SOLIDWORKS World 2016 is a Wrap!

SWW16 2SOLIDWORKS 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.

Bacon Brotherhood 2

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.



Apps for kidsSOLIDWORKS 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.


SWUGL LogoSWUG Leaders Dinner

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.

SW2017SolidWorks 2017 Sneak Peek 
Every year at SOLIDWORKS World there is a peek of the next major release of SOLIDWORKS.  This year was no different and a Star Wars themed skit was used to show off some of the new features.  I’m not going to list them all here but some of the ones I took note of are.
Mirror Views:  Should be a great way to do “opposite hand” drawings.
Wrap sketches on to any face or multiple surfaces:  This one is long over due.
Magnetic Mates: Should make building assemblies of common “parts” super simple.
Shaded sketch contours:  Will make sketching easier on the eyes.
SWV LogoSOLIDWORKS Visualize is a new standalone rendering application from SOLIDWORKS.  It’s not really new, just the name.  SOLIDWORKS Visualize is re-branded BunkSpeed Shot.  SOLIDWORKS Visualize was announced during the SOLIDWORKS 2016 rollout but was publicly released for download at SOLIDWORKS World.  I’ve been using the beta version for a few months now.  Like a lot of other rendering products SOLIDWORKS Visualize is marketed as “push button” rendering software.  Meaning, you import your geometry, push a couple buttons and Bam. You have a fantastic professional rendering.  Sounds nice but unfortunately this is no such thing as “push button” rendering and fantastic results still requires time and experience.  You can learn more about SOLIDWORKS Visualize in this interview with Brian Hilner.

SolidWorks Visualize

Visulization Header

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.



SWW16It’s that time of year again!  SOLIDWORKS World 2016 is less than two weeks away and I find myself scrambling to be ready.  To be more specific, SOLIDWORKS World 2016 will be held January 31 – February 3 in Dallas, Texas.  There is still time to register and if you’re wondering if you should attend here are some reasons for being there.

– Over 5000 attendees
-Meet other SOLIDWORKS users from around the world
-Attend the largest SOLIDWORKS User Group Meeting of the year
-Become a CSWA, CSWP. CSWE
-Over 200 educational breakout sessions
-Demo, research and compare all the software solutions SOLIDWORKS has to offer
-Demo, research and compare partner software solutions and technology
-Listen to some great Keynote speakers
-Attend some fun events

SWW 16 AppIf you have already registered then download the SWW16 app.  It’s a great way to keep track of your schedule, find information and know the latest information from the conference.  Currently the app is only available on ios from the Apple app store.  An Android version may be coming soon?


SWV Watch

Something that has really caught my interest this year is the new SOLIDWORKS Visualize product.  I’ve been using the beta for a couple of months and official release is to be announced during SOLIDWORKS World 2016.  I know there are a number of breakout sessions dedicated to SOLIDWORKS Visualize and I’m sure more Visualize information will be available at World.  I do have an interview setup with the SOLIDWORKS Visualize team and will post the interview during the conference so be on the look out.


PV360 Tips

I’ll be giving a PhotoView 360 tips and tricks presentation this year.  The presentation will have various information from old presentations and also add some new things.  If you’re a PhotoView 360 user stop by and learn some new things.  The presentation will be Tuesday at the 2:45 time slot in room D163

See everyone in 12 days 🙂



Albany, NY SWUGN Summit

SWUGN SummitI’ll be attending the Albany, NY  SWUGN Summit on Tuesday May, 19th.  My 75 minute PhotoView 360 101 presentation begins at 12:30.  At the end of the presentation I’ll show some sneak peeks of PV360X.  There is also the possibility of some PV360X test drives during the day.  If you’re in the Albany, NY area stop in and check it out.

You can learn more about the SWUGN Summit event here.


PV360X: A SOLIDWORKS Plug-in Coming Soon

PV360XPV360X is a new SOLIDWORKS plug-in that will enhance your PhotoView 360 experience.  If you use PhotoView 360 to create renderings and rendered animations the PV360X plug-in is designed for you.  PV360X offers improved appearances, improved scenes, streamlined user interface and workflow, and new tools.  PV360X has been under development for some time and will soon be ready for beta testing.  To find out more about PV360X please visit  While you’re there complete the form to join the beta program and receive product updates.






SolidWorks World 2015: And So It Begins

SWW15 Header SmallI have arrived in Phoenix for SOLIDWORKS World 2015!  In my short time here I’ve already run into some familiar faces.  There are SOLIDWORKS badges and  bags popping up everywhere and the SOLIDWORKS World buzz is starting to fill the air.  One of the best things about attending SOLIDWORKS World for me is catching up with people I’ve met over the 11 years I’ve been attending the conference.

This morning I had breakfast with John Matrishon.  John and Edson Gebo started the “Bacon Brotherhood” at SOLIDWORKS World last year and its still going strong.  I’m not exactly sure how to explain what the bacon brotherhood is but I can tell you how to join.  It’s really simple actually.  Take a photo of bacon and yourself (a bacon selfie if you will) and post the picture on twitter with #baconbrotherhood and #sww15.  It’s that simple.  Once tweeted you will recieve a bacon brotherhood tag to attach to your SOLIDWORKS World badge and an official bacon brotherhood card.

