Product Design

Event Report: SolidWorks World 2009

16 Feb, 2009

Software and hardware highlights from the Partner Pavilion.

Last week, more than 4,000 attendees converged at Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida, for SolidWorks World 2009. Much activity was centered in the Partner Pavilion, where approximately 100 vendors showcased their wares. Collected via in-person visits with those vendors and press releases, here’s a rundown of many of the software and hardware products exhibited on the show floor.

Mechanical Design
Design automation was a hot topic on the SolidWorks World 2009 conference agenda, and in the exhibit hall DriveWorks was highlighting its own solution. DriveWorksXpress allows users to create multiple variations of parts, assemblies, and drawings and is included in every seat of SolidWorks.

Tacton Systems demonstrated how users can automate design customization tasks using its upcoming TactonWorks 4.2 and SolidWorks, reducing customer-specific engineering work by automating repetitive design customization tasks. TactonWorks is fully embedded within the SolidWorks interface, allowing engineers to define design rules and use Tacton’s product configuration solver engine to eliminate the need to translate design rules to sequential calculations.

power2 was exhibiting power2design for SolidWorks, which facilitates engineered-to-order manufacturing. The tool avoids the master model technique for producing customized versions of parametric assemblies, generating only the components and exact component counts needed. The result is faster parametric assembly production, the company reports. For more information, e-mail

First-time exhibitor Zuken previewed its E3.WireWorks solution, designed to allow electrical and mechanical engineers to better access the Zuken solution from the SolidWorks software environment. E3.WireWorks is also integrated with SolidWorks' Enterprise PDM system, which provides features such as lifecycle support, library and connectivity data exchange, and integrated 3D-cabinet layout and hierarchical design support.

Sigmetrix was in the Partner Pavilion to showcase how its CETOL 6 Sigma mechanical variation analysis and tolerance optimization software can reduce costs and increase return on investment. The product exposes the interactions of the design functions with respect to the planned manufacturing processes, accelerating the virtual prototyping process.

solidThinking was demonstrating its industrial design software, solidThinking v7.6, which is available for PC and Macintosh platforms. The software provides a conceptual design environment including advanced NURBS-based modeling capabilities and a unique construction tree, allowing users to change their minds any time during the design process without having to re-create designs from scratch. It can exchange data with any CAD/CAM system, according to the company.

Extensible CAD Technologies demonstrated InspectionXpert for SolidWorks, which automates the creation of inspection documentation directly from SolidWorks models. The company also offers InspectionXpert First-Article, a CAD-neutral application that generates inspection documentation from 2D drawing formats including PDF, TIFF, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Autodesk Inventor, and many others without the need for CAD software. Both products automatically balloon inspection drawings and export inspection characteristics to Microsoft Excel-formatted inspection reports.

TraceParts, a provider of 3D parts catalogs and the first to supply its catalogs on SolidWorks’ 3DContentCentral, demonstrated The online portal offers more than 100 million native CAD models -- including international standard and manufacturers’ components -- for use in SolidWorks assemblies.

AMPS Technologies was exhibiting its new AMPS 5.2 advanced multiphysics simulation software, which offers a variety of new tools including automatic and custom meshing, solving of large industrial problems, automatic solving of difficult contact/impact problems, direct solving of multiphysics problems in one integrated module, and enhanced postprocessing.

Sigmetrix highlighted CETOL 6 Sigma for mechanical variation analysis and tolerance optimization. The product is optimized to help companies quickly reduce costs and increase return on investment.

SolidWorks parent company Dassault Systemes (DS) was represented on several fronts as the companies work to establish closer ties, as announced last fall. SIMULIA, the DS brand that develops simulation solutions, displayed the latest release of the SolidWorks Associative Interface for its Abaqus/CAE simulation and analysis software. The tool allows SolidWorks 2009 users to transfer selected parts or assemblies to Abaqus for advanced structural and multiphysics analysis.

CNC Software introduced Mastercam for SolidWorks, the latest in the line of Mastercam machining software, fully integrated CAM that runs within SolidWorks. Users can now program parts directly within SolidWorks. The Mastercam operations manager-style machining tree offers quick access to any point in the machining process. Even complex 3D parts can be programmed, and if design changes are made, Mastercam identifies the effected toolpaths for regeneration.

Delcam announced the prerelease of Delcam for SolidWorks, which brings the capabilities of its PowerMILL milling solution, FeatureCAM automated machining tool, and PartMaker precision machining software into the SolidWorks user interface. Capabilities include 2D, 3D, and 5-axis machining; part comparisons; and simulation.

OPEN MIND Technologies USA exhibited its hyperMILL CAM software as an integrated solution for SolidWorks, offering users a seamless connection between their familiar CAD application and the CAM application. The company reports that the integration also reduces the time required to train users in the CAM system and helps avoid operator error.

