SolidWorks World Report: Day 2

19 Jan, 2004 By: Sara Ferris

The second general session of SolidWorks World 2004 covered further details about SolidWorks 2004 and a demonstration of a 3D photography product designed using SolidWorks. Our next report will cover highlights from the exhibit floor.

Aaron Kelly , director of product management, demonstrated some of the new features planned for SolidWorks 2005, which is due out this summer. The updated user interface features Windows XP-style icons with 256 colors, which should make them easier to identify. A new context-sensitive Task Pane appears at the right of the screen to handle file and content management. Like Windows Explorer, a File Explorer shows files on the hard drive and network, indicating which ones are open. Palettes also appear in the Task Pane.

Taking a page from AutoCAD, SolidWorks 2005 will repeat commands when you hit the Enter key. The Measure function is available all the time, and window selection is now available. With assemblies, you can now view both wire frame and shaded components using display states to specify how components appear. Library features are now configurable.

SolidWorks 2005 supports subsketches, which are similar to 2D blocks. Kelly demonstrated how you can import a DWG 2D block into a sketch, then extrude the 2D layout to 3D. The audience seemed most impressed by the many improvements to 2D drawing generation, including automatic dimensioning. You can now include tolerances in hole notes, make a detail of a detail view, and make a section of a detail. Annotations can be grouped so notes move along with objects. Notes on cross-hatches are surrounded by halos for easier reading, and you can move notes using the arrow keys.

Developers have also been working on the applications included in the Office and Office Professional versions. Animator now includes a timeline, and the PDMworks interface has been simplified. File size of eDrawings should be 30%-60% smaller than they are now. COSMOSWorks 2005 adds quick tips, drop test capability, and nonlinear analysis for materials such as plastic and rubber.

More than half of the SolidWorks customer base is now using SolidWorks 2004, with more of the rest on SolidWorks 2003. Users’ top five new features in SolidWorks 2004 were:
1. Weldments
2. Interface improvements
3. Assembly notes
4. Mold tools
5. Dynamic sectioning
Improved performance remains the top user request.

Sam Ramada, Michelle Pillers, and Edwin Lun described the genesis of the Photo3D digital camera attachment that lets you take 3D pictures that you can print and view with special glasses. Ramada came up with the concept, then enlisted Pillers, of Evolution Design Engineering to work from his hand drawings to model the product. Pillers found Lun, CEO of manufacturer Pharos International in Hong Kong, through the SolidWorks Manufacturing Network. The three used SolidWorks eDrawings to communicate designs and changes via e-mail. In fact, Ramada and Pillers first met in person the night before their SolidWorks World presentation.

Photo3D includes an attachment that works with any digital camera, software that lets you refine the 3D image, and 3D glasses for viewing the image on screen or paper. Ramada also demonstrated how you can use the Photo3D software on SolidWorks models. Save the model as a JPG file, then rotate to create the second image.