At SOLIDWORKS World 2019, we had to find out what’s new in SOLIDWORKS, didn’t we?
The powerful CAD system has been around for years, slowly acquiring new capabilities each year. 2019 is no different, as we have learned. We heard about the latest updates from the team several months ago, and gained more insights through the course of SWW 2019.
Let’s review some of the notable changes announced by Dassault Systèmes.
First, they have learned that younger people want touch-style interfaces rather than keyboards and menus. Thus, they are developing pen-style support that would be usable on certain types of devices.
This includes sketching; you can now perform “touch sketching”. However, what’s quite fascinating is that you can literally sketch the dimensions of a component with your hand, and it will now automatically convert your handwritten digits into a proper dimension — and use it.
Similarly, hand sketches are converted into commonly-used elements, such as slots or holes. Splines are “automatic”, at least to a degree. After watching this happen, I felt it seemed somewhat like sculpting, somehow.
Topology studies have been improved by allowing even more constraints to be supplied. After analysis is complete, you can save the results to a solid mesh for interesting applications afterwards, like importing the optimized component into a design.
3D textures are now possible. What’s a “3D texture”? All I can say is “think golf ball surface”. This is done via an imported gray scale image; the gray level determines the height of the pixel, and this is repeated via a pattern over a surface in a powerful manner.
Dassault Systèmes seems to be placing some emphasis on virtual / augmented reality. They now offer integrated VR experiences that could be quite useful to explore highly complex designs that otherwise might be confusing to view.
Dassault Systèmes made a point to say they wish to simplify the workflow in SOLIDWORKS as much as possible. Sometimes this means a simple feature change, but one that is repeated constantly. This can add up to significant savings of effort over long periods.
For example, they now include a fancy “Open recent documents” command, and they now allow “Live Measure” in any command.
They say things like this tend to save 5-10 minutes in every design session. It’s not much on its own, but the savings will add up. I got the impression they would be doing more of this type of thing in the future.
Somehow they’ve vastly improved the viewing capabilities within SOLIDWORKS. You can now view highly complex designs much faster, with very smooth rotations, even with very complex geometries. Apparently these performance improvements are due to an entirely rewritten rendering system.
My guess is that the rewrite was triggered by the new VR / AR features, which could have required faster rendering for real time views.
In all, it seems that SOLIDWORKS 2019 has quite a few new interesting features.