Slam a caffeine drink and stick some sparklers in your eyes, we’re about to take a surface-level look at the new features of SolidWorks 2010, complete with cheesy little award graphics and some special SolidSmack commentary.
The 2010 version is still in beta, but that won’t keep us from pouring it half-baked from the beta container to poke at a bit. There are new User Interface (UI) tools, more Multibody mayhem, more for features and fun for drawings, all of which just might bring a more consistent workflow to your 3D world.
The Best of What’s New
This review will look at a lot of the new features of SolidWorks 2010 (You’ll see it release around November of this year), but most of all we’re going to focus on new features, and enhancements to existing features that you will use on a day to day basis that would help improve your workflow and the overall SolidWorks experience. Not to worry though, we’ll look at a smattering of overall upgrades and get a glimpse into how SolidWorks is creating a more consistent 3D modeling environment.
SolidWorks 2010 User Interface
Here’s a little taste of UI enhancement that deserve to be shaken vigorously and kissed. They’ve been requested of SolidWorks in the past and they’re getting some play this year. They show a move toward consistency in User Interface development and that SolidWorks is looking toward future technology.
- Mouse Gestures *BEST NEW FEATURE AWARD*
- Heads-up Toolbar Customization
- More Context Menus
More ways to get where you’re going
For all the fanciness that surrounds them, the mouse gestures simply allow you to transition command selection from the keyboard to the mouse, or rather, the screen. And it’s wonderful, but also different. The gesture menus are circular context menus activated when you right-click and slide your mouse. Instead of hitting one button on the keyboard, you right-click and slide your mouse in one of several directions to select a command. It may sound like more work, but it does actually make for a smoother workflow. It’s definitely a feature to try out. Oh, on top of that, they’re completely customizable. A guess what else is customizable now. The heads-up toolbar. It now acts like an actual toolbar with the ability to turn it on/off and add, remove or adjust any command exactly like the other toolbars.
You also have a bit more consistency being added to the Context Menus. Edges, Vertices and Drawing Views now have those Context Menus up top when you right-click. However, you still won’t see the left-click context menus in drawings that you get in Assembly and Part files. For now, you get a sample in the right-click context menu.The amount of on-screen interaction is getting there, but you will still find yourself wandering to the FeatureManager when you’re not sure you want to and desiring the same on-screen functionality across all file types, especially when you’re use to the workflow that goes along with it.
SolidWorks 2010 Sketches
You may be surprised how few enhancements there are for sketching, but this can be good. I thought it was. The best of these, that most people would use on a daily basis are below.
- Fillet Preview *BEST NEW FEATURE AWARD*
- Dimensions for 3D Sketches
- Faster Copy & Paste
- Link Sketch Text to File Property
- Convert Entities Property Manager
Check Out My Fillets Baby
You’ll use it, but you have to. It’s the Sketch Fillet preview and options. But using it isn’t all that bad. Now, you don’t have to commit to the sketch fillets you’ve selected and you can deselect any before creating the fillets. As shown below, you get a nice preview of the fillets with the options in the Property Manager to add dimensions to each. Here’s the thing though, you get it for Fillets, but not for Chamfers.
Jump into 3D sketches and you now have point-to-point dimensions that can be configured. This is big for routing, especially tubing, but also for creating configurable 3D guide sketches for parts or assemblies. You’ll like the faster copy & paste, but you’ll really like faster selection for large sets of sketches. It makes dancing around a heavy sketch environment much nicer. Some will find the new ability to link Sketch Text to File Properties useful. It takes away that one extra spot of text not getting updated. I put the new Convert Entities Property Manager in the list just to say, I fail to find the usefulness of it. It’s especially annoying if you want to delete a converted entity you’ve accidentally selected. Let hope that one gets worked out in the final beta.
SolidWorks 2010 Parts and Features
UI and sketches are one thing, but this is where we wanna see the magic happen. It just so happens there is some, magic that is, and when I say magic, I mean more ways to create features and some ways that should have been there long ago.
- Materials for Multibodies *BEST NEW FEATURE AWARD*
- Multiple Contours for Split Lines
- Better Move Faces
- Hole Wizard Creates 2D Sketches by Default
More Material for the Money
Separate materials for multibody parts was a feature slated for 2009. It got pushed back, but now it rears it’s mighty claws in SolidWorks 2010. You can now set different materials for different bodies in a single part. This is huge if you have materials with different densities in a single part, or if you’re creating a weldment with different materials as shown below.
You will now be able to split a face with multiple contours. And if you feel so inclined, you can move those faces with new support for Select Connected Faces in the Move Face feature. Incidentally, Move Face, is now included on a new Command Manager Tab called Direct Editing. (Sorry no toolbar yet.) The combo of Connected Face options for the Move Face Command, makes the ‘Direct Editing’ buzzword way more applicable and much easier than some other methods of direct editing, although being able to ‘Save a Connection’ would be useful. One more improvement worth mentioning. Those 3D sketches created by novice users when using the Hole Wizard won’t happen anymore. Now, they are 2D by default.
