Best of What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018 – 2023

Article by Rod Mackay updated September 20, 2022


Catch up with the new and old SOLIDWORKS updates with the Best of What’s New 2018 – 2023.

Recent releases of SOLIDWORKS have introduced significant enhancements that improve the way you work. Evolutions in assembly performance, graphics responsiveness, and drawing detailing give you time back in your day. New design capabilities allow more flexibility and faster workflows:

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018 – 2023 Highlights

Listed below are the essential new features and functionality from SOLIDWORKS for 2018 to the latest release:

SOLIDWORKS 2023 Top 10

  1. Assembly: Work faster with large assemblies through automated, smarter assembly management.
    • Optimize resolved mode automatically by selectively using lightweight technology when you load components in resolved mode.
    • Be more productive with the ability to save large assemblies faster.
    • Speed up your downstream processes by exporting assembly components as separate STEP files.
  2. Assembly workflows: Speed up assembly design with streamlined assembly workflows.
    • Ensure design integrity by automatically replacing lost mate references with alternative mate references including faces, edges, planes, axes, and points.
    • Speed up assembly feature creation with new end conditions, including Up To Next, Up To Vertex, and more.
    • Save more time when designing assemblies with the ability to suppress unneeded Magnetic Mates and Connection Points.
  3. Parts and Features: Create part geometry faster with multi-body modeling improvements and more extensive use of coordinate systems.
    • Turbocharge the copying of bodies by controlling translation and rotation values with equations.
    • Speed up part modeling by referencing coordinate systems in 3D sketches, 2D sketch dimensions, and mirroring.
      Create wrap features from sketches that use single-line fonts, also known as stick fonts.
  4. Sheet Metal: Speed up sheet metal design while improving communication with manufacturing.
    • Equalize bend radius values more easily by applying symmetric thickness with the Base Flange or Lofted Bend features.
    • Include the sheet metal gauge value in annotations and cut lists.
    • Receive automatic sensor alerts when you exceed the sheet metal bounding box size limits.
  5. Drawings and Detailing: Create drawings that represent designs more accurately, and ensure standardization by limiting geometric tolerances to a specific standard.
    • Ensure standardization by limiting geometric tolerances to a specific standard with the Enable/Disable options.
    • Identify overridden values in a BOM table more easily with values turning blue when overridden.
    • Display transparent models in drawings with Hidden Lines Removed (HLR) and Hidden Lines Visible (HLV) modes.
  6. Structure Design: Build and modify more complex structures easily with the streamlined user experience.
    • Group similar corners and apply trimming, then automatically apply connection plates, with the new Pattern feature.
    • Select a set of weldment members of the same size and type, and change their size for specific configurations.
    • Zoom to a selected corner from the FeatureManager® design tree or the Corner Management PropertyManager.
  7. Electrical Routing: Handle more complex electrical routing scenarios with new options for flattening, reorienting, and displaying wires and connectors.
    • Create splices with multiple circuits to which wires or cable cores are connected.
    • Visualize your harnesses segment clearly by viewing its graphical cross section.
    • Improve electrical routing design by reorienting the connectors to be parallel to a selected plane.
  8. Electrical Design: Create more informative electrical documentation faster while reducing errors.
    • Include report tables such as BOM and wire lists in any electrical project drawing.
    • Display connection information about a component in a label that you can dynamically insert into schematics.
    • Create better schematics automatically from electrical data in MS® Excel spreadsheets.
  9. Model-Based Definition (MBD)*: Communicate your design more clearly in 3D with the ability to view all dimensions in the assembly.
    • View component dimensions in 3D PDF files, including feature dimensions, reference dimensions, and DimXpert™ annotations.
    • Detail wedge-shaped features faster with expanded feature recognition.
  10. SOLIDWORKS Visualize*: Experience better real-life rendering in Preview render mode, as well as improved rendering performance and easier ways to define colors.
    • Produce photo-realistic renderings with the Stellar Physically Correct renderer, providing Deep Learning AI Denoiser for optimal rendering performance.
    • Define colors in more ways with the Color Picker and the color swatch palettes.
    • In Preview render mode, see the display improvements of Physically Based Rendering (PBR) materials and more.

