Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SolidWorks 2011 Update Meeting

Today I attended the 2011 update meeting presented by Cimquest in Teaneck, NJ. The event was wonderful. The had several "Break-out" sessions (training sessions) in the morning while they held an update meeting for Mastercam, another product they sell. They also had a Provider Pavilion with many of the providers of software and equipment for use with SolidWorks. Also there were some of their high profile customers with products that were designed with SolidWorks. Orange County Choppers brought two motorcycles and several custom parts. Machine Art also brought a BMW motorcycle with completely redesigned bodywork. Cranking away all day were 3D printers and a 6 axis machining robot.

The first break-out session I attended was for Photoview 360. A few laptops were set up in the front of the room so I grabbed one while I could. We rendered an assembly of a counter top grill and went through many of the steps to change material and backgrounds. If a high quality image is one of your final products, Photoview 360 is the way to go.

My second session was on PDM Works. I use the Enterprise version daily but I still found several good tips for use in PDMW. For those who don't use or even know of PDM Works, it is a data management system that can handle many types of files. Files go through a work flow that the customer designs to fit their needs. All files are locked in a vault when approved and versions of the file are tracked. PDM Works is integrated into Windows Explorer for an intuitive interface and most of the necessary functions can also be performed inside SolidWorks. I learned that associations can be made manually, that it is better to use the New Project function instead of just creating a new folder, and that PDM Works has a notification option that will notify others that a file needs approval. I never took training so I had to pick things up on my own.

The last break-out session was on the add-on 3Dvia. Creating documentation is often a difficult and time consuming process. 3Dvia allows you to use your models and assemblies to create views and exploded views of the models with arrows and notations to explain the views. It is a very powerful tool for creating everything from a simple exploded assembly view to interactive web presentations and videos.

Lunch was served at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe where the expo was and the food was excellent! Cimquest celebrated their 20th anniversary with a slide presentation showing the life of Cimquest and the great family atmosphere they have. Cimquest was the very first reseller of SolidWorks and have been working to make a better product ever since. (Shameless plug for Dave!)

After lunch, finally, the update meeting. Dave Macfie started things off nicely with some information on Cimquest. A few others spoke, including myself on user groups, about various successes with SolidWorks. Then we got into the meat of the meeting. SolidWorks has made a lot of great changes. They started with weld beads in the weldments package.

Weld beads are now a cosmetic feature and work in both parts and assemblies. Because they are cosmetic they are less dependent on actual geometry so they can close gaps and they use less memory and rebuild time. The cut list could always be reordered, however now you can drag and drop line items to reorder them.

Revolve now works to end conditions such as 'up to surface' and 'up to vertex' and 'offset from surface' to allow more flexibility in design.

In drawings the import model items is much cleaner in that it spaces dimensions more intelligently. More dimension organization functionality was added as well. You can also use Free Rotate on you isometric views in the drawing.

Simulation received a new feature, 2D Slice. For many models a thin slice is all that is required to get an accurate analysis. The 2D Slice function allows a tighter mesh and still saves computing time.

Sheetmetal received some updates to the patterning and mirroring functions to make them more robust. A new feature, Bend Calculations, was added. In addition to the K factor, which has always been available but could not deal with bends other than 90degrees, Bend Calculations can deal with all types of bends without entering a lot of data for Bend Allowances and Bend Deductions. It allows you to view and edit the mathematical calculations used to determine the bend radius for flattening parts.

Path Mate Motors can be applied to motion studies to animate assemblies. They are found in the Simulation Motion Analysis package. This is the first time a motor could be applied to a path mate.

Defeature is a new feature that simplifies a model by removing portions of the model you don't want others to see. This is very good for simplifying models for plant design and customer parts. The question still remains as to how much if any gap can be closed between adjacent non-touching parts.

Appearances have been improved and Photoview 360 as well as 3Dvia have now been fully integrated into SolidWorks.

DraftSight is a 2D CAD product available for free download from SolidWorks that creates and edits dwg files.

Jon Hirschtick, founder of SolidWorks spoke to everyone and showed the history of CAD all the way back to 1963. He also thanked everyone for all the input to make SolidWorks what it is today but emphasized the work that still needs to be done in the future.

OCC Bikes


Jon Hirschtick

6 axis machining

Assorted pieces

Cimquest 20th anniversary cake
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