Dassault Systems SolidWorks announced the launch of a new product, SolidWorks Industrial Design at SolidWorks World 2015.
This year’s SolidWorks World, held at Phoenix, Arizona, saw Gian Paolo Bassi, former VP(R&D), take over the reigns as CEO of SolidWorks, Dassault Systemes, from Bertrand Sicot. Gian Paolo started his reign with the tagline for SolidWorks, “We want to embrace the future, but we respect Legacy”. SolidWorks seem to envision herself to continue on what made them so successful, the desktop 3D CAD platform (termed the “Desktop Generation”), and to look towards cloud-based solutions via the 3D Experience Platform (termed the “Cloud Generation”). SolidWorks already announced the launch of SolidWorks Conceptual Design (previously named Mechanical Conceptual) in 2014, and gave the world a preview in SolidWorks World 2014. This year, Gian Paolo, together with Kishore Boyalakuntla, Director of Product Management, announced the launch of Solidworks Industrial Design to the world.
SolidWorks Industrial Design is a cloud-based solution, that gives the everyday engineers, the power to create complex free-form, C2-continuous geometry using a combination of sub-division, direct-editing and parametric modeling. All these are done on a collaborative, and social platform, the 3D Experience Platform.
Here’s a short summary of the workflow of working with SolidWorks Industrial Design, as presented by Gian Paolo and Kishore.
- Collaborative teams, inclusive of customers, marketing, sales and engineering have access to a 3D Dashboard, that shares critical information regarding the project. Non-technical/design teams have the option of sharing market research data, ideas, customer specifications and track project progress on this platform.
- The SolidWorks Industrial Design App is launched, by selecting the quadrant in the 3D Compass, within the 3D Dashboard. The designer, begins by creating free-hand sketches on different sketch planes, via a sketch tablet (e.g. Wacom), which gets automatically converted into curves.
- With this app, users can easily create surfaces, from the free-hand sketches.
- Sub-D (sub-division) modeling is then invoked to model the main geometry. The user begins with a primitive, such as cube, sphere and a cone, and start to shape the geometry by pushing, pulling and rotating the data points and surfaces on the geometry. I guess this is akin to shaping 3D geometry with “virtual modeling clay”. According to Kishore, there is just a single tool, the “Robot” (a really fancy name for the SolidWorks Triad) that is used to modify the data-points on the model.
- Once the first iteration of the design is done, the design is uploaded back to the social platform or 3D SWym, where team members and collaborators can contribute ideas and provide feedback.
- This is where things become exciting! Assuming that the designer is working with a team of remote-desking designers, existing design can be branched into multiple copies for different users to work on. This can be particularly useful when engineers and designers are working on very different features, on the same design.
- Here we have an engineer working on one version of his/her design. SolidWorks Industrial Design allows the user to create geometry with full parametric capabilities, sub-division and direct editing.
- Assuming that the designer finally decides on having a “leaf” profile, the designs on both branches can be merged together, and reordered on the feature tree. This was a feature that totally blew my mind! According to the presenters, SolidWorks holds a patent to this technology, called Design Intent Merge. I can imagine the countless hours saved on working on free-form geometry.
- Once the design is done, it can be uploaded again on the 3D Dashboard, where the key stakeholders, such as customers and other non-technical users can view the design, using an in-built 3D model viewer.
- Now, this is the big question. We have a sexy looking geometry, but how do we make the the design manufacture-able? This is where SolidWorks Desktop will come in. With SolidWorks 3D CAD software, mounting holes, snap clips and other key features can be easily added.
- Kishore then introduced representing manufacturing data using SolidWorks MBD – Model Based Definition, where drawing annotations, geometric tolerance symbols and other manufacturing information, can be represented in 3D format, with the hope of it finally replacing 2D drawings.
- Kishore also gave a glimpse of how SolidWorks can be easily connected to the 3D Experience Platform, by accessing 3D data via the task pane.
- The launch of SolidWorks Industrial Design ended with Gian Paolo, providing a glimpse of the SolidWorks Industrial Design App being accessed on an iPad and via a web browser. The interface and workflow looks similiar to was shown earlier, and provides added mobility for users in creating free-form objects.
Here are my concluding thoughts. When I first heard of this product, I thought it was going to be something like Autodesk’s Fusion 360 product, which features a cloud-based app that provides SubD, direct editing, and parametric modeling. What sets SolidWorks Industrial Design apart is the collaborative aspect of design, especially the ability to branch a design, and allow multiple users to work on a design, before merging them back together again. If this works as promised, it may be a game changer for social-network based designers.