Well, if you were one of the roughly 5000 SOLIDWORKS users at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020 in Nashville last week (or one of the many who watched it live), you were part of the first batch to catch a glimpse of the new spot for SOLIDWORKS on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and one of the first to get a taste of the 3DEXPERIENCE products to come.

If you were one of the other million+ SOLIDWORKS users who didn’t go… well, Dassault Systemes has big plans for the tools and capabilities you have within SOLIDWORKS and beyond. SOLIDWORKS has been ‘on’ the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, but 3DEXPERIENCE World really marks the birth of SOLIDWORKS on the platform. Here’s a quick wrap-up of the highlights, a little context, and things you’ll want to pass along to your partners in product dev.

SOLIDWORKS is Fully Onboard the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform (3DX) is the Dassault Systemes (DS) Cloud solution for all things product dev related. In their own words:

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a BUSINESS EXPERIENCE platform [that] provides software solutions for every organization in your company [to] help you, in your value creation process, to create differentiating consumer experiences.

In human words, it’s modeling, collaboration, simulation, and planning apps that connect with each other so you can access them anywhere on any device. (Think of 3DX as an ecosystem, not unlike the Google ecosystem that, with an account, provides you access to all the tools/products from Google.) The backbone of 3DX is ENOVIA product/global lifecycle management software. In the past, SOLIDWORKS has had connections to 3DX.

At the 3DXWorld Day 1 General Session, Gian Paolo Bassi (GP), CEO of DS SOLIDWORKS announced three offers that introduce SOLIDWORKS’ integration on the 3DX platform. From their press release:

The new offers – Standard, Professional and Premium – feature SOLIDWORKS standard, professional and premium applications that are installed from, licensed from, and updated in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, with data stored in it.

It’s the same desktop app, connected to the 3DX platform, delivering your license, updates, and data with access to support, info, and people, anywhere you’re able to access the software. It also expands the SOLIDWORKS portfolio with more tools coming to and already on the 3DX platform. Does it mean complete interconnectedness between all the apps? Ultimately. Interoperability between SOLIDWORKS and CATIA? Yet to be seen. However, with it, they will begin to introduce more products.

SOLIDWORKS is Getting More Products

SOLIDWORKS is one of Dassault’s biggest brands. How do you grow a brand? Well, outside of adding more customers or selling more products, you can add more products. The three new, previously mentioned, offers match the three traditional SOLIDWORKS packages – Standard, Premium, Professional. Each includes SOLIDWORKS (Standard, Premium, or Professional) bundled with various 3DX apps. It’s best illustrated in this table:

“Why did we do that?” GP, asks. “Because we want you to use only what you need. And, you will find it here. And, you will pay for, only what you use.” You can pay for those with a ‘limited time’ 3DX World offer where you can add 3D Creator, 3D Sculptor, or both. Now, before you start asking questions, you need to know…

All About 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS and Roles

Now, on the graphic above, you’ll notice it says ‘3DXPERIENCE WORKS Offers’. As you may have picked up on, 3DX WORKS is the expansion of 3DX apps into the SOLIDWORKS Portfolio. Think of it as a sub-platform of the 3DX platform. They’re bits, bobs, and capabilities that exist in other products on the 3DX platform, made available for the SOLIDWORKS (or mainstream) market. And the 3DX platform has A LOT of products. At last count, the 3DX product portfolio has 328 products. If you clicked through on that link (or caught the Day 1 General Session), you’ll see 3DX products are called Roles. The same goes for 3DX WORKS products. For example, the 3DX WORKS Premium Offer gives you access to the 3D Sculptor, 3D Creator, Simulation Designer, Collaborative Designer, Industry Innovator, and Business Innovator Roles.

GP described Roles at 1:16:18 of the General Session:

Applications are very well organized in Roles. So, it’s easy to find what you need. What is a Role? A Role is a job description, it’s what you do in real life. Why did we call them Roles? It makes a lot of sense. You think what you do and we then find all the tools for you to get your job done.”

