I’m a note taker and thought I’d share what I gathered this last meeting 02/19/2013.

Richard Doyle, the User Community Manager (his title is really long but I didn’t write it down) for SolidWorks gave a presentation about little known features of SolidWorks 2013. Some highlights of interest included:

  • A user can now install both SolidWorks 2012 and 2013 on the same workstation.  Double-clicking a file causes the system to prompt the user for which version of SolidWorks to open.
  • The file interaction dialog boxes (Open, Save, Insert, etc.) have been enhanced with some quick filter buttons that make selecting SolidWorks files more easily.  The buttons are sticky and persistent.  In addition, there is a Top Level Assembly button which looks at file references and filters out any assembly which is not referenced by others.
  • Customization of the Shortcut toolbar (activated by the “s” key) has become more user friendly.
  • The SolidWorks RX tool now runs with SolidWorks open and can be used for more than just troubleshooting and reporting system problems.  The benchmark tools seemed most helpful to track and compare system performance against other users.
  • It is now possible to replace a part in an assembly with a different part of the same name.  This feature is highly specialized in its application but may be useful on occasion.
  • It is now possible to select an entire subassembly in an assembly.  In the past, selecting a part has ignored any related subassemblies and only selected the single part.
  • Baseline dimensions in drawings can be edited, adding more points to their definition without starting over.
  • It is now possible to replace a drawing view with a simple sketch, thus removing all associatively to the parent part/assembly.
  • Revision clouds can now be added to drawings. While we would probably never use them on the face of a released drawing, they can be helpful to identify areas in need of change or review during the design/revision process.
  • A thin feature can now be made from a sketch with multiple contours.  In the past, multiple thin features needed to be created to achieve the same result.
  • Any feature with an end condition (extrude, cut, sweep, etc.) now has right-click menu choices to speed selection of the end condition.
  • The user can now assign sounds to key SolidWorks functions.  I would find it very useful to be alerted when a rendering is complete as I do work on a second computer while waiting for the rendering of an image on the first.
  • It is now possible to permanently break all external references to other files and remove any broken reference symbols.  Richard warned against using this as a standard practice because it yields under-defined geometry in your design.
  • The measure tool now saves history and remembers key preferences (like canter-to-center or minimum distance).
  • It is now possible to zoom and pan while editing text (including the Revision Block).  This is helpful when the user desires to reference a dimension value somewhere on the drawing in a note.
  • It is now possible to flatten out the feature tree to show sketches that would normally be hidden within features as they are consumed.
  • The view selector tool (activated by the spacebar) now has a 3D interface allowing the user to select a back view or alternate corner iso views with a single click.  This feature has been available in Inventor for many releases and is a welcome addition to navigating SolidWorks.  In addition, saved views can be saved globally for use in other parts/assemblies.  This will be a time-saver for users who need to create consistent viewpoints for drawings or renderings.
  • The Photoview 360 rendering tool has been enhanced with numerous new appearances to aid in producing more useful rendered images.

In addition to comments related directly to SolidWorks 2013, Richard mentioned some other noteworthy items:

  • Dessault has changed the name of its 3DVIA Composer product calling it SolidWorks Composer.
  • There are 223 User Groups worldwide.
  • The SolidWorks Part Reviewer is an Add-In available in SW2012 that provides an animated walk-through of a part file. It steps through the feature tree showing sketches, dimensions and features as they were created.  If the user applied comments to the features, those comments are displayed.  A search in the SolidWorks Forum for “SolidWorks Part Reviewer” results in dozens of sample part files that can be a very helpful training tool.  Internally, a company could establish standard modeling practices, make a sample model employing those practices augmented with comments and make use of SolidWorks Part Reviewer as a training tool.
  • Consider using Netvibes (now owned by Dessault) as a Blog aggregator tool to keep track of Blogs and other things (nice dashboard interface).
  • Rapid Sheet Metal has made available an Add-In for SolidWorks that will provide instant price quoting.  Some of our users have purchased parts from Rapid Sheet Metal in the past and may find this useful.
  • On August 20, 2013 there will be another SWUGN Summit held in the Twin Cities.  This event provides a full day of technical training with multiple break-out sessions for $40.  Users have attended this event in the past and have benefited from the low-cost training.
  • The eDrawings App for iDevices has been updated to add a feature called Augmented Reality.  The user can snap a photo with the device camera and then place a SolidWorks 3D model in correct scale context with the photo.
  • Richard made a special point to encourage users to spend time on the SolidWorks Forum website as there is an active community out there, ready to help and share knowledge.  He also reminded us to make enhancement requests and report bugs to our VAR as often as possible as each report/request is a vote for priority attention by the developers.