3D design software top 10 features, simulation, visualization, electrical; helps with robot design

Dassault Systèmes announces SolidWorks 2014 enhancements including improvements in shape control, sketch enhancement, visualization control, sheet metal, features, simulation, and electrical project features. Rethink Robotics uses SolidWorks for development of content, design of parts for manufacturability, and to conduct design reviews, simulations, and stress analysis studies.


Cutaway of Rethink Robotics Baxter looks as real as the real robot but is faster and easier to display due to refinements in SolidWorks 2014. Courtesy: Dassault Systèmes SolidWorksDassault Systèmes (Paris:DSY) discussed SolidWorks 2014 enhancements with a small group of media on Sept. 5. Upgrades to shape control, sketch enhancement, visualization control, sheet metal, simulation, electrical design, and project capabilities are among 10 major improvements listed below. Among customers at the 2014 launch event, Rethink Robotics said it uses SolidWorks to develop content, design the prototype and the parts for manufacturability, and to conduct design reviews, simulations, and stress analysis studies. SolidWorks 2014 beta software has been available to select customers, a pre-release version is scheduled to be available Sept. 9, and the final version is planned for October, company officials said.


Michael Lewis, senior mechanical engineer with Rethink Robotics, said his company uses SolidWorks. Here he demonstrates Baxter, Rethink Robotics’ easy-to-teach, low-speed, collaborative robot. Courtesy: CFE Media’s Mark T. Hoske

3D design helps with robotic design


Rethink Robotics engineers, as the name says, had to rethink robotics to build a better robot, suggested Michael Lewis, Rethink Robotics senior mechanical engineer. To help, the team used Solidworks 3D modeling and simulation software by Dassault Systèmes (3DS) to explore what was possible with robotic design.


“By using SolidWorks,” Lewis said, we developed “an adaptive manufacturing robot containing cameras, sensors, and sophisticated software that enables it to ‘see’ objects, ‘feel’ forces, and ‘understand’ tasks.” The resulting robot, Baxter from Rethink Robotics, “automatically adapts to changing environments,” Lewis said, “It knows what you mean and does what you expect.”


After using SolidWorks to help design and build Baxter, the Rethink Robotics team expanded use of SolidWorks to support customers interested in the robot, but in need of a simple model that showed different configurations of layouts for manufacturing workspaces where Baxter would work.


“Baxter helps manufacturers across industries compete in the new manufacturing world by providing a safe and affordable alternative to low-cost overseas labor,” explained Lewis. “Whether Baxter’s job is managing plastic parts for medical device products or packaging millions of toothpaste tubes for shipment to a department store, it easily performs repetitive tasks while helping drive down related manufacturing costs.”


Formlabs used Solidworks to rapidly move through six prototypes of its desktop stereolithography 3D printer, The Form 1, into production. A precisely controlled laser cures low-cost liquid resin into a model. Courtesy: CFE Media’s Mark T. Hoske


Major new 2014 features - see next page for the 10 best improvements and another photo


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