During the holiday season we naturally find ourselves reflecting on the past year and appreciating the things that have affected our lives in a positive way. Over the last two months, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the release of SOLIDWORKS 2018. Read on as I pay tribute to seven enhancements I am most thankful for this year.
1. I am thankful for new ways to leverage my 3D designs.
Every year SOLIDWORKS introduces innovative ways to incorporate your 3D design data throughout the entire engineering process, but they’ve really outdone themselves in 2018. Here are some of the new tools at your disposal:
SOLIDWORKS CAM: SOLIDWORKS has teamed up with CAMWorks to bring all SOLIDWORKS users a fully integrated CAM tool for developing toolpaths and G-code, including post-processors for many 2.5 and 3 +2 axis machining processes. Additionally, you can save commonly manufactured features as part of a library to help standardize machining practices across your company. You can even incorporate GD&T data into your designs to perform tolerance based machining.
Topology Study: This new functionality for Simulation Professional and Premium users is particularly exciting for analysis engineers. This method of design takes into account any applied loads, fixtures, and other constraints, ultimately determining the minimum material layout needed to meet the pre-defined mechanical requirements. This is a completely different approach to optimization than the traditional iterative analysis techniques most engineers are accustomed to and is made even more powerful by the flexibility that 3D printing allows in the manufacturing process.
Mesh Modeling: SOLIDWORKS 2018 has some new and powerful tools for working with mesh geometry imported from several file types such as *.stl, *.obj, *.off, *.ply, and *.ply2. These enhancements make it much easier to convert 3D mesh data into physical geometry that can be modified using tradition SOLIDWORKS surfacing techniques. Additionally, we can leverage geometry of graphics bodies a lot more effectively, with the ability to apply material textures and perform section views.
2. I am thankful for more flexibility and connectivity with my SOLIDWORKS licenses.
Coming soon to TriMech customers will be the ability to tie your standalone SOLIDWORKS licenses to user-based logins. This means that one can access their own SOLIDWORKS license – as well as their customized user interface and system settings – on any computer that has SOLIDWORKS installed and is connected to the internet. In order to access this functionality, the user login must be associated with a standalone SOLIDWORKS serial number, via the CAD Admin Dashboard. SOLIDWORKS is in the process of rolling this functionality out to the customer base, so keep your ear out for news on when online licensing becomes available to TriMech customers in the coming months.
3. I am thankful for the new SOLIDWORKS Welcome dialog.
The very first thing all SOLDIWORKS users will notice after installing SOLIDWORKS 2018 is the new Welcome screen. I’m thankful for this convenient window, mainly because no matter what my intentions are when opening a new session of SOLIDWORKS, I have a direct path to that goal waiting for me right in this window. New file templates, recent files and even recent folders are directly accessible, as well as all the best SOLIDWORKS learning resources and alerts on import software updates. Plus SOLIDWORKS has incorporated a nifty tips dialog into the bottom of the window to remind you of oft-forgotten keyboard shortcuts and convenient tricks to help you on your path to being the ultimate SOLIDWORKS power user.
4. I am thankful for our improved ability to analyze large assembly performance.
As a SOLIDWORKS application engineer, this is something I am particularly appreciative of. When I am asked about why an assembly exhibits poor performance, there are certain things I check on right away to try and determine potential causes. There are several enhancements in 2018 that help us find these issues more easily, such as the Assembly Open Progress indicator, which will help troubleshoot slow open and update times. Furthermore, the Performance Evaluation and Assembly Visualization tools have been enhanced to provide valuable information on open and rebuild times, as well as key indicators for graphical lag, such as high image quality settings or large number of graphics triangles.
5. I am thankful that SOLIDWORKS caters to touch-enabled devices.
I am lucky enough to have a laptop with touch-screen capabilities and have so far been blown away by the way this improves my design experience in SOLIDWORKS 2018. There is a new Touch Mode that can be enabled to help designers soar past limitations previously experienced by those with touch-enabled devices. A touch-based menu caters to the functionality most commonly needed for intuitively navigating and manipulating designs on screen, and context menus are made larger to allow for easier selection. With these additions to the user interface, I can now discard my mouse when I’m using SOLIDWORKS, whether I’m sitting at my desk, relaxing on the couch or sitting on a crowded airplane.
6. I am thankful for the way SOLIDWORKS has made sketching more intuitive and natural in 2018.
The Sketch Ink tab has been added to aid in the creation of concept sketches. When sketching in this mode, one can pick a color and line weight to draw naturally for the initial planning of a sketch-based feature. This is especially powerful combined with touch-screen functionality for a real pen-and-paper feel. Once a concept has been developed, these shapes can be converted into SOLIDWORKS sketch entities to be utilized in 3-dimensional features.
Another major improvement to our arsenal of sketching tools is the ability to create mirrors in a 3D sketch. This cuts way back on the amount of drawing and definition required in the generation of 3-dimensional sketch geometry exhibiting symmetrical behavior. Additionally, planes can now be used to define symmetry both in 2D and 3D sketches.
7. I am thankful for Tabs & Slots.
One of the biggest enhancements we’ve seen to sheet metal in many years is the ability to design self-fixturing features using the Tab & Slot commands, available for both multibody and assembly designs. In one feature, create tabs on one body and corresponding slots on another to generate interlocking geometry that aids greatly in the assembly/welding processes down the line. Though this tool was developed specifically for the sheet metal industry, it can be leveraged for any type of part design.
Of all the things I’m grateful for when it comes to SOLIDWORKS, it’s hard to limit myself to such a short list. If any of these enhancements peak your interest, or if you’d like to learn about the rest of the SOLIDWORKS 2018 release, check out our full review of 2018 release with TriMech’s SOLIDWORKS 2018 On Demand Video Launch Event!