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What SolidWorks needs

Question asked by Kevin Quigley on Jan 24, 2018
Latest reply on Jan 31, 2018 by Francisco Martínez

I have been in the SolidWorks game for a long time - over 20 years in fact. When surfacing was first introduced into SolidWorks it was, to say the least, somewhat basic. Over the years it has improved and we use it daily to create fairly complex products with very large surfaces (I dare to say A Class as A Class is a somewhat overused term than nobody really understands - I prefer quality surfaces).

In the early days SolidWorks surfacing just didn't cut it, so we used other systems to augment our modelling capabilities - like Ashlar-Vellum Cobalt, Think Design and VX. All three were, for a time, streets ahead of SolidWorks for surfacing. Most still are, but SolidWorks is (in our experience) robust, reliable and accessible. So as the years have gone on we phased out VX and Think Design, replaced Vellum with Shark FX and Rhino with TSplines and Fusion360.

We have invested heavily in the sub-d workflow - it works for a lot of what we do, but not everything. We invested in Power Surfacing for SolidWorks and it is OK but costs a lot, so here's the thing. I am starting to evaluate alternatives for our long term use and what I don't want is a system I have to bolt add ons to to get the core functionality we need. In this respect SolidWorks is being left behind, so here is a list of features I want, no need, to start appearing in the base system to encourage me to continue using it in the long term.


1. Ability to show surface control points, select them and move them to directly edit the surfaces - I mean this is basic stuff. Every surfacing system on the market can do this. Vellum Solids could do this in the 90s. This is a critical function for quality surface design - you need to be able to see the CVs, how they flow, how dense they are.

2. Ability to rebuild surfaces and reduce CV counts on surfaces - same points from 1 apply.

3. Sub D - yes. This is becoming a critical workflow now for early phase design. Don't tell me to buy SolidWorks Industrial Design, cloud only, high cost CATIA based Sub D - we need something in the same application as the downstream. If it is on a different application, we might as well carry on with Rhino/Fusion/Shark etc. Yes we can use Power Surfacing but that is not core functionality and is expensive. For this very reason we are actively pursuing using Fusion 360 or Creo for all our work that requires this.


So only three things! Item 3 is unlikely, given the push to the Enovia Platform, but items 1 and 2 are very achievable, and I have asked for these for 20+ years now. The freeform tool in SolidWorks is NOT the same as displaying CVs and editing those CVs. The Freeform tool is, in my experience, nothing more than a sales tool to get the "oh look we can do surfacing" during demos. Practically, it is useless.


I have mentioned this before, but until you SEE the CVs SolidWorks is creating you cannot create quality surfaces. Back in the day, I thought I was creating decent surfaces in SolidWorks - using boundary etc, then I had a day long demo of Alias given by a guy who trained the SEAT design team. He modelled a product we had worked on - a bathtub. We gave him a STEP file of our SolidWorks data which we thought was decent - it was over 4MB. His file was 170kB. He imported the SW data into Alias, turned on the CVs and BAM. It looked like a pointcloud. His data, by comparison, had a fraction of the CVs and was perfect.

So maybe this is why SolidWorks don't let is see the CVs? Because we would see the full horror of the outcome of the common surfacing tools we use?


So when they do the "what's coming in SolidWorks 2019" in a couple of weeks, let's hope that, for once, they say "we have revamped our surfacing, and you can now do 1/2 and 3 in SolidWorks Standard". Not going to happen is it?