Dassault Systèmes Promotes End-to-End Model-Based Design with SOLIDWORKS 2018

29 Sep, 2017 By: Cadalyst Staff

Latest version of the 3D design and engineering software portfolio keeps the focus on the complete design-to-manufacturing process, and pursues a future of further integration and automation in design.

The 5.1 million users of Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS are “very demanding, with us and with themselves,” said SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi at a launch event for the 3D design and engineering software portfolio. Being responsive to its customers’ requirements is one of the company’s values, Bassi asserted; another is to be responsive to a changing world that’s “being profoundly affected by the age of artificial intelligence,” and is increasingly shaped by “unprecedented human–machine interactions,” including those that fall under the Internet of Things umbrella.

SOLIDWORKS also seeks to be responsible toward society, said Bassi, who defined being responsible as “the awareness that the technology is a transformative force in our society, and we are responsible because we want to provide access to as many people as possible to knowledge and tools to make innovation possible. We are after what we call, democratization of innovation.” The empowerment of invention and its life-changing fruits — from modular emergency housing to robotic human augmentation — supports the goals of a more sustainable world, better use of resources, and improved human lives, Bassi believes.

The Future of Design: Integration and Automation

But how will design software evolve to help us reach these goals? Bassi described the company’s vision for more integration and automation: “Design is, and will be more so in the future, the integration of multiple disciplines. Why? Because we want to reduce to zero the distance between the digital representation of your ideas and they physical realization.” As for automation, he said, it “is truly at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution — it’s happening as we speak.” Bassi categorized automation into three “flavors”:

• Assistive automation can help people perform tasks more quickly and easily, such as creating an assembly from components used in a previous design. “This is what machine learning can do: it can analyze your patterns, and suggest easier and faster ways to do things … we are working to make this happen.”

• Augmented intelligence is SOLIDWORKS’ name for technology that “can help people make better decisions, free themselves from the burden of creating the right geometry, asking the computer to augment the design,” said Bassi. For example, software may suggest a shape for a particular part based on forces and constraints set by the user.

• Autonomous systems can take on tedious design tasks, freeing up humans for more challenging assignments. “People don’t want to waste their time in things that [are easy] to make; they want to do what they do best, which is innovate.”

A Single Source, from Design to Manufacture

For automation systems to provide any benefit, they require information to reuse and to learn from. Additionally, every step in the design-to-manufacturing process draws on information about the design, and the less that information is replicated or recreated at different stages, the fewer chances there are for errors, confusion, or version problems to creep in. According to the company, “SOLIDWORKS 2018 supports a business’s complete design-through-manufacturing strategy with solutions that simplify the interactions between disciplines across the product development workflow. This unified process leverages smart manufacturing — a connected and seamless flow of data that is available to all teams involved in product development whenever, wherever and in whatever format is needed without having to port data from one system to another.”

Kurt Anliker, director of product introduction, said, “Simply put, what we’re talking about with smart manufacturing is putting the model at the center of your design and manufacturing process — a single source for your intelligent information. … MBD, SOLIDWORKS’ model-based design tool] is really what delivers the intelligence right into the SOLIDWORKS model for you to leverage in every process downstream.”

In the 2018 release, MBD features enhancements including:  

  • A pattern object can now be a datum reference
  • Users can insert notes in 3D PDF fields
  • Product and manufacturing information (PMI) can be brought from the part level up to the assembly.

“All of these [enhancements inside SOLIDWORKS MBD] are set up to help you leverage MBD and turn this into your new process for design and manufacturing,” said Anliker. (Read more about SOLIDWORKS MBD features here.) 

Model-based information continues through to manufacturing in SOLIDWORKS CAM, the Standard version of which is now included for all users on subscription. (SOLIDWORKS CAM Professional is available as a separately purchased product.) “With automatic feature recognition, it literally can generate all of your machine tool paths right off of your CAD model — it’s super fast,” said Anliker, noting that CAM reads DimXpert and MBD information. SOLIDWORKS CAM also combines rules-based machining with knowledge capture to enable the automation of manufacturing programming, the company says. (New SOLIDWORKS CAM features are listed here.

Even inspection — the last step of smart manufacturing, and one that’s “often forgot about,” as Anliker said — carries forward the themes of automation and model-based design. In 2018, SOLIDWORKS Inspection is “all built on the information inside the SOLIDWORKS model: all your DimXpert dimensions, all of your MBD information, you can now literally in a button press choose your layout, choose how you want to get started, and generate your first article inspection reports, all inside of SOLIDWORKS. … [It] makes it super-fast to generate these types of manual reports that you might have spent hours if not days creating by hand, and [those are] non-associative.” (See new SOLIDWORKS Inspection features here.) 


Several highlights in the new release also pointed to greater mobility among SOLIDWORKS users. A new admin portal makes it easier to move licenses around, and users can access their customizations when logging in to any computer. In addition, a new Touch Mode and Touch Sketch make for a richer tablet-based experience, enabling users to interact with models using fingers or a stylus. “With Touch Sketch, [users] can now draw right on the tablet,” said Anliker.



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