SolidWorks World 2013, Part 2: A Sampling of Product Debuts

23 Jan, 2013 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

More than 100 solution partners took part in the event, filling the Partner Pavilion with hardware and software offerings for all types of mechanical CAD users — including these new releases.

Editor's Note: For more information about SolidWorks World 2013, see "At SolidWorks World 2013, Users Get a Peek at What's Coming in Version 2014."

Many companies chose the SolidWorks World 2013 Partner Pavilion to unveil their latest offerings, including the following:

CNC Software unveiled Mastercam X7 for SolidWorks, the forthcoming version of its machining software, which features lathe support. Previously, the software only offered milling, explained Keith Butzgy, corporate sales representative; the new version introduces many of Mastercam Lathe's toolpaths. Other changes include a new Code Expert interface that enables users to edit their code, and a new Tool Manager that organizes mill tools.

A heads-up display compiles Mastercam feeds from forums, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter, as well as tips, which are updated throughout the day. "Social media is not going away," Butzgy commented. Mastercam X7 for SolidWorks will be available in late spring.

Glen Smith, CEO and cofounder of DriveWorks, showcased his company's eponymous design automation solution for customizing 3D models for "products that are the same but different each time" — such as a window, elevator, or truck trailer whose dimensions must be adapted to different uses. "[With these products,] there's a lot of design effort required for every one you sell ... in some cases, that design effort can double the cost of the product."

DriveWorks is available in Solo and Pro versions; the latter enables online configuration in 3D. The company has launched new apps to enable that web interface on all types of mobile devices, including iOS, Windows Metro, and Android. The entry-level version of the product, DriveWorks Xpress, has been integrated into SolidWorks since 2008.

Users can set up Excel-style rules without coding, enabling the software to make the needed adjustments automatically — for example, splitting a widened roll door into two doors. "If the 3D rules are good, anything coming out of it will be good," said Smith.

3DSemantix released version 3 of 3DPartFinder for SolidWorks, a geometry-based search engine that finds and displays parts that are similar to the user's query, which is submitted in the form of a SolidWorks sketch or an existing part file. According to the company, searching by 3D shapes overcomes limitations such as inconsistent standards and classifications, limited part number conventions, and dependence on native languages.

It's integrated with SolidWorks Workgroup PDM and Enterprise PDM and works with CATIA, AutoCAD, and other major CAD systems. The designer makes a quick sketch of the part of interest, defines the number of results (1–100), and chooses where to search — within Workgroup PDM, Enterprise PDM, ENOVIA, etc. The results appear in a parts array inside SolidWorks and are ranked by order of similarity to the search object. If the customer uses PDM, 3DPartFinder can present versions in the Z axis.

According to Bertrand Houle, vice-president of sales and marketing, many companies have no way to check if a new design is needed or if there's an existing design that could do the job. This uncertainty leads to wasting time and money on redundant work — which could be avoided with a search that takes only a few seconds, said Houle.

The new Small Business version ($1,495) is limited to a 3,000-part database and features easy administration, said Houle. Customers may also opt for the Enterprise version ($2,500–5,000+ for server, plus $895 per seat), which offers unlimited parts, assembly searches, and PLM connectivity.

Aras made two announcements at SolidWorks World. The new Aras Requirements Management, embedded in Aras EPLM for SolidWorks EPDM, covers all enterprise processes, providing full, cross-disciplinary requirements management for full traceability, verification, and validation, said Marc Lind, senior vice-president of global marketing.

Lind explained that as products have dramatically increased in complexity over recent decades — comprising more total parts as well as more electronic, firmware, and software components — requirements management has become a more daunting task. With Aras Requirements Management, users can identify, associate, track, and trace physical, functional, logical, and performance requirements.

The new Office Connector for Aras EPLM enables users to manage documents, spreadsheets, slides, and e-mails in PLM without leaving Microsoft Office applications. It generates PDFs of saved files automatically and can embed 3D content within the PDFs. Lind described the Office Connector as "super simple for the user, and powerful for the administrator."

