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SolidWorks 2008 Reduces the Overhead of Learning CAD
August 13, 2007
3 Min Read
A focus on design, not CAD is the mantra behind SolidWorks Inc.'s new SolidWorks 2008 release, which features over 250 enhancements, including user interface improvements and additions to the SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology (SWIFT), to help engineers not only improve designs and foster reuse, but reduce the overhead associated with learning CAD.
Key to lessening the burden of using CAD is the SWIFT technology, which made its debut in the 2007 release of SolidWorks. SWIFT helps users perform challenging technical operations, company officials say, without having to be a CAD expert and without having to master all the systems' commands. "SWIFT's intelligence allows novice users to get the same power from the CAD tool as experts can derive," says Rick Chin, SolidWorks' director of product marketing innovation in Concord, MA.
In the 2008 release, the SWIFT Instant3D capabilities let users perform expert 3D CAD operations simply by dragging and selecting pieces of a design. Leveraging the tool's improved design visualization capabilities, engineers can deploy drag handles for selecting an area of a design for real-time editing, Chin explains. In addition, instead of using dialogs or input fields and issuing esoteric commands, users select faces and drag them to on-screen rules to get exact values.
SWIFT DimXpert gives engineers a jumpstart when it comes to manufacturing for design. The feature automatically sets geometric dimensions and tolerances on parts and provides visual feedback on whether the design is dimensioned appropriately for manufacturing. "This takes a lot of the guesswork out of this stage of the process," Chin adds.
Some additional tools in the new release also make it easier for engineers to work with large assemblies. A new Quick View/Selective Open feature, for example, lets users quickly view large assemblies and then select on-the-fly components to work with, without having to load unnecessary parts into memory. Improvements to the user interface - among them customizable pop-up toolbars and a new CommandManager layout - promise to deliver faster access to commonly used commands while increasing the screen real estate for design work, officials say.
In the area of design reuse, SolidWorks 2008 has more powerful search capabilities for finding SolidWorks or DWG files on the network, in the PDMWorks PDM system or on the web. New to this upgrade is Design Clipart, which automatically dissects AutoCAD and SolidWorks files, allowing users to reuse blocks, tables and images along with sketches, parts and assemblies. Finally, the DriveWorksXpress function is a design automation tool used to automate repetitive design tasks, freeing up engineers to focus on higher value design activities.
There are a variety of simulation tool enhancements accompanying the new release. TolAnalyst, for one, is a tolerance analysis tool used to determine the effect tolerances have on parts and assemblies. COSMOSWorks Design Insight identifies the areas in a design that contribute most to structural integrity, helping users more effectively zero in on where to remove unnecessary materials. The MotionManager feature lets users see how an assembly moves and how components interact in a single set up.
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