SWMC: A Message from the Coal Face on Concept Design

Since the announcement at SOLIDWORKS World 2014 there has been a lot of information about SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual coming from SOLIDWORKS Corp…now I am not saying we are biased but there’s another more neutral source of information on SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual, our Lighthouse customers. The Lighthouse program gave a select few SOLIDWORKS customers early access to SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual so they could use it in production validating the robustness of our solution and providing us with feedback.

So what do they think about it? Has it lived up to the promise in the real world? This blog is the first in a short series presenting the Lighthouse customers’ thoughts on about Concept design in SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual. Later blogs will cover social collaboration and the impact on the cloud on the way they work.


William MacLeod, Kennedy Hygiene Limited

I have been using SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual since June 2013. It was really beneficially for the design of the central mechanism of a high visibility product.

I was instructed by my bosses to look at the product that I was currently working on and make it smaller.  With many mechanical products, if you make it smaller the requirements on the mechanics can go up quite considerably. SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual allowed me to really look deeply into how feasible it was to meet the requirement, rather than just saying ‘no it’s not looking good’.

With SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual I was able to investigate 5 different concept mechanisms in the same time as it would have taken me to do three. So I can experiment a bit more and evaluate the most interesting concepts. SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual enabled me to take the time to look at many mechanism concepts, select the best design, make it work, and then go back to the management team with “yes it’s going to work and this is how it’s going to look.” It gives a reality to these situations rather than make an assumption in the early stages.

The new design methods and flexibility of SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual have been very beneficial to me: I spend a lot of my concept design in 2D sketches and when I was shown the Sketch-to-Component, command it blew my mind. It is a very, very, quick way of seeing how your sketched idea works as a product. So that was a great feature that I really enjoyed.

The most important application for us is to understand how a mechanism will function. Previously I have been using 2D and layers and colors to separate the mechanism and try to understand it. In SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual, this process is more intuitive. Using 2D motion in the 2D sketches you can make your designs come alive — you are not limited to a static 2D idea. You can easily turn a 2D design into a moving 2D mechanism and then move to 3D [from sketch-to-component].It’s really an amazing piece of software for that.


Phil Sluder, TriAxial Design and Analysis

Concept Archives exactly mimics the way I would logically think the product development work flow should go, if you weren’t using a PDM product. With Concept Archives you save off the different concepts as you design, allowing you to go back to them. Each concept is available for further work or to branch off in another direction. This work flow, of branching out into two parallel [concepts], is very cumbersome [in other solutions], but with Concept Archives, it’s not. It’s much easier with SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual.

Mike Buchli, Karl Schmidt and Associates

My initial experience with SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual was like a kid in a candy score. We opened it up and went though some tutorials and all of a sudden there were all these cool things we could do in a matter of 30 minutes. The ability to use a tool by going through some tutorials and get up and running in 30 minutes is truly amazing for what we do.

The single modeling environment is a seamless interface for us to design and create however we want.  During plant layouts we go through the process of “does this fit here, does this not fit there”’ in a facility that’s the size of a football field or two. It’s great to not have to be concerned with what order goes where, whether it’s a part or an assembly, and how everything fits together; just being able to just work. And then, as we refine to get to our final product, we can start filtering all the stuff into a traditional hierarchy that we would use in SOLIDWORKS. So being able to be carefree and not worry about all the relationships and everything goes with that, saves us a ton of time. That is where our performance is — giving that last 20 percent of all the cool stuff that no one ever has time for. That’s an important part of the Single Modeling Environment.

This was just a taste of how our customers are using SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual to achieve real design improvements. Read post two in this series to learn how customers are using social collaboration in their design process, then move on to part three which covers designing in the cloud. When you’ve finished the series, watch our recorded webinar to learn how you can achieve similar conceptual design gains.


Stephen Endersby

Stephen Endersby

Product Manager at SolidWorks
Stephen Endersby

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