For those of us having served any amount of time as a 3D CAD designer, the name SolidWorks is a name well known. Even though software packages with more complex functionality exist, SolidWorks is an industry favorite. It has a user base larger than any other 3D CAD package, almost as large as AutoCAD (which is primarily 2D drafting and drawing). This is because of SolidWorks intuitive interface, logical and smart innovations in the user experience and clean whilst thorough function set. It is literally a favorite in the sports, fashion as well as the automobile industry with small to large scale projects employing the package just the same. Read on to see what its range of application really is.
The Fashion And Sports Industry
Manufacturer’s from shoe brands to purse designers all employ SolidWorks in the development of the product as well as its manufacturing. Extreme sport equipment for athletes requires stress testing the rubber or other materials of the virtual wear/equipment to undergo simulated tests saving on cost, time and the inefficacy of manual testing. TiSport LLC constructs wheelchairs made with Titanium and without SolidWork’s capabilities they state they would not be in business. The Remington Products Company uses SolidWorks for its better molding properties when designing shoes and other equipment.
The Automobile Industry
Manufacturers of spare parts and vehicular brands use SolidWorks alike. From top to bottom, the entire process is carried out on SolidWorks with collaborative tools allowing more than one person to actively participate in the design phase. Each part can be integrated or hidden from the assembly for selective testing. The same design can be made to take on another color/shade for a prototype of how the car would look in other colors. In Formula1 racing, the cars designs are tested within the virtual environment which provides more control over the simulated wind tunnel or other aerodynamics test. Koenigsegg uses SolidWorks because of it’s platform like production services that allow teams to work without technological or geographical overhead.
The Space Exploration Industry
Testing is an expensive process for each industry, but not anything like what it is for the space industry. No test can be performed physically without the most accurate read outs of simulations or mediations. SolidWorks provides a crucial set of tools with the aid of its engineering community, which allows extensive customization of the working environment for projects specific to an industry. Mirror Image Aerospace is one of SolidWork’s consumers due to its versatility in terms of modeling capabilities as their management utilities.
The Design Industry
SolidWorks is a favorite amongst designers for the entertainment industry. It has been used on projects like Disney World theme parks and sets of a CGI-based Hollywood feature film. Furthermore, architects, 3D artists, sculptors and other design related professions employ SolidWorks for its versatility of use with materials and textures. Everything from skyscrapers to residential homes has been designed well with SolidWorks. The engineering team from Outdoor Technologies, Inc. found SolidWorks to be a much more productive software than others.
Apart from specific industries that utilize SolidWorks for its resilience as well functionality, it is common in the hobbyist community of CADers. SolidWorks is a mature software package but does not offer the complexities that you may find in AutoCAD. Although both packages virtually target a different domain, people who have worked with AutoCAD for over a decade will not have complete knowledge of the package’s vast scope. SolidWorks, however, offer intuitive options and eases the learning curve of 3D design and modelling as well as keeping the overall experience consistent over a longer duration of use.
And Just Because…
CADers use SolidWorks to develop models for 3D warehouses (online harbors of models for purchase or free use). The SolidWorks API and code integration is direct compared to other packages hence macros and plug-ins are extremely easy to find as well as develop for yourself. Macros can be found on many forums for a range of tasks, going all the way from saving the same file with different formats with one command to animating assemblies part by part. Read on for some personal applications people use SolidWorks for.
3D artists use SolidWorks to produce artwork ranging from sculpting to fake effects. Illustrators use it to develop animation characters or production sets for the background of a movie scene. 3D text based logos and illustrations have a much bolder look in print media as well and are often included in a visual elements must-have. Virtual renders of the same design with a different texture or finish can save a lot of time and cost which is why any product-based startup would find it most economical to develop a soft prototype rather than a hard one.
Life sciences experts have also taken to SolidWorks for a number of projects. SolidWorks has been used to develop devices when medical engineers are faced with a time crunch. The electrical domain of SolidWorks allows technician and engineers to cross over engineering disciplines without a change of environment. Aldebaran Robotics is an avid SolidWorks customer. Howe and Howe Technologies, Inc. is using SolidWorks for its government contracts.
All in all, SolidWorks has its uses within the professional industry as well as the hobbyist lobby. People from all walks of life use SolidWorks because it was designed to be used as a tool, not a piece of technical software that would require much specialized training. This is also why people who use SolidWorks will change versions, but rarely will they change their choice of work environment, unless some professional dependence calls for it. People who have been working for SolidWorks may also have experience using different packages due to function limitation or cross-compatibility issues but the preference certainly does remain the same.
Note: All industrial associations are taken from SolidWork website. All information portrayed here is referenced with the official SolidWorks website – www.solidworks.com