One important thing I think GP missed was explaining that each Role can include multiple apps. And, as he said, you pay for the Role only, not each individual app. So, say you have the 3D Sculptor Role that currently contains the xShape app, but could contain multiple other apps from any of the Dassault brands. Here’s an example of the 3DX platform Aesthetic Shape Modeler Role that contains a whopping 18 different apps.

Structural Mechanics Engineer Role (Abaqus FEA) Added

But let’s bring it back to SOLIDWORKS. If you used SOLIDWORKS, specifically SOLIDWORKS Simulation, over the past few years, you know SIMULIA Abaqus FEA has been available via the Abaqus Associative Interface for SOLIDWORKS, a SOLIDWORKS add-in that connects the two. Well, now you have direct access to Abaqus capabilities (including non-linear static (implicit) and dynamic simulations (explicit), impact/drop/crash testing, compression, etc.) via the Structural Mechanics Engineer Role (SME) within SOLIDWORKS. This comes with all SME apps available in the Role and is a perfect example of how DS can take an existing 3DX Role and make all of its capabilities available for SOLIDWORKS users.

You Will Have Access to A Lot More Roles

Given that the 3DX platform has 300+ available Roles, and any of those can be spun out for the 3DX WORKS platform in a matter of days/weeks, there’s likely to be many more to come. Plus, with each Role containing any number of apps, the number of tools and capabilities could scale quickly. And, while these apps may not have all the capabilities you have in SOLIDWORKS, they have other features you don’t yet have in SOLIDWORKS. For example, 3D Sculptor provides subdivision (Sub-D) surface modeling technology, which SOLIDWORKS does not have. Another example is the 3D Creator Role, that contains the xDesign app. And, wouldn’t you know it…

xDesign Has Machine Learning

The xDesign app is available in the 3D Creator Role, available with any of the new SOLIDWORKS 3DX WORKS Offers. It has (at least three) features that use machine learning (artificial intelligence) – Selection Helper, Sketch Helper, Mate Predictor. Selection Helper looks at commonality in your selection and provides the option to one-click accept a suggested selection set. In the same way, Sketch Helper will provide suggestions based on the sketch you create. Mate Helper will auto-mate parts based on proximity. Similar to Smart Mates in SOLIDWORKS but, ya know, with the bonus of learning over time. At 1:20:06 GP describes the three features and there’s more on the SOLIDWORKS Blog here.

Xometry On-Demand Integration with SOLIDWORKS

In one of the best announcements of Tuesday’s General Session, Dassault Systemes announced that Xometry is the first ‘Prime Partner’ for MAKE Marketplace for SOLIDWORKS and CATIA which brings tighter integration between the software and Xometry’s on-demand manufacturing quote system. The result is price quotes in context of the design with thousands of manufacturing processes available from Xometry’s service providers.

How It Relates to What You Do Now

If there was one thing 3DEXPERIENCE World was about, it was the 3DEXPERIENCE platform with an all-out effort from DS to show how it works into a SOLIDWORKS user’s workflow and capture their bigger vision that it’s “not about just creating product; customers demand an experience.” In some regard, they struggled to communicate that. Day 2 General Session featured a complete workflow on the 3DX platform within the 3DX apps. It should have hit home. But instead of an, “I can use that with what I do!”, there was this underlying sense of, “Whaaaaat about the software I use now?”

The 3DX apps hold possibilities that should generate huge excitement. Subdivision modeling? I mean, how many decades have we waited for that? Yet, it’s possible… outside of SOLIDWORKS, within another app. Even though the 3DX apps are part of the same family — the same ‘SOLIDWORKS DNA’ — DS is going to have the pushback any outside software would have in the effort to convince them to rework or replace their processes, methodology, testing, and legacy information. We need to clearly see how it complements and utilizes this.

But then you look further out, how you use SOLIDWORKS Simulation, then a connector to Abaqus, now accessing a complete Simulation Suite within SOLIDWORKS, then… one, two, five years from now, realizing all your project information is accessible on the 3DX platform where it’s easier to open in another 3DX app instead of… that… that desktop software. You remember that desktop software? What’s it called? Hmmm, oh well.


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.