Who decides What’s New in SOLIDWORKS? Product Definition team members are a major component in determining and defining enhancements and new functionality included within the SOLIDWORKS products each year. They meet face-to-face with SOLIDWORKS customers to discuss what’s working, what isn’t, and what they would like to see in the future. These customer visits are fantastic opportunities for you to connect with SOLIDWORKS directly, and let us know what we can do to help make your jobs easier. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be talking with members of the Product Definition team for an inside look at their favorite 2016 features.
Rob Jost spent five years as a member of the Technical Support Team here at SOLIDWORKS, and then went out into industry to use SOLIDWORKS as an engineer. He worked for six years designing sporting good products for the Action Sports industry, and four years ago, he returned to SOLIDWORKS in a Product Definition role.
What is your favorite 2016 feature?
The Style Spline enhancements to solve using B-Spline math. You can create B-Splines of 3º, 5º, or 7º with the Style Spline tool and you can adjust the smoothness of the curve by manipulating the degree of the curve. Previously, you could only create a Bezier curve with the Spline tool and when converting a spline into a Style Spline, many unusable points were created making it difficult to work with. You can now have one-to-one conversion from a Spline to a Style Spline since the resulting Style Spline is a degree 3 B-Spline. You can find the Style Spline tool by going to Tools>Sketch Entities>Style Spline.
Why Style Spline?
It’s probably the geekiest enhancement because it’s all about math. Combined with our legacy spline, we can now say we have a pretty full spline offering. I wish I would have had this curve available to me in SOLIDWORKS back when I was designing products. It’s so easy to control, yet it’s able to keep a very high level of continuity.
Tell me more about how you think Style Spline will improve the user experience.
The Style Spline is easy to use and creates very high quality geometry. This new enhancement makes the curve even easier to use and able to cover a wider range of use cases. Previously, the curve had a difficult time taking tight turns, but because of the new math it can create pretty much any smooth shape with ease.
Style Spline was originally introduced in 2014. What was the hardest part of bringing this tool to life?
The hard part for me was originally implementing the Style Spline. Introducing a new sketch curve is never easy, there is a lot to consider. What constraints it can handle, how it interacts with other sketch tools (Trim, Offset, etc.), and the quality of geometry it can create when going to feature are all things that need to be considered.
How about the enhancements in 2016, what was the hardest part of bringing those to life?
The spec for this particular one was actually pretty easy; it was more difficult on the development side since these curves are very “math heavy”.
What was the most enjoyable part of working on the Style Spline?
Finally getting a “real” spline into SOLIDWORKS that is both easy to use and capable of creating any continuous shape. Also, working with our very talented R&D team to improve SOLIDWORKS is always enjoyable.
Was Style Spline initiated by a customer visit? An Enhancement Request? How did it start?
This type of curve isn’t something new to the industry, they’ve actually been around a long time. I have experience using these curves in other non-parametric surfacing programs and I’ve always thought SOLIDWORKS needed a similar tool. Whenever I spoke to users who use splines or needed to create smooth geometry, they would always request this type of curve. So, in true SOLIDWORKS fashion, we added it because users asked for it.
And finally, cats or dogs, Rob?
I grew up a dog person, but now that I own two cats, I think I’ve defected.
If you’re interested in setting up a Customer Visit with a member of the SOLIDWORKS Product Definition Team, send an email to SOLIDWORKS.NAM.RD-Info.com. Please include: your name, company, contact number, and a brief summary of what areas you’d like to discuss (Assemblies, Weldments, Sheet Metal, Drawings, Simulation, eDrawings, SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard/Professional, etc.) to get started. You can also find the team at your local user group meetings, and at SOLIDWORKS World 2016 in Dallas, Texas.
Every year SOLIDWORKS releases a new version of its flagship product, and last year, a new tradition was born here on the Blogs. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a Sneak Peek at 15 new features here on the SOLIDWORKS Blog, and then we’ll be following them up with short, detailed videos on the functionality over on the SOLIDWORKS Tech Blog beginning September 23rd. Until then, you can learn more about SOLIDWORKS 2016 by clicking the banner above and checking out the Launch Site.