What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2017: Drawing Features

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, Dassault Systèmes will officially unveil its 24th release of SOLIDWORKS—SOLIDWORKS 2017. There will be 520 new enhancements across all SOLIDWORKS solutions. Ninety percent of those enhancements were directly driven by user feedback and 20 percent of them involve new innovations.

As a CAD manager, I am always excited about new releases. What features or enhancements will be added, which ones will be improved and how can they add value to what we are doing in terms of accuracy, ease of use and increased efficiency?

SOLIDWORKS is one of the main CAD solid-modeling software packages we utilize at our drafting and design firm Advanced Technical Services in Lincoln, Nebr. SOLIDWORKS definitely provides our CAD design technicians with the tools and functionality needed to create 3D models of everything from simple parts to complex assemblies containing multiple parts and weldments. Modeling is only the first half of our workflow, however. Those modeled parts, weldments and assemblies still need to be manufactured, built, assembled, etc.

The manufacturers, builders and assemblers that will be doing that work all need to have instructions to do so. What parts get holes, slots and bends? What are the sizes and locations of those features? What gets welded and what size and type of welds are used? What are the dimensional tolerances, materials and finishes, etc.? All this information is detailed and called out on drawings. The quicker my team can provide accurate and informative drawings, the quicker our client can have a finished product. So let’s look at some of the new enhancements with regards to drawings in SOLIDWORKS 2017.

Section Views

You can now emphasize or bold the outline of section parts. This adds clarity to the section view, allowing you to communicate the internal workings of a part more clearly—no more squinting to see where there are hollow spaces, edges and material at any given section plane.

A regular versus a bolded section view. (Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.)

Detail, Crop and Broken Views

To help clarify and differentiate detail, crop and broken views, SOLIDWORKS 2017 gives you the ability to show their outlines as jagged. The intensity of the shape can be altered as well to suit your needs. This can really help to lessen confusion on the manufacturing shop floor as to what the view is trying to communicate and how it is different from other views on the drawing. It also helps to differentiate the outline of the detail from the actual edge of the part.

A detail view with jagged edges. (Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.)

Multisheet Property Edits

For quite some time in SOLIDWORKS, users have been able to make changes to a drawing’s properties by utilizing the right-click menu. However, making changes to multiple drawings meant you had to repeat that process for each sheet you wanted to change. SOLIDWORKS 2017 has enhanced this feature by allowing you to make changes to properties such as scale, projection type, format and size to multiple sheets all at once. You just select the sheets you want to make the changes to within the dialog box and hit “Apply Changes.” A huge time-saver!

Mirror View

You can now produce a parametrically mirrored drawing without having to create the actual 3D part for the mirror. Just copy an existing drawing and use the Mirror View feature to select the parent view. The subsequent mirrored views are then created, including all the annotations and dimensions.

BOM Tables

In SOLIDWORKS 2017, you can now lock bill of materials (BOM) tables at the template level. They’ll remain locked when placed in a drawing. This will go a long way in helping to maintain consistency in your drawing sets by controlling things such as column widths and row heights that now can’t be changed by individual users creating different drawings within the set.

Another great feature regarding the BOM tables is that notes can directly reference data within any BOM cell(s). Clicking the specified BOM table cell while creating the note allows you to reference data such as part number, description, quantity, etc. This is a very handy feature to help call special attention to important data.

An example of a BOM table locked in a drawing. (Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS.)

These new and improved drawing features within SOLIDWORKS 2017 will definitely help users create clear and concise drawing sets more efficiently, quickly and accurately. These features will also help keep drawings consistent across the drawing set when multiple users are involved.

Another thing worth noting is that term licensing is now available in SOLIDWORKS 2017 in addition to the current perpetual license option. This is huge for SOLIDWORKS customers with smaller budgets as it gives them the option of scaling up or down based upon their project workload and needs. Term licenses have lower upfront costs due to the absence of included maintenance and are available in quarterly or annual options. SOLIDWORKS 2017 subscription customers will also have access to online services through the MySolidWorks portal.

SOLIDWORKS is available in three different platforms:

  • SOLIDWORKS Standard is the basic entry-level platform that allows you to create parts, assemblies and 2D drawings. There are specific tools for sheet metal, weldments, surfacing and mold tool and die.
  • SOLIDWORKS Professional adds to the standard platform with file management tools, advanced photorealistic rendering, automated cost estimation, eDrawings Professional collaboration capabilities, automated design and drawing checking, as well as a sophisticated components and parts library.
  • SOLIDWORKS Premium adds powerful simulation and design validation to the capabilities of SOLIDWORKS Professional, as well as ECAD/MCAD collaboration, reverse engineering and advanced wire and pipe routing functionality.

About the Author

Jeffrey Heimgartner photo2
Jeffrey Heimgartner has more than 20 years of experience in the computer-aided drafting and design field. He manages the Lincoln, Nebraska-based drafting and design firm, Advanced Technical Services. His main responsibilities include managing the CAD team, sales, scheduling and coordinating projects, drafting and design, as well as marketing and all IT functions.

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