SOLIDWORKS World 2016 is over. This year’s conference was much the same as the previous 11 I have attended. The keynotes, general sessions, overall schedule, events, software announcements, sneak peaks, etc, follow the same routine every year. That’s not a bad thing, engineers love consistency. It did have me pondering a question however, why have I attended 12 consecutive SOLIDWORKS World’s? After some careful though and reflection I know exactly why I attend every year, why I have a great time and why I’ll be attending in the future. The answer is as simple as one word, people.
What makes SOLIDWORKS World a great event for me is the people. Having been to as many World’s as I have I know a lot of people in the user community, reseller community, vendor community and SOLIDWORKS employees. They live all over the world and the only place I can see most of them is SOLIDWORKS World. Seeing old friends and making new ones is a tradition at World for many and I’m sure “the people” is a large part of SOLIDWORKS World’s success. To all my old friends and acquaintances I saw and all the new people I met this year at World, It was a pleasure spending time with you. 🙂
There were some things at this year’s conference that caught my interest. Some are people related and some are software related. I thought I’d share them here.
The Bacon Brotherhood is something dreamed up by Ed Gebo, leader of the Connecticut SOLIDWORKS User Group and John Matrishon, leader of the Western Massachusetts SOLIDWORKS User Group. In a nutshell the Bacon Brotherhood worships all things bacon and gives out ribbons at SOLIDWORKS World to others who show their allegiance to the “meat candy”. What started out as quirky fun a few years ago has grown into a legendary cult following. I dare say the Bacon Brotherhood ribbon is the most sought after one at World and the hashtag #baconbrotherhood dominates the SOLIDWORKS World tweets. This year Ed and John expanded to Bacon Brotherhood shirts and they even donate a portion of the purchase price to some very worthy causes. Earlier I said “the people” make SOLIDWORKS World the great event it is. Ed and John are perfect examples. Learn more about the Bacon Brotherhood here.
Dassault Systems announced SOLIDWORKS Xdesign. There wasn’t a lot of information released and they would not give product pricing information. They did show a demo video during the announcement and that’s what caught my interest. SOLIDWORKS Xdesign is browser only based CAD software that’s built on the 3D Experience platform. What does that mean? It means the product is built on the same modeling kernel as SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual, SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer and Catia. In the past this has meant its compatibility with SOLIDWORKS is limited but rumor has it Xdesign is supposed to have more robust compatibility with SOLIDWORKS. That remains to be seen but my fingers are crossed on this. Xdesign is more of a multipurpose modeler rather than a specifically targeted modeler like SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual or SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer. In my opinion its a product that would be more likely in the future to take the place of the SOLIDWORKS we all know and love than the others mentioned previously. That’s what interested me the most. It’s browser based which is fine in my mind except for the fact that finding a “good” internet connection in my area can be a challenge. I was disappointed they didn’t include pricing with the announcement and the pricing model will probably be the largest factor in the products success so I hope Dassault gets that part “right”. Sign up for the SOLIDWORKS Xdesign beta here.
SOLIDWORKS Apps For Kids was also announced. I have two boys aged 7 and 9 and I thought this would be a great product for them. SOLIDWORKS Apps For Kids is basically a suite of apps that allows kids to capture data (pictures, sketches, video, etc), use that data to design something in 3D, create a presentation to show their design to others and 3D print their design so they have a real life model. My kids (like most I’m sure) love video games, tablet apps and electronic devices. My thinking, this is a way for them to use their electronic devices to have fun while learning at the same time. Sign up for the SOLIDWORKS Apps For Kids beta here.
The last few years there has been a SOLIDWORKS User Group Leaders dinner held on Wednesday nights. The dinner is for, you guessed it, SOLIDWORKS User Group leaders. It’s a great event to talk with other user group leaders and unwind from the conference. What makes this event special is “the people”. The event wouldn’t happen without the hard work of two very great people. Nicole Walden is the leader of the Chattanooga SOLIDWORKS User Group and Casey Gorman leads the Central Florida SOLIDWORKS User Group. Putting on an event of this size is time consuming and requires planning. Finding a venue, transportation for the attendees, catering, music, and sponsors to fund it all is no easy task. Nicole and Casey do a great job. Again, another example of “the people” making SOLIDWORKS World a great event. Thanks guys.
Monday morning at the SOLIDWORKS World general session SOLIDWORKS announced the availability of SOLIDWORKS Visualize. SOLIDWORKS Visualize has been in beta for the last few months and now its available to everyone. If you own SOLIDWORKS Professional or Premium and are on active subscription you will be receiving an e-mail soon (you may have received it already) letting you know your eligible for SOLIDWORKS Visualize and how to download the product.
