Industrial Design: Many Solutions, One SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer

Today industrial designers use many tools to get their job done. From initial hand and digital sketching, 3D concept modelling, 3D detailing, through to PowerPoint presentations and 3D printing proposals.  There is no ‘one tool fits all approach’, rather the tools that industrial designers use are many and varied.

A possible Industrial Design workflow might look like this:

But whatever your industrial design workflow, you and your design team need the right tool at the right time.

Juggling these different toolsets can be a daunting task, and keeping track of design ideas, suggestions, feedback, design data, all in different forms and file types can turn into a huge headache.

  • Email
  • Presentation tools
  • PowerPoint, Keynote…
  • Word processing tools
  • Word, Pages…
  • Screen capture tools
  • Snagit, Snipping tool…
  • Sketch book and pen
  • Digital sketching tools
  • Photoshop, Illustrator…
  • 3D Concept modelling tools
  • Shape creation, (often non parametric)
  • Prototyping solutions
  • Cardboard models, 3D Printing, clay models…
  • 3D Detail CAD tools
  • SOLIDWORKS, other parametric CAD tools
  • 3D Simulation tools
  • SOLIDWORKS Simulation, other simulation tools
  • Document management tools
  • SOLIDWORKS PDM solutions, other PDM/PLM solutions

SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer is aimed at easing the pain of the industrial designer with a unified set of tools to increase productivity.  Lets take a look at each step a little bit closer:

Design Proposal

During the project proposal stage, it is vital to ensure that all research, inspiration, requirements, suggestions and approvals are captured and made available to all necessary teams and individuals so that innovative ideas can start from a solid foundation of knowledge and consensus.

The SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer community app creates a foundation to capture all project knowledge and information. All design stakeholders can collaborate easily to enable designers to fully understand the design parameters to turn workable ideas into creative, compelling industrial design concept ideas.

For each project, simply create a community and invite design stakeholders from marketing, sales, design, management and even customers. Each stakeholder can then review and comment on all proposal activity to help bring together the collective knowledge, experience and intelligence increasing the innovation potential from the very start.

Concept ideation and initial review

Creating initial concepts needs to be fast; the more concept ideas and options at this stage the better. Pen and paper are often the tool of choice as there is nothing easier than directly putting your pen to paper and letting those ideas flood out.

But the main issue here is that pen and paper is an individual sport, and without face to face meetings and explanation it is hard to gain support and momentum for new ideas and concepts with your wider product team.

With SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer all designers can work directly from the agreed proposal information without leaving the CAD environment. The communities side panel gives every designer direct access to live discussions and agreements.

New ideas are captured in the most natural and easy way using touch and pen interaction through a Wacom tablet device, or by simply pushing and pulling the model as if it were clay. With Concept Sketch and Freeform tools in SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer, you can capture your idea in 3D within minutes. If a picture is worth a 1,000 words then a 3D model that people can interact with is worth many more.

Using the side panel, all ideas can then be posted back to the community for review by the whole team.

At this stage there are usually many concept ideas created and shared internally before deciding upon which concepts to take further and spend more time on.

Concept development

Once feedback has been collected and agreements have been made, a few of the initial concept ideas are further developed. Capturing concept ideas in a community means that your ideas are not forgotten. At anytime these ideas can be leveraged and reused for a different project where it may make more sense.

To develop a concept means adding more detail; adding more detail usually means adding complexity; with complexity comes time and cost. Industrial designers need to develop and investigate multiple options for a product to ensure that they have the best design for them and their customers. The more iterations and options an industrial designer creates the better the design could be.

SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer enables you to create simple or complex forms fast. The Single Modelling Environment allows you to use the tool that makes sense at that moment. Creating features, bodies, parts or assemblies in a single interface without the need for planning upfront means that you can create concept designs the way that feels most natural to you. SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer enables you to focus on innovating rather than fighting the typical CAD constraints of a parametric system. This means that creating and iterating a design is fast, getting you to the best product in no time at all.


Proposing a concept design to management, customers or other stakeholders needs to be compelling and persuasive in order to harness the required support and gain traction to drive a product to market.

Without agreement from all stakeholders even a great product can stall, and get to market late or maybe never at all.

SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer connects you the designer to your wider team, enabling you to drive a product concept from idea conception through to concept selection before proceeding to detail design and manufacture.

To help explain a product concept, SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer includes fast and easy rendering tools. Simply apply materials, choose a scene and turn on the interactive rendering view to get stunning images in minutes.

To share or present your designs to customers, you can take advantage of community social collaboration. Post your design proposal including images, text descriptions and 3D models to the community. Customers or other stakeholders can instantly view and interact with the images, videos or 3D models without the need to download software or install plugins. Any suggestions, ideas or agreements can all be historically captured for future reference or for setting action items.



At the end of the industrial design process the transition to detail design with SOLIDWORKS is a simple matter of opening the SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer models and adding required features. Changes can be made to the original industrial design model before updating the SOLIDWORKS model to reflect those changes.

SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer provides an end to end industrial design solution for you and your company.  From digital hand sketches and 3D freeform geometry to realistic renders, SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer empowers your organization by streamlining the industrial design process and fostering collaboration and innovation.

Read more about the capabilities in SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer in the white paper, “Increase Innovation and Improve Industrial Design with SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design Software.”


Justin Burton

Justin Burton

SOLIDWORKS Senior Product Portfolio Manager