By TenLinks Judge, Deepak Gupta
PHOENIX, AZ (SOLIDWORKS World 2015) —
By TenLinks Judge, Deepak Gupta
PHOENIX, AZ (SOLIDWORKS World 2015) —
|HP: Every year at SOLIDWORKS World, I visit them and they have incredible products to offer for SOLIDWORKS users. Their Z Workstations take performance and productivity to the next level.|
|Dell: Precision workstations from Dell let you compute faster. Their systems are built with multi-core processors, high-end graphics and many more features to help SOLIDWORKS users with their complex work.|
|Intel: With Intel processor power, the desktop workstation/mobile workstation attains the capacity SOLIDWORKS users need.|
|NVIDIA: NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics help boost performance and make for a smoother workflow.|
|AMD FirePro: With a number of GPU-accelerated features, AMD FirePro professional graphics cards are the right choice for great performance.|
|DriveWorks: A simple rule-based tool for your design automation needs. With a free DriveWorksXpress included in every seat of SOLIDWORKS, it is easy to start with a small automation project and then grow it into a wider level with their Solo (a 30-day trial is available) and Pro versions.|
|ATR Soft’s CustomTools: As their tag line says, “Kill your routines before they kill you!” CustomTools helps you save valuable time by automating your day-to-day routine. It makes sure that SOLIDWORKS users are spending time in innovation, not printing files, making reports and other similar activity.|
|The Steel Detailer: My bad for not exploring this product in earlier at SOLIDWORKS World events. TSD from Quadro Design is a nice tool that automates creation of detailed structural models and fabrication drawings, reducing the time from concept to completion. The tool knows what the shop people require, and drawings are done faster than traditional ways.|
|PCBWorks: Looking to bridge gaps between your ECAD and MACD data? PCBWorks is the right choice. If you have both ECAD and MACAD teams, then PCBWorks would be a good way for them to collaborate. The UI is simple to use and instant communication/updates can be done while working on the same project.|
|SolidCam: iMachining technology from SolidCam helps you machine your components 70-80 percent faster. This also extends tool life and lowers cost. I have a friend and SolidCam user who, after seeing a live demonstration of iMachining on a project, opted to go with SolidCAM without a second thought.|
|Rapid Sheet Metal: A one-stop shop for all your metal prototype requirements that provides quality and timely delivery. Their free SOLIDWORKS add-in, SolidQuote, will give you instant quotes for the sheet metal parts.|
|LogoPress: A nice tool for die industry. They also offer a free 123GO copy to every registered SOLIDWORKS user having inbuilt smart library. 123GO helps insert fasteners and related holes in SOLIDWORKS assemblies automatically.|
|Proto Labs: Proto Labs can help you with your plastic part developments. Get the quote with manufacturability analysis after you have uploaded your models to their site. Their online tools also show you where you have issues with your models and will suggest the best way to fix them.|
|The Foundry/Modo: A cool tool for the professional who wants more realistic models while modeling in SOLIDWORKS. With an interface similar to Photview360, it’s really easy to learn.|
|Keyshot: Keyshot helps you make amazing renderings and animations with your SOLIDWORKS model.|
|Stratasys: With their desktop-to-large 3D printers, Stratasys is really helping the world accelerate with 3D printing. And with a variety of colors and materials, the challenges in the product development cycle have been reduced to a great extent.|
|MCor: A 3D printing technology that uses standard sheets of copy paper as the raw material plus binder and color inks. Their 3D printed hammer was able to knock a nail into wood! Yes, a 3D printed paper hammer|
|SolidProfessor: SolidProfessor, an online video tutorial-based learning tool, helps users advance their learning on SOLIDWORKS. And with added-in assessments tests, one can check on the learning progress and improve accordingly.|
|i GET IT: i GET IT is a comprehensive online training tool for designers and engineers. They have more than 230 unique course topics.|
|ExactFlat: ExactFlat is an essential tool for people working on the textile industry. It cuts down the time-to-market by playing an important role from design to finished product. ExactFlat recently released their cloud-based software, ExactFlat Online, which is available as a free public beta. Register and take advantage of flattening your designs for free on the cloud.|
|Coworkshop's Curtain e-locker: Curtain e-locker helps secure your SOLIDWORKS files and hence takes care of your intellectual property. Based on the permission set for the user, one may be able to just view the files but can’t print, save or copy to any external sources. I had been looking for a similar tool for one of my customers and was glad to find Curtain e-locker at SOLIDWORKS World 2015.|