ReverseEngineering 2013 is software from that processes and simplifies data collected by laser scanners, including white-light and arm-mounted scanners. As the user performs a scan, the software processes the point cloud data, then sends it on to the CAD program. In addition to SolidWorks, the software supports a variety of other CAD solutions, including Solid Edge, Inventor, and Mastercam.

CTO Braxton Carter said, "The data is automatically processed so SolidWorks can find a solution. We do all the heavy lifting [such as thinning and meshing] before the data goes to SolidWorks.” ReverseEngineering can reduce 2 GB of data down to 5% of that so the system doesn't get bogged down with the STL file, he explained.

Carter argued that at less than $4,000, ReverseEngineering is more competitively priced than solutions on the market.

ExactFlat debuted ExactFlat Design Studio, which converts 3D models to 2D to create cutting patterns for flexible materials, including fabrics used in automotive interiors, tent construction, and airbags. "We've extended the power of SolidWorks by adding the tools needed to complete the process," said Steven McLendon, executive vice-president.

ExactFlat Design Studio works inside the SolidWorks CAD environment and comprises tools for sewn product design, 3D-to-2D flattening, automated nesting, and real-time costing. If the customer is using a material that's not already in the database, they can simply add the Poisson factor for any fabric, McLendon said. "It's all easy for the user to enter. ... 99% of the time, no tweaking is required because our algorithms are so smart."

McLendon explained that the software provides a tremendous time savings over traditional methods of generating 2D patterns, such as crafting a clay model and draping it in plastic wrap. "The customer goes from a 3D model to something that drives a cutter in just a few hours; [it requires just] 10–15% of the effort they're used to." ExactFlat also saves time by determining manufacturing costs and generating bills of materials, he said.

ExactFlat Design Studio is currently in beta but will be available at the end of this quarter. Pricing is set at $18,000 for the full system and $6,250 for the flattening engine alone.

Geometric launched CAMWorks 2013, a new version of its solids-based CNC programming solution. The new version introduces Synchronous Machining Module (SMM), including intricate control on the sub-spindle operations, the company reports. It also features an enhanced user interface.

Luxion previewed KeyShot v4, the next version of its CPU-based rendering and animation system, which will be available at the beginning of March. A free plugin for rendering SolidWorks models is available for use with a KeyShot license ($995 for the standard version).

A new "live linking" capability connects SolidWorks and KeyShot in a live session, enabling SolidWorks users to retain all part and feature updates made to their models without having to redo any of their work inside KeyShot. Design changes are sent directly to KeyShot, which automatically replaces the existing design or adds the new design iteration to the existing scene. "It's much faster because there's really no rework necessary now," said Thomas Teger, vice-president of products and strategy.

The new version of KeyShot also features an expanded material library, with support for Pantone and RAL color libraries. Users can download official DuPont paint colors and Moldtec materials at no charge, said Teger. New light-source materials allow users to create physical light sources. They can choose from an area light, point light, or IES profile; specify intensity in watts or lumens; and select the color as well.

KeyShot 4 also introduces several capabilities that simplify the production of marketing materials: viewsets, which save lighting schemes and camera angles together; visual fillets, which smooth hard edges but don't deform geometry; and the ability to clip geometry below the "ground" line — so it looks like car tires are slightly flattened where they meet the pavement, for example.

BOXX debuted the GoBOXX 1850 series of mobile workstations, as well as the new 3DBOXX 8950 workstation. Designed for 64-bit applications in animation, 3D design, visual effects, and visualization, the 1850 features a third-generation Intel Core i7 (Ivy Bridge) quad-core mobile workstation processor, NVIDIA Kepler GeForce or Quadro graphics card, and NVIDIA Optimus technology.

The 3DBOXX 8950 is intended for advanced multicard configurations for visualization, simulation, and computation. It features up to four dual-slot add-in graphics, coprocessor, or accelerator cards, plus three additional PCI-E slots. Dual Intel Xeon E5-2600 Series processors provide up to 16 cores (32 threads).

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