Image by Dassault Systemes | SolidWorks 2019
Last September 12, 2018, Dassault Systemes released the much-anticipated SolidWorks 2019. Engineering.com, a great website that covers news and topics related to all engineering disciplines, talked with SolidWorks’ R&D Vice President, Manish Kumar, about the improvements and newest features of SolidWorks 2019:
Large Assembly Improvements
Image by Dassault Systemes | SolidWorks 2019
Kumar kicked off the discussion with Engineering.com writer, Michael Alba, by bringing up an incredible engineering and scientific endeavor: the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE). This project will see the current Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in Hawaii upgraded from a 3.6m optical telescope to an 11.25m wide field telescope with dedicated multi-object spectrographs. By capturing the light spectra of almost 1 million astronomical objects per month, MSE will do no less than help answer fundamental questions about how stars and galaxies form in our universe.
Of course, building such a telescope is no small feat—a CAD assembly of the MSE could consist of millions of parts. Trying to manipulate such an assembly in SOLIDWORKS 2018 would be a nightmare for even the most powerful workstations.
For SOLIDWORKS 2019, Kumar and his team have made SOLIDWORKS much better at handling large assemblies. According to him, the improvements are the result of a multi-year project to replace the entire graphics pipeline. Though he attempted to demonstrate the improvements with a side-by-side comparison, Alba’s slow Skype connection made it impossible to notice a difference. However, Kumar attested that there is far less lag in large assemblies in SOLIDWORKS 2019 compared to 2018.
What’s more, SOLIDWORKS 2019 improves on large design review mode. Up until SOLIDWORKS 2018, large design review mode allowed users to load an assembly without loading its relevant data. However, this limited what users could do, essentially restricting them to viewing only. In SOLIDWORKS 2019, users can now edit assemblies in large design review mode. They can insert and delete components, create mates, and even turn on the top-level assembly sketch and use that for mating purposes.
Other improvements in assembly design include the ability to group mates based on various conditions, simplifying mate diagnostics. Users can now also defeature a part using only the silhouette. Finally, exploded views have been overhauled, which includes a rollback bar in the feature tree that allows users to step through their model.
Kumar noted that when he joined SOLIDWORKS in 1998, large assemblies meant 500 components or 1,000 at the high end. Today, large assemblies consist of millions of components. For that reason, the large assembly improvements are among his personal favorite enhancements to SOLIDWORKS 2019.
“Every single user is creating bigger and bigger assemblies with every passing day,” Kumar said. “I think this is something that is going to please a lot of customers out there because they do not have to go through that pain.”
Slots have a “No Through Cut” option in SOLIDWORKS 2019 (Image by Dassault Systemes | SolidWorks 2019)
In addition to performance improvements, Kumar took us through a number of enhancements that he categorizes as SOLIDWORKS’ “attention to detail.” These include items that allow users to easily capture critical design details.
For instance, one nifty new feature in SOLIDWORKS 2019 is mesh slicing. This allows meshes to be converted to editable geometries in a straightforward way by taking several slices of the mesh boundary, converting those to sketches and then lofting those sketches together.
Mesh slicing in SOLIDWORKS 2019. (Image by Dassault Systemes | SolidWorks 2019)
SOLIDWORKS 2019 also offers a new 3D texture tool that allows users to automatically generate textured surfaces. This enable users to rapidly iterate through designs for something like a handle grip. This particular feature received a lot of applause when it was demoed at SOLIDWORKS World 2018 back in February. It’s one that should make a lot of users happy.
Example 3D textures in SOLIDWORKS 2019. (Image by Dassault Systemes | SolidWorks 2019)
Another new feature that should make life easier for SOLIDWORKS 2019 users is the ability to add a partial edge fillet or chamfer. Kumar illustrated this with a model that had an overlap between two features. By applying a fillet to just the part of the edge that interfered, he eliminated the overlap without affecting the model elsewhere.
Touch, AR and VR
A final category of updates to SOLIDWORKS 2019 include those that are laying the groundwork for future CAD. These are features that may not be in high demand now—or in 2019, for that matter—but will undoubtedly become the norm for coming generations.
Adding markup on touch devices (Image by Dassault Systemes | SolidWorks 2019)
First off is the ability to use touch to interact with models and add markup on touch devices like the Microsoft Surface. People have obviously embraced touch technology—it’s all but guaranteed that there’s a touch device somewhere within a meter of you at this very instant—but CAD has been a bit of a holdout in this domain. With many major CAD vendors creating mobile apps, this trend is clearly changing.
Manipulating a model with touch (Image by Dassault Systemes | SolidWorks 2019)
Another technology that’s getting a lot of hype, but hasn’t really figured itself out yet, is AR and VR. Nobody questions that they will be of immense practical use at some point in CAD’s future, but we have yet to determine exactly how that will look. That leaves CAD vendors working hard to pave the way for this future. SOLIDWORKS is no exception.
“We had augmented reality capabilities in eDrawings. But in 2019, on SOLIDWORKS eDrawings Professional, we have added embedded AR and VR capabilities. If you have either an HTC Vive or Hololens, you can open any SOLIDWORKS model and experience that model in a literally totally immersive environment,” Kumar said.
An Update On Xdesign
While these improvements will certainly please the SOLIDWORKS user base, there was one final question we had for Kumar: what’s going on with Xdesign? For those out of the loop, Xdesign is SOLIDWORKS’ perpetual promise of a cloud-based CAD platform. It’s heir answer to software like Onshape and Fusion 360. It’s been years since Xdesign was announced and remains unavailable to users at large. It’s currently in what Kumar calls a “lighthouse phase,” something between a beta and a general release in which select customers are trialing the platform.
“We are cautious in releasing it in the sense that we want to release it when we are confident that it is ready for the masses,” he said. “We are not going to rush it out. My hope is that it’s ready by SOLIDWORKS World [February 10th – 13th 2019], but it’s not in my power to say when it will be released.”
There is never a shortage of demand on engineers who specialize in SolidWorks. To have an advantage over other candidates, keep a lookout on its latest updates.
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