|3DConnexion: 3DConnexion helps to accelerate productivity by offering CadMouse specially designed for the CAD professional. I had a chance to play with the mouse at SOLIDWORKS World 2015 and was amazed with it capabilities.|
|EpiGrid: EpiGrid can help with your data management, which can then be accessed from anywhere. With the affordable solution, small-to-large companies can leverage their services and avoid delays and implementation cost.|
|nPower Software: With nPower Software you can make complex surfacing in SOLIDWORKS as if you were playing with clay. It lets you make models you would not be able to make otherwise.|
As an engineer, I can totally specify a part. Concept, shape, material . . . done! I can render in glorious 3D . . . . It almost looks like the real thing. I can tell if it will survive in the field with stress tests, or drop it in an assembly and find interferences or animate it. I have singlehandedly created this part from thin air for someone who didn’t know what they wanted until I made it. I am a god! I am living the dream.
Now, I want the part in my hands. The dream is interrupted. To get the part made, I have to hand my design over, convey the part to mere mortals, in language they understand. Their machines that only they can talk to. I have to wait. And hope they get it right, not butcher it, not change it.
If only I could push a button and get the part!
Push button manufacturing could be the unsung lament of the mechanical design community. But as engineers, we dare not say it, voice it. We are not supposed to believe in magic — that a part can appear from our designs. We defer to our manufacturing counterparts for that. They need to specify the process, pick the right material and place the bits in the machine . . . right?
3D printing promised the dream of push-button manufacturing. We flocked to it, only to discover it usually couldn’t do the job. Materials are limited, plastic is weak, the chemicals are messy, it’s slower than grass growing. And the good 3D printers cost more than cars.
We are desperate. MarkOne stole the show with its composites part printer (see Best of Show). We’d been making composite parts for so long. But here was a chance to push a button to get a composite part — from the computer into my hands. No layups. No messy chemicals. No annoying humans. But Mark One is a one-trick pony. It only makes small carbon fiber parts.
Enter Proto Labs
There is one company with the imagination and purpose to make this push button manufacturing a reality.
Proto Labs, a Minnesota-based firm with multiple locations and thousands of machines (not just 3D printers), says it wants you to push a button and send it 3D part files. You get to select the material, the process, the quantity. The part lands on your desk a few days later. You’ll know upfront what it will cost. You don’t have to deal with anyone. Unless you want to. Proto Labs has manufacturing engineers who can step in to assist. They are like good waiters — invisible, but who pop up when needed.
Proto Labs tries to automate as much of the manufacturing process as it can. Its software will check for typical manufacturing mistakes (thin walls, overdrafts, etc.) and flag your design. You may never have to call on a live manufacturing engineer. As such, it comes closest to putting and manufacturing an engineer’s brain in your computer for a hands-off, rapid part creation — the closest thing to this-is-what-I-want-now-just-make-it push button manufacturing. For all of us Spock-types (RIP, Leonard Nimoy) for whom humans are puzzles, it can be a straight shot, a machine birth without human complications. At least some of the time.
For the design engineer who considers their part totally defined and ready, nothing at this moment would be simpler than sending their 3D part file to Proto Labs. No other company is as far down the road to push button manufacturing.
What about Autodesk and Delcam?
The biggest deal so far in the CAD/CAM world so far has been Autodesk and Delcam. With it came the promise that the worlds of 3D mechanical design would merge with part manufacturing. However, Autodesk remains scattered as to its approach to manufacturing. Delcam continues to exist as a separate manufacturing portfolio, its products operated by those on the manufacturing side, just as before. Though it adds to Autodesk’s top line, Autodesk is making little attempt to automate the manufacturing process from inside Inventor using any its acquired manufacturing software, either Delcam or HSMWorks — to create anything that resembles push button manufacturing. The closest Autodesk comes to push-button manufacturing is its 3D printer, one more in the growing sea of 3D printers available. And as with them all, it is a point solution in the spectrum of manufacturing possibilities.
