It's hard to believe that SolidWorks has been around long enough for 20 releases. For those of us who were aware of the early introductions computer-aided design software during the 1980s, the proliferation of features on SolidWorks seems almost like science fiction.
Funny you say that, Chuck. SolidWorks' Fielder Hess did a great retrospective of CAD as part of his build up to the new release. Some of the major advances of new SolidWorks versions back in the late 90s--capabilities around sheet metal, surfacing, "smart mates," and drag and drop features were state-of-the art functions and key differentiators back then. Today they are commodity CAD capabilities. It was a real eye opener to see how far the technology has come.
But what about multiprocessor support? The biggest problem I see with SW is not using any of my other 11 cores when creating, opening, and editing models and drawings. And rebuild which looks like its completely reloading the model from the hard drive file. Which makes me wonder why even have a swap file.
John: If I'm not mistaken, I believe SW 2012 has some new features to address some of those latency and performance issues you mention. The Large Design Review feature, for one, is meant to avoid much of that rebuilding (and the lag time) that goes hand in hand when working on giant assemblies. They also talked about some work done in the area of parallelization, which I believe speaks to ability to take advantage of multiple cores or processors, but I'm not sure how far they've taken it.
The new version of SolidWorks certainly does look like it is very useful. My guess is that it is also fairly high priced, despite being a very good value for the money. BUT here is a question, which is, how much would it cost me to purchase a one-user copy for my own purposes, which would be to produce good designs and get paid for them. Are there a number of modules that provide the different specialized capabilities? Or is it one price and you get "everything"? Do some buyers get a much better deal than others? IF GM purchases 5000 seats worth of license, what would they pay per seat? What about student versions?
In short, what does it cost? A tool that I am unable to purchase is not likely to benefit me very much, and if my competitors get it, I will not benefit from it at all.
I just started using solidworks, and bought the SolidWorks 2011 book which covers beginner to advanced topics, and is very comprehensive. I often use the book as a reference to go through. You can get it @ http://solidworksbook.com/
Using a 3D printer, CNC router, and existing powertrain components, a team of engineers is building an electric car from scratch on the floor of the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago this week.
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