.

  • Creation of pipe, tube, and conduit runs (especially when supports and hangers are involved) is simpler with new routing capabilities. Users can now trace existing geometry, e.g., a steel beam or wall segment, to guide the route path. SolidWorks associates the outside diameter (not the centerline) of the pipe/tube/cable/conduit with the geometry.

  • Relying on these capabilities and more, the SolidWorks 2011 product family streamlines the successful handoff of designs to manufacturing.

    “We're deeply committed to providing a design experience that is both intuitive and powerful, and SolidWorks 2011 embodies that commitment,” said Austin O'Malley, executive vice president of research and development for DS SolidWorks. “In addition to improving design productivity, we've made communication of designs more effective, maximizing intellectual property value and shortening product delivery times.”

    For more information about the SolidWorks 2011 product family, including video demonstrations, please visit
    www.solidworkslaunch.com or contact a reseller.

    Availability and pricing

    SolidWorks 2011 products are available for license worldwide through SolidWorks authorized resellers.

    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    Once again it's September and 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 2011 is one of the first major releases on tap after a typically slow summer in the engineering software world.

    I've just downloaded a beta copy of SolidWorks 2011 and have started taking a preliminary look at some of the new features and capabilities that I'll discuss below. I'll also be spending some time with Ian Hogg, Product Marketing Manager for details on some of the new features and capabilities in a week or so since I couldn't attend the official 2011 product launch in person in Concord, MA on September 1.

    It's hard to believe, but SolidWorks 2011 marks the 19th 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, as it has for the past few releases, with SolidWorks 2011, 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 (and don't necessarily want to pay for).

    Keeping abreast and familiar with the waves of technical and engineering software that continually crosses my desk is a chore to keep up with. I (along with my peers) 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 307 such requests (actually 71 fewer than last year at this time), 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. As I have said in the past, 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. Also, as I've said in the past, 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 2011. These are far from all the new features and enhancements, but are the ones that interested me most in beginning to evaluate the beta version.
  • Workflow improvements. The connection between design and manufacturing continues to get stronger with recent releases of SolidWorks, and the 2011 version exemplifies this effort. A handoff between design and manufacturing, not a toss of a design “over the transom” from design to manufacturing. Weldments, sheet metal, and routing improvements are testimony to ongoing overall workflow improvements.

  • Collaboration and visualization. PhotoView 360 is huge in this area. I'm really glad to see it fully integrated into SolidWorks 2011. It was good as an add-in last year, and I'm sure it will be even better as a full-fledged part of the core product.

  • SolidWorks Sustainability. Designing “green” products has been one of the bandwagon issues for CAD vendors the past couple of release cycles. What started out as a SolidWorks Labs project last year became a real product.

  • SolidWorks Sustainability is 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. 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 still remains to be seen, but I am sure it will enjoy wider acceptance over time as design sustainability becomes more central to the design process.

  • As I said earlier, I just downloaded and have started using the beta version of SolidWorks 2011. Once I've had some quality time with it and the shipping version, I'll be in a much better position to tell you about what's really new and improved. SolidWorks is a big product with a lot to investigate, so stay tuned for a detailed look in the coming weeks.

    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 Announces AutoCAD for Mac and AutoCAD WS App for iPad and iPhone

    Autodesk announced AutoCAD for Mac software. This version of AutoCAD runs natively on Mac OS. Autodesk also announced the AutoCAD WS mobile application, a new app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch that will allow users to edit and share their AutoCAD designs in the field. AutoCAD for Mac has an intuitive interface that will be familiar to Mac users and makes available many of the powerful AutoCAD features and functionality to customers who choose to work natively on the Mac. AutoCAD for Mac takes advantage of Mac OS X, including graphical browsing of design files with Cover Flow and use of Multi-Touch gestures on Mac notebooks, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad for intuitive pan and zoom
    features. The value of AutoCAD for Mac is further extended with an extensive API (application programming interface) and flexible customization options that allow for tailor-built workflows, simple application development and adaption, custom configurations for settings and screen real estate options to suit individual workflows and project demands. Autodesk also announced the AutoCAD WS mobile application, a new free app soon to be available through Apple's App Store that will extend AutoCAD to Apple's iOS. The AutoCAD WS mobile application will enable AutoCAD users to edit and share AutoCAD files on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch so they can have real-time collaboration even while on the go.