All major CAD programs are tied up with CAM, somehow. Many are in 3rd party partner programs. Some CAM products are under the roof of CAD companies, yet they continue to be operated as separate camps. Autodesk maintains a third party CAM vendor list, though it has withered after its CAM acquisitions. SOLIDWORKS has its CAM partners, notably MasterCAM, GibbsCAM, CAMWorks, SolidCAM and others. PTC and Siemens also have long-standing, trusted CAM partners.
Despite CAD tie-ins, CAM exists as a specialized discipline. Few design engineers can hope to match knowledge with a manufacturing engineer, or even a machinist. It’s a whole different world, with machine code, speeds and feeds. It’s messy, the cutting fluids, chips are flying . . . . Engineers can scratch the surface of this world, many dabble in it, some even make a hobby of it, but in the end, our day job is at a desk with a workstation with design software.
Let’s Get Together
It’s been a while since we looked at Proto Labs (Get Real - Proto Labs One Off Parts Made with Actual Engineering Materials, Feb 10, 2011).
I am reminded of them at SOLIDWORKS World 2015, where it occurs to me that . . . Proto Labs could be the answer to my dreams! Push button manufacturing comes true!
But for push button manufacturing to happen, there has to be a merger of the companies. Proto Labs was the first SOLIDWORKS manufacturing networks partner (Proto Labs Joins MySolidWorks Manufacturing Network ). (Could this be a dance before that wedding?)
Proto Labs’ functions need to exist in a SOLIDWORKS menu, as SOLIDWORKS commands. SOLIDWORKS is already a common, comfortable interface to more than a million users. It is a trusted design tool. To take a part out of SOLIDWORKS and send it to Proto Labs still seems like throwing it over the wall, with the uncertainty of dealing with a new company, a new process. Getting a new vendor is work. To work inside of SOLIDWORKS, better than one of its Gold Partners, talk in the language of design engineers, not machinists, reduce the number of pop-up warnings one can get in Proto Labs, increase the automations with less back-and-forth . . . . This can only happen if the developers of both companies meet under one roof, with one goal: push button manufacturing from a CAD program.
Buy Proto Labs Already
|Proto Labs||Dassault Systemes|
|Annual Sales (2014)||$185M||$2.7B|
An acquisition by Dassault Systemes (SOLIDWORKS’ parent company) seems doable. Let’s say Proto Labs could be had for 3x revenue,* a very general rule of thumb for acquisition, its price would be $555M. DS is used to deals this size, having just paid $750M earlier this year for Accelrys, maker of molecular modeling software. It bought RTT, maker of visualization software at the end of 2013, which had about the same number of employees as does Proto Labs. It paid $350M for SOLIDWORKS in 1997, which judging from more recent acquisitions and SOLIDWORKS ongoing success, seems to have quite a bargain and its best deal ever.
The dream now has a happy ending. Both sides of the equation are solved. I imagine tens of millions of part orders raining down on Proto Labs from all of the SOLIDWORKS users, who now can go all the way to a physical part, rather than be interrupted by having to deal with a manufacturing process, which only slows them down. It gets better, if you can imagine. Their creativity unleashed, the engineers only too happy to be masters of their own destiny, create more, better designs, more often. Proto Labs can’t keep up and has to increase their capacity, buying more manufacturing machines, more 3D printers to meet demand as it is now handling the production from the vast majority of engineers out there. As Proto Labs has to ship physical parts to customers, it must locate its facilities to avoid borders, taxes and tariffs and reduce shipping costs. Engineers find that their designs are actually being manufactured in their own countries. Manufacturing returns to its own shores, rather than it being sent to cheap labor markets in Asia. It is the manufacturing of today, fast turnaround, one-offs and custom products, small production runs — but all done on a ridiculously large scale, as everyone becomes a manufacturer as manufacturing is suddenly accessible to all who have access to design software.
Will The Marriage Take Place?