Bacon Brotherhood

After breakfast I bumped into Todd Blacksher.  Among other things, Todd is a SWUG leader in Nebraska.  For the last couple of years Todd has been making some really cool “keys” that he hands out.  As a special effect, this years key’s spell SWUGN when you place two together.  Nice work Todd.



The pre-conference meet ups have been fun and its going to get better when SOLIDWORKS World 2015 officially kicks off today with the welcome reception at 5:30 in the partner pavilion.  As I write this I wonder what sort of content SOLIDWORKS World 2015 may have in store for us?  Of course there will be the official “stuff” you find on the website and agenda.  The general sessions will contain Keynote speakers, info about the changing of the guard from Bertrand Sicot to Gian Paolo Bassi, customer product and education spotlights, model mania winners, SWUGN awards, a sneak peek at SOLIDWORKS 2016.  These are all things you come to expect from SOLIDWORKS World.  There may be some “surprise” content however and that’s what I’m really talking about here.  I’m purely speculating but these are some things that I think will make a surprise appearance at SOLIDWORKS World 2015:

An update to SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual.  Its been a year since its release and I’m sure work has been done to the product.

The introduction of SOLIDWORKS Industrial Conceptual.  This product was mentioned at SOLDIWORKS World last year and should be ready for consumption this year.

Something REALLY BIG for SOLIDWORKS 2016.  Of course SOLIDWORKS will be updated for 2016 but I have a feeling we may see some larger than normal updates for 2016.

Richard Doyle with SOLIDWORKS painted fingernails.  This was talked about on Twitter and I’m wondering if Richard will actually show some painted SOLIDWORKS nails.


If you’re here in Phoenix have a great time at SOLIDWORKS World 2015.  If you can’t be at the conference you can watch the live stream.




SolidWorks World 2015

SWW15 Header

The new year is upon us and for some that means SolidWorks World is right around the corner.  This will be my 11th year attending SolidWorks World and you would think after this many years it’s grown to be routine.  That is not the case however.  In fact, this might be my busiest SolidWorks World ever.  This year I’ll be giving 3 presentations on rendering, releasing some research from a recent project I’ve completed, making some announcements about an exciting new business venture I’m involved in and stopping by the New Mexico SWUG to give a presentation. It’s going to be a busy week.  You can find more information about my SolidWorks World presentations below.


PhotoView 360 101:  Monday February 9th from 1:30-2:30

This session is meant to expose the new PhotoView user to the tools available inside the software.  We won’t go in depth on any one PhotoView 360 tool but instead will touch on all the tools PhotoView 360 has to offer.  We’ll do this by walking through the creation of a rendering.  Along the way  we’ll touch on all the major areas, appearances, lighting, camera set up, saving your image, etc.  At the same time I’ll also show different options, settings and techniques available the new user may not be aware of.  The goal is to give a complete but general overview of the PhotoView 36o product.  If you’re a new PhotoView 360 user or are thinking about using PhotoView 360 in the future this would be a good session to attend.


Advanced Lighting Techniques for PhotoView 360:  Tuesday February 10th from 2:45-3:45

In this session I’m partnering with Ron Bates from Whitehall digital. This is a hands on session and if you’ve ever been to a hands on session you know they require two people.  One person presents the material and the other fields questions from and helps the participants.  Ron is filling the role of material presenter and I’m the participant helper.  Truth be told, Ron prepared most of the material for this session.  This will be an advanced session that covers some unique methods of lighting in PhotoView 360.


PhotoView 360 Tips and Tricks:  Wednesday February 11th from 1:30-2:30

As advertised this is a “tips and tricks” session.  I’m pulling some old tips and tricks from past presentations and also adding some new ones.  There should be something in there for new and long time users of PhotoView 360.  Once again I’ll be partnering with Ron Bates for this session but tables are turned this time.  For this session I prepared most of the content. :).  SolidWorks World is a busy place filled with many session options and sometimes it’s hard to attend all the sessions you want.  If you’re a PhotoView 360 user you should try and attend at least one of these sessions.


See you in February.


SolidWorks 2015, Exploded View Enhancements

Rendered exploded views and animations are some of my most requested projects.  Depending on the complexity of the model, exploded views can be time consuming to set up.  Exploded view creation enhancements found in SolidWorks 2015 can make exploded view setup easier and faster.  The faster I can setup the exploded view the faster I can start rendering and animation.  That’s when the real fun begins.


SolidWorks 2015, Selection Sets

SolidWorks 2015 has added new functionality named “selection sets”.  Selection sets allow a user to group a collection of items (faces, edges, features, sketches, etc.) into one selection that can be recalled at any time.  It’s a very nice tool for model creation and it also has some advantages in PhotoView 360.  Watch the video to learn more.


SolidWorks 2015, Render Region

SolidWorks 2015 was released on September, 9th.  I don’t believe the DVD’s have shipped yet but customers on subscription can download SP 0.0 at the customer portal.  I just installed SolidWorks 2015 SP0.0 myself a few days ago and thought I’d share some new functionality videos with you.  This first video covers “render region” and its really the only new feature in SolidWorks 2015 specific to PhotoView 360.

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