Benefits of Communities for Product Development

Here at Karl W. Schmidt & Associates, we have been using SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer (SWCD) for almost two years now. One thing that we like about SOLIDWORKS 3DEXPERIENCE products is that in addition to a great CAD functionality, we also get advantages of the cloud – especially social aspects and collaboration through communities. Over time we have seen our use of the communities evolve to everything from technical support with our vendors, through new sales layouts with our customers. Below are a couple examples of how we are currently using the communities and collaboration to streamline our communication and product development process.

  1. SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Design sales layouts. For those of you that do not know us – Karl W. Schmidt is a global leader in engineering and manufacturing custom recycling systems. Our products are large – both in physical size and by number of components in final assembly. For our large system layouts, we use our “standard” geometry from EPDM and add it to a 3D space for a specific customer.  From that point we use SWCD and the communities to convey our thoughts to and interact with the customers.  We will invite a specific customer user or groups of people to a community that only they can see.  This will then allow them to get automatic updates as we make changes, as well as notify us when the customer offers feedback.

  1. The second way we use the communities to collaborate is for internal processes.  We use the communities to communicate between our team in the office and the people in the field addressing issues or doing presales work.  For example, we may be onsite with a customer working through a current project and need to send photos or measurements to the team in real time.  Traditionally we would take pictures, load them to email or drop box.  Once that was completed we would then call to discuss what was just sent.   Today we can use the communities to upload the files and notes in real time to our engineering team.  This process, coupled with automatic notifications inside SOLIDWORKS, allows our team to continue working on the design without searching through several applications.

  1. Another  way we use  communities is through the SOLIDWORKS Connector add-in.  The Connector allows us to connect our desktop SOLIDWORKS products with the cloud environment. That way we can use a traditional SOLIDWORKS files in conjunction with the communities, and other files, to seamlessly add content for our customers to see.  With this add-in, we can work directly from within our SOLIDWORKS software,  use SOLIDWORKS files, and upload them to the 3D space, and capture information about a design on the fly.  We can also upload the files in a format the customer can view without ever leaving the SOLIDWORKS environment.  Coupled with the automatic notifications, this allows us to always be on top of the customer requests and respond more quickly.  We can also be alerted of changes, without spending too much time developing a design that the customer doesn’t want.  We also use this to discuss FEA results from SOLIDWORKS Simulation as we work through new structure designs.  The ability to seamlessly collect all the engineering data and put it in one location saves a lot of time we used to spend searching for the “one”  file.   The one that was always saved in a “special” place so we wouldn’t lose it.  Being able to capture screenshots from SOLIDWORKS also makes is easy to communicate our ideas as the questions arise.  This open communication allows our customers to feel they are part of the process vs. just getting a final drawing.  It also allows us to customize a design on the fly saving the customers time and money.



As the technology has evolved and grown in the two years we have used it, we are constantly exploring new ways to improve our communication with our customers and internal team.  We can only build better products faster and cheaper if we communicate to the best of our ability.  SOLIDWORKS 3DEXPERIENCE tools allow us to do that more effectively than before.

Learn more about how Karl Schmidt is using SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer by watching this webinar.


Mike Buchli

Mike Buchli

Michael Buchli has 20 years of design and manufacturing experience throughout the Midwest ranging from Aerospace to recycling systems. A number of those years were spent learning and understanding workflows and processes to improve efficiency and productivity. From running CNC equipment to welding and painting Michael has been hands-on in all aspects of bringing products to market. Michael is also certified in many areas of mfg and a CSWP. He has also written the CAMWorks Handbook.