Acquisitions are difficult to predict with any certainty. Applying a logic and reason or exposing a crying need is insufficient to close a deal. Companies do secret dances and engage in back room discussions which are never revealed. Often, a deal in the works can be derailed due to “cultural incompatibility,” greed (acquired company execs want to get too rich in the transaction), or some business issue. Even the most obvious matches-made-in-heaven just never happen and we never know why.
Software vendors, even big ones, are in the habit of saying “they are not in the hardware business” and Proto Labs is essentially a hardware company. As if saying that you would not want them to try to make a product they had no experience making, all the time planning acquisitions that lands them smack in an industry they know nothing about. (PTC buys Arbortext, Dassault buys Accelrys, Autodesk buys Socialcam, to name just a few). CAD companies refer to their products as “solutions.” But a real solution solves a problem or fills a need. The picture on the screen, no matter how pretty, is only a means to an end. An engineer needs a part he can hold and use. Design and manufacturing are interlinked to the point that neither can function without the other, yet both exist as pieces of the solution. A true CAD visionary with means needs to lead the way for Proto Labs acquisition — and practically everyone who uses CAD, now or in the future, will thank him.
*Should the CAD CEOs panic at the thought of being left behind, a bidding war for Proto Labs could increase the price well over 3x.
by TenLinks Judge, Alin Vargatu
PHOENIX, AZ (SOLIDWORKS World 2015) — Great cloud-based application offering controlled access of your company files for suppliers, customers and even other departments in your company (CNC, purchasing, planning) that need to see or use your models and drawings. Flatter Files is amazingly simple and can work in conjunction with or without a PDM product.
The files can be released to Flatter Files automatically or manually as part of a PDM workflow. Once they are in the cloud, you can provide various levels of access to other parties: viewing only or even downloading files in SOLIDWORKS, DWG, DXF, PDF, STEP, IGES, STL, Parasolid and other formats, including custom properties from the SOLIDWORKS files. Moreover, Flatter Files remembers that is connected to the SOLIDWORKS data, so if a revision is performed on the original SOLIDWORKS file, the corresponding entity on Flatter Files is updated to the same revision level, while still storing the previous revisions in the database. Even more impressive, it is capable of analyzing and highlighting the differences between one revision and the next when viewing drawings in PDF format!
The data can be accessed on any platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android. Basically you just need a browser to access the client. The search is Google-like fast, regardless of the size of the database. The pricing is based on the number of SOLIDWORKS licenses a company owns.
This solution is perfect for all teams, big or small, with or without a PDM system, that need to collaborate with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders while maintaining full control of the type of data that would be made available to third parties.
CETOL 6σ Tolerance Analysis Software by Sigmetrix
Makes SOLIDWORKS' own TolAnalyst look like an Xpress add-in. Compared to TolAnalyst, CETOL is really a 3Dimensional tolerance analysis software that can be used on complex assemblies.
Things that impressed me:
Smap3D: Intelligent 2D/3D Plant and Piping Design
This is like SOLIDWORKS Electrical 2D and 3D for piping: Smap3D P&ID, Smap3D Piping and Smap3D Isometric. If you like SOLIDWORKS Electrical, imagine having the same power for quickly designing 2D piping schematics and parametrically generating 3D models. Really impressive tool.
HandyScan3D from Adaptive Corporation
For more information
About Alin Vargatu
Alin is an Elite AE and an avid contributor to the SolidWorks Community. He has presented at SolidWorks Worlds, Technical Summits, and SWUG meetings, while being very active on the SolidWorks Forum. More...
by TenLinks Judge, Jim Lucas
PHOENIX, AZ (SOLIDWORKS World 2015) — SOLIDWORKS veteran and TenLinks judge, Jim Lucas, has nominated the following products for the SOLIDWORKS World 2015 Best of Show. The following is a list along with his justification.
