Checking out SolidWorks 2013

As part of the SolidWorks Media event to showcase its version 2013, we got a tour of the company's beautiful new digs, the Dassault Systemes Boston campus. It would be wonderful if everyone could have such a tranquil working environment! The LEEDS-certified building is large and spacious and filled with natural light thanks to the thousands of windows that look out upon greenery and peaceful ponds. The building includes everything from workout rooms to a million dollar CAVE -- think frighteningly lifelike simulations. (None of these kind remarks have anything to do with the company having fed us journalists a huge feast that included lobsters, clams, steamed corn, Boston clam chowder, and home-made ice-cream.)

According to CEO Bertrand Sicot, there will soon be two million users of SolidWorks. The company has just introduced SolidWorks Plastic, SolidWorks Electrical, and eDrawings for iPad. In addition, a new product said to be complimentary to SolidWorks will launch in May 2013. It will target conceptual mechanical design, says Sicot.

New products Updates:

SolidWorks Plastics for the simulation and validation of part or mold design to make sure the tooling will work. Answers basic questions like will my part fill? Where are the weld lines? Will there be air traps? Will determine the best gate locations. SolidWorks Plastics Premium is for high-end analysts. For example, it optimizes multi-cavity mold layouts.

SolidWorks Electrical Three versions for 2D, 3D, and one that combines both target those who design industrial machinery. The software is not for the design of integrated circuit boards. Users can add PLCs to designs; they can place electrical items in 3D to ensure fit. In one version, they can do harness design in 3D. One version contains over 500,000 standard electrical parts.

eDrawings for iPad lets mobile users interact with 3D data. Rick Chin gave us a demonstration of augmented reality on the iPad. App lets users see designs in a real world setting right away when the design starts. Users can, for example, put a design on the table and move it around to see what the end product will look and act like. Users can cross-section models and annotate them. The virtual products even cast real-looking shadows. Models are the real data, not "thin" representations.

The new features in SolidWorks 2013 will be discussed in the upcoming Software User Review by Mike Hudspeth in the November 8 issue of Machine Design magazine.

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