A large number of design-based organizations are now increasingly using SOLIDWORKS to design and model their products or systems, prior to manufacturing. Written in Parasolid-kernel, SOLIDWORKS utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies. Some major environments of SOLIDWORKS include the Part modeling environment, Assembly environment, and Drawing environment, which teach you how to use the SOLIDWORKS mechanical design software.
To learn more about SOLIDWORKS we interviewed designer and SOLIDWORKS specialist Tayseer Almattar who talked about his experience in building parametric models and assemblies in SOLIDWORKS. He also pointed out the important features of the latest SOLIDWORKS release and how it compares to other CAD software in the market. Tayseer also shared his experiences working on the book Learn SOLIDWORKS 2020 where he teaches the concept of design and usages of the tools/commands of SOLIDWORKS.
Being a climate change enthusiast, Tayseer aspires to help build a world in which civilizations and natural environments can co-thrive utilizing the power of design. He has also shared his thoughts on the need to deeply integrate Environmental Sustainability with product design.
On SOLIDWORKS 2020 and how it compares to other competing CAD software
SOLIDWORKS is touted as one of the most popular CAD software. What are some of the best features from SOLIDWORKS 2020 release?
Before answering this question, we have to keep in mind that SOLIDWORKS is a very mature software that existed since 1995. Thus, the adjustments are often not very significant from the perspective of most users. The last major shift was in 2016 when the coloring of the interface was changed.
Looking more specifically at SOLIDWORKS 2020, some of the major enhancements include applying Torsion Continuity relation in sketching, extending the hole callout to section views within drawings, as well as major improvements in making flexible parts components within assemblies. SOLIDWORKS Corp. did publish a 200-page document highlighting all the updates in the 2020 version which I cannot explain in detail in this interview. However, anyone can access the document here.
How does SOLIDWORKS compare to other competing CAD software like Fusion 360, Autodesk Revit and AutoDesk Inventor? Are these direct rivals or are there varying use cases for these tools? If so, how does one choose the right tool for their 3D modeling project?
It is very difficult to give an absolute recommendation for which software one should choose. For many users, the choice often comes to what different organizations use in a specific location or what software is being used with a certain university. This is not to say that they don’t have any differences between them. Let’s take a closer look at some of those differences.
Fusion 360 is a relatively new, cloud-based software that many find to be more intuitive to use, especially when modeling more mech-based models like a car surface. However, for simulation and larger parts and assemblies, it falls behind other software like SOLIDWORKS and Inventor. It is also cheaper [Fusion 360 “paid” version costs $495 / year (or $60 / month if you only commit to the monthly version)].
SOLIDWORKS and Autodesk Inventors can be looked at as direct rivals. For most people, the choice between them would be according to an organization’s requirements. Looking at them independently, SOLIDWORKS has the advantage of a larger community and a wider variety of learning resources available.
All software mentioned were made with mechanical designs in mind. This makes them good for industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, and consumer products. Other 3D modeling software can have a different purpose. For example, Autodesk Revit was made keeping architects in mind with better features geared towards designing buildings and making blueprints.
To conclude, if a user is looking for a 3D modeling software for mechanical design capacities functioning with industries like automotive and consumer products, SOLIDWORKS is one of the best options available due to its ease of use and availability of large and varied learning resources.
Tayseer’s inspiration for his book and his journey in 3D modeling
What was the inspiration behind your book, Learn SOLIDWORKS 2020? How does your book prepare its readers to learn 3D modeling? What are the key takeaways for readers?
Aside from using SOLIDWORKS myself, I have also been very active in SOLIDWORKS Training since 2015, having more than 15,000 students in my bestselling online training offerings. This pushed the idea of producing a new mode of SOLIDWORKS training which brought about this book. In making the book, I put in all that I learned from using and training SOLIDWORKS and my experience in curriculum design to produce this book.
In the book, I have adapted a learning-by-doing approach which I believe works best for learning SOLIDWORKS. Every tool we cover in the book is explained through a focused application. We explain what the tool is, then directly use it while explaining how it works. In addition, we have included exercises at the end of each chapter to emphasize the skills learned in that chapter. Also, where applicable, we have provided SOLIDWORKS models for the reader to download to better follow up with the exercises.