|ATR Soft: Why have I missed these guys in past shows? Their custom tools for generating Excel reports and batch printing could save me 7+ hours per week. Very reasonably priced. It will pay for itself in my sanity.|
|Wacom Tablets. Perfect timing . . . a super large 27” screen coupled with an alternate magnetic hot-key keyboard remote makes SOLIDWORKS' new Industrial Design package even more attractive.|
|I GET IT. Web-based educational courses meant for working professionals and students. Most cost-effective and time-efficient application in the market.|
|Sigmetrix. Incredible tolerance analysis add-in to SOLIDWORKS. Very intuitive and simple to use. Gives very helpful information to help know where to tighten or loosen tolerances.|
|Mcor Technologies. Faster machine with stronger colors, as well as the ability to make flexible parts, adding substantial excitement to an already innovative machine.|
For more information
About Jim Lucas
Jim has been in product development for more than 20 years. He is a Senior Design Engineer for WET, a company that makes cool high-end fountains around the world. He also teaches, consults and dabbles in a variety of industries including medical, toys and sporting goods. More...
PHOENIX, AZ (SOLIDWORKS World 2015) — SOLIDWORKS' annual user meeting in January was Gian Paolo Bassi's first public appearance as CEO. The former CTO replaces Bertrand Sicot as the head of SOLIDWORKS and now gives the most popular MCAD program an Italian accent. The largely American users (5,500 of them assemble in Phoenix in the wake of the Super Bowl) have had a few years to get used to accents — first French and now Italian — since their beloved American leaders left the stage. They might still be missing founder Jon Hirschtick and chief dynamo John McEleney (both engineers, both American), but they don’t say it. I doubt if it's any big deal. The users are here to learn how to use SOLIDWORKS products better — and drink beer.
|CEO||Length in office|
|Jon McEleney||11 yrs 7 months|
|Jeff Ray||3 yrs 6 months|
|Bertrand Sicot||4 yrs 1 month|
What does the latest CEO bring to an office where the doors now revolve about every presidential election? After operation-centric Jeff Ray, and charming and ever-positive salesman Bertrand Sicot, Dassault's force-to-be-reckoned-with and chief visionary, Bernard Charlès, now sees fit to install a developer. And each successor seems to more embrace Dassault Systèmes.
The hugely likable, ever-approachable Gian Paolo impresses once again with his secure grasp of SOLIDWORKS, its products and its strategy. Deference to Dassault’s leader, Bernard Charlès, is provided. Gian Paolo does not even step on the stage until the avuncular Bernard has stamped his presence and allowed his almost-too-creative marketer, Monica Menghini, to again attempt to prove the importance of "experience" over product to an audience that, for the most part, continues to love the product.
Gian Paolo is just the guy to bring the SOLIDWORKS user to the new kernel, into the cloud, onto mobile devices — or whatever else the chief visionary desires. Gone is any real opposition to defend the userbase, to keep the status quo.
Enter SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design
Can the users in the audience relate to Industrial Design? Gian Paolo tells us that Industrial Design must be considered as part of a mechanical designer's purview. Shape sells. The old software (SOLIDWORKS desktop) didn't do sexy shapes. Good luck making anything curvy, unless you were a top-notch surface guy, unless you poured in blood and sweat.
Sure enough, top-notch surface guys are presented to us who swear by the new product. At the booth where Industrial Design is being shown, a beleaguered product manager, two months on the job, is trying to explain how Industrial Design will help them make the shapes they always wanted to make, that they should be making. A fair number come by, attracted by the leadup from the main stage. One is a from IntegrityWare, maker of Power Surfacing (Best of Show 2014), which has made a business adding subD modeling to SOLIDWORKS, which Industrial Design now offers. Will Industrial Design eat her lunch? I ask. She says not. Industrial Design does not even save to a SOLIDWORKS file. The models are not entirely compatible with SOLIDWORKS, she says. They have to undergo a translation or conversion.
Another user wonders about the cost, which the product manager does not know. It had only just been announced in a press Q&A. When they found out it costs $190/month, they all pause to reflect. Someone figured out that the total is $2,280 a year, every year. Their SOLIDWORKS software costs $4,000, but that is for ever.
