SolidWorks 2013 Hits the Street

9 Sep, 2012 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Notable new features are many, including CAD Administrator Dashboard, costing, simplified simulation tools, and interoperability with version 2012.

Dassault Systèmes today introduced SolidWorks 2013, the latest release of the software for 3D modeling, simulation, technical communication, product data management, and sustainable design.

At a prelaunch media event last week at company headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, company executives stated that the latest enhancements “respect our core technology and values,” relating to four main themes: more powerful design, faster model creation, improved software performance, and enhanced collaboration.

SolidWorks developers say they have held true to the core technology with release 2013, as shown in this slide.

User-Pleasing Features
In a press release, SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot said, “With SolidWorks 2013, we’ve upheld our tradition of listening to our customers by providing enhancements and functionality to help them simplify their lives and create the best products.” Indeed, the latest release includes more than 200 customer-requested enhancements. Speakers at the media event, including Sicot, stated repeatedly that the company prides itself on listening and responding to its users.

“We obsess over user requests,” said Gian Paolo Bassi, vice-president of R&D. “Eliminating just one click in a process — imagine how that could help the world!”

Significant new features target drawing capabilities, submodel simulation, cost estimation, network rendering, and increased connectivity — bolstering an already mature product now in its 21st release.

A slide highlights several of the significant new and improved features of SolidWorks 2013.

Powerful design tools. SolidWorks 2013 makes it easier to bring engineers’ ideas from concept to manufacturing with new tools for more efficient simulation as well as expanded environmental and cost analysis.

  • SolidWorks Costing allows customers to automatically cost more types of parts, create more accurate quotations, and stay in budget with improved cost data and new APIs.
  • SolidWorks Sustainability quickly compares the financial impact of raw materials and the environmental impact of a design decision during the development process, due to new raw material impact tools.
  • SolidWorks Flow Simulation aims to take the complexity out of flow designs by allowing users to visualize fluid flow around multifaceted geometries and more easily compare analysis results between multiple design configurations.

Faster model creation. Additional new offerings help users create and modify complex geometries faster and more easily, supporting more efficient 3D modeling and 2D drawing.

  • Conics in Sketcher offers full control over shapes for smooth transitions between existing geometries.

Quickly define and adjust conic curves with just a couple of inputs.

  • Intersect feature lets users quickly add or remove geometry without sketching. Once you choose a surface and a solid, the software determines how they intersect — for example, which material needs to be removed or added to optimize the intersection — then makes those changes automatically if you approve.

Using the new Intersect feature, users can select common regions created by multiple solid and surface bodies.

  • Varying dimension patterns allow users to save time creating patterns, increase design flexibility, and reduce the number of features needed for models. This speedy new tool automatically varies spacing, length, and size of part features. For example, if you're adding a punched pattern to sheet metal, the punches could be made gradually longer or shorter, wider or narrower, and you could vary the distance between them so it gradually increases or decreases. Then you can modify individual instances as you wish.

In a product demonstration at company headquarters last week, SolidWorks product managers showed members of the press a new tool for creating linear patterns in SolidWorks 2013. Demonstrators created the graduated patterns in the model above with a few quick clicks.

  • Section View Assist speeds the creation of production drawings for faster and more consistent section views.
  • A revamped View Orientation box displays views of your actual model instead of icons for you to select orientation.

Improved Performance
At the SolidWorks 2013 launch event, developers described how the latest version improves multicore processing for faster software performance, such as when launching drawing views. Following are other significant new upgrades that allow users to optimize the performance of a SolidWorks installation:

  • CAD Administrator Dashboard makes it easier to manage and troubleshoot problems related to SolidWorks software, hardware, and users from a single aggregated view.

The new CAD Administrator Dashboard allows CAD managers to review machine configuration and performance at a glance.

  • Simulation submodeling and incremental meshing more accurately and efficiently perform simulation analysis for specific areas of large and complex models. Bassi explained that the company is aiming to make these tasks increasingly simple: “We want our users to use analysis very much.”
  • Network rendering for PhotoView 360. CAD managers and IT professionals can network multiple computers to share computational loads, enabling faster rendering of photorealistic images.

Enhanced Collaboration
To address the dispersed nature of most design teams, SolidWorks 2013 optimizes collaboration with improved connectivity, enhanced viewing capabilities, and expanded sharing of designs and data.

  • Previous release interoperability. Version compatibility is an ongoing concern for CAD users and managers. Users now can open SolidWorks 2013 files directly with SolidWorks 2012 SP5 (and vice versa), keeping geometry intact for use in assemblies and CAM.

    When the question of release interoperability was raised at the media event, Fielder Hiss, vice-president of product marketing and management, explained that in general SolidWorks 2013 (and other releases) can open files of the previous version of SolidWorks only, and users can't save a file as an older version. Old versions cannot typically open files created by newer versions. "This is actually what most users want when they ask the question about version compatibility, " Hiss said. "It covers 90–95% of use scenarios."

Users can share models between SolidWorks 2012 SP5 and SolidWorks 2013.

  • SolidWorks Enterprise Product Data Management (PDM) workflow allows users to route documents and contact other users more efficiently.
  • DraftSight/SolidWorks enterprise PDM integration provides access to DWG files within SolidWorks EPDM from the DraftSight user interface to leverage 2D into the design process. A list of recently used files and updated and refined views of work in progress help to improve the 2D workflow.
  • eDrawings. Users of this file-sharing application can measure, select, and mark up designs from anywhere using a mobile device. In the new eDrawings Pro for iPad, users can annotate models, then save and e-mail mark-ups.

Availability and Pricing
SolidWorks 2013 and pricing information are available worldwide through SolidWorks authorized resellers. SolidWorks 2013 packs in quite a few new features that should make a significant difference for users and CAD managers. In fact, as Sicot told the press and bloggers at the launch event, many beta testers were calling SolidWorks 2013 the best version in many years. “It’s a very good vintage,” said the man from France.

About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson

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