Find Parts or Have Them Made – Without Leaving SOLIDWORKS
Roopinder Tara posted on October 27, 2020 |
Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace has thousands of options for the SOLIDWORKS user.
Dassault Systèmes has sponsored this post.
Free add-in for SOLIDWORKS by Dassault Systèmes puts thousands of suppliers and services within easy reach. (Picture courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
Free add-in for SOLIDWORKS by Dassault Systèmes puts thousands of suppliers and services within easy reach. (Picture courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

When the pandemic hit hard in the Spring of 2020, American manufacturers found themselves making products that were not needed—and the products America needed were not being made. For example, as SUVs and pickup trucks rolled off assembly lines, people were suffering because there were not enough ventilators.

Ventilators quickly became the focus of COVID-19. Hospital ICUs cried out for more. Designers and engineers heeded the cry and offered to design and build ventilators.

The scramble for ventilators may be over – for now. The U.S. government has declared it has enough in its national stockpile.

Let Them Make Ventilators

While the immediate ventilator shortage may have been solved by a rush to manufacture, it underscores the need for a faster response for design, engineering and manufacturing teams for critical, lifesaving products that will be needed in the future, from critical care machines to personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE made overseas may have to be made locally, alternate suppliers will need to be found and parts may need to be 3D printed.

It might seem easy to reverse engineer or adapt an existing product to fill the current and critical need; it isn’t, but it can be made easier with one simple concept.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

When deadlines are tight, or lives are at stake (or both), it’s not a good idea to reinvent the wheel. The exact part you need—or one close enough to it—could be offered by one or more vendors. Designing a new product in the most rapid way may mean using as many off-the-shelf parts as possible. This includes not just standard parts, such as fasteners, but also motors, electronics, seals, bushings, mounts and every possible bit of hardware that is already designed and available.

Many manufacturers make their part designs available for download, knowing that if a designer or design engineer can nestle the manufacturer’s part in the product being designed, the manufacturer is already on base and quite possibly heading for a home run. But running around different manufacturers’ sites looking for the part you need is like going from a bakery for bread, to a butcher for meat and to the farm for veggies. It’s an all-day effort.

A supermarket or virtual marketplace, on the other hand, will save the day. Virtual marketplaces exist and can be explored without ever leaving your computer. One such marketplace is the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace.

In part one of this two-part series, we covered how to access the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace from the browser, the way a purchasing agent might use it. Here, we explore how the designer or engineer can find or make the part for their product from within SOLIDWORKS applications.

The SOLIDWORKS user can download 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace from the CommandManager or download it from the Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS download site (Picture courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
The SOLIDWORKS user can download 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace from the CommandManager or download it from the Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS download site. (Picture courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace has millions of parts (over 53 million “configurations,” as of the time of writing) from almost a thousand vendors (935 vendors, if you’re counting). You can download an add-in for SOLIDWORKS and access them all for free. Most of the parts are available in native SOLIDWORKS format (SLDPRT). Find the part you need and there is absolutely no need to model it.

Once the designer or engineer is happy, all the purchasing agent has to do is order the part. The ordering information, company name, model and part number are all included in the metadata.

How It Works

Thanks to EXALEAD, the Dassault Systèmes information intelligence application, searching (semantic, multi-criteria, similarity, compare) for parts and comparison shopping is fast and easy."  The parts are displayed in a 3D view and can be “inspected” from all angles by rotating them and zooming in.

Find a gear head that fits from any one of a number of vendors and drag it right in your assembly, all from within SOLIDWORKS. (Picture courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
Find a gear head that fits from any one of a number of vendors and drag it right in your assembly, all from within SOLIDWORKS. (Picture courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

A one-stop-shop within the SOLIDWORKS interface not only makes it convenient and quick to find the part, but once a part is found you can drag it right into the assembly—a tremendous timesaver. It might make you nostalgic for the early days of SOLIDWORKS, when adding a vendor’s part meant setting aside half a day to model the part from the vendor’s interface drawings—which invariably had plenty of missing dimensions. Or, if the part could be pulled from a previous design, it meant an hour spent measuring it with calipers, recording the dimensions on a hand-sketch and creating the solid model.

“The most exciting ‘wow’ feature for me was dragging the part from the right pane into my SOLIDWORKS desktop,” confirms Edson Gebo, SOLIDWORKS power user and instructor in a video on the SOLIDWORKS site.

Opening the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace from Within SOLIDWORKS

From within SOLIDWORKS, the whole breadth and depth of the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace Make service is laid bare. We introduced the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace in Part 1, the network of manufacturers ready to physically create your part by whatever means, be it machining, 3D printing, injection molding, casting, NC machining or sheet metal.

Accessing the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace from within SOLIDWORKS is a whole new ball game. Of course, there is the convenience of not having to jump in and out of windows, but as the shopping channel would say, “Wait, there’s more! Order now and you will receive…” the ability to drag a part directly into your assembly from the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace window inset in SOLIDWORKS.

The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace has been fully brought into SOLIDWORKS, explains Hubert Masson, User Experience Director at Dassault Systèmes, in a video made for 3D Natives.

You can buy the part and receive your purchase confirmation from inside the SOLIDWORKS user interface, too.

Let’s pause to reflect. You’ve done little to have the right part loaded in your products with a drag and drop. Think of the time you have saved. The multi-step process: hunting down a part, downloading it, fetching it from your download folder, repeated as many times as you have parts to procure, is gone. You will not miss it.

Nor will you—or your purchasing counterpart—miss separately paying for each part when it comes time to build your product. You won’t have to pull out your wallet with each part or check your email for order confirmations. It’s now all done inside SOLIDWORKS.

Distraction-Free Design

Despite all you might hear about the joys of collaborative design, most engineers prefer quiet and concentration in their creative process, such as new product design. Many studies confirm that a distraction (a call you pick up from a vendor about your RFQ, for example) or even the phone ringing for a few seconds, can derail your train of thought for over 20 minutes. Finding parts on different websites opens browser windows, multiplying distractions.

As I write this, I have 20 tabs in three Chrome windows—and it is only 1:30pm. Each tab will have unfinished business I need to take care of. Select the Chrome icon on the Windows taskbar, and it’s anyone’s guess what might come up and prevent me from returning to my design any time soon. Checking email for verification of transactions puts me in the dreaded inbox, which has already robbed me of my morning and will now have further demands.

These days, with lives and careers at stake, you want to be focused. People need your head in the game. Your company, maybe even the country, may be counting on you. So, turn off all but your main monitor and keep SOLIDWORKS maximized. Now it is just you, your creativity, your SOLIDWORKS and your Marketplace to get the job done.


To learn more, visit the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace.

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