This week SolidWorks 2013 PR1 is released. Dassault (and SolidWorks specifically) has caught a lot of flack for not innovating, closing up their labs site, previewing an enticing product years ago and not delivering, showing and shifting releases of an equally enticing SolidWorks Live Building product, loosing Jon Hirschtick and Austin OMalley and revealing misconstrued mindsets about killing SolidWorks. But now, there’s SolidWorks 2013 and a(nother) promise of the first complimentary SolidWorks V6 product.
Last week, media and bloggers meet at the new Dassualt Systemes campus, 30 minutes outside Boston in Waltham, Mass. Presentation after presentation from the entire executive team at SolidWorks was delivered. The vision? It’s all about the customers, aiding collaboration, educating students, etc. It’s the same sort of stuff you hear each year, but at the same time, they kept the circa 1995 spotlights pointed on a company with a strong user base, a roadmap guided by that userbase and features fed into the next version of SolidWorks… that are filtered through what’s good for Dassault’s balance sheets.
Pushing 3D Printing
SolidWorks isn’t diversifying with a desktop 3D printer line, but they’re certainly more-than-interested about the technology. At the media event, Objet presented their products and views on 3D printing. Interesting point – Desktop 3D Printing is bunk, because if your Mom can’t use it easily, then it won’t go mainstream. Instead, the future is the fab shop and ‘Kinko-type’ stores where products are printed on demand. They brought up AMF and SolidWorks was put on the spot when asked if they were going to develop an export function. “I think?” was their response. Let’s hope.
In the SolidWorks 2013 presentation, not much was revealed about the future plans of SolidWorks V6 or how their two-track development path of the Parasolid-based SolidWorks product and CGM-based SolidWorks V6 product would be delivered in the future, but SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot did mention this. In May of 2013, we will see a product “complementary to SolidWorks” that would target “conceptual mechanical design needs” and Beta starting with select users at the end of this year. And as Social Media Manager Matthew West corroborated on Twitter, “The conceptual design product Bertrand mentioned *is* the as-yet-unnamed V6 product.” Well, *is* is a tad more than a promise, so here’s hoping an exclamation point isn’t part of the name and that the V!6 products meet the 3-years of building tension and anticipation when it’s revealed at SolidWorks World 2014.
As for SolidWorks 2013, we’ll bring a full review and more on the features coming to the new release in a later post, but what you will want to know is this. Improved non-modeling features are: a CAD Admin dashboard, ability to create envelopes from any component and Speedpak creation from parent assemblies. Modeling improvements include: Conic sketch tool, thin extrudes of open or closed profiles and a slick Intersect tool that allows you to modify solid geometry with a surface body. The new ‘Convert Drawing View to Sketch’ is interesting in that it lets you completely destroy a drawing view, turning it into sketch entities or even copy and paste it back into a part file for reference. Very handy. I’m convinced the View Selector is a preview of SolidWorks V6 UI features, as is the smarter point-to-point measuring and multiple component insertion. The interoperability is nothing to get excited about yet, as you can only open and view 2013 files in 2012–no features are present and no geometry modification are possible. One last thing to note, you won’t be able to run 2013 on Windows XP, so time to upgrade the hardware or stay on 2012. If you’re trying to make a choice to buy or upgrade right now, look to the SolidWorks 2013 launch site or download to 2013 What’s New document.