*This is a separate product.

SOLIDWORKS 2022 Top 10

  1. Assembly Performance and Workflow: Work faster with large assemblies through expanded workflows and improved performance.
    • Save time when opening, closing, and saving assemblies with improved performance for these functions.
    • Open subassemblies faster using Large Design Review mode. From your assembly in Large Design Review mode, open subassemblies in Large Design Review mode or resolved mode.
  2. Expanded Use of Detailing Mode: Save time when opening and detailing a SOLIDWORKS drawing.
    • Access Detailing mode for all drawings, regardless of the SOLIDWORKS version you saved them in or whether you saved them in Detailing mode.
    • Open a drawing in Detailing mode directly from an assembly in Large Design Review mode.
  3. More Efficient Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing: Work faster and more intuitively when tolerancing your designs.
    • Work directly in the graphics area guided by the user interface in building feature control frames cell by cell.
    • Create tolerance frames per ISO 1101:2017 and the associated standards of ISO 2692, ISO 5458, ISO 5459, and ISO 8015.
  4. Hybrid Modeling: Save time when working with mesh geometry by using hybrid modeling.
    • Create a hybrid solid or surface body that includes mesh BREP geometry and classic BREP geometry.
    • Combine the advantages of mesh data with the accuracy and parametric features available in solid modeling.
  5. Part Modeling Enhancements: Create part geometry faster and more easily.
    • Easily create external threaded stud features using the Stud Wizard.
    • Create draft on both sides of parting lines at the same time.
    • Mirror geometry about two planes at once instead of mirroring twice.
    • Create cosmetic threads more easily with an improved user interface and a more realistic appearance.
  6. Cut List Support in BOM Tables: Take advantage of enhanced BOM functionality with cut list improvements.
    • Save time and create detailed cut lists in bill of materials (BOM) tables exactly the way you want them to appear by dissolving components in indented BOMs automatically or manually.
    • Create balloons for sub-weldment cut list items in BOMs in which balloon properties correspond to the linked BOM.
    • Create detailed cut lists for all BOM types, not just indented BOMs.
  7. Configuration Tables: Save time when creating configurations with simplified integrated workflows.
    • Create table-driven parts with SOLIDWORKS-native tables without the need for Microsoft® Excel.
    • Save time and effort with the automatic creation of configuration tables when parts or assemblies have multiple configurations.
    • Gain design flexibility with the additional functionality provided by Configuration Table, which is not available in the Modify Configurations dialog box.
  8. Structure System and Weldment Improvements: Create weldments faster and more easily with structure system improvements.
    • Easily add end caps to Structure System tube members with circular, square, or rectangular profiles.
    • Create multiple secondary members using Between Points Member for the selected pair and secondary members with the Up to Members method.
    • Save time by defining a reusable connection element and inserting it on a structure system part.
  9. Performance Improvements for Import and Display: Speed up design with performance improvements in the areas of import and model display.
    • Open DXF™ or DWG files into a part sketch faster.
    • Open STEP files in SOLIDWORKS more quickly.
    • Enjoy faster display of 3D textures and silhouette edges.
  10. Improved Collaboration and Data Sharing: Increase your competitive advantage by tapping into the power and breadth of the 3DEXPERIENCE Works.
    • Accelerate innovation and decision-making by connecting SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD to the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, where you can easily manage and share all your data and collaborate with others.
    • Using 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS, access your favorite 3DEXPERIENCE commands from multiple places within SOLIDWORKS, including the File Menu, Command Manager, and Context menu, with support for all 3DEXPERIENCE operations

