With all of the focus on green product development, SolidWorks believes engineers can play a much stronger role in dictating the environmental impact of their products, and the company is planning an extension to its CAD tool to help them do just that.
Previewed at the recent SolidWorks World conference, the CAD company’s new technology, codenamed Sage, will detail, in real time, the environmental impact of parts and assemblies and all of the design decisions that go into them. Using the Sage analysis functionality, engineers can examine the impact of their product on such environmental factors as the carbon footprint, the transportation impact, the impact on the world’s water and air consumption along with how much energy the finished product will consume. Designers and engineers create a “baseline” design from which to compare every new design with an eye on reducing environmental impact. As the designer selects a different material, process or design approach, the Sage dashboard reflects the impact of the changes.
“One thing engineers don’t understand is how much influence they can have over the environmental impact of their designs,” notes Rick Chin, director of product and marketing innovation for SolidWorks. The impact of any one design decision is also magnified thousands of times or more given the production runs of some products and the lifecycle for how long the products are used by consumers, Chin explains.
Sage will be available in two forms, beginning this fall with the release of SolidWorks 2010. An Xpress version will be included with every license of SolidWorks, and a Professional version will roll up the impact of an entire designed product across its environmental life cycle and also include information on energy consumption throughout a product’s usage phase.
Sage was developed in collaboration with Germany-based PE International and PE Americas, a preeminent sustainability expert. Sage is built on PE International’s GaBi software, a comprehensive tool for quantifying the environmental impact of materials, processes, products and infrastructure.