In terms of coverage, the book covers the majority of tools and skills expected from a certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) and a Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional (CSWP). This means that the book can also function as preparation material for those two certifications which are the most common ones for SOLIDWORKS users.
You have a solid track record of working with SOLIDWORKS. Tell us about your journey into the world of 3D modeling. How long have you been using SOLIDWORKS? How do you typically use it on a day-to-day basis?
I started using SOLIDWORKS in 2008 and have continued using it since then. The software itself is very versatile as it can be used for a vast variety of applications.
My personal experience was mostly around innovation as it supplements my various entrepreneurial activities. Thus, I mostly use the software in the early stages of product design including modeling the early stages of prototyping and testing. These include everyday consumer devices like phones, special phone cases, medical devices, and furniture. Also, to a lesser extent, I have used software to model industrial machinery as well as parts for research simulations.
Integrating Environmental Sustainability with product design
You are also a climate change activist and a believer in clean software. Tell us more about your SustainabilityEdu Initiative and your broader involvement in the Climate Change movement. Why do you think there is a need to deeply integrate Environmental Sustainability with product design? What is the role of tech and tech workers in addressing climate change?
Let us start with the big picture. Currently, the sustainability challenge is becoming known to the vast majority of people. A big part of this is related to environmental sustainability. In that, we are coming to realize that our natural resources are limited. This pushed many governments to issue laws and regulations to help curb the environmental damage we are causing; this is by helping in recycling for the public or setting pollution limits to establishments. However, most of these solutions are temporary and not fully sufficient. So we should be contributing in our own ways.
Given my strength in education, I launched the SustainabilityEdu initiative which aims to educate the public about environmental sustainability issues and, hopefully, further extend it to specifically target designers and engineers.
When a product reaches its end-of-life stage, for example, a smartphone, what options does the user have to discard the product in a completely environmentally friendly manner? As of now, there is no way to do that. This is because many device parts are not up-cyclable or require efforts to dismantle. Thus, the product ends up as toxic e-waste. Not only this, during a smartphone’s production considerable waste is generated in the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, etc, that the consumer does not know about. For a typical smartphone, the majority of carbon dioxide emission occurs during the manufacturing stages. To break this process, designers and engineers have to innovate on foundational levels at the product birth stages keeping in mind how to deal with the same product at its end-of-life stage. This makes it essential to integrate environmental sustainability with product design and tech workers in general.
What is your advice to new people working with SOLIDWORKS and what are some trends to look out for in the coming years?
For beginners, I would recommend that the best way to learn SOLIDWORKS is by using it and having fun with it. They can model random objects around or think about a new object and model it. Also, when doing that, you should not expect not to face difficulties, rather, push yourself to navigate different learning resources and figure out how to accomplish what you want. Structured learning resources like a book or a course can save a lot of time in the learning process, however, you should also explore and experiment on your own. Another important note to keep in mind is that there is not just one way to build a specific 3D model. Do not panic if you see yourself building a model in a sequence that is different from other people. Rather, you should question yourself and evaluate what benefit one approach has over the other. Over time, you will have a list of your own best practices suitable for a large range of applications. Most importantly, just like learning any skill, you should give yourself time.
As for trends to look out for, those would, more or less, be my own wishlist without knowing for sure what would pick up. First, I want to see more notable development in design communication, this is especially in alignment with the notable development taking place in the immersive experiences area like VR and AR. Another aspect I am expecting more of would be in relation to cloud-computing and faster communication. I think those will enable lowering the hardware bar for individuals to utilize the features of hardware demanding software like SOLIDWORKS. This coupled with faster communication (e.g. 5G networks), can also improve the ways in which designers collaborate in real-time.
If you want to gain a deeper understanding of SOLIDWORKS and the most commonly used commands for part modeling, assembly and drawings, read Tayseer’s book Learn SOLIDWORKS 2020.
Tayseer holds a Bachelor (B.S.) degree in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Design (MDes) degree in International Design and Business Management. He has many years of experience in corporate training and instructional design and training quality assurance. He has also been an avid user of SOLIDWORKS for over 10 years and has published multiple online SOLIDWORKS training courses with about 15,000 enrolled students from over 100 countries. Tayseer aspires to help build a world in which modern civilizations and the natural environment can co-thrive utilizing the power of design. You can find him on Linkedin.