Although SolidWorks 98Plus is a robust parametric solid modeler, its new modeling tools deviate from the traditional procedures. The Shape function lets you form a surface or part of a surface by applying pressure. Using the deformable surface technology, and specifying the locations, SolidWorks will allow you to modify the pressure points that redefine the shape of the surface. The surface to be shaped is defined as a grid which is for display reference only.
The new Radiate Surface tool will be especially useful in molds and casting applications. For two-piece castings or molds, the radiate surface creates non-planar parting lines. When used with the Knit Surface tool, you can combine surfaces and transform them into one solid piece. Solids can be defined by lofting 3D profiles, as well as using series of surfaces as interpolation profiles.
Assemblies have the most innovative enhancements in this SolidWorks release. Typically, an assembly is put together by specifying ahead of time how the features of two parts are aligned or mated. For example, think of a drive shaft assembly with flanges at both ends that must be connected and bolted to another power-carrying member with mating flanges. This assembly needs a shaft axis and bolt pattern alignment definition, and an explanation of how the flange surfaces will mate.
Using the Snap-to-fit Smart Mate feature, SolidWorks will try to identify what assembly relationships exist so that these two flanged shafts can form an assembly. The Flange assembly had 100% success the first time I attempted it, including the alignment of all bolt holes.
Configuration Management. Configurations in SolidWorks have a special functionality. You can create different configurations with different attributes using the same parts or assemblies. You can have some parts turned on in one configuration, while showing different parts in another configuration. Multiple configurations can be open at any time. The benefit of this new feature comes when changes are made based on attributes. All parts in a configuration will change once the common attribute is modified. In this version, subassembly configuration control can be done from the assembly level.
The Lightweight feature lets you open the complete assembly but load only the information for the portion you will be working on. For the drive shaft assembly example, you don't need any assembly information about the motor that drives the shaft. Just select the motor assembly and change its status to Lightweight before you open the shaft assembly. Since you are working on the shaft assembly, anything else that is loaded as Lightweight cannot be edited, modified through the feature Manager, or have its mass properties calculated.
In the spotlight. The star of this release is probably FeatureWorks, which does reverse engineering of parts not in SolidWorks' native format. Using any of the import format types, you can set FeatureWorks in the automatic or interactive feature recognition mode. The automatic mode will recognize almost 100% of the basic shapes, such as extrusions, chamfers, fillets, and cuts. Once you have the basic model translated, the remaining features can be recognized interactively. FeatureWorks populates the Feature Manager with the recognized features that are fully editable and parametrically driven.
SolidWorks 98Plus supports IGES, ACIS (SAT), STEP, Parasolids (X_T, X_B), and VDAFS graphics formats for importing complete parts as solids, faces, or surfaces.
Four years ago, SolidWorks took the CAD market by storm. This sixth release marks an even better product that not only offers incremental enhancements, but introduces new technologies in the CAD arena that are not yet available in the midrange or upper price range.
The SolidWorks 98Plus midrange solid modeler features more than 200 enhancements in the latest version. Minimum (preferred) requirements: Intel Pentium PC (Pro or Pentium II) with 64 (128+) Mbytes of RAM and 150 Mbytes of hard disk space for complete installation; Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0.
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