SolidWorks World 2014, Part 1: Software on Stage

4 Feb, 2014 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

At the annual user conference, Dassault Systèmes customers get to see what’s in store for SolidWorks — and more.

Dassault Systèmes’ annual SolidWorks World conference drew close to 5,000 of the 3D mechanical design software’s users to San Diego, California, last week. They came to hone their skills in the technical training sessions, to tour the booths and exhibits in the Partner Pavilion, and to gain insight into the company’s software plans for the coming year.

A Concept Comes to Fruition

Among the event’s major announcements was the official launch of SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual, the cloud-connected conceptual mechanical design application unveiled at SolidWorks World 2013. Mechanical Conceptual is the first SolidWorks application to be launched on the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform, and as such will be the first of many.

Mechanical Conceptual was conceived to address a significant need in the community; Aaron Kelly, vice-president of User Experience and Product Portfolio Management, related that the company’s users spend up to 30% of their design time in the conceptual phase.

The goal of Mechanical Conceptual is that users can quickly produce several iterations of a design, check their functionality, get feedback from collaborators, then move the selected design into SolidWorks for additional detailing. “It’s not enough anymore to innovate once … you’ve got to innovate over and over again,” said Kishore Boyalakuntla, director of product management, Next Generation Products, explaining that Mechanical Conceptual helps users do just that.

In Mechanical Conceptual, users can conduct motion studies to determine whether their designs will move as expected. Click image to enlarge. Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.

Gathering input on those innovations is an integral part of the process; according to Dassault Systèmes, 98% of companies collaborate on conceptual design — with remote team members, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders. “Social” is one of the four key aspects of Mechanical Conceptual, and indeed of conceptual design itself, according to Dassault Systèmes.

The other three are:

  • Conceptual: Users must be able to develop ideas rapidly.
  • Instinctive: An unstructured modeling environment with direct editing enables users to “work the way [they] think,” as Kelly put it.
  • Connected: Design iterations are saved automatically and accessible anytime, anywhere.

Thanks to cloud storage, users don't need a particular device to access their Mechanical Conceptual designs — just an Internet connection.Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.

Mechanical Conceptual will cost $249 per month and will become generally available in April, a few months later than first predicted. There’s also a new Mechanical Conceptual exam available for those who wish to become certified on the software.

Still in the works is SolidWorks Industrial Conceptual, a kindred application for — you guessed it — conceptual industrial design. Users will be able to “quickly create multiple concepts and connect everyone from engineering to the end user,” said Kelly. The “lighthouse” program — in which select customers use the software at a post-beta stage — will be held this summer, and barring any changes that might arise as a result of that field testing, Industrial Conceptual will likely be released by the end of the year, Kelly explained.

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