What Else is New in SolidWorks 2009? (Solid Thinking SolidWorks Tutorial)

30 Nov, 2008 By: Richard Doyle

A look at some of the lesser publicized additions to the software.

Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of SolidWorks.

It's that time again, time for a look at the latest release of SolidWorks 3D CAD software. Not the in-depth look that SolidWorks customers have already seen at reseller rollout events, but a closer look at some of the lesser publicized additions. Some of these may not get the attention they deserve -- let's take a look at them here.

Continuing the streamlining of the SolidWorks UI, some subtle changes have been made to improve the overall user experience. Here are a few of my favorites.

View Orientation Dialog Box
The view orientation dialog box has been around forever and this may be the first change to it since the software was first released. The dialog box is now resizable; you can make it either smaller (less obtrusive), or larger if you have long custom view names.

Middle Mouse Button Wheel
The Middle Mouse Button (MMB) serves a couple of different purposes. Scrolling the wheel will zoom in and out in part, assembly, and drawing files. Holding the MMB, while moving the mouse, will rotate your parts and assemblies. A new option has been added -- double-click the MMB and your file will zoom to fit.

The Magnifying Glass
This is a really exciting addition to SolidWorks 2009. The Magnifying Glass allows you to inspect a model and make selections without changing the overall view. To invoke the Magnifying Glass, hover over an area of your model and press G (see figure 1). Move the pointer to change the position of the Magnifying Glass until your intended selection comes into view. To gain better control over the Magnifying Glass, hold the CTRL key and use MMB drag to pan the view. Using the MMB scroll will zoom the model in and out. The Magnifying Glass also works in assembly and drawing files.

The Magnifying Glass.

Materials and Appearances
The Materials Database has been unified so you can use the same interface in SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation. The Materials dialog box has also been improved.

Click for larger image
The Materials dialog box. (Click image for a larger version)

Sketch functionality receives a good deal of attention in SolidWorks 2009. The Repair Sketch tool has been vastly improved, there are automatic numeric input options, and splines and curves are easier than ever to work with. So which change will make the biggest impact? My guess is the Slot Sketch Entity.

The Slot Sketch Entity
A new addition to sketch entities is sure to make many users happy. It's called the Slot Sketch tool. Like the Center Rectangle tool, the Slot Sketch entity will save mouse clicks and time.

Slot Sketch entity with Property Manager.

Part functionality gets a few new items: Sensors to monitor certain values, and the ability to assign display characteristics to individual features. Something that's been missing, however, and sure to grab your attention is the following item.

Dimensions in Mirrored and Derived Parts
Mirrored parts are created quite often, especially in a machine design environment. Nothing is more frustrating than having to redetail a part simply because it's a mirrored or derived version. Now the option exists to carry feature dimensions over to mirrored or derived parts that will make it easier to create that additional drawing.

Transfer model dimensions with mirrored parts.

Performance, performance, performance! That was the mantra set forth for SolidWorks 2009 assemblies, and it doesn't disappoint. SpeedPak creates simplified representations of assemblies without losing references, and significantly improves both assembly and drawing performance. But for a good old-fashioned "wow," check out this next feature.

Propagate Assembly Features to Parts
A question that's been showing up for years on the Solidworks forums is, "How can I get my assembly features to show up in the part drawing?" Well, it's now possible. An option in the Property Manager allows assembly cuts and holes to propagate back to the part files as a derived feature. The features are still controlled at the assembly level, but this option allows you to detail the features in a part-drawing file if you choose.

Propagate features to parts.

There's plenty to talk about when it comes to drawings. A completely customizable set of drafting standard allows you to mix and match different industry standards (ANSI, ISO, etc.). Also included in the software is a new tool to create, access, and modify title block information that may not necessarily be tied to custom properties.

Snap to Rectangle Center
If you've ever tried to place text for labels (for example), you know that it's a manual process subject to a steady mouse hand. A new option makes it automatic. Simply right-click the text and select Snap to Rectangle Center, then select four lines that make up the rectangle you want to place the text inside. Voila! Perfectly centered text.

Snap to Rectangle Center.

User-driven enhancements lead the way, and performance increases will make you faster and more productive. But don't forget the little things like those that are shown here. Sometimes, they're the ones that get you home from the office even sooner each day.

Related Content:MCAD, Design Visualization

About the Author: Richard Doyle

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