by Leslie Langnau, Managing Editor
Adding to—or improving—an existing software program that already contains millions of lines of code is a task most engineers approach cautiously; it’s too easy to introduce code that wrecks havoc on either other parts of the program or on the whole program. So, while some will opine that the latest enhancements to Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks 2014 are not impressive, or not enough, those who have written code will be slower to criticize.
At the recent introduction of SolidWorks 2014 at the Boston headquarters of Dassault Systèmes, CEO Bertrand Sicot emphasized the need to add enhancements to this program, but to do so in a way that does not hinder the millions of already-in-use SolidWorks installations. Throughout the day-long presentation, many mentions of the importance of customer service and customer needs were mentioned.
Just what constitutes an improvement in an established product line? Is a marginal increase in performance of 6%, for example, impressive enough? To an engineer—maybe. If that improvement translates into 5 more hours to devote to other tasks, then that could be a huge gain. The ability to manage data less and accomplish more can be seen as another terrific gain.
After all the opinions have been written and posted, it will be users who indicate whether these improvements are good, or good enough. SolidWorks is a bit like Rockwell Automation—”no one ever got fired for choosing Rockwell,” goes the saying.
SolidWorks 2014 includes 3D CAD, Simulation, Product Data Management, Technical Communication, and Electrical Design functions that further your ability to design with fewer limits. Some of the new enhancements promise to help you re-use data more dynamically, expediting the sharing of design data to accelerate collaboration.
This version also includes mobility support for Android and iOS devices, making it easier to connect and experience your 3D designs anywhere and anytime.
To maintain customer satisfaction, it is becoming increasingly important to save and track multiple versions and iterations of a design; customers want custom variations of a design, customers want the third version rather than the latest, manufacturing personnel need to examine an earlier version for assembly information, and so on. New features like the ‘history tab’ allow multiple users to see and track recent design changes with the click of a mouse. Enhanced features such as assembly mates, known as ‘common mates’ in the context menu, offer intelligent choices based on previous usage patterns and apply new options that make sense while performing assemblies.
In other developments, Dassault Systèmes engineers are developing tools for Solidworks that work with 3D printing needs. With eDrawings, for example, you can view 3D designs and demonstrate how products behave in the real world through an Augmented Reality 3DExperience on any iOS device, such as an iPad or iPhone.
Other new tools and enhancements increase productivity across four key areas: design tools, integrated workflows, performance increases and enhanced visualization.
In Design Tools, three key tools are Advanced Shape Control, Fast Drawing Detailing, and Sheet metal features.
For the Advanced Shape Control feature, a new Style Spline function, automatic Sketch Picture scaling and Conic Fillet controls let you create complex surfaces and organic shapes faster, easier and with more precision.
Improvements to Faster Drawing Detailing deliver faster and more automated drawing detailing.
New sheet metal features enable faster creation of sheet metal geometry and improved data output for manufacturing. You gain improved control over corner treatments, for example, as well as the ability to create stiffening ribs such as the indented design seen on mounting brackets used to reinforce the weight and force placed on the part.
Changes to better integrate workflows, reduce the amount of time needed to manage data across features and platforms include:
- SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Streamlined Workflow, which helps manage more data using the new Microsoft Office integration and enhanced Web Client with graphical preview features.
- SolidWorks Electrical Improved Integration and Performance has been enhanced to deliver better integration with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and eDrawings to optimize, share and track electrical designs more easily.
Now, you can choose to view your designs on other mobile devises, such as Android, with Design Communication and Collaboration.
You can cost parts faster with less setup, with then share cost data more effectively with Streamlined Cost Estimating and Reporting. For example, key product development data for assembly can now be sent to Microsoft Excel allowing for easy sharing with departments such as manufacturing and purchasing.
Visualization has been improved with Streamlined Simulation Setup, which automatically leverages engineering data for re-use in simulations, eliminating duplication of effort and improving design collaboration.
And with Enhanced Assembly Performance and Visualization, you can create assemblies faster and easier with the new in-context Quick Mate tool bar and Slot Mate. For assembly in section views, you can include or exclude selected components allowing for a fast creation of more impressive section views.
SolidWorks, Dassault Systèmes