SOLIDWORKS 2021 Top 10

  1. Drawing Detailing Mode Improvements: Detailing mode allows you to perform typical detailing tasks, such as editing and adding dimensions and annotations. The model does not get loaded, so sharing drawing files is easy, but rest assured, the drawing views are intact, and there is no loss of detail.
    • Improved performance of Detailing Mode to speed up drawing creation even more.
    • Improvements in ability to add hole callouts, edit existing dimensions and annotations, and add Detail, Break and Crop views.
  2. Assembly Modeling Enhancements: Design assemblies with streamlined workflows.
    • Option to automatically resolve lightweight components upon expanding Feature Tree node.
    • Chain pattern along path to use curve length, not chord length.
    • Interference-detection reports exported with images to Microsoft® Excel spreadsheet.
  3. Improved Assembly Simplification: Work better with simplified assemblies.
    • Defeatured models can be saved as a Configuration.
    • Ease of toggling between full and simplified versions.
    • Operation mimics any other configuration.
  4. Performance Improvements: Work faster with large, complex designs.
    • Improved performance for occlusion culling, silhouette edges and drawings; quick configuration switches.
    • Significant performance improvements in Open, Save and Close of assemblies.
    • Detection and reporting of circular references.
    • Adding files to SOLIDWORKS PDM vault is significantly faster.
  5. Work faster with large, complex designs: Gain more options and flexibility for part design.
    • Redo available for over 60 features and commands in parts.
    • Sheet metal for edge flanges on non-planar tangent edges.
    • Complex flanges can be flattened.
    • Ability to add and evaluate equations in file properties and cut list properties.
    • Part-level materials transferable when you insert or mirror part, derived component part, or mirrored component part.
  6. User Experience Delighters: Save time and simplify design tasks.
    • Colour picker tool to pick colour for appearances from external application.
    • Customize dialog box for searching for commands on Shortcut bars and Command tabs.
    • System option shows translated feature names in FeatureManager® design tree.
  7. More Robust Simulation: Enjoy faster, easier-to-use, more robust simulation.
    • Mesh diagnostics identify, isolate and prompt to fix poor quality elements.
    • Faster and more robust meshing due to improvements in bonding accuracy.
    • Improved convergence through contact stabilization.
  8. Improved Electrical Routing: Create electrical routes with more flexibility.
    • Multiple wires/cables can pass through and be arranged through a clip.
    • Wires joined using splice component or spliced without component.
    • Support for end terminations in Connector Tables, Interconnects and Accessories Library.
  9. Streamlined Data Management: Create seamless product development workflows and easily extend them with new tools as your business needs evolve.
    • More consistent Windows® Explorer integration, better thumbnail support.
    • Great flexibility in controlling custom column sets.
    • Reduced risk of mistakes and improved efficiency with support for BOM settings.
    • Icon selection available for workflow states; transitions improved to help determine status of files quickly.
  10. Connected Design-to-Manufacturing Ecosystem in the Cloud: Create seamless product development workflows and easily extend them with new tools as your business needs evolve.
    • Derived Formats Converter enables creation of derived outputs for broader consumption and exact geometry for use in downstream design, simulation and manufacturing applications.
    • Support for multiple sheets and markups on drawings, improved drawings quality.
    • Managing Open Modes offers similar options to SOLIDWORKS when opening data from the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform.
    • Ability to control configurations to save in 3DEXPERIENCE Works.

