SolidWorks 2011: What’s New Highlights

DS SolidWorks Corporation today unveiled SolidWorks 2011, the latest release of the most popular 3D CAD software on the market. There are many new features to talk about, but today I’m going to hit the highlights of what is coming.


Every release has a theme and this one is no different. Along with improving Performance and Reliability (which is and should be a focus of every release), here are the major themes.

  • Design Faster and more Efficiently
  • Enhanced Support for Manufacturing
  • Improved Collaboration and Visualization

This release included over 200 enhancements, many of which were customer driven.


The biggest addition to Weldments is the introduction of a lightweight Weld Bead command which can be invoked in both Parts AND Assemblies! The functions of the command are the same for both environments. The resultant Weld Bead is NOT a solid body (only graphical representation), so it is generated VERY fast. Below are some capability highlights:

  • Weld Annotations are automatically generated with the Weld Bead
  • Can weld around complex intersections
  • Can weld around gaps between tubes
  • Can do Intermittent and Staggered weld beads
  • Instant 3D handles available on screen to adjust bead length
  • Can change weld bead types through the auto-generated Annotation
  • Smart Selection Tool allows for RAPID intersection selection and bead production
  • Weld Tables automatically generated in SolidWorks Drawings
  • Caterpillar and End Treatment tools to show Weld Beads in Drawings
  • Separate Weight Calculation tool for the Weld Beads


  • Drawing views now support the display of component colors as line color display
  • New Algorithm to place model item dimensions in a much more orderly fashion
  • Ability to Auto Arrange existing dimensions through multiple selection
  • Spacing thumbwheel can be used to control the gap between dimensions when using Auto Arrange
  • Hole Table: Can delete rows, renumber tags & show dual dimensions
  • Rotate View command in Drawings now


Curves can now be used to create reference planes. You can also reuse Curves for multiple features. The Helix command now supports this as well. Height and revolution have been added to the Helix command along with on screen fly-outs for all the parameters of the feature.

Sheet Metal

  • You can now pattern or mirror Tab features
  • The outline size of the sheet metal “blank” is now automatically generated as part of the Flat Pattern command.
  • Bend Calculation equations are now supported

Grid System

This is a new feature that allows users to rapidly create a network of sketch features for Weldment framework generation. This is an interesting topic that we will cover in more detail on this site later.


  • Can combine fillets and chamfers during auto-generation. (This is NICE)
  • Now supports the recognition of Draft features
  • Recognizes revolved features better
  • Boss-Sweep and Cut-Sweep added to the list of supported features.


  • Introduction of the Routing Library Manager (can be opened without the SolidWorks application running)
  • Better support for the Routing component wizard
  • Tag Schema Manager for P&ID diagrams
  • Piping and Tubing Database can control ALL Piping & Tubing properties
  • Will pick Piping Flange size based on a component outside of the route.
  • Can create individual weld gaps on piping components
  • Enhanced convert guidelines
  • Dimensions added to piping routing sketch will automatically dimension to the outside of the pipe
  • RMB Move fitting with triad. (Will allow users to rotate and move the routing part while staying linked to any attached routes.


This tool allows you to convert an assembly to automatically create a “dumbed down” model with many less components and features. This is common for parts that you want to share but not include any internal or sometimes external detail. It also has the ability to preserve mates between parts when creating a new file. The new file is an Assembly with virtual component parts.

Appearances & Rendering

  • Fully integrated Photoview 360 into SolidWorks
  • Can adjust all aspects of Appearance data
  • Decals have been made part of the SolidWorks Standard package
  • Display Manager now added as a 4th FeatureManager Tab. It houses all of the Lights, Scenes, Cameras, and Walkthrough features.
  • Can work in SolidWorks while renderings are being processed.


  • Better utilization of memory which allows you to stay in SolidWorks a lot longer without having to reboot the application
  • The measure tool can now be used while creating or editing a feature.
  • You can now “configure” global variables, scale factors, and thread callouts
  • Improved Parting Surface command in Mold Tools – Better control of how the surfaces are generated
  • Equations now support suppression of a component based on condition statements
  • All new UI for the Admin Image Editor along with many new options
  • Can add Sustainability data to the Assembly Visualization tool.

OK…that is the Quick List. I’ll get some more screenshots rolled into this post tomorrow.

Stay tuned….more to come!

DISCLAIMER:  DS SolidWorks Corp paid for my travel, accommodations, and some meals for the SolidWorks 2011 Blogger Press Event.