What’s New in SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2020

SOLIDWORKS® Visualize is truly a timesaver. Engineers and designers love it because Visualize enables all stakeholders, especially executives, marketing, and other non-engineering personnel, to get a crystal-clear idea early in the design process of how the final product will look.

Along with helping to make top-level product development decisions easier and earlier in the process, Visualize is often leveraged for creating marketing and customer-facing content. You can produce photo-realistic images of your models in the HDR environment of your choosing, which provides full customization to enhance realism. With SOLIDWORKS Visualize, you can create images, animations, interactive VR content, and more, or you can even export your models for virtual or augmented reality experiences.

Read on for some of the new helpful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2020.

Expanded Material Library for a More Realistic Product Look

SOLIDWORKS made significant improvements in materials and its ability to be customized in 2020: AxF material support and also expanded controls for MDL materials. Let’s first dive into the new AxF material support from X-Rite material scanners. AxF achieves a new level of accuracy in communicating and visualizing real-world physical materials in Visualize, which already included an extensive library of custom materials.

AxF material files, commonly used in the automotive and design industries, allow importing of scanned physical material samples, capturing the texture, sheen, translucency, reflection, and much more. With Visualize 2020, you can now import these accurate material files for use in your projects and adjust the texture scaling and position to match your exact project needs.

Also, there is expanded support for MDL materials in Visualize 2020, which enables you to customize various aspects of a material fully. Take a look at the screenshots below. On the left, we see what an MDL material looked like in Visualize 2019. On the right is the same material in Visualize 2020; there is much more control over every aspect of the material! Also, no more bright pink MDL materials in Preview mode! We now support all MDLs in Preview mode as well in Visualize 2020.

With these two additions to an already extensive material library, Visualize now offers a very well-rounded and in-depth ability to affect and apply different materials to products to make them look as realistic as possible.

IES Light Profiles Provide More Precise Light Control

Support for IES light profiles, a file format that describes a light’s distribution from a light source using real-world measured data, is now available in Visualize 2020. These profiles are the lighting industry-standard diagramming of the brightness and falloff of light as it emanates from real-life light fixtures.

IES light profiles are created by lighting manufacturers and individual creators in order to give your scenes accurate and highly customizable lighting. SOLIDWORKS Visualize projects are all about the minute details—slight details like accurate lighting give your image or animation the photorealism that is expected from a final render.

You can find these IES Light Profiles on specific lighting manufacturers’ websites. From the internet, you can download IES light profiles from lighting manufacturers such as Philips and Lithonia, and add them using Windows Explorer to the ‘Lights’ folder of your SOLIDWORKS Visualize Content folder to make them instantly visible in Visualize.

In addition Visualize 2020 comes pre-loaded with ten light profiles to drag and drop directly into your projects! You can find them by clicking on the Library Tab > Lights folder.

Rendering and Performance Improvements

SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2020 SP0 is the first publicly available production release of SOLIDWORKS Visualize to take full advantage of NVIDIA RTX technology. Built on the NVIDIA Iray SDK, Visualize now leverages Tensor Cores and RT Cores within NVIDIA Quadro RTX GPUs to deliver the highest quality photo-realistic product images with near real-time ray tracing and AI denoising.

In our own performance benchmarks, we’ve seen an average of 30 percent speed improvements with Visualize 2020 over 2019 SP4 on the same RTX hardware, with some scenes even showing improvements of up to 50 percent! Read more about this performance improvement here.

Previous versions of SOLIDWORKS Visualize ran off NVIDIA’s Iray engine, so only NVIDIA GPUs, or slower CPUs, were supported or leveraged for rendering Viewport and content. In Visualize 2020, AMD ProRender’s engine is included as an option, so those who have AMD graphics cards can use them to render as well.

Inline rendering, another performance improvement, gives you the ability to customize the allocation of computer resources during a render with two options: Live or Background. Live rendering blocks access to rendering the 3D Viewport while you are rendering a project.

This is helpful for machines with lower rendering performance and makes sure hardware resources go where they are needed, and it’s much faster to initiate the render, which is helpful for larger projects. Background rendering, similar to how Visualize has always worked, lets you continue working in the application during the render process. You can decide which is the most effective method for getting your work done.

Another performance benefit included in Visualize 2020 is Instancing. For SOLIDWORKS part and assembly models, Visualize can handle duplicated geometry, such as patterned components from SOLIDWORKS assemblies, much more efficiently.

Have 200 screws in your SOLIDWORKS CAD file? No problem. Visualize 2020 now only loads one screw and “instances” or duplicates all the rest, saving loads of GPU memory and dramatically lessening the likelihood of GPU memory issues. This is a HUGE performance benefit and one of the most requested features from our Visualize community!

More Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality File Support

It is definitely worth mentioning that Visualize 2020 (both Standard & Professional) now supports the export of .glTF and .glb file types, which can be used in various augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) contexts. The GL Transmission Format is supported in a multitude of AR/VR apps and engines. Similar to the XR Exporter we released in SOLIDWORKS CAD 2019, this new export from Visualize captures your entire Visualize project and wraps it up in a new file format specifically designed for creating AR/VR experiences—it couldn’t be easier!

The following Visualize project information is included in this new export:  geometry, appearances, textures, Planar-mapped decals, Configurations, Lights—even geometry animations! Plus, this new export coming from Visualize 2020 “bakes” the shadows onto your model during the export process. This means your freshly exported file looks even better that is does coming from the SOLIDWORKS CAD XR Exporter.

SOLIDWORKS PDM integration

It’s now easier than ever to manage your files and Visualize projects using SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional. In Visualize 2020, you can use the integrated SOLIDWORKS PDM menu to access vault tools and view file information for files you open in SOLIDWORKS Visualize.

How is SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2020 helping you accelerate your product development processes? Feel free to comment below. Click here for a complete list of what’s new in SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2020.





Jonathan Walp

Jonathan Walp is a Technical Support Engineer for SOLIDWORKS. He works primarily with SOLIDWORKS CAD, SOLIDWORKS Visualize, and the X-apps on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. In addition to assisting VARs and end users with their Service Requests, he creates and presents educational content at events such as VAR Workshops and 3DEXPERIENCE World.

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