SolidWorks World: Wednesday General Session

In today’s General Session, SolidWorks gave the 3500+ users a sneak peek of SolidWorks 2008. The session was kicked off with a REALLY cool video that Mark Biasotti put together (on his own time). The video shows a rocket launching from Concord, MA in 1995 signifying the debut of SolidWorks 95. A time clocked was running in the lower right corner of the screen and as it reached the time of each SolidWorks version release, the version name was displayed along with some of its new features. What was REALLY cool is that the whole time this clock was running, a space station was being built. Many of the actions were corresponding with the new features.

After the video, a team of SolidWorks employees hit the stage with Star Trek gear! Along with the gear they had a set design on stage to match it. In the captain’s chair was Chris Garcia. His crew of 4 “CAD Officers” set out to show off SolidWorks 2008.

The first feature of SolidWorks 2008 shown was more detail on the FastPreview option for opening assemblies. A 2000 part assembly was opened with Fast Preview and the FeatureManager Design Tree was immediately available for use! With the new selection process options, parts of the assembly could be selected for load. The display of other components could then be turned off. Here is the kicker. Mates for the ENTIRE assembly were still fully solved. This allowed you to add mates to components acting as if the assembly was fully resolved! You could easily toggle the display of the components of the assembly that were not loaded and then selectively load additional components without having to load the entire assembly.

SolidWorks 2008 will include a Hole Alignment analysis tool. This feature will scan an assembly and look for hole sets that are overlapping and misaligned.

SWIFT technology has been further enhanced throughout the product. One great example of this is with the Fillet feature. You can select edges of a model and then let SolidWorks predict other edges similar to your selection for the fillet to be applied. The example shown was an internal pocket on a part. One edge was selected on the pocket and the rest of corresponding edges were picked up by the new prediction tool. VERY COOL! Also the new Corner Manager was shown. When selecting multiple edges/faces on a part for a fillet feature, previews can now be shown that display the different corner blending options.

DimXpert will have an exciting new option that allows you to add 3D annotation dimensions to a part in a very fast manner. You simply select three datum locations on the part, and all the dimensions and hole callouts are added! The dimensions are added per your dimension standard setting so yes, GD&T is supported! These annotations can then be used in new tolerance stack-up analysis tools that are also included in the 2008 release.

How many times have you created a Bill of Materials in a SolidWorks Drawing and realized you hadn’t defined the “Description” custom property for all the components? In SolidWorks 2008, you can now add those properties directly to the Bill of Materials and it ADDS it to the properties of the component! You can also drag rows of the BOM to reorder on the fly! Also shown was the ability to add parametric annotations such as Balloons to a note. The balloon’s item number will change if the BOM changes.

Direct editing to imported models has now been GREATLY enhanced. Faces of imported featureless models can be selected and instantly converted to features in the FeatureManager Design Tree. One example shown was a fillet. This fillet can then be modified using the new dynamic drag handles. A chamfer was also selected on the model and modified without entering the feature or sketch.

Dynamic Assembly Motion, Physical Simulation, & COSMOS Motion have been unified into a single seamless interface. The example used to show off this integration was a 3D model of a Mouse Trap game. Using a combination of methods thru the new interface everyone watched in amazement as the ball made it’s way through each part of the virtual board game. Very impressive stuff!

DriveWorks Xpress was demonstrated (It was only mentioned on Monday). It looks like a very powerful tool with plenty of options & settings for basic Knowledge Based Engineering operations.

Another new “Xpress” tool was announced. FloXpress will be included with all SolidWorks licenses starting with SolidWorks 2008. It allows the user to do basic fluid flow analysis. Just like COSMOSXpress, the interface is an easy to use wizard based system. Results of each analysis can be viewed with slice planes (movable sections) or fluid flow trajectories that are displayed in the 3D model. A report can be automatically generated by the software and re-running analysis after changes have been made to the design is easy.

A few more enhancements were shown in Drawings. Section Views of rib features will now show the correct cross hatch per the document’s drafting standard. Text annotations in a drawing can now be stretched dynamically on the screen which can make long text entries fit into a smaller desired area. The ability to copy and paste drawing sheets within a drawing or between different drawings has also been added. (YEAH!)

Back to assemblies as a Repeat Component command was shown. This allows you to copy single or multiple component groups to different locations by selecting common faces. The example shown took a bolt stack-up and copied it to different holes that were on the same face. The interface looked very straightforward and since it is mate based should be very robust.

A few new Mate types were shown and were met with much applause. A new group box has been added to the Property Manager named Mechanical Mates. One of the new mates shown was the Screw mate. It allows the user to key a fixed ratio to an existing linear mate. The example was a vise and when one motion jaw was moved, the lead screw turned just like you would see in a real vise.
A few new Advanced Mates were shown. One was the Coupling Mate. It allows you to link one motion to another. With this mate, the movement of one component can drive movement in another “independent” part of the assembly. The Path Mate was also demonstrated. It allows you to link the path of an assembly component to a sketch (no limit on sketch entities!). Orientation, pitch, and roll can be fully controlled along the path as well.

At this point in the presentation we had a little surprise sprung on us. After each feature was shown, the captain (Garcia) was taking all the credit for the advancements in SolidWorks 2008. One of the crew suggests it’s time for a new captain. The captain asks “Who could possibly fill my chair?” About that time the old familiar Star Trek teleportation sound came on and suddenly right before our eyes stood Leonard Nimoy! Needless to say the applause was near deafening. A very nice surprise! Upon taking the captains chair “Captain Spock” called for the “Instant 3D Protocol” which led us to perhaps the most innovative new feature we saw today.

Using the Search tool within SolidWorks 2008 parts can be found quickly much like they can in the current version. Once a part is selected, the search tool dissects the model and displays each feature of that model in the search window. The features can then be brought into new parts with a simple drag and drop motion! Keep in mind that with this process, NOTHING was saved to the Design Library.

Also shown was a Sketch Rectangle that can be automatically placed by a center point. (No longer necessary to sketch those single or double diagonal lines!) Also, it appears that the extrude command can now interactively add or remove material. (Finally!) The way it was implemented looked really cool. No dialog boxes or anything!

That was pretty much the end of the skit. Jeff Ray joined Leonard Nimoy on stage. They discussed the similarities between current technology and the “science fiction” technology on the original Star Trek shows.

Joe Dunne presented the award for the Design Contest and Mark Schneider (where did the Vulcan ears go Mark?) announced the Model Mania contest winners.

Bruce Holway talked about some of the previous top ten enhancements that have made it into the product. He also mentioned two new additions to SolidWorks 2008. One tidbit is that you will be able to select cylindrical faces to determine a Circular Pattern axis! No more turning on those Temporary Axis! He also talked about a new selection option in assemblies that will allow you to select a subassembly or components within subassemblies. Bruce also presented the top ten enhancement requests as voted by attendees at this year’s conference. The results are as follows:

1. Recreate all mates when mirroring components
2. Propagate assembly features back into parts as features
3. Ability to rename components (filenames) from the assembly
4. Input dimensions in drawing views of a mirrored or derived part
5. Slot feature or slot option in Hole Wizard
6. Flat pattern of a mirrored sheet metal part
7. Title Block Wizard – dialog box to input all title block info
8. Provide support for dual monitors
9. Mirror assembly features
10. Clearance check in assemblies similar to interference detection

**Thanks to Mike Puckett for posting these over at comp.cad.solidworks as I wasn’t quick enough to write them all down!

Well, that takes care of the highlights. I have a TON of blog articles in my head so stay tuned. I still have some more SolidWorks World stuff to post.