SolidWorks Labs, the on-line technology sandbox for curious SolidWorks® 3D CAD software users, has more than doubled its free experimental software offerings since SolidWorks launched the site in February 2007. Nearly 100,000 visitors to the SolidWorks Labs website have experienced, assessed, and critiqued the emerging technologies offered by SolidWorks’ research and development division. SolidWorks Labs initially went on-line with four miniapplications, but now there are nearly a dozen.
A new highlight is a SolidWorks Labs gallery to showcase the finest creations generated by visitors to SolidWorks Labs using the modelling and rendering tools on the site.
Another new offering is iPhone support for Drawings Now, the on-line sharing service for engineering drawings. Users can employ their Apple mobile devices to locate, zoom, and pan engineering drawings with their fingertips.
Additional applications added in the past year include CB Model Pro, a 3D modelling programme that lets anyone, CAD user or not, develop 3D graphical models by virtually squeezing, pulling, and flattening organic shapes; a Showcase Widget that lets users create slide shows of their SolidWorks designs simply by pointing to a folder of designs; a WatchIt Widget that lets users keep track of which files within a system, drive, or folder are changing; SolidWorks Island in Second Life , the 3D virtual world, which offers opportunities for learning, entertainment, networking, collaboration, virtual surfing, virtual Formula One racing, and events like simulcast real-world robotics competitions; and 3D ContentCentral Search tools, which embed a part search into users’ Web browsers.
Also, an improved ZoomIn interface, layout, and materials selection enables users to immerse themselves and their audience in more-dynamic presentations of SolidWorks models. For example, users can now set designs on virtual plant floors or in virtual kitchens.
“We are continuing to create interesting experiences for SolidWorks users,” says Brian Harrison, director of SolidWorks Labs, “and we’re deeply interested in hearing about what users liked and didn’t like, and what changes they would suggest.”
Product designers and engineers visiting SolidWorks Labs can tinker with emerging technologies, test-drive new SolidWorks functionality through their Web browser, and weigh in on the company’s product direction. All services and software are free.
Through a feedback link, the site invites comments that go directly to SolidWorks R&D.