SOLIDWORKS 2017: Phil’s 5 favourite enhancements

Innova Systems SOLIDWORKS Applications Engineer, Phil Downing has chosen his 5 favourite enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D CAD Software. Read on to find out what he chose…

Every new release of SOLIDWORKS means innovative new functionality and a raft of performance enhancements. SOLIDWORKS Applications Engineer, Phil, has comprised a list of his 5 favourite enhancements and areas of new functionality in SOLIDWORKS 2017.

n.b. A complete list of enhancements can be viewed in the “What’s New.pdf” in the task pane within SOLIDWORKS 2017 as seen in the image below.


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
What’s New PDF location


With that out of the way, let’s move on to Phil’s top picks…

Shaded sketch contours

This is a fantastic addition to the design process. The user is presented with a shaded visual display of a closed contour, as seen in the images below. For example, sometimes it is not clear as to why a sketch is open if the geometry is complex, this display will make it easier to determine if the sketch is closed before finding an error when attempting to extrude, as would previously occur. In addition to this you can right-mouse-button within the shaded region and extrude it instantly.

5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 2 – Shaded contour
5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 3 – RMB within shaded area


A further benefit that accompanies this enhancement is that multiple contours are displayed in a gradual shading format as seen in Image 4. This helps the user to visually understand the different regions and a specific region can be easily extruded by holding the Alt key while the cursor is over one of the relevant regions. Lastly, the whole sketch can be moved as one entity, rather than altering the contour geometry like you used to have to do.

5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 4 – Gradual shading

3D Interconnect

3D Interconnect is a completely new piece of functionality that allows a seamless transition between some other CAD packages has now been made available (currently as a BETA version). Previously saving another CAD package native file as a dumb solid and then running feature recognition would have been the only way to work on the part inside SOLIDWORKS. This was a one way operation and the third-party would have to do the same within their system.

However, using 3D Interconnect allows the face ID’s to be maintained whilst working on the native 3D CAD package file. (SOLIDWORKS associates each face with a unique identification number). That way different CAD packages can collaborate together without limiting their model geometry to dumb solids. Current CAD Packages that can utilise this functionality are Inventor, Catia V5, Creo, NX and Solid Edge.

This is a massive and long awaited step forward for SOLIDWORKS, because it opens the door for multi-CAD product collaboration.

It’s worth noting, 3D Interconnect is not enabled by default and must be switched on via the selection box which is located under the new areas: “Import” & “Export” within System Options as seen in image 5.


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 5 – Enabling 3D Interconnect


3D Interconnect in action.

Convert to Bodies

In the past, saving a file as a dumb solid i.e. .step/.stl, etc or using particular commands such as Defeature would be the only way to remove the feature history from your model, in order to remove certain design information and protect intellectual property for example.

The main advantage to this new technique is that it is quick and easy, and it has the ability to preserve reference geometry and sketches (Image 7). Furthermore, it retains the mates in the assembly, because the face ID’s are remembered – unlike before when you couldn’t save as a .parasolid, for example.


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 6 – RMB on part name


In order to convert a model to bodies, right-mouse-button on the part name at the top of the FeatureManager Design Tree and select the command as seen above. A message then pops up warning you that all editable bodies will be permanently deleted. You also have the option to “Preserve reference geometry and sketches” which is especially useful for mating, among other features.


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 7 – Message prompt


Once the process is complete, you are presented with a significantly smaller feature history as seen in image 8. Thus removing design information.


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 8 – End result


Convert to Bodies in action.



Customising configuration sort order

Another completely new piece of functionality is the ability to re-order configurations as you wish. Previously by default the list of configurations would present themselves in an alpha-numeric order, allowing for problems such as follows; 1, 2, 200, 3.

This can now be resolved via a new menu on the right-mouse-button as seen in Image 9. The choices available are numeric, literal, manual, history based and an ability to follow a design table order if applicable.


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 9 – Configuration tree order

Stress Hot Spot Diagnostics

A completely new results display within SOLIDWORKS Simulation is the Stress Hot Spot diagnostics tool. This provides the user with a much easier visual display of the highest areas of stress within the model. It is important to note that these hot spots may be caused due to modelling issues, such as sharp corners etc.

The Stress Hot Spot Diagnostics tool can be activated via the right-mouse-button on the Results folder as seen in Image 10.

5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 10 – Activating the Stress Hot Spot Diagnostics Tool


Once activated, the property manager populates itself advising the user of the uses of the tool as seen below.


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 11


There are two options that can be chosen to display the Stress Hot Spots, as illustrated in the Images below. By clicking ‘Isolate Stress Hot Spots’, you can show only the areas identified as stress hot spots. This is a really helpful tool, and can be used especially if the geometry is rather complex.

5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 12


5 useful enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017
Image 13


We hope you found that useful!

Have you seen our blog archive where we have posted plenty of helpful articles? We also have a fantastic video library filled with easy-to-follow videos on a number of topics inspired by other SOLIDWORKS users – take a look. Also, don’t forget to follow Innova Systems on twitter for daily bite size SOLIDWORKS tips, tricks and videos.