I was able to catch up with Brian Hillner of Dassault Systems and ask him some questions about about SOLIDWORKS Visualize. The first part of the interview are questions I developed and asked Brian. The seconds part of the interview are questions submitted by SOLIDWORKS users on Twitter.
Q: What is your name/title and role with the SW Visualize product?
A: Brian Hillner, Product Manager SOLIDWORKS Visualize.
Q: SW Visualize is a new product in name only. Can you give a history of the product before the name change to SW Visualize?
A: Before joining the SOLIDWORKS brand, the name of the product was called Bunkspeed. We had around 7,500 users worldwide and catered to many of the same target markets that SOLIDWORKS targets. We started back in 2000 as a small startup servicing the automotive industry, with technological breakthroughs that really changed how 3D visualization was used throughout the design process. Growing from our success in that space, we moved to product design, architecture, medical, aerospace and any other industry that uses CAD to design their solutions. Therefore, the move under the SOLIDWORKS family of products was a strategic alignment and will help build us meaningful visualization experiences for SOLIDWORKS users and non-SW users alike, even those who have no 3D experience!
Q: What is the goal of the SW Visualize product?
A: The mission statement for SW Visualize is simple: democratize Visualization. We want to be the Photoshop of 3D, making this powerful photo-quality visualization technology easy to use and available for anyone. Our goal is to enable designers, creative, engineers & content creators to have an enhanced 3D decision making experience a Fast, Easy & Fun way.
Q: SW Visualize is the first dedicated stand alone photorealistc rendering/animation product to be offered by DS. Can you tell us how SW Visualize differs from the integrated rendering/animation products SW currently uses or has used in the past (PhotoWorks, PhotoView 360)?
A: SOLIDWORKS Visualize is not a replacement for PhotoView 360, but a complementary tool that delivers more of what the SOLIDWORKS community has been asking for in visualization. PhotoView 360 is best for designs that are continuously undergoing changes. The direct link and bi-directional updates optimize rendering of work that is still in progress. Users can create CAD models and remain within SOLIDWORKS for basic visualization, providing immediate feedback on rough reflections, surface changes, etc, to evaluate the form and make rapid surface adjustments.
SOLIDWORKS Visualize picks up where PhotoView 360 leaves off, by introducing an environment that is more similar to photography, versus technical rendering, with a focus on 3D data. Because results are indistinguishable from photos, they can be used directly for marketing or other areas where physical prototypes don’t exist or add too much cost.
In addition, SOLIDWORKS Visualize doesn’t tie-up a SOLIDWORKS license, allowing the photorealistic visualization to be completed by someone else within the organization, providing a seamless dynamic design workflow and collaborative environment.
Q: SW Visualize is built on the Iray rendering engine. It’s my understanding that Iray is primarily a GPU based rendering engine. Is this correct?
A: This used to be the case, but NVIDIA has recognized that their products need to work on any hardware and give users a good experience out of the box, including on CPU. NVIDIA has always supported CPU rendering in Visualize’s Accurate mode, but now supports CPU rendering through Visualize’s Fast mode. This is a game-changer and now Visualize is as fast or faster than the competition on the same hardware. Visualization for the masses! Since any user can now have a good experience on any hardware, stepping up to NVIDIA GPUs is the obvious next step to go from good to better to best to mind-blowing speeds.
Q: Since SW Visualize is a dedicated product can we expect that there will be a dedicated R&D staff to continue to grow and enhance the product…etc?
A: Yes, this is absolutely the case. Without even selling a seat of Visualize yet, SW upper management understands the potential of this new product, not only for the SW community, but reaching far beyond into new markets and industries. This plays perfectly into SW’s campaign of “SOLIDWORKS is everywhere.” We have the strongest R&D team we’ve ever had and the future looks bright. Put on your sunny g’s.
Q: Will the SW Visualize update release cycle be synced with the SOLIDWORKS product line?
A: We aim to sync the Visualize release schedule with our 2017 version, which is planned to launch alongside the core SW 2017 in October. If all goes as planned, expect a big announcement regarding a new visualization solution from Visualize.
Q: There are a number of dedicated rendering/animation software’s on the market that can be used with SW files. What sets SW Visualize apart from those products? Why should someone choose SW Visualize over those products?
A: That’s an easy question. Hands down, we have the fastest time-to-quality in the industry. The amount of time it takes from fresh import to final photo-quality image is the fastest in the market. Other offerings may produce adequate results, but you have to have a college degree in 3D in order to even operate the software…and even then it takes an eternity to produce an image. Our simple, intuitive UI allows a novice with no 3D experience at all to crate marketing-quality content in the shortest amount of time. In the design process, speed-to-market is king and can make the difference in consumer’s purchasing decisions.
