Screenshot showcasing SOLIDWORKS 2020’s new Make Part Flexible feature. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

It’s September 2019, and that means SOLIDWORKS 2020 is here.

On Wednesday, parent company Dassault Systèmes announced the new annual release of its popular CAD platform. Unlike last year’s release, which added several new features and tools, SOLIDWORKS 2020 feels less like a new version and more like a bridge to Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform.


For many years, SOLIDWORKS has remained largely independent of Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform. With SOLIDWORKS 2020, that distinction is becoming blurrier. 3DEXPERIENCE is a suite of cloud-connected design applications that attempts to offer seamless integration throughout the product development process. A fully integrated, multidisciplinary design workflow is a clear win for users, not to mention a powerful case for consolidating around Dassault software.

But this lofty goal has come with a sizeable set of challenges. After three years of working to adopt 3DEXPERIENCE, Swedish telecom Ericsson pulled the plug on the platform. Jaguar Land Rover was unable to successfully implement 3DEXPERIENCE after spending nearly a decade trying to make the transition. These companies eagerly signed up for Dassault’s shining vision, but reaching it proved more difficult than expected.

These difficulties may explain why Dassault Systèmes is now nudging SOLIDWORKS toward 3DEXPERIENCE. The company may be hoping that SOLIDWORKS, which remains extremely popular with more than six million users, can help restore faith in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. But will SOLIDWORKS users embrace the change? We’ll be sure to ask them at the upcoming SOLIDWORKS user conference, SOLIDWORKS World 2020—sorry, make that 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020.


We connected with Dassault Systèmes’ Aaron Kelly, cloud advocacy director at SOLIDWORKS, to learn more about the new SOLIDWORKS 2020 release. It’s telling that our demo was presented by SOLIDWORKS’s cloud advocacy director. It’s even more telling that he kicked off the demo by discussing 10 new applications introduced this year in what Dassault is calling the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio.

“SOLIDWORKS 2020 is the flagship product in the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio,” Kelly said. The 10 new 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS applications—all introduced within the last few months—are listed under the purple line in the chart below:

 SOLIDWORKS 2020 portfolio, including 10new applications released this year under the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio (below the purple line). (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.) SOLIDWORKS 2020 portfolio, including 10new applications released this year under the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio (below the purple line). (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Under MechDesign, 3D Sculptor revolves around the subdivision modeling application xShape, and 3D Creator incorporates the browser-based parametric modeler xDesign. Under Simulation, Structural Professional Engineer and Structural Designer tap into Dassault’s SIMULIA brand to augment the capabilities in SOLIDWORKS Simulation.

“We have the best structural simulation technology in the world in ABAQUS,” explained Stephen Endersby, director of Product Portfolio Management at SOLIDWORKS. “That solver is second to none, and it comes from our sister brand SIMULIA. So rather than reinvent the wheel, we worked together with them to deliver a proven technology for our users in record time. So, we have the power of SIMULIA behind us, and it works seamlessly with SOLIDWORKS Simulation—all enabled by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.”

On the bottom right side of the chart, under Data Mgmnt, the five new applications in orange aim to bring the benefits of product data management (PDM) to smaller companies. “We’ve added data management to the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKSportfolio,” Kelly said. “PDM has traditionally been for larger companies, and SOLIDWORKS has had data management offerings for larger customers. They’re server based, they run with SQL, they have to be updated and maintained. With the new offerings, you can be up and running in mere minutes. And that enables even small customers to get data management.”


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