After 20 Years, SolidWorks Still Striving for Improvement

12 Sep, 2013 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Dassault Systèmes looks to the future while updating its product design portfolio for 2014, but steers clear of the controversial cloud.

Earlier this week, Dassault Systèmes released SolidWorks 2014 — the latest version of a 3D software portfolio that comprises not only CAD, but also simulation, product data management, technical communication, and electrical design products. "When we say it's a new release for SolidWorks, it's a new release for the entire portfolio," said Bertrand Sicot, CEO of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks.

Sicot told the audience at last week's media launch event that SolidWorks, which was founded 20 years ago, now has 2.1 million licensed users (including 1.55 million in education) worldwide. Across the globe, 230 user groups support some 15,000 members. Those numbers will only continue to grow, if Sicot has his way. "The user community who can benefit from design in 3D is three times bigger than the one that is being served," he believes.

Moving forward, Sicot's priorities include identifying new adjacent markets, evolving mobile apps, offering additional value-add subscription services, and "remaining focused on our customers." The company has increased customer satisfaction 5% since 2007, and "it's critical to continue to improve on that front," said Sicot.

My.SolidWorks, a free online user community, is one aspect of that effort. In the six months since it was launched, the portal has given "our user community a single place to go to find anything SolidWorks," said Sicot. "The level of adoption is skyrocketing." In the future, My.SolidWorks will evolve with better user profiles and delivery of more content and services, he noted.

Responsibility to the Users

When it comes to customer satisfaction, however, there is one component that trumps all others: a product that works the way users want it to. "Over 90% of these have come directly from customer requests," said Ian Hogg, SolidWorks product marketing manager, while demonstrating key new features in SolidWorks 2014.

Those features, previewed at SolidWorks World 2013 last January, include the following highlights:

  • Design Tools
    • Sketch picture scaling: Specify the length of one dimension in an imported image, and this tool scales the image accordingly.
    • Style spline: This tool gives users more control over spline geometry while keeping curves smooth. "It's very controllable and a lot easier to work with," said Hogg.
    • Replace entity: Preserves feature history and all downstream effects when users replace one sketch entity with another.

The curvature combs of a style spline in SolidWorks 2014 reveal smooth curvature and transitions with minimal inflection. Click to see complete image. 

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