Q: What are the recommended hardware specifications for SW Visualize?
A: Visualize allows a user on any machine to have a good experience out of the box, regardless of hardware. Because of new advancements, this now includes CPU as well as GPU. Visualize is the only product in the market to have a Hybrid mode, which uses 100% of the CPU & 100% of the GPU to accelerate the render speeds. If the user wants even faster render performance past their included hardware, then using an NVIDIA GPU will significantly boost the render speeds. The NVIDIA product portfolio is quite robust and Visualize users have many choices to boost their hardware. An NVIDIA K2200 will give a small boost, an NVIDIA M4000 will give a substantial boost, and NVIDIA M6000 will be as fast as most CPU render farms! And since Visualize can take advantage of
multiple GPU configurations, adding a second GPU will blast your render speeds into outerspace.
-Windows 7 or newer (64-bit)
-Quad core CPU
-16 GB RAM
-5 GB free disk space
-4 GB or more GPU RAM
-NVIDIA graphics card: Single or Dual-GPU setup with at least Kepler cards
Q: What “flavors” will SW Visualize be offered in? What are the differentiating features and price points of each flavor?
A: SW Visualize is available in 2 flavors; Standard ($1495) & Professional ($2995). As new initiative, SW Visualize Standard will be included with every seat of SW 2016 Pro/Prem for users on active Subs. AND you can give this complimentary seat of Visualize Standard to anyone in your company! Visualize Standard is the fastest and easiest way to photo-quality images. It’s basically a camera for a virtual photo studio. Visualize Professional includes all the great features of Visualize Standard and allows you to tell a deeper story with your CAD data. It is the most comprehensive tool for easily creating photo-quality imagery, interactive animations, 360 degree spins and more to effectively communicate the most complex design details.
Q: Can you talk about any features or enhancements that are slated for the next release or two of SW Visualize that users will greatly benefit from?
A: I can’t get into details at this time, but I can say that we plan to support a deeper connection with SW files. We will always continue to support over 20+ different CAD formats, but since we are now part of the SW family, we have direct access to the SW code to improve that file format. We can then take the learnings from this process and apply them to other CAD formats as well. We also aim to introduce a game-changing technology to help users see their designs at true 1:1 scale, further accelerating the design development process. This technology will be pervasive and available to the masses for the first time, sticking true with our core mission to democratize visualization.
Q: Now that SOLIDWORKS Visualize is available how can eligible SW Pro/Prem users on active Subs download their complimentary seat of SW Visualize?
A: Eligible SW Pro/Prem users will receive an email during this first week in February with instructions to download their complimentary seat of Visualize Standard. The download can be started by signing into your Customer Portal and clicking on any of the 3 “Download Visualize” links. Simply fill out the web form and click Download! After installation, use your current SOLIDWORKS CAD serial number to activate your free seat of SOLIDWORKS Visualize Standard. Can’t find your serial number? Launch SOLIDWORKS and go to Help > About > Show Serial Number. And don’t forget you can give this free Visualize Standard download to any one in your company!
Questions from SOLIDWORKS users on Twitter.
Is SOLIDWORKS Visualize “linked” to the SOLIDWORKS file? If there is a “link” is it a live link that automatically updates or a manual update process? What updates, geometry, materials, etc?
A:Yes, we do support CAD Live-Update for SW files and many other CAD formats. It’s actually quite simple, an option when first importing, and is extremely ppowerful to have a seamless design experience. When working in Visualize & your CAD package simultaneously, as you make updates in CAD and save over your file, supported updates to the geometry are recognized and immediately transmitted to Visualize. Our 2016 product is only the first iteration of this process, and by our 2017 release we aim to make this live-update connection even more robust.
Q: Can we expect SW Visualize to replace PhotoView 360?
A: We currently have no plans to replace PhotoView360.
Q:Does SOLIDWORKS Visualize have better tools than PhotoView 360 to map complex texture patterns to complex geometry (example, mapping a fabric pattern onto complex geometry)?
A: I’m not aware of the texture mapping technology within PV360, but I can speak of Visualize. We support 7 types of texture mapping, including UV. We also have a very intuitive way to adjust the texture maps to create the desired result. Our Box texture map is one of the best in the industry, and is perfect for complex shapes. We also aim to support a unique way to adjust UV in a future release, significantly reducing the time to texture mapping your model.
I want to thank Brian for the interview time. Brian is very enthusiastic about the SOLIDWORKS Visualize product and I have to admit its infectious. It’s very refreshing to know there is now a dedicated department of Dassault Systems that is specifically focused on rendering and animation. This will no doubt be a great thing for the SOLIDWORKS users who rely on Photorealistic visuals to develop and market their products.