Preparing for the Future of Cloud-Connected CAD Tools

blog, Event Highlights

By Dan Herzberg – Senior Mechanical Engineer, Certified SolidWorks Expert

Cloud-connected CAD tools could represent the future of product and system design. At Goddard, our product development experts stay on top of the latest updates to the industry’s assets. In this blog, Dan Herzberg – a Certified SolidWorks Expert – breaks down what engineering teams need to know about SolidWorks’ newer cloud-based offering.

Last month’s 3DExperience World1 conference was a massive undertaking for a number of reasons. Not only did SolidWorks Corporation – and its parent company, Dassault Systemes – successfully adapt their global conference into something new and different for the Pandemic Age, they also controversially shifted the majority of their focus away from their flagship SolidWorks Desktop software, and onto their newer cloud-based offering, known as the 3DExperience Platform. 

Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles pitched the 3DExperience Platform as the perfect collaboration tool for Pandemic-Era remote work, and warned that “the pandemic was a wakeup call for those who hadn’t started a digital transformation of their business.” 

On its face, Dassault is envisioning a future where engineers give up everything they currently know – desktop CAD tools, storage servers, even email – to move to an all-encompassing, always-online ecosystem under their umbrella. SolidWorks users, arguably the most passionate community in the CAD industry, were skeptical of this line of thinking. A slow, piecemeal adoption of cloud CAD tools is much more likely, in order to give both up and down-stream collaborators time to adopt.

For SolidWorks users, the Cloud-based CAD collaboration platform has been introduced slowly over many years, undergoing iterations to its looks, name, and functionality to satisfy what has turned out to be an especially discriminating user base. The result is a powerful – albeit confusing – ecosystem called 3DExperience WORKS, encompassing mechanical CAD, subdivision modeling, simulation, analysis, and rendering tools, along with social-media-esque collaboration communities and built-in data management. This year’s conference also came with announcements of new Platform tools for Sheet Metal, Weldments, Mold Tools, Model-Based Definition and Technical Communication. 

The secret ingredient is a direct link between the new cloud tools and existing SolidWorks Desktop products, enabling discerning SolidWorks users to jump between fast iteration and powerful collaboration tools only available on the Platform, and the familiar detail design tools they use today. Files stored on Platform-based cloud servers can be accessed by both systems via a link known as SolidWorks Connected.

SolidWorks Connected is all about making the transition from Desktop SolidWorks to cloud-connected Platform tools much smoother. Continue using the CAD tools you know in love but connect it to a secure cloud-based server for file storage and multi-user collaboration. To encourage acceptance of the 3DExperience Platform ever further, SolidWorks announced offers at the conference to court historically eager early adopters – students and hobbyists. For only $60 and $99 per year, respectively, these enthusiastic groups will have access to both SolidWorks Connected and 3DExperience Apps, thereby presumably driving up demand for use of these tools in the industry within the next few years. 

The use of cloud-connected CAD tools isn’t just coming, it’s already here. Dozens of companies in the US alone have adopted at least some 3DExperience Platform tools, and with new modules and features being added all the time, hundreds more are likely to follow within the next half-decade. It will be more important than ever to turn to a team that understands the major changes and challenges this will bring to your product development process, and who will be ready to help you tackle them.

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1 https://3dexperienceworld.com/

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