SOLIDWORKS 2020 Top 10

  1. Large Assembly Drawings for Working Faster: Work faster on drawings with many sheets, configurations, and resource-intensive views.
    • Detailing Mode: Open drawings in a matter of seconds while maintaining the ability to add and edit annotations.
    • Graphics Acceleration for Drawings: Improve frame rates when panning and zooming within drawings with hardware-accelerated rendering.
  2. Faster Assembly Design: Speed up assembly design and reduce visual clutter.
    • Envelope Publisher: Include components from a top-level assembly as envelopes in a subassembly.
    • Large Design Review: Create mates to the reference geometry of components, create and edit linear and circular component patterns, edit pattern-driven and sketch-driven component patterns.
  3. Flexible Components: Create assembly designs faster while maintaining an accurate bill of materials.
    • Make Part Flexible: Display the same part in different conditions in the same assembly. For example, show a spring compressed and at full length in the same assembly.
  4. Faster Sketching: Create robust sketches faster.
    • Silhouette Entities: Create multiple sketch entities by projecting the outline of component bodies onto a parallel sketch plane.
    • Torsion Continuity Relation: Achieve G3 curvature between sketched curves, thereby allowing a seamless transition.
  5. Faster Calculations and Improved Accuracy for Simulation: Run faster calculations and better simulation of real-world behavior.
    • Speed and Accuracy: Speed up analysis and improve accuracy by combining linear and quadratic elements in the same simulation study.
    • Pin and Bolt Connectors: Deform faces attached to Pin and Bolt connectors.
    • Beam Models: Import temperatures to perform a stress analysis after running a thermal analysis on a model with beams.
  6. Improved Design Experience: Save time and simplify design tasks.
    • 3D Printing: Access an extensive list of commercially available 3D printer volumes and create slices for 3D printing directly from SOLIDWORKS® geometry.
  7. Expanded Interoperability with 3D Interconnect: Collaborate with more data sources easily.
    • Drag and Drop into SOLIDWORKS: Drag a non-native SOLIDWORKS fi le into an active part or assembly.
    • New File Types: Work with BREP data from DXF™/DWG files and IFC files.
  8. More Flexibility for Surfacing: Simplify and speed up your design with more robust, flexible surface options.
    • Offset Surface: Identify faces on a surface that cannot be offset, and create an offset surface without them.
    • Thicken: Specify more types of surface direction vectors (other than normal) to a face.
  9. Improvements to SOLIDWORKS Visualize: Enhance flexibility with support of new file formats and customizable materials.
    • XR Exporter: Easily convert your Visualize files to AR/VR experiences.
    • PDM Integration: Manage your files more easily with SOLIDWORKS PDM integration.
  10. Connected Design-to-Manufacturing Ecosystem in the Cloud: Enable seamless product development workflows and easily extend them with new tools as your business needs evolve.
    • Direct Connection: Easily connect SOLIDWORKS 2020 with key tools through the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE® platform.
    • Data Sharing and Collaboration: Share models back and forth between SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE tools. Collaborate in real time from anywhere and on any device.
    • Extended Workflows: Easily extend your design ecosystem with new capabilities such as sub-divisional modeling, conceptual design, and product lifecycle and project management in the cloud.

SOLIDWORKS 2019 Top 10

  1. Mesh modeling opens up new design possibilities: Increased capabilities for mesh geometry streamlining reverse engineering and topology optimization.
    • Easily create complex textures by converting 2D appearances into real 3D geometry.
    • Use mesh files like they are solids using the new Segment Mesh.
    • Automatically create 2D sketches at intersections of geometry and a plane with the Slicing command.
  2. New ways to interact with SOLIDWORKS: Be more productive with the latest interfaces devices and SOLIDWORKS.
    • Support for Microsoft® Surface dial from the Surface Studio.
    • Sketch gesture recognition enhancements including splines and slots.
    • Improved Touch mode gestures including copy, select and drag, and 3D rotate lock.
    • Customize task pane tabs.
  3. Extend your SOLIDWORKS experience in AR/VR: Faster performance and new ways to interact with your CAD data in AR/VR.
    • Simplify the path from SOLIDWORKS® to Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) with a new export option called Extended Reality (XR).
    • Full support of latest graphics card types results in a dramatic frame rate increase.
  4. Create and work with large assemblies faster: Massive performance gains and workflow optimization with large assemblies.
    • Create new assemblies in Large Design Review mode.
    • Enhanced Defeature tool gives more control and usability for IP protection.
    • Save assembly as multi-body part has more options and more control.
    • Automatically lock rotation for Toolbox fasteners.
  5. Clearer and faster collaboration: More options for import and export to make collaboration easier.
    • New export options for AEC and 3D Interconnect now supports IFC import.
    • 3D Mark up on parts and assemblies (also Pen/Touch enabled).
    • Animation can now export .mp4, .flv, .mkv, .png and .jpg.
  6. Improved capabilities for eDrawings: Powerful new capabilities for sharing SOLIDWORKS data and viewing other formats.
    • Measure, mark-up and explode features are all now available in eDrawings Viewer.
    • New file viewing support—JT, Parasolid, NX, ACIS.
    • eDrawings® Professional can now save as 3D HTML for browser-based sharing plus AR/VR.
  7. Powerful new tools for part modeling: Additional capabilities make SOLIDWORKS part modeling more powerful than ever before.
    • Partial Fillet and Chamfer.
    • Interference detection for multi-body parts.
    • Streamlined insertion of a part with a specific configuration.
    • Materials and sheet metal parameters linked for sheet metal.
  8. More flexibility and control for drawings: New view creation capabilities and more control for perfect drawings.
    • Removed Section Views to show slices of the model at selected locations.
    • Drawing Open progress indicator.
    • Cell border thickness editing.
    • Customized Hole Table tags, numbers and order.
  9. 3D annotations for all: Accelerate downstream processes with 3D dimensions and tolerances.
    • DimXpert is now known as MBD Dimension.
    • MBD Dimension is available for assemblies in SOLIDWORKS Standard and above.
    • Carry over annotations from source to derived and mirrored parts.
    • MBD support for sheet metal bend notes, tables, and lines.
  10. More efficient creation of weldments:
    • Easy positioning of weldment profile sketch.
    • Corner treatment enhancements.
    • Multi-edit structural profiles.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 Top 10

