Product Review: SOLIDWORKS 2016 Tackles Design Minutia With Big Results [Guest Post]

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By Beth Stackpole --

There’s something for everyone in SOLIDWORKS 2016, officially unveiled last week, with the release sporting a smorgasbord of new capabilities — most in direct response to customer requests and all intended to get the CAD system out of the way to increase user productivity.

“We’re not about buzzwords or fancy features — we’re about listening to what customers want,”said Craig Therrien, SOLIDWORKS product portfolio manager, explaining that as with prior years, SOLIDWORKS 2016’s enhancements fall into the four categories of Design, Validate, Collaborate and Build.

At the formal launch event yesterday, SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi and Kishore Boyalakuntla, the senior director and leader of the company’s Product Management organization, described SOLIDWORKS’ evolution from a series of complementary tools into an ecosystem of interconnected products. “We create products that talk to each other in beautiful ways — we did a lot of innovation in SOLIDWORKS 2016 to make products work together,”Boyalakuntla explained. The latest release encompasses more than 600 projects inside the product line and over 100 innovations, he said.

Here are some release highlights in each of the four pillars:


SOLIDWORKS 2016 is all about helping users work smarter and get more out of the CAD system. The user interface has been overhauled to be more intuitive and offers easier access to commands — the goal being to reduce the “picks and clicks” it takes to get design tasks and CAD operations done, Therrien said.

Breadcrumbs are a major new addition in this area and one of the more popular features of the beta program. Much like a website tracker, bread crumbs follow users around as they work, keeping tabs on what level of features they are working on or where they are in an assembly to reduce the number of keystrokes or mouse travel it takes to get a task done.



Most of the validation enhancements are directly related to simulation, and boosting performance of analysis was the primary goal. Noteworthy to the release is improved control over operation sequencing, part movements and mesh quality to make it easier to do detailed design simulations. SOLIDWORKS 2016 lets users section the mesh for insight into the internal mesh structure so they have visibility into mesh density at any location and any point in time.

Many industries require flat patterns of complex geometry at the manufacturing stage. To address that need SOLIDWORKS 2016 has new capabilities for flattening even the most complex geometries, minimizing the guesswork involved in creating and validating flattened shapes.



One new collaboration features is a Mate Controller, which mimics a game controller to provide an intuitive way of creatingand animating complicated assembly motions — especially those with many degrees of freedom. eDrawings has also been enhanced for improved communication of designs, including support for all assembly annotations and 3D Views created in SOLIDWORKS’ Model Based Definition (MBD) feature set, which was highlighted in a number of ways throughout the release. 



Photorealism and rendering are front and center in SOLIDWORKS 2016 as Dassault Systemes has integrated the Bunkspeed visualization product, which is now called SOLIDWORKS Visualize. Dubbed the “camera” for SOLIDWORKS and other CAD data, Visualize makes it easy to drag and drop ready-to-use materials, environments and backgrounds into a scene to create emotional imagery that can help communicate designs to partners and clients.

Model Based Definition (MBD) is a big deal in this release, intended to make the 3D digital model so pervasive in design processes to manufacturing that is can serve as a replacement for the 2D drawings used for decades. The array of enhancements to MBD — things like the ability to fully annotate assemblies or create multi-sheet PDFs with information relevant to suppliers — will help engineering teams more quickly and accurately communicate design information to downstream manufacturing operations. 

One other Build piece not to overlook is SOLIDWORKS Costing, a tool to help designers make decisions based on the cost to manufacture. The new release supports rules and costing for assemblies, however, the latter capability is available in SOLIDWORKS Premium release. 

“We continue to focus on minutia because that’s what our customers want us to do — they want the design process to be easier, with less fatigue, and to get job done faster,” Therrien said. 

What do you think? Are these features you can use? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

*All content courtesy of Desktop Engineering

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