This fall, the latest version of Dassault Systèmes’ flagship software hit the shelves. Yes, SolidWorks 2019 is here! It has certainly come a long way since the initial 1995 launch, and this latest version is sure to streamline workflows and excite designers and manufacturers alike with its new and improved features.
As soon as you start exploring the changes, it becomes clear that the SolidWorks team has really listened to customer feedback on previous iterations of the software. Increased productivity and a more user-friendly interface seems to be the aim of the game here. Tweaks to existing features allow for fewer steps in the work process and an efficient and enjoyable modeling experience.
So, whether you’re a designer, manufacturer or machinist—SolidWorks 2019 has something new that will enhance your performance. Let’s delve into a few of the highlights…
Table of contents
- General performance improvements
- For design
- For manufacturing
- The verdict
General performance improvements
From the off you’ll notice that with SolidWorks 2019, the software developers have acknowledged that, these days more than ever, time is of the essence.
How does this show itself in practical terms? Well, for starters, the installation manager downloads far more quickly and across the board you’ll see improved functionality. The newest version of SolidWorks supports the latest graphics cards, so frame rates are increased for a better viewing experience. Head over to the recent documents section and you’ll find that you now have quick access to your last 100 pieces of work—a big increase on that shown by previous SolidWorks editions.
General improvements also mean that assembly performance is significantly faster. You can now quickly design large and complex assemblies and edit them with ease using the Large Design Review Mode. The process is a lot speedier and you still have access to all of the capabilities you would expect from SolidWorks’ design reviews.
When it comes to the design features in SolidWorks 2019, the scope of what you are actually able to model hasn’t seen any drastic changes, but improvements to a number of tools means you can achieve incredible results in far fewer steps. Lots of processes have been simplified and it’s a major time saver! Let’s explore a few of the key updates.
3D mesh modelling
With SolidWorks 2019 you can now automatically convert 2D textures into 3D geometry. Plus, new texturing tools allow you to create 3D mesh models and experiment with different designs in just a few clicks.
The design process is significantly enhanced by the fact that multiple profiles can now be projected onto multiple surfaces, whereas in previous versions you could only project in one direction onto a single surface body. This meant that one section of a design could end up requiring multiple sketches and projected curves. You can now do everything in a single process and you have the option of a bi-directional viewpoint. Think how much time you’ll be saving!
Updates to the touch user interface
Those who spend a lot of time using the touch screen will be pleased to hear that the capabilities of the sketch recognition feature have widened considerably. It can now pick up common shapes used by engineers and designers like splines and slots.
Perhaps even more impressively, it is able to recognize handwriting. You’ll be able to write dimensions straight onto your designs during the sketch process, rather than having to switch over to the dimension tool to type in a number. These updates should save a lot of time that would previously have been spent going back and forth from keyboard to touch screen.
The gesture recognition feature has also been trained to understand copy, select and drag. So, when working on 3D models, you can tap and grab things within designs and shift them around in what is a more natural feeling movement.
Collaboration on projects is now much easier thanks to the 3D mark-up tool. Touch screen or pen users can now make annotations directly onto 3D models and these mark-up files will remain with the relevant model. So, no more taking screenshots and discussing potential problems in a separate file—you can now directly communicate with collaborators all in one place.
You may be familiar with the tab and slot tools that were introduced in SolidWorks 2018—they’ve also experienced a revamp for the 2019 software. Corner options have been increased to include styles like dog-bone and rounded and you can group tab and slot features within a project so that all selected features can be made uniform and modified as a group, rather than individually. This comes in handy when working on jobs like creating patterns for laser-cutters.
There are also brand new tools to experiment with, including partial fillet and partial chamfer options. This allows for far more precision when editing designs and includes interference detection for multi-body parts, so you can make the necessary changes (in terms of engineering requirements) as you go along.
Extended reality (XR)
One of the most exciting features to come out of this software update has to be the introduction of the extended reality (XR) feature. The creators refer to it as a kind of ‘mixed reality’—a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality. In practical terms, it allows investors and consumers to experience and explore CAD models in the most realistic way possible. Enhancing your designs with this format couldn’t be easier, either—simply select File→ Save → Extended reality. Find out more about this feature in the video below:
The CAM side of SolidWorks 2019 is where you really start to see how this software can streamline work processes. Take, for instance, tolerance-based machining for turn parts. Once MBD (model based definition) data like dimensions have been applied to tool paths they link up with SolidWorks Inspection and any changes or improvements will be automatically updated to the same central data set. This means that the profile for machine parts should be correct from the very beginning. In other words, manufacturers will automatically be using the dimensions that the engineers and designers had in mind.
There are also new settings for CAM-users to enjoy, which should speed up their tasks considerably. For example, the new zigzag mode for high-speed machining means you can remove material much faster when cutting a particularly long part. There’s also support for tapered shanks, increased parameters and the ability to create machine-specific strategies that will automatically become default when you are the user.
It’s worth noting that CAD subscribers with SolidWorks also get SolidWorks CAM Standard thrown in for free.
Access for machinists
Machinists don’t need to feel left out, either. In SolidWorks 2019, Machinist Standard provides access to part files or customer files (depending on which their particular job may require) so that machinists can do programming on a part and take advantage of the modeling capabilities of SolidWorks. Enjoy the best tools and features without having to fork out for the professional version!
The fact that one file from the start to finish of a project stores all relevant data sets enables what has become known as ‘smart manufacturing’. From concept, to simulation, to inspection, one location contains all of the information any collaborators along the way may need. Model based definitions are easy to find and so it’s easy to pinpoint the source of any issues, should they arise.
SolidWorks 2019 further enhances this process by facilitating the integration of a range of SolidWorks features. These include:
- SolidWorks Sell, which allows users to add their designs to a cloud-based configurator, share concepts across multiple devices and use AR to show how they would perform in their intended environment.
- Improvements to SolidWorks Inspection, including a new grid layout and changes to the bill of characteristics.
- Communication tool SolidWorks Composer, through which designers and manufacturers can share technical information with stakeholders and/or consumers.
The improved functionality, optimized workflows and enhanced performance offered by SolidWorks 2019 all contributes to an outstanding user experience. For more information on new features and the chance to really get into the nitty gritty of what’s changed, check out the full SolidWorks solution portfolio.
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