At SolidWorks World 2013, Users Get a Peek at What's Coming in Version 201423 Jan, 2013 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin
Company reveals long list of new features, discusses the move to the cloud, and announces My.SolidWorks.com web portal and new Mechanical Conceptual tool.
The fifteenth annual SolidWorks World conference was held this week at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. According to Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot, SolidWorks World has expanded to 4,500 attendees and more than 280 technical sessions — a far cry from the first event, which featured just 800 participants and 80 technical sessions. Sicot also announced another kind of growth: The company has surpassed 2 million licenses of the 3D design software.
For many, the high point of the event is the third day, when SolidWorks traditionally offers users a glimpse into what's ahead for their CAD software of choice. This year was no different, and the presentation included a look at users' most-requested updates.
"We inundate ourselves with feedback from you," said Bruce Holway, director of product definition, explaining that SolidWorks personnel follow forum posts, perform alpha and usability testing, visit customers, attend user group meetings, and conduct surveys. This year, the ten most popular usability requests, as selected by users via online voting, are as follows:
- Create auxiliary line for dimensioning angles
- Draw line segment starting from the midpoint
- External thread wizard for all thread types
- Default the concentric mate for axis to cylindrical surface
- Option for equal spacing on linear patterns
- Provide a version of the eDrawings mobile app for Android devices
- Cylindrical mates need an option to lock rotation
- Slot mate
- The ability to save SolidWorks files in previous versions (true backward compatibility)
- Make rebuild time faster.
"Over the years," Holway reported, "we've implemented the vast majority of all items on all Top Ten lists." Indeed, attendees saw proof that some of these requests, at least, are on their way to fulfillment: they were treated to the first public viewing of eDrawings on an Android Nexus tablet. "We are working on [the app], and it's coming very, very soon," said Sicot.
What’s Coming in SolidWorks 2014
It's not unusual for software developers to provide a preview of what users can expect to see in the next version. It is unusual, however, to present that information in the form of infomercials, which is exactly what attendees got on day three. The crowd loved the SolidWorkOut bike, the DesignBelt toolbelt, and the SolidGrill 3000 (which combines the benefits of a mobile workstation and a George Foreman grill).
As the humorous infomercial for the SolidGrill 3000 demonstrated, a scorching-hot laptop can be a good thing — if you like to cook at your desk.
Although these products, and the stories of their "invention," are fictitious, they made an entertaining backdrop for the new features coming with the August release of SolidWorks 2014:
- Replace view model — When choosing more views from the view palette, SolidWorks indicates which are being used, and which are missing
- Existing view icons
- Display Style context menu
- High-quality shaded views
- Angular running dimensions — Can change the dimensions, run bidirectionally, set the extension lines to the center
- Split table by row count — For a bill of materials with many components; SolidWorks remembers the number specified
- Smart mate delay — Components only try to mate themselves to the geometry when the user pauses for a customizable length of time
- Feature-driven component pattern
- Rotate exploded views
- Quick Mate context menu
- CircuitWorks now supports thermal properties — Including specific heat and thermal conductivity
- Link to SolidWorks Flow Simulation — Can now assign these properties to each component, or automatically create heat sources
- Bolt mapping — SolidWorks Simulation can automatically create connectors in the simulation model
- Results symmetry
- Residual stress from SolidWorks Plastics — Can also add other loads for a more complete picture
Expanded simulation functionality in SolidWorks 2014 will include the ability to use residual stress analyses from SolidWorks Plastics.
- Slots in hole wizard — Swap out holes for slots, including counterbore, countersink, and regular slots
- Hardware is locked to temporary axes that are automatically placed in the slot.
- Path length dimension — Chain length automatically updates when attached to different gears.
- Fixed-length spline — Drag any of the points and manipulators and the length is retained.
- Style spline — Offers more control over shape Replace sketch entities
Users can quickly swap out holes for slots of various types.
- SolidWorks Electrical harness — Required connectors are instantly available, and can be inserted by snapping them into place
- Reuse existing harness
- Clips in flattened representation
- Colored connector pins
Connectors for electrical cables can be snapped into position.
- Environment themes — Use precreated themes or create your own; add buttons to toolbars, modify mouse gestures
- History folder — Located at the top of the Feature Manager, lists last five features worked on
- Flexible Assemblies context menu
- Streamlined Save As Copy
- Order-independent transparency — For rendering that makes the internal components visible
- Sunlight and sunlight animations — Enter the longitude and latitude of any location, as well as the date and time of day
- eDrawings with augmented reality — Overlay images of the design on live feed from a mobile device's camera
- Network rendering animations
Rendering animations can show products, such as the SolidGrill 3000, during use in realistic settings.
Sheet Metal Design
- Sheet metal corner gussets — Gussets are automatically ignored when gussets are unfolded
- Lofted bend transitions
SolidWorks 2014 will include the ability to make corner gussets and lofted bend transitions in sheet metal designs.
Richard Allen, director of product management, noted that the SolidWorks Electrical and SolidWorks Plastics product lines, introduced last year, will play an important role in the 2014 release: "They are going to be a big part of this year, and you'll see continued enhancements. ... We're very excited about these products and look forward to a very bright future with them." The company has no plans at this time to offer a SolidWorks CAM product, said Allen, citing the company's robust roster of CAM partners. "Our customers really enjoy the freedom of selection of different CAM packages," he said.
SolidWorks on the Cloud?
Regarding the possibility of SolidWorks moving to the cloud, Allen said, "The plans are still to provide [SolidWorks 2013 and 2014] on the platforms that we currently support. There's no current plan to put all of SolidWorks 2014 on the cloud, if any. It's a technology that we follow very carefully, and when our customers come up with valid and interesting use cases that they really want us to do, we're going to take a look at it. And then we'll take a look at, Should we put our current technology on the cloud? Should we put a different technology? It's something we're always looking at."
Other Developments Ahead
SolidWorks 2014 wasn't the only forthcoming product in the spotlight. Sicot also announced the beta release of My.SolidWorks.com, a web portal where users can browse a variety of community resources, including SolidWorks Forums (discussion, blogs, and documents), SolidWorks Blog, SolidWorks Teacher Blog, SolidWorks YouTube channel, and SolidWorks on Twitter.
In addition, Sicot announced Mechanical Conceptual, a new tool that's intended to help mechanical designers sketch out concepts quickly and easily, then use that concept data inside SolidWorks. According to Fielder Hiss, vice-president of product marketing and product management, 31% of project time is spent on concepts, and designers need to gather feedback from an average of five internal and external stakeholder groups for each design. With Mechanical Conceptual, he explained, they can capture their ideas digitally, manage multiple concepts, and communicate ideas more effectively by placing model renderings in realistic 3D environments.
Fielder Hiss demonstrates Mechanical Conceptual's ability to simulate motion paths and envelopes. Image courtesy of SolidWorks.
Users also have access to live chat with other SolidWorks users to get feedback and help with design challenges. "You're connected to your data, connected online, connected to your community," he said.
Sicot invited attendees to participate in a production test of Mechanical Conceptual, beginning in May. The product is expected to be generally available in October or November.
Next Year: West Coast
SolidWorks World 2014 will be held January 26–29 at the San Diego Convention Center in California.
Editor's Note: Additional SolidWorks World 2013 coverage from Cadalyst is available here: "SolidWorks World 2013, Part 2: A Sampling of Product Debuts."