SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 3: SolidWorks Fundamentals, Part I

This chapter of the SolidWorks 2014 What’s New document covers a lot of material, so we’ll be splitting it into two parts. “Fundamentals” seems to be SolidWorks-speak for “miscellaneous,” so prepare for a mish-mash of new features.

Chapter 3: SolidWorks Fundamentals, Part I

Honorable Mentions

History Folder

Access the features you have edited most recently, in one convenient folder. Features, sketches, mates, and even in-context parts are automatically added to the history folder  when edited. You can set the number of history items to display through the History Options menu.



  • Accurate Environment Lighting: Reduces shadow noise and allows lighting patterns to be derived from custom HDR background images.2
  • Continuous Preview Refinement: The preview rendering increases in quality over time, so you can see what the final rendering would look like at various levels. Also, the preview window now has the option to use the full resolution available, making it more accurate.
  • A butt-load of new background scenes: Not only are there a ton of new background images, but there are also pre-defined viewing angles for each scene.


  • Network Rendering: Network rendering is now available for animations. The resources needed for each frame is packaged and sent to the various rendering clients on the network.

 Section Views

There are two major new Section View enhancements this year.

  • Graphics Only Section Views: I believe the current section view actually temporarily removes geometry from the model, which takes extra tame to calculate, and can cause issues with zero-thickness geometry. This could result in the following error when sectioning in certain places where geometry meets:

The new graphics-only section view option addresses those issues, with some limitations:

“You cannot select a sectioned face or edge. You must retain the section cap color in a graphics-only section view. Pixels that lay within the same plane as the section plane or face are not hidden.”


  • Exclude Components from Section View: Some bodies can be excluded from a created section view and be displayed in their entirety, making it easier to visualize the interior of a product. Notice how certain interior components are displayed fully in the image below, making it easier to identify them.

But of course, if you’re in a section view, how do you easily select components which are already cut in half, or completely hidden by the section plane? You can select the desired components with the help of a selection plane. This is a skewed secondary  plane that revels hidden components solely or the purpose of selecting them for the section view. Pretty clever.



Sunlight/Solar Access Studies

Adding realistic sunlight to a model adds one more level of realism, and also enables solar access studies. These studies simulate the movement of the sun throughout a day or a year. This is useful for anyone designing outdoor fixtures, or just choosing the shadiest parking space

Sunlight can be added to a model through the Scene,  Lights, and Cameras tab:


Then, choose a reference vector to define north, and choose your location, date and time.  Several population centers are pre-loaded into the PropertyManager (including the SolidWorks office in Waltham, MA), but you can also manually define a location using coordinates. Additionally, solstices and equinoxes are pre-defined next to the date selector, for quick access to the best and worst days of the year for sunlight. Once you’ve selected all your parameters, an info box populates with useful facts for that date and location, such as length of day, sunrise, sunset, annual solar access, and more. What’s more, Sunlight makes PhotoView360 renders and simple screen captures look amazing!


The Solar Access Studies are located under the Animation Wizard, in the Motion Studies tab:


The study gives you the option to show how your model would look throughout the course of a day, or at a specific time of day over a whole year. When you hit Run, the Animation Wizard works with PhotoView360 to render accurate sunlit backgrounds for each frame of the animation. The changing light conditions and shadows make for a great simulation for architectural products, such as the placement of solar panels The study creates an animation that can be exported to a video file like any other motion study.

9-15-2013 7-20-17 PM

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One thought on “SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 3: SolidWorks Fundamentals, Part I

  1. Pingback: SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 2: User Interface | Dan Herzberg

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