Getting the most out of your CAD/CAM performance

SolidWorks 2012: Which New Features Will Boost Your Performance?

by Bill Martin-Otto on 19 Sep, 2011 in SolidWorks


We all want to work faster, smarter, and more efficiently—that’s what is all about. With the release of SolidWorks 2012, Dassault Systemes is hoping to give you 10 big new ways to do just that. I’ll give you a sneak peek, and rate the features on my completely subjective, five-star performance enhancement scale.

Costing Tool ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

I’m a big fan of aligning creative work with business goals, and SolidWorks Costing helps the cause by automating the process of manufacturing cost calculations for sheet metal and machined parts. Whenever you make a change, you can see how it affects the budget. This is a huge performance enhancer because you don’t have to wait until a design is finished before you realize you just blew your budget.

Large Design Review

Maybe I just don’t get this one because I work for a company that makes high-powered workstations. Large Design Review may be the fastest way to open and interrogate a large assembly without the need for a high-powered computer or any special file preparation, but you’re going to need a lot of computer power for all the tasks you have to perform to complete the model in the first place.

Magnetic Lines and Balloon Enhancements ✯ ✯ ✯

SolidWorks 2012 offers several enhancements that help you spend less time updating your drawings and more time perfecting your designs. This has huge performance potential because it can likely help you reduce errors that can cause problems later. Some designers and engineers who are set in their ways may not take to new ways of doing things, however, so this feature is really more of a personal thing.

Feature Freeze ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

Feature Freeze lets you control whether specific features will rebuild or not. I love this feature, because it can dramatically speed the design of complex models.

Enhanced Equation Editor ✯ ✯ ✯

Again, this is kind of a personal thing, so if you’re used to working with the old SolidWorks Equation Editor you may have to take some time to get used to the new interface. The goal, however, is to make it easier to create equations faster, understand equation order, and troubleshoot equations more easily.

Command Search ✯ ✯

Command Search allows you to find commands that are either hard to access or not on the standard toolbars. It’s just another tool to help customize the SolidWorks user interface to streamline your workflow.

Motion Optimization ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

This is probably my favorite performance enhancement in SolidWorks 2012. Motion Optimization automatically uses motion study results to create sensors and refine machine aspects, such as motor size, bearing loads, and range of travel. Use it to answer complex “what if” questions to explore new ideas, reduce design risk, and make better design decisions. You can improve product quality, reduce costs, and finish your products faster—all keys to peak performance.


SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Integrated Search ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

If you have to work on a system with only one monitor, anything that lets you free up screen space to focus on your design window gets a big thumbs up from me. Enterprise PDM Integrated Search gives you the option of searching from within your current Explorer window—no separate dialogs needed.


3DVIA Composer™ Enhanced Lifelike Experience ✯ ✯

I love what 3DVIA Composer does for technical communications and product documentation. Some of the new visual effects are nice to have, but they don’t impact performance in a major way. I do like the new Web templates that let you quickly create quality, interactive product information online.

SolidWorks Sustainability ✯ ✯

This enhanced feature can help boost the performance of eco-friendly designers. Automatically measure environmental impacts during design, and set parameters for alternate materials, amount of recycled content, and product lifecycles.


When you get your SolidWorks 2012 upgrade and start using these features, let me know what you think of them and which ones help improve your performance the most.

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One Response to SolidWorks 2012: Which New Features Will Boost Your Performance?

  1. Josh September 20, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Great write-up Bill! I like the Large Design Review for performance though. While I wish it was applied to assemblies in general, it makes it quick to bring up models, especially in a production environment. Quickview was ok, but the measure and section capability make it that much better.

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