Data Management, File Sharing, and PLM
Document3D Suite ($495+) from QuadriSpace lets users leverage 3D files to create documents, illustrations, and animations. The company demonstrated how QuadriSpace products give customers a significant boost to productivity when creating assembly instructions, web pages, 3D PDF documents, interactive 3D documents, technical illustrations, vector graphics, printed manuals, and more.

MasterControl showed TotalMFG, an integrated enterprise system that serves as a single source for product definition and provides a central repository for all drawings, specifications, manufacturing procedures, inspection criteria, marketing collateral, bills of materials, and more. The system integrates with CAD solutions; Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Project; and other common applications to allow design engineers to work in their preferred CAD environment.

At its booth in the Partner Pavilion, Dassault Systemes' ENOVIA SmarTeam demonstrated its product lifecycle management (PLM) solution. Cadalyst met with Oleg Shilovitsky, chief technical officer for ENOVIA SmarTeam, whose award-winning PLM blog can be found at Shilovitsky told Cadalyst that one of his challenges is dispelling the misconception that PLM is a large-scale, expensive solution. He explained, “PLM is a solution that can be customized and scaled according to the customer’s needs. I see a lot of smaller companies looking at PLM to solve problems that larger companies have. Phased implementation can help with costs and rollout.”  

Synergis Software previewed enhanced integration between its Adept PDM and SolidWorks to facilitate document management operations while working inside the CAD application. A new Adept Task Pane tab gives users the ability to search, sign in/out, open, insert, and replace components, see “where used” and status information about parts, assemblies, drawings, and configurations without leaving the SolidWorks application.

Aras, a provider of Microsoft open source software, announced advanced search capabilities now integrated in the Aras Innovator suite for enterprise product lifecycle management (PLM). The new Aras search functionality provides additional Software+Services options, where queries submitted in the Aras on-premise enterprise PLM software access cloud-based search services in Microsoft Live Search and the GlobalSpec online engineering part, product, and specification database. The new feature and further details are available on the GlobalSpec web site. Aras also announced a partnership with Actify to embed Actify’s SpinFire products in every download of the Aras PLM software suite, facilitating 3D and 2D file translation, publishing, and distribution. (For more information about Aras open source PLM software, see "No-Money-Down PLM ," Cadalyst, January/February 2009.)

Arena Solutions debuted the Arena-SolidWorks Integration available in the new Areana Winter ’09 release. Arena connects with systems including CAD, EDA, PDM, and ERP to simplify product-information sharing across organizations and throughout the supply chain. The new integration capabilities help engineers manage information from directly inside the SolidWorks environment.

Design Visualization
Luxology showcased a new SolidWorks importer that will be included in the upcoming release of its modo 401 for 3D concept modeling and design visualization. The Windows-based importer will enable loading of SolidWorks files directly into modo for decoration, animation, and rendering.

Hardware and General Software
Lenovo’s ThinkPad W700ds dual-screen mobile workstation was getting a good deal of attention in the Partner Pavilion. The portable unit’s main 17” display is supplemented by a second, pop-out screen that increases screen real estate by nearly 40% and allows the user to check e-mail, access the Internet, or use any other application without leaving the modeling environment.

PNY Technologies demonstrated the latest range of NVIDIA Quadro FX graphics boards. With workstation partners Polywell Computers, @Xi Computer, andSeneca Data, PNY showcased the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 by PNY and the NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700 by PNY high-performance graphics boards designed to optimize the performance of SolidWorks. The professional graphics boards offer high throughput for interactive visualization and large memory capabilities to manage large models and complex, real-time shaders common in today’s CAD design.

Z Corporation unveiled two new handheld 3D scanners for applications including reverse engineering, inspection, 3D archiving, complex shape acquisition, measurement, damage assessment, digital modeling/mockups, and rapid prototyping. The ZScanner 700 PX ($84,900 ) is said to be the first handheld scanner for very large objects, such as aircraft and automobiles. Built-in AICON photogrammetric software, previously available only in fixed-position 3D scanners, offers precision scanning even from longer distances, the company reports. The second new model, the ZScanner 700 CX handheld laser scanner ($49,900), can capture surface information in full 24-bit color, rendering the complete picture of an object, not just the geometry. Color 3D data enables more realistic and informative 3D visualization and concept models.

Xpresso is speech-recognition software for SolidWorks from 3 Engineers. The version released in late January simplifies use of new or little-used commands, and the new Xpresso task pane shows the user which commands can be said in the design context. A new interface facilitates updating and customizing the Xpresso command list; a standard list of more than 500 SolidWorks commands is available. Users can update SolidWorks models by speaking phrases such as mate coincident, cut through all, Xpress cylinder, and more, with some verbal commands saving eight or more mouse clicks, according to the company.