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Feb 03, 2006


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Evan Yares

Why would Dassault sell SolidWorks?

Can you think of a good reason?


I personally don’t think that pro-e is any good. I have used UGs Nx software and believe it is superior to pro-e. Both systems are trying to convert to a standard modeling architecture that SolidWorks has base their software upon. SolidWorks has developed their software based on windows. Pro-E and UGs are emulating windows functionality. I choice of tools is Solidworks. I like the way it works, how intuitive it is, and MS windows functionality.

Daniel Dobrzynski

I need all information about: CATIA, DELMIA, CMM, NC, post-processors, Metrolog and Tecnomatix

John Burrill

I've been watching the inquiries on this subject that have clung to the reports on Solidworks World and I blanche a little at the eagerness to hear the death knell sounded to the relationship between Dassault and Solidworks.
My general exposure to this subject started when I worked for a Solidworks reseller (right after they started displaying the Dassault logo on their web page.) I asked one of the reps where the feasible limits of Solidworks were for design, and the answer was a cube 1000 meters on a side. It's still there, a physical goemetry footprint that you have to stay inside.
So you're not going to use Solidworks to make a single, to-scale model of an aircraft carrier, or the next seven-mile bridge, or an oil rig. In short, when you need to expand operations from mechanical to structural, plant and process, naval architecture or anything outside that cube, you were in Catia's camp.
I was told that and thought it made sense for Dassault to have a solution that fit the scale of price, infrastructure and functionality of of a medium sized manufacturing firm-and then have a lead-in for large scale operations where you need to design the manufacturing process as well as the product line. It's logical that both markets would strive to service eachother, and therebye, compete better as a whole.
It's possible, this was a failed intent. I'd agree that the path from Solidworks to Catia has blurred with the improved consumer design functionality in inside Solidworks and the extended infrastructure for PLM analysis and manufacturing through the partner channels. Moreover, Solidworks appears to be building it's technology through customer feedback more than inheritance from Catia. Advances like shared sketches and contour selection appear to be direct descendents of Catia V5, but the new freeform tools and UI enhancements in recent releases show Solidworks developing independent of the Catia track. The vision of integrating business models at different scales no longer appears in effect.
You could speculate that this parting of ways is atrophying the relationship between Dassault and Solidworks or is a side-effect of Solidworks broad popularity, but the underlying neccesity for a bridge between Solidworks and Dassault remains in tact.
Consider the predominance of Catia in automotive and aircraft industries and the difficulty in porting design and metadata between proprietary formats. You might remember Pro-E 2000i^2 fillibustering Solidworks import engine with its encrypted headers. PTC acted like a domestic company lobbying for an import tarriff and then claiming a price advantage in their marketing. A big, entrenched company tried to pull the rug out from under an upstart. This kind of attrition was common between large and small CAD Vendors and it may have kept Autodesk shops out of the supply chain for a while. But the relationship between Dassault and Solidworks gave them a unique competitive advantage. The future looked to be a place where you could subcontract component design on the Boeing 7E7 to a Solidworks shop and use the models interchangeably. Whether that actually happened is another matter.
But lest, we take up the notion that the baby should be thrown out with the IGES file, look at the problems discontinuity creates for Dassault's competitors. Where the damage occurs is in the supply chain.
A good example is the automotive aftermarket (where I butter my bread.) Today, a number of Original Equipment manufacturers are looking for firms to second source their production-particularly in replacement parts for product lines more than 10 years old. Having design-documentation portability between Catia and Solidworks would simplify document tracking for Chrysler and Mitsubishi and enable companies like my employer to design components better matched to their manufacturing standards.
As it is now, we port documents through intermediary formats like DWG at the expense of design intent and delivery deadlines and efficient document handling. I recall Ford giving us a set of AutoCAD borders (probably dumped from SDRC) where all the text was exploded to sticks and a rectifier assembly another supplier had given us in SolidEdge format that we had to completely rework and annotate. Today, If Chrysler gives us an Alternator assembly as CatParts, we're pretty much in the same boat. The day when we can open their files and see what they designed, not just the graphics, is a fading apparition. That we purchased our software from the same company doesn't really benefit us. They may as well send us a part off the production line.
If it's a problem for an aftermarket company reverse-engineering a design for an OE, imagine the lost effort when Ford and Salene try to make the 2007 Mustang SE.
To set the record straight, you can import Solidworks models into Catia and Catia parts into Solidworks, either directly or through a host of nuetral formats like Parasolids and Step. But the level of interoperability isn't much better between Catia and Solidworks than it is between Solidworks and Pro-E. You don't get dimensions and tolerances, tap hole specifications or materials data.
That's why the relationship between Solidworks and Dassault seemed like a boone for all concerned. Since the two companies are under the same corperate umbrella, their technologies can be shared within the same IP firewall and since their solution scopes are distinct, I don't think there ever was a real danger of Solidworks encroaching on Catia sales. A machine-shop with twenty employees won't front thirty-thousand a seat for Catia and Airbus isn't going to give up it's plant-space design capabilities and business system integration for a cheaper, per-seat modeller. Afterall, there's Allibre Xpress if you really want Cheap 3D.
It's not that I don't concur the assessment of the CAD industry watch dogs. The language of late on Dassaults financial and technological backing of Solidworks has been muted and little emphasis on continuity appears in the marketing materials from these two companies. So, maybe these are the waning days of an erroded partnership, but I'm not impatient to see two CAD systems become less compatible and their parent company's turn their prongs against eachother. It's antithetical to the goal of CAD and doesn't brighten our prospects as engineers and drafters.
A Design model is a communication of physical concepts proven and articulated through geometry and intrinsic in that definition is the imperative that knowledge must travel and be received outside of it's own borders. The goal of continuity across platforms is a sign of maturity dictating the pace of software development, not a millstone.
Dassault and Solidworks should widen the roads they share, not close them.

John - CATIA V5's design cube is roughly 200m. In most solid modellers ((max size)/precision) < 1E12 or so.

John Burrill

What happens at >200M? Do you get a nag box like you do in Solidworks, or just a shift in precision?

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