A Sneak Preview of SOLIDWORKS 2017
Kyle Maxey posted on February 05, 2016 |

It has become customary for SOLIDWORKS to preview what will be in the next version of their software on the last day of their annual user conference. This year’s SOLIDWORKS World was no different. We were treated to a long list of enhancements to look forward to. Will all of them make the cut? We can’t be sure. But here are some highlights from the preview that we hope to see when SOLIDWORKS 2017 is released—some time in the fall of 2016.

Oh, and one more thing. SOLIDWORKS 2016 will soon get an update that allows users to toggle between the new and classic user interface. I mention this because at SOLIDWORKS World 2016, the crowd went berserk when this feature was announced.

Bi-Directional Circular Patterns

The sneak peek begins with an update to the circular pattern tool. Users will have the ability to pattern features around a circular component in not one, but two directions. This type of control makes circular patterning much faster.

A Big Chamfer and Fillet Update

Moving forward, SOLIDWORKS 2017 has extended many of the advanced options that are available in the fillet command to the chamfer tool. Now users can create multiple chamfers in the same command. Why this option was missed by Dassault Systèmes developers for so long beats me, but now that it’s here, all is forgiven. In addition, a variable chamfer option has been added to the tool, making it possible to build chamfers with varied slopes in a few clicks.

Finally, SOLIDWORKS 2017 adds the ability to change any chamfer into a fillet and vice versa. Now users can preview what a feature will look like without having to roll back their designs to delete errant edge geometry.

Thread Feature Lead In–Lead Out

In SOLIDWORKS 2017, users working with the Thread Feature will be able to control the lead in and lead out angles of threads. For those designing parts meant for additive manufacturing, this option will expand the functionality of threads.

A More Advanced Hole Wizard

The Hole Wizard has always been a useful tool for making multiple or complex holes in a single command. Now the wizard can create multi-stepped holes in a single operation. Like previous versions of the Hole Wizard, hole definitions are displayed on screen. Toggling through common types of counter bores, countersinks, threaded holes is simple and defining where hole features should appear is at your fingertips.

Transparent Section Views

Moving up to the assembly level, SOLIDWORKS 2017 will also contain a transparent section view option to aid in assembly interrogation. With the transparency option applied to components, the entirety of an assembly, inside and out, can be viewed without having to cut away parts as you have to do with sectioning.

Magnetic Mates for Large Assemblies

Another assembly tool that will be useful to many is the Magnetic Mates feature. With Magnetic Mates, users can quickly snap together components in an assembly by leveraging pre-defined references. These references can be built into a model or configuration through a few straightforward steps. To define a magnetic mate, users only need define a model’s ground plane, a connection point and the direction to from the mate. With those definitions in place, assemblies can be snapped together in record time.

Drawings and MDB Come into Sharper Focus

Though modeling is at the foundation of CAD, drawings and increasingly model-based definition (MBD) is just as critical as the models themselves. In SOLIDWORKS 2017, section views have been enhanced by providing an option for them to be highlighted in bold on a drawing sheet. This new feature can bring greater attention to critical illustrations on a sheet.

To clarify detail views, a new “jagged edge” option has been added to the Detail View menu, making it easier for those working with a drawing to know exactly where a cutout ends.

On the MBD front, SOLIDWORKS 2017 will include the ability to create dimensions directly on a 3D model by picking edges. In the past, only surfaces were available for selection, leaving designers with the hassle of rotating, twisting and turning their models to locate dimensional references.

eDrawings Expands Its Portfolio

Last, but not least, eDrawings will support a whole host of new non-native CAD formats, making it easier to view designs that didn’t originate in SOLIDWORKS.

Though SOLIDWORKS 2017 won’t be available for some time, it’s still pretty great that Dassault Systèmes is transparent enough with its customers to let them know where the next version of its software is headed. I know that the company will end up making a similar announcement when SOLIDWORKS 2017 finally launches, but as someone who uses CAD, it’s fun to dream about these new features and the future of design.

For a full list of new features, see here.

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