Enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2011

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Wednesday at SOLIDWORKS World has always been my favorite…it is the day they give us a sneak preview into what will be in the next version of SolidWorks. These enhancements aren’t anything to bet the house on…I know of some things they have shown in the past that still aren’t in the product, but for the most part things they promise here are in the software by fall.

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Here is a list of the “big hitters” as they presented them:

  • Defeature
    • This is a new assembly feature that will make it very easy for you to dumb down your models before giving them to a customer. This will be very helpful so you don’t have to give away all intellectual property if you want to share space claiming information with your customers. In the demo they just picked a few mounting holes and important faces and SOLIDWORKS did the rest of the work of simplifying the model!
  • Revolve up to surface
    • New end condition in the revolve command. No more cleanup after the revolve command or calculating the total number of degrees you want to revolve! Finally!
  • Photoview Preview
    • As you add textures and materials to your design, you can have a little preview window open to see how your changes will look rendered real time.
  • Better Memory Usage
    • Here they showed a graph comparing memory usage doing typical operations for SOLIDWORKS 2010 and 2011 -some operations seemed to improve memory usage by about 20%
  • Plainer Simulation
    • Imagine being able do FEA on a cross section view of your file. Easy to setup and very fast to run right? Then (make sure you are sitting down for this) once you are happy with the results having the ability to extrapolate the cross section results to your full model! The example they used was a symmetrically loaded disk shape…I am hopeful that nearly any symmetrical condition would work. ??
  • Dimension Layouts
    • This will be a nice drawing productivity enhancement. Automatically stagger or space your dimensions in a drawing view.
  • Design Checker in tasks
    • The only SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM enhancement they announced. This is a new task that can check your files against the rules you have defined in the design checker. Maybe the design checker will get the respect it deserves now?
  • Lightweight welds
    • Not sure I fully understood this one. It reminded me of cosmetic threads for weld beads…but we’ve had this…I did notice a killer new interface for creating these lightweight welds and some new assembly features (i.e. chamfers and weld gaps) these will make creating weldments from regular parts much easier. (Could this be a key to removing the weldment feature in the future??)
  • Piping enhancements
    • I’m not a piping guy, so I couldn’t tell what was new vs what we already have. Looked pretty easy though
  • Walk through
    • We’ve had the ability to do a walk through with motion, this seemed a little easier to setup and run. They picked the floor face, an upward direction and we able to drive through their model.
  • Feature Lock
    • Imagine making a change to a rather large part. One of the things that makes this process slow is that if SOLIDWORKS decides it wants to rebuild your part, not much you can do but twiddle your thumbs. This option will allow you to select features to not rebuild -makes for a significant performance improvement.

No Leonard Nimoy, but Mark Snider’s acting skills almost made up for it.