So much to tell. CEO Gian Paulo Bassi introduced SOLIDWORKS 2017 with its over 500 enhancements. Bassi also emphasized how SOLIDWORKS has become an innovation platform.
When the most popular mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD) software serves up a new version, it’s a big deal. SOLIDWORKS likes to save up a year’s worth of changes and reveal them all at once. The company invited 150 media and VIP guests to Foxborough, Mass., for a first look at SOLIDWORKS 2017. Two thousand more people would tune into the Internet simulcast. This will start a chain reaction as resellers worldwide hold their own launches for their local customers. They’re just warming up. The big show, SOLIDWORKS World, set for February 2017 in Los Angeles, will continue the pitch while at the same time introducing the 2018 version.
CEO Gian Paolo Bassi was a man in motion. He paced before the launch event, eager to reveal what his team had been up to. He wouldn’t have enough time—it was only a one-day event. This new version has added over 500 “projects,” what the company calls its new features and enhancements.
That’s a lot of improvements. More than one other CAD company executive that has told me that CAD has reached a plateau, that CAD is about as good as it’s going to get, that the party is winding down.
SOLIDWORKS has been busy. I feel bad for the presenters who are going to have to pick their favorite enhancements, or valiantly try to pack a year’s worth of work into a top 10list.
Asked to pick his favorite new feature in the new release during a Q&A, Kishore Boyalakuntla, senior director in charge of product strategy—and chief cheerleader—had to throw up his hands.
“That’s like asking who is your favorite child,” said Boyalakuntla.
I already know that Boyalakuntla’s favorite child is named “Interconnect,” after the 2017 software version’s ability to be able to work alongside various other MCAD applications since it can read their format. You can read about it here.
Users Pass Judgment
The product man, Kurt Anliker, was given the unenviable job of talking about his favorite enhancement out of over 500.
In the audience were power users. And they were quick to Tweet about what they couldn’t wait to use or are already using (some have been already been beta testing).
Model-based definition(MBD) is now in in eDrawings, which excited Edson Gebo. (Image courtesy of @Edsonius Twitter feed.)
Rob Rodriguez, @RobRodriguez, liked 3D Interconnect, though he was disappointed that you have to purchase SOLIDWORKS Premium for CATIA V5 support. (He’s not the first user to wonder why CATIA and SOLIDWORKS aren't always on speaking terms.) Also a hit with Rodriguez: rendering simulation results in PhotoView 360. About magnetic mates, he said, “The more I see them, the more I love them.”The mirror drawing view for automatic opposite hand part drawings also looks attractive. “Oh, I will use it every day,” said Rodriguez.
Daniel Hertzberg, @MegaHertz604, power user and SOLIDWORKS World presenter, led all users in a discussion of modeling enhancements in the new release. Here are just a few highlights:
The three bend corner treatment in sheet metal will be really useful for me, said power user Daniel Hertzberg. (Image courtesy of@MegaHertz604 Twitter feed.)
On wrapping sketches onto splined surfaces? “Useful,” said Hertzberg. “Previously, only flat or ‘analytical’ surfaces were supported.”
“Comments now actually work,” added Hertzberg.
“You can open many more file types now in eDrawings, with full support for measuring, moving… and more.”
Render FEA results on the model. (Image courtesy of @MegaHertz604 Twitter feed.)
Simulation results can now be viewed in the SOLIDWORKS model. You can even render the results with PhotoView. “I’ll be doing lots of unnecessary simulation studies because of this,” said Hertzberg.
Jeff Mirisola, @JeffMirisola, declared the advanced hole design to be “awesome.”
A special shout-out went to Xometry, the “manufacturing on-demand platform,” which announced a few months ago that SOLIDWORKS users will be able to get a quote for a manufactured part from within the SOLIDWORKS interface.
A friction less path to manufacturing would certainly be welcomed by CAD users, most of whom consider their carefully designed parts fully defined once they hit the Save button. Having to deal with machines —and machinists—is, well, a bother.
Xometry does both normal machining and 3D printing and on top of that, professes to have a slick interface that passes your part from SOLIDWORKS into Xometry—maybe without ever requiring you to speak to a human.
Not Just a Geometry Tool
“We want to be the Uber of geometry,” said Bassi.
Uber, the car service that has revolutionized travel and which attracted hundreds of millions of investment dollars, provides a model of frictionless interaction between buyers and sellers. It relies on cars being available everywhere—similar to the current state of SOLIDWORKS—and connecting them, with the least possible amount of grief and interaction, to the people who need to get somewhere, or, in the case of CAD users, the people who can get their stuff made. It doesn’t hurt that the game-like interface on your smartphone is fun to use.
While SOLIDWORKS continues to improve its product, thereby securing its allegiance with hundreds of thousands of its users, the near universality of the product lays the groundwork for a design-and-make environment.
Make this simple and easy enough, Bassi seems to be saying, and we’ll have what we need for an innovation platform.