In its 19th new release of the 3-D CAD platform, SolidWorks 2011 ushers in an array
of new features and modules intended to help engineers work faster and more
effectively, improve collaboration with an extended team, and facilitate the
use of 3-D data in manufacturing workflows.
The upgrade builds on the foundation started in SolidWorks
2010 to bolster performance and reliability and to integrate the CAD tool
more seamlessly into everyday engineering workflows, says Ian Hogg, SolidWorks'
product marketing manager. "This release more than any other is really a bit of
a balancing act," he says. "We're continuing what we started last year and
focusing on quality and becoming more efficient in how we're utilizing
resources, but we're also looking at how people utilize the software and
targeting things that impact that workflow."
Based on continuous user surveys and feedback, SolidWorks
identified features that were most readily used and that exhibited problems,
zeroing in on areas where it could deliver performance and efficiency
improvements to streamline engineering workflows. To improve work efficiency,
for example, SolidWorks 2011 serves up a new 2-D Simplification tool, which
helps speed up analysis of parts. Users select an intersecting plane and apply
loads and restraints to perform static, nonlinear and thermal studies, and
SolidWorks Simulation will calculate the results and display them on the full
3-D model in seconds as opposed to minutes or even hours, Hogg says. "2-D
Simplification is a powerful tool to provide high levels of refinements with a
high level of accuracy," he explains. "It lets users do a lot of analysis
quickly and efficiently" and is especially well-suited for engineers working on
seals, catches and O-rings.
New drawing detailing functionality in the upgrade
eliminates much of the time and effort of manual dimensioning, letting users
automatically align, stagger or center dimensions in a single click. In
addition, extensions that work with the Flow CFD module of SolidWorks have been
released for specific industries to facilitate workflows, including a new
Electronics Cooling Module, for executing thermal simulations as well as a new
HVAC module to perform similar functions for heating, ventilation and air
conditioning. As part of these enhancements, there are expanded part libraries
that include fans, materials, two-resistor components and integrated circuit
packages as well as new analysis variables such as local air quality, ambient
temperature and Joule heating.
Another major area of focus in SolidWorks 2011 is
visualization and collaboration. New with this upgrade is full integration of
PhotoView 360, previously a stand-alone rendering package. Now, engineers can
do photorealistic renderings in SolidWorks, creating a unified environment for
both design and rendering. The addition of new Walk-Through capabilities let
engineers walk customers through designs with an immersive-like experience, and
a new Defeature tool removes unnecessary detail or sensitive intellectual
property, facilitating easy collaboration of designs with the supply chain. The
3DVIA Composer software has also been enhanced with an interactive storyboard
capability that can be tapped to deliver process instructions through
interactive images. Users simply drag and drop views to create interactive
procedures that can be used to document maintenance operations, for example.
The third area of focus in the SolidWorks 2011 release are
features that bridge the gap between product design and manufacturing. In this
vein, SolidWorks 2011 is stocked with features for automating weld placement
and documentation, including a Smart Weld tool used to visualize weld bead
paths, and an enhanced fillet and groove feature for specifying weld type.
There are also new reporting capabilities, including new weld tables, for
compiling data on weld counts, lengths and type, enabling detailed breakdowns
for cost analysis and bidding. "Traditionally, we had different ways of doing
welds in parts and assemblies," Hogg explains. "Now we can offer greater
consistency in welds from both assembly and part mode."
Other enhancements in SolidWorks 2011 focused on
manufacturing include the integration of SolidWorks Design Checker into the
SolidWorks Enterprise PDM platform, new bend calculation tables for catching
sheet metal errors early in the process, and an expanded range of manufacturing
regions in SolidWorks
, the company's module for accessing the impact of
manufacturing decisions on carbon footprint.