  1. Innovative user experience improvements: Making SOLIDWORKS® easier and more intuitive to use.
    • Freehand sketching with pen or touch on compatible devices.
    • Touch and stylus support for many design tasks.
    • Enhanced mouse gestures and user interface customization.
  2. Simulation topology study for optimization of part geometry: Fast, easy design optimization.
    • Automatically optimizes the shape of a design.
    • Considers weight, function, and manufacturing criteria.
  3. SOLIDWORKS CAM for CNC machining: Seamlessly integrate design and manufacturing.
    • Rules-based machining results in easy-to-learn, yet fast and powerful CAM.
    • Powered by CAMWorks™: production-proven, integrated CAM for SOLIDWORKS.
  4. SOLIDWORKS Inspection Support for MBD: Create inspection documentation directly from 3D models with Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI).
    • Includes support for SOLIDWORKS MBD and non-native 3D CAD formats.
    • Automatically interprets SOLIDWORKS MBD models for inspection documentation.
    • SOLIDWORKS Inspection now integrated with SOLIDWORKS PDM.
  5. Sheet metal features that improve manufacturability: Innovative new features improve sheet metal manufacturing processes.
    • Has a tab and slot feature for self-fixturing of parts for welding.
    • Normal cut feature ensures clearance included for manufacturing.
    • Corners that include three bends can be easily created and flattened.
  6. SOLIDWORKS Manage for project and process management: Data management, project management and process management all in one system.
    • SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional plus powerful project, process, and item management
    • Dashboards and reports to manage project stages, timelines, and milestones
    • Create, edit, and compare Bills of Materials (BOMs).
  7. Cloud connected SOLIDWORKS services: The power of desktop with the convenience of the cloud.
    • SOLIDWORKS Online Licensing allows easier use of your license on multiple machines.
    • SOLIDWORKS Login automatically moves customized content and settings to any machine on which SOLIDWORKS is installed.
    • SOLIDWORKS Admin Portal allows easier management of SOLIDWORKS products and services.
  8. Work directly with mesh data: Work directly with mesh data with no need to convert to surfaces.
    • Perform operations directly on mesh such as Cut, Cut with Surface, Interference Check, Combine, Intersect, Split, Move/Copy, and others.
    • Convert solid or surface geometry to mesh.
    • Quickly fit surface bodies to regions of mesh models for reverse engineering.
  9. Work faster and more efficiently with assemblies: Work faster without having to prepare the assembly or use special techniques.
    • “Alt” key hides face while mating.
    • Ghost mode to turn all parts transparent.
    • Allow mating of parts with misaligned holes.
  10. Collaborate more efficiently for model-based enterprise: Speed design detailing and communication
    • Import and export STEP 242 including PMI.
    • Import 3D models along with PMI from all major CAD formats.
    • Display all SOLIDWORKS MBD created 3D Views in eDrawings®.
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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.