SolidWorks announces 2011

SolidWorks is unveiling SolidWorks 2011 here at its headquarters in Concord, Mass. It includes new weldment tools; improved workflows; and improved annotation. New capabilities with the revolve feature is one basic example. Also, the version provides access to the PDM tools right in the interface. Users just double-click on a part to open the file. Also new is 2D planer simplification: Users can create a 2D version of a part for analysis, which speeds the simulation process considerably. SolidWorks then interpolates the results around the symmetric axis. As far as weld tools, the user can now build intermittent welds. The software creates all the annotations for welds. Instant 3D lets the user instanty turn a feature into a 3D weld. A new weld element: chamfers.

There are ways to streamline the work flow for simulations: can do CFD while designing a part. New: advanced radiation capabilities -- users can determine sun and lighting loads and humidity levels. New materials include concrete and glass.

There is an electronics module now available for modeling chips, and Joule heating for calculating current flow.

Users are said to love this: The software now puts the dimensions on drawings automatically. Alignment tools move dimensions intelligently as a group. SolidWorks automatically creates tables for holes; it supports integrated dual dimensions in the table.

There are new tools to setup and automate designs. Can use equations to turn on and off pattern instances and create conditional statements to turn on and off features. Can also use polynomial equations to control motion.

In addition, users can unfold sheetmetal parts in one of several ways. They can now change the bend easily; the software supports equations for unfolding parts that are based on the DIN standard. Instead of choosing k factor, chose can select what is called a Bend Calculation.

Use SolidWorks Sustainability to look at all the materials involved in each component, transportation costs, even compare two completely differently designs, for example, a plastic container versus a cardboard one with a liner.

New tools for visualization: PhotoView is now integrated in 2011. The version also has a new defeature tool to simplify designs for collaboration. For example, users can remove all the internal components of a design such as a gearbox. The machine shop won't need this anyway; it is just concerned with the outside envelope.

New walk-through tools lets users "walk" through their designs. Can just hold down mouse button to look around or follow a path. Can pre-record walkthroughs to later show customers.

The Enterprise PDM tool is integrated into Windows Explorer. PDM now recognizes 3DVIA files, makes it easy to search for components visually.

Along with an introduction to SolidWorks 2011 are discussions on other products it is introducing and trends in the industry. Unlike many corporations, SolidWorks shows a sensitivity to its employees -- during the downturn, it did not lay-off any employees. What is quite remarkable is that none of its distributors went out of business. Today, the company's renewal rates have returned to historical levels. It can be argued that the rate that companies invest in engineering software is a good indicator of the economy in general, especially in regards to high tech, industrial equipment, medical products, and engineering services.

Two thirds of the company's new customers are 2D customers, the rest come from companies that switch. Orders are generally one to two licenses, so the customer base is mostly smaller to medium businesses. There are a total of about 1.4 million users. SolidWorks generates about 25% of the Dassault's revenue.

Fielder Hiss, VP of product management, says users needed to be able to make a more environmentally friendly design and didn't have a way to do so. That is where the sustainablilty product came from.

DraftSight from Dassault -- free to download and activate; can read and write DWG files; provides a free online community platform. Helps ease transition from 2D to 3D. A lot of users had to upgrade their 2D tools before they could move to 3D. Another beta will be available for Linux and Mac this Fall.

Gartner's technology trends: cloud computing, advanced analytics (real time reporting on a design), social computing, and mobile applications.

Only a few SolidWorks customers have a PDM or PLM product. The company plans on providing the Enovia V6 technology online, on-demand. Small customers can share data using SolidWorks Connect. Reason for the product: 60% of SolidWork's customers lack an IT department, so version control for them doesn't exist. The key is the application works inside of SolidWorks. It understands and displays file relationships. Beta will be towards the end of the year. The product will go on sale next year.

Customers should be able to start top down or bottom up. Experience should be life-like, not just CAD; example, an O-ring should behave like an O-ring. Predictive computing -- tell people about the design via analysis while they are working on the design. Assembly sizes are now on the order of hundreds of thousands, even millions.

Good news for U.S. manufacturing? New is a Boy Scout Inventing Badge www.solidworks.com/scouts

Barrett designs technologically advanced robots in SolidWorks.

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