2021. There’s a lot to look forward to with that number. So, let’s start the celebration early with SOLIDWORKS 2021 and pretend everything is open, people aren’t afraid not to wear a mask, and this year is dissolved deep, deep, deep into the annals of history.

The season has changed and so also has our beloved SOLIDWORKS. And while they’re moving toward complete cloud CAD capabilities, SOLIDWORKS has put a a HUGE focus on quality and performance for SOLIDWORKS 2021 with nearly 60% of resources dedicated to improvements from graphics and assemblies to parts and drawings. On top of that, 2021 is bringing a lot of new features bound to improve your current workflow and modeling methodologies while getting you all greased up for an easy transition to more tools, more features, and more capabilities across Dassault’s wide array of 3DEXPERIENCE options.

Let’s dive into our favorite new features.

Graphics Performance Improvements

In 2019, they started an initiative to improve the graphics performance and, with the gains in GPU technology, maximize the use of the GPU. You had the option to enable Enhanced graphics performance with SOLIDWORKS 2020, and now, with SOLIDWORKS 2021 it’s the default setting and at the top of our list for top new features. If you haven’t been concerned about what GPU you have for SOLIDWORKS before, you’ll want to get up to speed on it now to take advantage of these benefits.

  • Enhanced graphics performance greatly improved (option on by default)
  • Improved occlusion culling
  • Improved silhouette edges
  • Re-architected drawing performance
Improved ‘Enhanced graphics performance’ in SOLIDWORKS 2021 – Look at those speeds.

Large Assembly Performance

SOLIDWORKS needs but mention assembly improvements and it’s at the top of the list. This year, in particular, they’ve added a smattering of assembly features that greatly improve workflow speed. Faster loading is always nice but the favorite here is the ability to create a Defeatured configuration.

  • Create Defeatured assembly as a Configuration (right-click, Use Defeatured!)
  • Faster opening of resolved and lightweight assembly files
  • Auto-loading of lightweight components on selection
  • Analyze/report circular references in assembly Performance Evaluation

For assemblies in general they’ve added the ability to:

  • Sync Configuration instances created by a Pattern
  • Auto-flip mate alignment for over-defined mates
  • Auto-center in slot for Slot Mates (or Free, Percent Along, Distance Along)
  • Export Assembly Interference spreadsheet
Right-click, select ‘Use Defeatured’ to quickly switch to Defeatured assemblies.


With so many new features across so many areas of SOLIDWORKS 2021 it was hard to narrow it down to these last two but they are fundamental in how you work in SOLIDWORKS. Though the parts are specific to certain industries, I think they’re broad enough to open up a lot of design options and improve a wide array of workflows. If you use sheet metal for metal forming or other sheet-like bend operations, you’ll certain to love this release.

  • Non-planar tangent Edge Flange (no more faking it!)
  • Redo for 60+ features and commands
  • Complex Flange flattening for Sheet Metal
  • Equation evaluation in File and Cut List properties
Non-planar edge flanges can now be created in SOLIDWORKS 2021


It’s at the bottom of our list but nevertheless quite significant. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is the hub for all things Dassault Systems, and it’s no less important to the future of SOLIDWORKS. To provide some context, here’s the way SOLIDWORKS phrased it in their blog of What’s New.

Connect to the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. Create seamless product development workflows and easily extend them with new tools as your business needs evolve. This connected design-to-manufacturing ecosystem in the cloud enables teams to collaborate on real-time data anywhere and at any time on any Internet-enabled device.

And here is how SOLIDWORKS CEO, Gian Paolo Bassi introduced it as “your entry to the Dassault Systemes Cloud-based platform.” (Ignoring that he used the phrase ‘New Normal’.)

YouTube video

While it is not features that are integrated within SOLIDWORKS it is a conduit to extend what you do in SOLIDWORKS. The connection, via 3DEXPERIENCE PLM Services, goes a long way, however, toward introducing the capabilities across the 3DEXPERIENCE platform as a whole. And, if you’ve ever wanted collaboration in SOLIDWORKS, this is the way in which you can have it and quite a bit more.

Those are the highlights and our favorites. Let us know what you like the most in the comments, what you think about the performance, and if you’ve tried or added 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS apps to your workflow. We would love to hear about it!

For more about SOLIDWORKS 2021, you can check out the SOLIDWORKS 2021 playlist on YouTube which includes the 1 1/2 hour What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2021 Live session.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.