Better SOLIDWORKS: Essentials Improved in 2023

In this episode of SOLIDWORKS® LIVE, originally aired on May 18th, 3DEXPERIENCE Works Industry Process Consultant Sean O’Neill and our guests—SOLIDWORKS Experts Mark Peterson, Andrew Gross, Mike Sande, and Brad Williamson—talk about ways that SOLIDWORKS is set to improve later this year, empowering our users to spend more time doing what they love, designing with, as Mark Peterson suggests, “The best design tool on the planet.”

Sean starts the episode by introducing the simple idea of designers and engineers having more time to do what they love—design innovative new products! How often do you think about saving and opening your CAD file? How about revisions? Searching and sharing data? These mundane tasks are important to get your daily work done, but wouldn’t it be great if a bigger percentage of these tasks could be automated? The July release of SOLIDWORKS will address these issues and more as Sean discusses the overall benefits with Industry Process Consultant Mark Peterson.

Mark explains how every new seat of SOLIDWORKS, starting in July 2023, comes with a connection to the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, which enables you to easily collaborate with people inside and outside of your organization, along with a host of additional functionality to streamline your daily work—all made available to users via the platform.

CAM, MBD, Inspection, and Simulation tools will also be available to SOLIDWORKS users with this major update. SOLIDWORKS is not only the most feature-rich advanced platform for design, but the product is geared to grow with your business by offering all the tools to meet your evolving needs, and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is an important part of that evolution going into the future.

This will not come as a surprise to the SOLIDWORKS faithful. Mark reminds the audience that SOLIDWORKS has a consistent history of creating fully integrated tools for its customers with the goal of making users more efficient and productive.

Industry Process Consultant Andrew Gross was up next, talking about the improvements to fundamental tasks in SOLIDWORKS, such as Finding Files, and what exactly that means for enhanced data management. Users can search and find all available items on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, using simple drag-and-drop functionality to implement selected parts into their designs—all from within SOLIDWORKS.

The system uses robust filtering abilities for users to search on any criteria they desire in whatever way makes sense to them (physical part vs. drawing, or by the owner, when created, keyword, and other criteria). Andrew shows how Filtering parts help users find the right part faster and more efficiently. Andrew states, “Knowing just a small amount of information about what we want to find on the platform, I can find it using just what I know [without knowing or trying to guess at the file name].” Files can then be opened via 3DEXPERIENCE on the cloud.

Andrew also discussed Bookmarks, which can help you keep your relevant data organized and easily accessible so you can find it when you need it most—think “Favorites” folder in a web browser. Users can create bookmarks to save commonly assembled parts, allowing them to be shared with teammates across the platform. Bookmarks also provide access to additional tools, lifecycle actions, and collaboration features that make it easy to perform everyday tasks.

CAD File Relations show users the context of their model within the larger scope of all models within the platform. Or, more specifically, how to make CAD File Relations (or References) work for you.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform picks up the organizational slack where more commonly used systems (such as Windows) fall short by clearly displaying the relationships files have with one another and keeping track of these relationships for users.

Andrew shows how the platform can prevent you from overwriting other people’s work, joking that the old standby “they who save last wins” will become a thing of the past on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. With the data in a single location on the cloud, users can also see parent/child relationships—in a clearly presented graphic view—helping them understand a model’s full role within an organization’s product offering.

Sean introduces the next topic by recounting the struggle to manually manage files with [various] naming conventions, which gets more confusing as projects expand. Sean then brings on Industry Process Consultant Mike Sande to talk about data management with Change/Version History and the ways these tools are set to help clear up any confusion as to what “current” means with working models and datasets, forever changing the way users will save files moving forward. Gone will be the days of ending file names with “_final” and “_FINAL FINAL” with the tools on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that help to keep versioning simple.

Mike illustrates these benefits with a practical example where he performs a change operation to a component on the model [cylinder guard] seen below as if he is a user who is manually managing files without data management. It becomes a bit confusing, taking 4 to 5 minutes of a user’s time, which all adds up at the end of the day, week, month, or year. And Mike points out that a question remains when manually managing the data: Will other users know what is going on with the file coming in “cold” on a project?

On the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the retrieval of files for assembly references is automatically performed on the system’s back end so users never have to remember where files are stored. He wraps this section by explaining the ability to lock and unlock files to ensure version history is maintained and that ownership of files is made obvious to all stakeholders. Users can also edit the Maturity State of files so everyone has transparent clarity as to the status of a file (see below). He also shows how finding the latest revision is a snap with the tools on the platform.

Mike then discusses Design Task Tracking with how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform helps manage workflows with the Collaborative Tasks tool that many might call a “virtual sticky note.” Because everything within the platform is completely interconnected, users can employ simple drag-and-drop functionality within each of these tasks to either pull items to items into the design area of SOLIDWORKS or users can actually also drag the model over to areas like “attachments” within the task itself as well. One of the cool things about the Collaborative Tasks tools is that when you drag and drop items to various areas, all the associated metadata of that item comes along for the ride.

Before introducing the next guest, Sean briefly discusses upcoming functionality on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that isn’t technically available to SOLIDWORKS users yet, which are ways to make Sharing Files easier than ever before. He points out that SOLIDWORKS Viewer is one of the most searched-for SOLIDWORKS keywords in the world today. Pack and Go and eDrawings are other great tools for sharing and viewing, which will continue to be used. Still, SOLIDWORKS is working on a more technically modern and easier approach to this extremely valuable file-sharing capability.

Finally, Sean introduces Industry Process Consultant Brad Williamson to discuss how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform bridges the gap between sharing and viewing files. He begins by showing the ways file sharing is optimized  for both users of the platform as well as those external stakeholders that might not have the same access. This conversation also speaks to the concerns users may have with sharing too much information with external recipients, citing intellectual property fears. The platform straightforwardly handles this issue and errors on the side of safety and increased user security.

Brad explores the new capabilities that enable users to share neutral or native file formats right from your SOLIDWORKS session. Plus, it creates a time-coded shareable link. Users can even specify email recipients. Again, this can all be done within the SOLIDWORKS modeling session, enabling a more seamless and secure way to share (and view) data externally—all within your preferred web browser.

That means there is no software to download or install. Users can freely mark, measure, and comment on the shared SOLIDWORKS files. It also adds the view state of the model for each of the comments within the thread of feedback received on the given item. It’s the perfect tool to bridge the gap between sharing and viewing files for SOLIDWORKS users.

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Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.