MCAD Tech News (#290)

9 Sep, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

SolidWorks 2011 Measures Up

The latest release from Dassault Systèmes features automatic dimension re-arrangement, a part de-featuring tool, and simple sharing of parameter values and equations between parts.

By Bill Fane

Well-known CAD writer Ralph Grabowski produces a weekly e-mail newsletter called upFront.eZine. A while back he asked his readers if the use of CAD was resulting in poorer drawings, and the response — especially from his older readers — was a resounding "Yes!"

My personal beef comes from sloppy dimensioning. Engineering drawings are a form of language, used to communicate ideas. If in a sentence in the sequence wrong the words are then harder much it becomes read and comprehend to. Huh?

The same is true of engineering drawings. If dimensions are poorly placed, they become harder to understand, and it is more likely that mistakes will be made. The problem is that most schools and institutes these days turn out "CAD operators"; they may know every command in a particular brand of software, and have a certification to prove it, but that doesn't make them good drafters. Dimension placement is a prime example, especially in 3D parametric modelers that automatically bring dimensions forward from the 3D model to the 2D working drawings.

Fortunately, one of my favorite new features in SolidWorks 2011 pretty much solves this problem. (Dassault Systèmes unveiled the new version at the beginning of this month, and invited members of the CAD media to get a first look at the software; I'll discuss some of the most intriguing updates here.) Read more »

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Bill Fane is a Cadalyst contributing editor, a registered professional engineer, and a retired instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.


Design Makes a Difference for Hardworking Trucks

Even the most prosaic vehicles benefit from thoughtful conceptualization and extensive clay and CAD modeling.

By Marie Vassiliadis

The polar opposite of sports cars, commercial trucks are common, unglamorous vehicles. In light of this, one might expect truck buyers' purchasing decisions to be based entirely on rational factors, such as fuel consumption, payload, service costs, and transport miles per dollar. Think again: truck design is more important that you may imagine.

At Volvo's design studio, close to 60 people design products for various Volvo companies: Volvo Trucks, Volvo Buses, Volvo Construction Equipment, and Volvo Penta. Senior Designer Patrik Palovaara specializes in truck design. His latest creation is Volvo Trucks' new construction truck, the Volvo FMX.

"It's true that truck design is largely about rational factors like aerodynamics and ergonomics," Palovaara said. "But there's also an emotional dimension. The truck's appearance is strongly linked to both its function and its identity and, by extension, to its brand." Read more »

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Marie Vassiliadis handles media relations for Volvo Truck Corporation's Europe Division.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


PLM Road Map 2010
September 28–29, 2010
Plymouth, Michigan
At PLM (product lifecycle management) Road Map 2010, presentations will cover mechatronics, transforming PLM into a dynamic infrastructure for business decisions, critical issues in simulation, and more. Read more »

Z-DAC 2010
October 12–13, 2010
Atlanta, Georgia
Z-DAC is an annual networking and knowledge-sharing conference for Zuken's customers, prospects, and industry professionals. The agenda includes Zuken product sessions, sessions from users and third parties, and a product showcase. Read more »

November 2–4, 2010
Atlanta, Georgia
This event showcases a spectrum of metal forming, fabricating, stamping, tube and pipe, and finishing and welding equipment and technology. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


A Preview of the CAD Manager's Survey 2010
Reader feedback helped create this year's survey, which is almost ready for your input. The topics will include demographic data, CAD standards, training, and much more. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: A Free File Transfer Utility Fills the Bill
When it's a hassle to share large files via FTP or e-mail attachment, this program offers a simple alternative. Read more »

Shortest Route to a 3D Throw Pillow
As use of Autodesk Revit increases, so does the demand for stock imagery, called entourage, to add detail to architectural presentations. Read more »

Bentley Adds Three Product Firsts to OpenPlant Line
OpenPlant Modeler V8i, OpenPlant ModelServer V8i, and OpenPlant Isometrics Manager V8i achieve interoperability requirements of iRING user community. Read more »

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