What’s New in SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2021

SOLIDWORKS Visualize continues to release enhancements that elevate its useability, performance, and output quality—and Visualize 2021 is no exception. Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the top enhancements. Be sure to check out the complete list of Visualize enhancements: What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2021.

SOLIDWORKS CAD Configuration Support

Visualize 2021 provides tighter integration with SOLIDWORKS CAD by offering full support of part and assembly configurations. If you are eager to test this out, make sure to enable the Add Display Data Mark option to make configurations available after the import process. Managing what configurations are loaded into the Visualize project through this option is a nice way to keep performance optimal during import.

The Add Display Data Mark option allows you to move between configurations after the model has been imported into Visualize, which opens up tons of possibilities and streamlining workflows. Previously, this was managed with multiple projects, or you had to import the part/assembly multiple times into the same project.

One thing to keep in mind: You now have two sets of configurations when the model is imported. The Visualize configurations still manage the appearances, scenes, and so forth, while the Model configurations give access to the different geometry brought in from the import.

How do they work together? Let’s look at an example.

Figure 1 shows the CAD model’s Default configuration with a regal red appearance applied at the REGAL RED Base Configuration. Figure 2 shows that once the model is switched to the Bracket and Housing configuration, the regal red no longer appears since it is tied only to the Default assembly configuration.

Figure 1 – REGAL RED Configuration

Figure 2 – Bracket and Housing Configuration

Part and Appearance Selection

Visualize 2021 now offers a faster, more direct method to move from part to appearance selection modes. While active in PART selection mode—which for most of us using Visualize 2021 will be our go-to selection mode—a single click will select the part, and a double click will grab the part’s appearance (See Figure 3). This subtle but powerful enhancement is sure to speed up your workflows when setting up static image and animation rendering projects.

Figure 3 – Select and Grab Part Appearance

Capped Cutting Planes

Capped cutting planes (or section views) are a great way to show internal designs and complexity in your part and assembly renderings. With Visualize 2021, section cut planes have a few enhancements that make them even more powerful than before by introducing capped sections and color options. These are found within the options after the capped section has been created (See Figure 4).

Figure 4 – Capped Cutting Planes

Pro Tip: If you run into surfaces that appear to be bleeding through each other, try applying a small amount of scale to the parts that share coincident faces. This is a quick fix to let Visualize know which surface is on top/bottom of each other and appropriately render.

Toon Filter Effect

Rendering is synonymous with photorealism but is not always needed for product communication, especially early in the design process. Visualize 2021 offers a new Toon camera filter available in Visualize professional. With an existing camera selected or a new camera created, the Enable Toon Option is available on the Filters tab. There are a few preset options to play around with, but the Toon Filter offers full customization of the line colors and shading styles. This MIGHT be one of the COOLEST enhancements for 2021.

Figure 5 – Toon Filter Option

PRO TIPS: Use the Toon Shaded “shaded” style and Toon Detail options for some great conceptual renderings! Another tip is to create duplicates of cameras and enable this option. When queueing all cameras, a standard render along with a toon render will be added to the Visualize queue.

Displacement Maps

Previous versions of SOLIDWORKS Visualize allowed you to apply displacement maps, which give 3D textures to CAD models. These surfaces are often skipped in the modeling process because they can add unnecessary complexity such as tread plated steel, knurling operations, and 3D printed textures, to name a few.

Displacement maps are based on greyscale images to tell the software how much to push/pull the surface and where; it’s similar to how a topology map (Figure 6) illustrates elevation contours on a 2D map. New in Visualize 2021 is the ability to control the density of how these displacement maps (Figure 7) are calculated, essentially giving the user the ability to change the density of the topology lines in our map analogy.

Figure 6 – Topology Map

Figure 7 – Displacement Map

Want to learn more about What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2021? Make sure to check out the complete video playlist on the SOLIDWORKS YouTube channel, and don’t forget to comment on the Visualize What’s New Video. We’d love to hear about YOUR favorite enhancement in this year’s release.

If you’d like a demo of SOLIDWORKS Visualize, please contact your local reseller.




Mike Sande

Mike Sande

Territory Technical Manager at SOLIDWORKS
Michael is a graduate of Montana State University where he focused in finite element analysis and simulation MEMS manufacturing in his quest for his BSME. When not enjoying engineering documentaries, you will find Michael exercising his creative side through his love of photography, art, family, animals and of course SOLIDWORKS CAD.
Mike Sande
Mike Sande