3D design software top 10 features, simulation, visualization, electrical; helps with robot design

Dassault Systèmes announces SolidWorks 2014 enhancements including improvements in shape control, sketch enhancement, visualization control, sheet metal, features, simulation, and electrical project features. Rethink Robotics uses SolidWorks for development of content, design of parts for manufacturability, and to conduct design reviews, simulations, and stress analysis studies.
By Mark T. Hoske September 7, 2013

Cutaway of Rethink Robotics Baxter looks as real as the real robot but is faster and easier to display due to refinements in SolidWorks 2014. Courtesy: Dassault Systèmes SolidWorksDassault Systèmes (Paris:DSY) discussed SolidWorks 2014 enhancements with a small group of media on Sept. 5. Upgrades to shape control, sketch enhancement, visualization control, sheet metal, simulation, electrical design, and project capabilities are among 10 major improvements listed below. Among customers at the 2014 launch event, Rethink Robotics said it uses SolidWorks to develop content, design the prototype and the parts for manufacturability, and to conduct design reviews, simulations, and stress analysis studies. SolidWorks 2014 beta software has been available to select customers, a pre-release version is scheduled to be available Sept. 9, and the final version is planned for October, company officials said.

Michael Lewis, senior mechanical engineer with Rethink Robotics, said his company uses SolidWorks. Here he demonstrates Baxter, Rethink Robotics’ easy-to-teach, low-speed, collaborative robot. Courtesy: CFE Media’s Mark T. Hoske

3D design helps with robotic design

Rethink Robotics engineers, as the name says, had to rethink robotics to build a better robot, suggested Michael Lewis, Rethink Robotics senior mechanical engineer. To help, the team used Solidworks 3D modeling and simulation software by Dassault Systèmes (3DS) to explore what was possible with robotic design.

“By using SolidWorks,” Lewis said, we developed “an adaptive manufacturing robot containing cameras, sensors, and sophisticated software that enables it to ‘see’ objects, ‘feel’ forces, and ‘understand’ tasks.” The resulting robot, Baxter from Rethink Robotics, “automatically adapts to changing environments,” Lewis said, “It knows what you mean and does what you expect.”

After using SolidWorks to help design and build Baxter, the Rethink Robotics team expanded use of SolidWorks to support customers interested in the robot, but in need of a simple model that showed different configurations of layouts for manufacturing workspaces where Baxter would work.

“Baxter helps manufacturers across industries compete in the new manufacturing world by providing a safe and affordable alternative to low-cost overseas labor,” explained Lewis. “Whether Baxter’s job is managing plastic parts for medical device products or packaging millions of toothpaste tubes for shipment to a department store, it easily performs repetitive tasks while helping drive down related manufacturing costs.”

Formlabs used Solidworks to rapidly move through six prototypes of its desktop stereolithography 3D printer, The Form 1, into production. A precisely controlled laser cures low-cost liquid resin into a model. Courtesy: CFE Media’s Mark T. Hoske

Major new 2014 features – see next page for the 10 best improvements and another photo

Lewis and other customers shared insights, and 3DS executives talked about major enhancements to SolidWorks 2014 at a media event on Sept. 4 and 5 at the Solidworks headquarters, Waltham, Mass. Each year more than 200 Solidworks customer user groups globally suggest features, which are prioritized and developed based on maximum impact for the largest number of users, said Gian Paolo Bassi, vice president of R&D, 3DS Solidworks Corp.

The 10 most significant improvements for 2014, according to Solidworks, are:

1) Advanced shape control

• Fast and easy creation of complex geometry with new Style Spline functionality

• Better, simpler control over curvature of spline geometry

• New conic fillet controls create smoother transitions for fillets

Benefits: Conceptualize and design faster and easier with more robust and powerful sketching capabilities.

2) Sketch enhancements

• Replace sketch entity

• Set sketch and sketch picture scale when adding first dimension

• Fixed length dimension for 2D splines

• Path length dimension for multiple sketch entities—belts, chains, cables, perimeters, etc.

Benefits: Create complex surfaces and organic shapes faster, easier, and with more precise control.

3) Enhanced assembly performance and visualization

• Create assemblies faster with new in-context Quick Mate toolbar

• Section view—Include/exclude selected components

• Significantly improved section view performance

• Create part slot features with hole wizard and speed up assembly creation with new Slot Mate

• Add rotation in Explode Steps so parts will automatically rotate

Benefits: Create and view assemblies faster and easier.

4) Design communication and collaboration

• Experience 3D designs in the real world in augmented reality with eDrawings and eDrawings Professional iOS mobile apps

• eDrawings mobile support for Android devices (4.0 and later)

• Create an eDrawings file of your SolidWorks Electrical schematics with one click

Benefits: Experience and communicate your design ideas in a more lifelike way.

5) New sheet metal features

• New sheet metal gusset feature for creation of stiffening ribs

• Improved control over sheet metal corner treatments

• Sheet metal lofted-bend includes information needed for press brake manufacturing

Benefits: Create sheet metal geometry faster, with improved data output for manufacturing.

6) Streamlined simulation setup

SolidWorks Simulation automatically leverages data for simulations:

• Toolbox fasteners definition, with position, bolt materials, and preloads, for bolt connectors in SolidWorks Simulation

• Thermal properties and PCB definition from electrical components in SolidWorks Flow Simulation

• In-mold residual stress and temperature data from SolidWorks Plastics in SolidWorks Simulation

Benefits: Streamline simulation and eliminate duplication of effort to enable concurrent engineering.

7) Faster drawing detailing

• Create angular running dimensions

• Set automatic limits for rows in tables

• Turn a part drawing into an assembly drawing without losing references

• Slot callout notes

Benefits: Perform faster and more automated drawing detailing.

8) SolidWorks Electrical improved integration and performance

• One-button publishing of schematic and assembly files for review in eDrawings

• One click check-in/check-out of electrical project files to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM

• Enhanced wire/cable/harness development capabilities with optimized routing

Benefits: Optimize, share, and track electrical designs more easily for improved project collaboration.

9) SolidWorks Enterprise PDM streamlined workflow

• Customize the user interface with custom data columns for company-specific data

• Automated cache management to cache and clear specified folders at user log-in and log-off

• Enable vault operations directly in Microsoft Office user interface for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Benefits: Make faster, more accurate document actions and get the latest file versions automatically.

10) Streamlined cost estimating and reporting

• New options enable selection and control of cost estimation methods

• New estimate type based on average cost of material removal simplifies costing setup

• Microsoft Excel integration and output of more costing custom properties improve cost data sharing

Chris Weiss, vice president of engineering for the Knapheide Manufacturing Co., said SolidWorks software helps ensure customer satisfaction and manufacturing quality by confirming complex truck-body designs. Courtesy: CFE Media’s Mark T. Hoske

Benefits: Cost parts faster and with less setup, then share cost data more effectively with downstream applications.

SolidWorks 2014 new features and enhancements span the full range of SolidWorks software for 3D design, simulation, technical communication, and product data management to maximize productivity, company representatives said.

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

Online extras

See related product release on SolidWorks 2014, showing software screen shots.