Although there might have been some questions left unanswered at last week’s SolidWorks World, there were still some announcements that are sure to please a lot of users – even if they might take a little while to develop. Perhaps most notably is the announcement of the new SolidWorks Manufacturing Network.
The new platform – which is integrated into the MySolidWorks community dashboard – aims to connect SolidWorks users with manufacturers (and vice-versa) and decrease the need for going on a ‘manufacturer safari’. Similar to how Shapeways and other well-known rapid prototyping services offer real-time quotes based on the details of an uploaded part, the goal is to help streamline the prototyping process with services including 3D printing, sheet metal, CNC machining and injection molding.
Among others who have signed up first to be a part of the network is Proto Labs, Inc. The Minnesota-based rapid prototyping company itself was born out of the concept of offering quick-turnaround injection molded parts, and they have since expanded their services to include three rapid prototyping processes (SLA, SLS and DMLS) and CNC machining with over 30 material options.
As for how the Manufacturing Network fits in to an existing workflow, a user simply logs-in to their MySolidWorks account and – through a catalog of options based on needs – is able to have direct communication with the manufacturers for instant communication and quick quotes using their SolidWorks model or assembly.
Last week, we talked with SolidWorks’ Senior Product Portfolio Manager Andreas Kulik about the new platform and how he thinks users will get the most out of it:
Although it might be a few years off, Kulik noted that having all of the Manufacturing Network functionalities from directly within the SolidWorks modeling window is likely to happen sooner rather than later.
Try the new platform out for yourself over at MySolidWorks.