SolidWorks 2010 Assemblies
The first thing that pops in the head with Assembly improvements? Please, for the love of fried beans, please be faster. Would you take faster assembly features? How about better ways to view your assemblies? Looky here.
- Mirror Components *BEST NEW FEATURE AWARD*
- Component References
- SpeedPaks for sub-assemblies
- Assembly Visualization
I See Sweetness in the Mirror
Not only is the Mirror Components improvements the best new assembly feature. I would absolutely, without a doubt give it the award for best overall improved feature (maybe ever… in the history of SolidWorks.) This just works the way it should, FINALLY. While it would be nice to have all the setting in one step, there’s no more checkboxes to wonder about. Eac step happens visually on-screen. Even better, all the mirrored components are contained within one feature in the FeatureManager, and you can select to put all new mirrored parts in a separate folder. Absolute perfection.
SpeedPaks were a big boost for working in large assemblies for 2009, however you couldn’t add a SpeedPak configuration on an assembly that had Speedpak’ed sub-assemblies. In 2010, it’s now possible and for large assembly management this is a huge improvement, because, who working in large assemblies doesn’t have multiple levels of sub-assemblies, right?
While SpeedPaks get a nice boost, you still can’t create SpeedPaks of parts. (You’ll need to put the part in it’s own assembly to create a Speedpak of it.) Working with Multibodies parts in assemblies is still a bit awkward. When editing a multibody in an assembly, you’re not able to left-click a body to hide it, so you’ll still need to go to the FeatureManager or use the right-click menu to Hide/Show the bodies. Same with Surface Bodies too. If you work with these a lot, it’s best to set a Shortcut or Mouse Gesture to Hide/Show Bodies.
SolidWorks 2010 Drawings and Detailing
What’s the worst thing about detailing something you’ve already modeled (besides having to detail it?) – Adding dimensions. That’s just one brutality. Then there’s the adding notes, centermarks, showing edges and all the other messy stuff. 2010 stabs repeatedly at just about everything that is annoying about drawings.
- Rapid Dimensions *BEST NEW FEATURE AWARD*
- Better Tangent Edge options
- Improved BOM’s
- Attach Annotations
- Parametric Quantities
Drawings Better than Death
Ok, so Drawings are now, more fun. Rapid dimensions automatically locate your dimension and adjust the others around it. I keep trying to get them to do something awful, but it really works well. Two things though, if you move away from the edge you’re dimensioning, the option to Rapid Dim goes away, and Rapid Dims only works for Linear and Radius/Diameter dimensions, not ordinate or baseline. But wait, there’s more.
You can now attach annotations to dimensions, create flag notes (borders around bullet numbers), and add parametric quantities to bubble callouts – high fives to everyone. These three things take away much of the manual effort in previous versions. Working with BOM’s is easier, now that you can actually see the controls to move it. You can open parts directly from the BOM and move the BOM to different sheets simply by dragging it to the sheet.
SolidWorks 2010 General Coolness
Could there be anything else? Hmmm, well, yes, yes there could be a lot more. Outside all the typical model craziness, there’s a few enhancements that are going to make license managements and modeling much smoother.
- More Reference Planes *BEST NEW FEATURE AWARD*
- No Dongle for license servers
- Display States for Parts and eDrawings Configurations
- Faster Feature Rebuild
You’ll never guess how many plane combination flew in for SolidWorks 2010 – 44 different types. There were only 18 in SolidWorks 2009. The sad thing, there’s no way to create a plane… that BENDS, but oh well. Some features have also been improved to rebuild more efficiently. In the test I ran using Feature Statistics, the part came in with a rebuild time of 17.61 seconds, after updating it to 2010, the rebuild time was 7.73 seconds. I’ll take that.
For administrators, you’ll jump when you hear License Servers are now software based, rather than harnessed through the dongle. The admin process seems cleaner as well, but I’m still doing some testing in that area. Display States now get to play with parts and configurations in eDrawings. These two together, while unrelated, were some common problems in past versions. All together, it should save quite a bit of Tech Support time.
There are many, many other features I did not even cover. Features you’ll likely use more of depending on how your daily modeling routine. Whenever I look at a new version of SolidWorks, and because I have to make the recommendation to upgrade or wait, I have to take a hard look at how it’s actually going to improve processes in the company, regardless of if we are on subscription service or require new seats. Does SolidWorks 2010 warrant an upgrade? If you look back through the BEST NEW FEATURE AWARDS, those are improvements I choose as adding value to existing SolidWorks workflow and engineering processes.
It may come down to wanting those features, but needing them makes upgrading very justifiable. Seeing 2010 really brings to light what was lacking in 2008 and 2009. The amount of consistency brought to this new version not only makes sense, but sets up SolidWorks to be better at implementing new features and new technologies in the future. I’d say, more than any other year, this version is a sign that the SolidWorks program has matured, but also shows that it’s been heading that direction for a long time.