It seems like Industrial Design will be a tough sell to the existing users, if this crowd at SOLIDWORKS is any indication. But then, what would you expect? Users, especially power users, tend to favor their current tools in which they have gained expertise. What remains to be seen is how well Industrial Design will be embraced by new users, or users of rival software, or if it will encourage those who still haven’t left the 2D world to use what, at first glance, appears to be much easier to use than SOLIDWORKS for surfaces.
It's probably too early to expect Industrial Designer to as capable as SOLIDWORKS with a surfacing add-on but it may easily justify its higher annual cost if it is able to make the creation of complex surfaces not so complex for the typical design engineer, rather than have to rely on a surfacing expert or hand off a design to an industrial engineer.
by TenLinks Judge, Joe Medieros
PHOENIX, AZ (SOLIDWORKS World 2015) — SolidPlant by Smap 3D is plant design software that allows seamless 3D piping design and isometric drawings from P&ID 2D flowcharts. While some of this functionality does exist in SOLIDWORKS Routing, the lack of integration between the 2D P&ID and 3D model can make design changes difficult. The integration in Plant Design makes this process seamless. Plant Design also overcomes many of the challenges in SOLIDWORKS Routing, especially when it comes to editing. SolidPlant also makes it simple to generate true, fully labeled, isometric drawings.
About Joe Medieros
Joe Medeiros is a SOLIDWORKS and Enterprise PDM specialist at Canada’s Premier SOLIDWORKS solution partner, Javelin Technologies. He has been helping SOLIDWORKS users with training, mentoring and implementations since 1998. More...
by TenLinks Judge, Joe Medieros
PHOENIX, AZ (SOLIDWORKS World 2015) — Flatter Files uses an installed uploader application to upload data from a local or network drive, file sharing applications such as Dropbox and PDM (Product Data Management) systems such as EPDM and WPDM. Flatter Files has a part and document management system that plugs into the same database as SOLIDWORKS EPDM. This data is uploaded to the Flatter Files cloud, making this data available anywhere in the world without having to grant access (users should be warned if this is sensitive vaulted information).
Additional file formats, such as PDFs, can be automatically generated, thus allowing non-CAD users to view engineering data. Additionally,since Flatter Files uses the same database as EPDM, the data that is being accessed is always up to date. Therefore, customers and suppliers will always be working with the latest data.
Outside of being a viewer, which EPDM also has, Flatter Files has some fantastic reporting capabilities to graphically identify bottlenecks and to more efficiently plan resources.
Flatter Files is priced based only on the number of contributors. The number of viewers is unlimited, saving on the costs of purchasing viewers for all users that need to access information.
For More Information
Flatter Files - company website
Flatter Files Stores Drawings in the Cloud - nominated for Best of Show, Autodesk University 2014
About Joe Medieros
Joe Medeiros is a SOLIDWORKS and Enterprise PDM specialist at Canada’s Premier SOLIDWORKS solution partner, Javelin Technologies. He has been helping SOLIDWORKS users with training, mentoring and implementations since 1998. Mo
SOLIDWORKS World, the biggest MCAD user meeting in the world (5,500 attendees), was preceded by the announcement that the congenial, ever-positive Frenchman, Bertrand Sicot, was to be replaced by Italian, Gian Paolo Bassi, the company’s CTO.
GP, as Gian Paulo is known by his people, wasted little time in introducing Industrial Design, the latest SOLIDWORKS product that enables design of smooth, organic, curvy, natural shapes — like never before. Whereas SOLIDWORKS may have been the industry standard for prismatic shapes (machined parts), SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design promises hand sketches (or their mouse-motion produced movements) to be a vital part of the design process. Industrial designers, responsible for the "look" of a product, will resort to swoopy, smooth shapes. Everything from baby seats to blenders to bottles on the store shelf have more to do with aesthetically pleasing surfaces than the straight and true, extrude and revolve, shapes that SOLIDWORKS users had been used to making. Unless they spent hundreds of hours with complex surfacing.
One user of the beta of Industrial Design said he tried for seven years to make a shape in SOLIDWORKS. With SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design, he made it in a few minutes.
SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design uses subdivision modeling. SD, as it is known, has been a mainstay of T-Splines (previously a favorite of SOLIDWORKS users, but bought by Autodesk), Rhino (an industrial designer favorite) and also formZ (though mostly for AEC modeling). With SD, SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design is able to push and pull on a point on surface and create a mathematically accurate version of the changed surface — which is how you would make an ever-so-boring prismatic design into some swoopy, streamlined design that would fly off the shelf or out of the showroom.
Or, you can create your swoopy, streamlined design from the very beginning. Use a Wacom tablet to start sketching. Industrial Design will change your sketches into curves, your almost-straight lines into lines.
With Industrial Design comes a whole different way to create a part. You don't have to be limited to shapes that can be approximated with extrusions, revolutions. You can start with what is in your mind and trust Industrial Design to represent it accurately.
It is the ability to transform initial conceptual design from hand sketches on paper, and a promise to allow "natural" shapes, that makes Industrial Design potentially a game changer in the MCAD world. It's possible that Rhino may be doing this already, but what is done with Rhino may be happening on the fringe. SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design brings SD into the mainstream of mechanical design.
It remains to be seen if SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design lives up to its promise. One CAD insider said it crashed repeatedly in a demo. I've heard varying reports on whether it is even available as I write this. We don't know how much it costs. But the sheer potential of a tool such as this to mechanical designers is sufficient to nominate it for a Best of Show.
WALTHAM, MA, Sep 24, 2014 - With every major release of a CAD program comes a dilemma. How to convey all that information? SOLIDWORKS 2015 is no exception. Dassault did its best to dumb down the changes --- there were literally thousands – for the assembled press. As most of the press are not CAD users the significance of most of the enhancements are lost upon us. For example, is the new Treehouse feature going to be a hit? No idea.
But SOLIDWORKS almost missed a opportunity to trumpet one enhancement that would have resonated with all the media present. Saying “3D printing” would have stirred even the sleepiest old journalist in a post-meatball-calzone-lunch induced daze.
With SOLIDWORKS 2015, you can make a 3D print right from the menu. You have to have Windows 8.1. Microsoft had introduced 3D printing back in November 2013 but neglected to mention that it was going to be up to software and hardware vendors to create the drivers to actually make 3D objects actually appear.
SOLIDWORKS 2015 is the first CAD vendor to come through on the 3D printing promise, says Aaron Kelly, product manager at Dassault, who was kind enough to wheel a Makerbot 3D printer to where the press had already started to file out, to show me how it was done.
Currently, the Print to 3D command only works with MakerBot 3D printers, though.
Sure enough, Aaron clicks on the menu and the MakerBot print head starts whizzing. The print volume is displayed on the SOLIDWORKS screen. The MakerBot display shows it is printing a SLDPRT file – the native part file. The conversion to STL files is either not happening or is invisible to the user.
I ask about support structures, which were not needed for the simple part being made.
“The program creates support structures if needed," says Aaron, as if by magic. Support structures are not displayed on the screen, however.
ATLANTA, GA (Solid Edge University 2014) - Zuken's E3.series bridges the gap between the electrical engineer and the mechanical designer. Most companies use the following work process - the EE designs the boards, exports the board data out for the mechanical designer/engineer. The nechanical person then has to design the enclosures and the wire harnesses. Zuken's E3 offering imports the EE's data, creates the raw data needed to develop the wire harnesses and then imports into SOLIDWORKS or Solid Edge. Then SOLIDWORKS/Solid Edge uses the imported data to translate over to the routing and harness module to build up the correct harness cable. Right now, I translate data over directly from the EE into SolidWorks, but I can see this tool as really shortening my design cycle as I wouldn't have to trouble-shoot connections and input/outputs as much. One thing I would like to have is the ability for E3 software to be able to calculate proper wire lengths based on the 3D geometry, but I was told that is not available. The other downside is it is pretty pricey with one seat at $18K.
For more information see http://www.zuken.com/en/products/electrical-wire-harness-design/e3-series
Elise Moss has been teaching Autodesk and SolidWorks software for the past decade. She is an Autodesk Certified Instructor and teaches at an Autodesk Authorized Training Center in San Francisco. She speaks regularly at SolidWorks World and leads the Oakland SolidWorks user group. Elise has a mechanical engineering degree. More...