Article by Alin Vargatu, CSWE updated March 28, 2011


The 3rd day of SolidWorks World 2011 was the day when users were teased by getting a glimpse of some of the enhancements that might be included in the next version. Since SolidWorks 2012 is still in development, there are no guarantees that they will actually be included in the final release later on this fall.

1.       Large Design Review Mode, my favourite – this is Quick View on steroids and is all about huge time savings when working with large assemblies even on slow computers. As with Quick View, you can open any large assembly for review in seconds, but this time there are more ways to interact and interrogate your model and feature tree:

  • Like in 2011, you can select components from the Feature Tree or graphic area and control their visibility.
  • In addition to that you can use the Section View and the Measure Tool for design review. I think I even spotted a clearance check button on the Measuring Tool dialog box.
  • You can use walkthroughs to take a leisurely stroll through your assembly.
  • What was really nice about the Large Design Review mode is the ability to select and open any component in its own window for editing. Once that component is modified and saved, the main assembly shows the change instantaneously.

2.       User Interface Enhancements:

  • Find very fast commonly used files by pinning them in the Recent Documents dialog box or the File Menu. You can also open the folder where these files are located.
  • There is a new “unit switcher” in the Status Bar. Changing the document’s units is a breeze now.
  • Not sure what is the name of the command you want to use, or where to find it? There is a new Command Search field where you can type a name and get a list of all the relevant commands. Select and start the one you want. This can be a huge time saver!
  • In the sketch mode add one diameter dimension and SolidWorks will remember this behaviour for reuse next time

3.       Sheet Metal Improvements:

  • For a long times SolidWorks users have been asking for the ability to define edge flanges based on virtual sharps. This will no longer be the case, since looks like SolidWorks 2012 will incorporate this functionality.
  • Several controls are added to the edge flange command, including the tangent flange position.
  • The form features are now easier to manipulate, including rotating, flipping and using configurations.
  • Huge improvement in unfolding – you can select faces to be ignored in the unfolding process.
  • New sheetmetal feature: Sweep Flange

4.       New Equations Dialog box:

  • A new drop down to easy select functions, custom property and global variables
  • Drive your global variables with equations of their own
  • Finally there is a way of debugging equations by using color codes to troubleshoot the syntax.
  • You can use the Measure Tool in the equation editor to create reference dimensions on the fly and use them in equations.
  • Automatic rebuilds to reflect instantaneous changes
  • Automatic Solver Order Option. This is probably the most important enhancement here. No more circular loops.
  • New views in the equation editor to show categories, dimensions or solving order.

5.       SolidWorks 2011 was big on drawings enhancements and 2012 continues on the same path:

  • Exploded Views can be dragged directly on the sheet from the View Palette. Also you can explode existing views directly from the Property Manager or from the Right Mouse Button menu.
  • Create BOMs without having to select existing views. I am not sure how this work would if you have views from different assemblies.
  • Order Balloons sequentially around the view. Any balloon can be item #1 and the direction of numbering can be reversed. Of course, the BOM order will stay in sync. This is an enhancement requested for a long time.
  • Snap the balloons to Magnet Lines. Nice functionality borrowed from 3DVia Composer. You can even equally space the balloons along the magnet lines.
  • Automatic renumbering of section or details views. Unused view labels are automatically re-used.
  • Insert center marks in the selected view at any time

6.       A new Costing Tool:

  • Interface similar to the Sustainability Add-in
  • Can establish base lines and compare designs cost, including comparing vendors
  • Can create costing reports. There are templates supplied for that and there is a template editor

7.       Motion Optimization:

  • Using motion sensors you can run different scenarios to optimize your design
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Alin Vargatu, CSWE

Alin is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and an avid contributor to the SOLIDWORKS Community. Alin has presented multiple times at SOLIDWORKS World, Technical Summits, and User Group Meetings, while being very active on the SOLIDWORKS Forum.