SOLIDWORKS 2020: A Bridge to 3DEXPERIENCE
Michael Alba posted on September 19, 2019 |
New features include flexible components and a new Detailing Mode for large drawings.
Screenshot showcasing SOLIDWORKS 2020’s new Make Part Flexible feature. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
Screenshot showcasing SOLIDWORKS 2020’s new Make Part Flexible feature. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

It’s September 2019, and that means SOLIDWORKS 2020 is here. On Wednesday, parent company Dassault Systèmes announced the new annual release of its popular CAD platform. Unlike last year’s release, which added several new features and tools, SOLIDWORKS 2020 feels less like a new version and more like a bridge to Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform.

SOLIDWORKS, Meet 3DEXPERIENCE

For many years, SOLIDWORKS has remained largely independent of Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform. With SOLIDWORKS 2020, that distinction is becoming blurrier. 3DEXPERIENCE is a suite of cloud-connected design applications that attempts to offer seamless integration throughout the product development process. A fully integrated, multidisciplinary design workflow is a clear win for users, not to mention a powerful case for consolidating around Dassault software.

But this ambitious goal has come with a sizable set of challenges. Dassault Systèmes struggles to keep a grip on two of its major accountsSwedish telecom Ericsson  and British-Indian Jaguar Land Rover, both companies unable to sail through a successful implementation of 3DEXPERIENCE after years of trying.

These difficulties may explain why Dassault Systèmes is now nudging SOLIDWORKS toward 3DEXPERIENCE. The company may be hoping that SOLIDWORKS, which remains extremely popular with more than six million users, can help restore faith in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. But will SOLIDWORKS users embrace the change? We’ll be sure to ask them at the upcoming SOLIDWORKS user conference, SOLIDWORKS World 2020—sorry, make that 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020.

The 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS Portfolio

We connected with Dassault Systèmes’ Aaron Kelly, cloud advocacy director at SOLIDWORKS, to learn more about the new SOLIDWORKS 2020 release. It’s telling that our demo was presented by SOLIDWORKS’s cloud advocacy director. It’s even more telling that he kicked off the demo by discussing 10 new applications introduced this year in what Dassault is calling the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio.

“SOLIDWORKS 2020 is the flagship product in the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio,” Kelly said. The 10 new 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS applications—all introduced within the last few months—are listed under the purple line in the chart below:

SOLIDWORKS 2020 portfolio, including 10new applications released this year under the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio (below the purple line). (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
SOLIDWORKS 2020 portfolio, including 10 new applications released this year under the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio (below the purple line). (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Under MechDesign, 3D Sculptor revolves around the subdivision modeling application xShape, and 3D Creator incorporates the browser-based parametric modeler xDesign. Under Simulation, Structural Professional Engineer and Structural Designer tap into Dassault’s SIMULIA brand to augment the capabilities in SOLIDWORKS Simulation.

“We have the best structural simulation technology in the world in ABAQUS,” explained Stephen Endersby, director of Product Portfolio Management at SOLIDWORKS. “That solver is second to none, and it comes from our sister brand SIMULIA. So rather than reinvent the wheel, we worked together with them to deliver a proven technology for our users in record time. So, we have the power of SIMULIA behind us, and it works seamlessly with SOLIDWORKS Simulation—all enabled by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.”

On the bottom right side of the chart, under Data Mgmnt, the five new applications in orange aim to bring the benefits of product data management (PDM) to smaller companies. “We’ve added data management to the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio,” Kelly said. “PDM has traditionally been for larger companies, and SOLIDWORKS has had data management offerings for larger customers. They’re server based, they run with SQL, they have to be updated and maintained. With the new offerings, you can be up and running in mere minutes. And that enables even small customers to get data management.”

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2020

So, apart from the new applications in the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio, what’s new in SOLIDWORKS 2020 itself? Probably less than you’d hoped, but there are some nice enhancements. The sexiest new feature, in Kelly’s opinion, is Make Part Flexible. This new capability allows flexible parts like springs, bellows and hinges to be displayed in multiple variations within an assembly (compressed and uncompressed, for example). Kelly demonstrated the feature with a plastic housing that updates based on the position of its two mates. After he repositioned the mated parts, the plastic housing recalculated its shape and, within a second or two, updated accordingly.

With Make Part Flexible, this flexible plastic housing updates its shape based on the position of its two connection points.(Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

With Make Part Flexible, this flexible plastic housing updates its shape based on the position of its two connection points. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Also new in SOLIDWORKS 2020 is the Detailing mode, which expands on capabilities introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2019 to open large drawings very quickly. With Detailing mode, users can do more than just open the drawings.

“Not only can you open up the drawing, but you can do a whole bunch of things with it. Like add and edit annotations and symbols, add and edit sketch entities, or even print or save as different formats, all without opening the model,” said Kelly. Not all operations are available, however—the drawing isn’t fully loaded, which is how it is able to open so quickly—but it’s a convenient new feature for those who need to make a quick adjustment.

Opening a drawing in Detailing mode in SOLIDWORKS 2020. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
Opening a drawing in Detailing mode in SOLIDWORKS 2020. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Similarly, SOLIDWORKS 2020 updates the Large Design Review mode that was added in SOLIDWORKS 2019. This mode allows large assemblies to be opened without fully loading every component. In SOLIDWORKS 2020, new editing capabilities have been added.

“Before you go to the drawing, you’re building these large assemblies. Customers are depending on that, and they’re also depending on doing it quickly,” Kelly explained. “And so our customers have pushed us and we’re responding with these workflows where you can add, delete and move components and mates, and change configurations—all without having to open up all of the underlying parts and their geometry for that assembly.”

SOLIDWORKS 2020 also promises enhancements to electrical design and data management, with improvements to SOLIDWORKS PDM and the SOLIDWORKS Electrical connector, as well as a new SOLIDWORKS PCB connector.

Building a Bridge

Ultimately, SOLIDWORKS 2020 may underwhelm dedicated users who were hoping for new and improved functionality. While the Detailing mode, Large Design Review improvements, and new Make Part Flexible feature will certainly be welcome, it’s clear that the main focus of SOLIDWORKS 2020 is to redirect focus to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

“We aren’t just bringing powerful new capabilities to the SOLIDWORKS portfolio everybody knows and loves, but also extending it to the cloud through the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the only holistic digital experience platform in the world,” said SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi. “We’ve built a bridge to our platform-based portfolio, empowering our users to take advantage of 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS offerings. This gives organizations the environment and the applications to truly embrace the Industry Renaissance and its spirit of discovery for new ways of inventing, innovating, collaborating and producing.”

For a full list of changes to SOLIDWORKS 2020, visit the SOLIDWORKS website.


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