    ZWSOFT Announces the Acquisition of VX

    ZWCAD Software Co., Ltd (ZWSOFT) announced that it has completed its acquisition of VX Corp., an American CAD/CAM solutions provider since 1985. Currently, ZWSOFT services over 180,000 users in 80 plus countries around the world and is aiming to become a leader in both the 2D and 3D CAD/CAM market.VX Corp. was known for its 3D CAD/CAM solution based on their state-of-the-art VX kernel. As a wholly owned subsidiary of ZWSOFT, VX and ZWSOFT will adopt this powerful technology for their latest product, ZW3D. This new all-in-one CAD/CAM solution will extend enterprise-level mechanical design and engineering capabilities to the desktop at an attractive price (to be announced). Also,
    ZWSOFT now owns and controls its own proprietary geometric modeling kernel. ZWSOFT will release the ZW3D product line this month during the company's annual Global Partner Conference.

    Astronauts Stay Strong with Help from SolidWorks

    Though phenomenally fit, astronauts grow weak after prolonged missions in zero gravity. To help combat muscle atrophy, a Spanish company using SolidWorks software has developed a sophisticated system to test their strength in space. Called MARES, the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System was developed by NTE-SENER for the European Space Agency (ESA). MARES consists of an adjustable chair with a system of pads, levers, electronics, software, and a motor that tests a dozen muscle groups for weakness and exercise benefits. It was launched last April aboard the NASA Discovery Space Shuttle and will soon be installed in the European Columbus Module of the International Space
    Station. The design requirements were rigorous. MARES needed to restrain the astronaut, limit motion to the tested muscles, ensure user safety, deliver power-assisted resistance, and handle any astronaut between the fifth and 95th height percentiles. The system also needed to be modular so astronauts could assemble, disassemble, stow, and operate it.

    Alibre Inc. announced
    AlibrePowered.com, its new social media website for Alibre inspired 3D designers, digital fabricators and DIYers. The new AlibrePowered.com site is a center for Alibre designers to connect and share their latest Alibre Designs, announce new product launches, share information, ask questions, and publicize their products within the community.

    Verisurf released the 5th generation of its Verisurf X software. With Model-Based GD&T Inspection technology at its core, the all-new computer-aided inspection and reverse engineering software inspects parts faster and more accurately without any need for 2D drawings. Verisurf Model-Based GD&T data can be:
  • Imported from or created on virtually any 3D CAD/CAM model
  • Inspected to manually or as part of an automated inspection process
  • Reported on in a variety of industry formats

  • Additional Verisurf X5 features include:
  • Verisurf's new 3D Feature Scan technology automates the collection of discreet inspection points on 3D CAD models. This gives users all of the flexibility of non-contact 3D scanning without the time-consuming processing and issues associated with massive point clouds.
  • Verisurf's new Database Write feature formats and writes inspection information to SPC applications and PLM databases used by major global manufacturers. The feature also supports Microsoft Access and SQL Server database formats for integrating Verisurf inspection data with numerous enterprise databases.
  • Verisurf's enhanced Auto Inspection Planning now performs automatic calculation of composite positional tolerances, eliminating hours of Excel spreadsheet calculations and plotting by quality assurance personnel. Auto Inspection Planning also has a new deviation display column that continuously views all measured deviations.
  • Verisurf's updated MEASURE module has new assembly guidance arrows with resizable digital readout panel. Working in conjunction with Verisurf's industry leading Model-Based Inspection planning automation, the module helps users take more accurate measurements in the exact order and at the precise location needed.

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

    This Week

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    Siemens PLM Software Names Chuck Grindstaff as President

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    Industry Events

    DP Technology Unveils ESPRIT 2011 CAM Software at IMTS 2010

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    Autodesk to Present at Upcoming Investor Conferences

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    Corporate Newsletters

    IMS INSIDER - IMTS2010 - August 18, 2010

    Siemens PLM Software - Teamcenter Unified- July/August 2010

    FEA Journal - August 2010

    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.