Tool Speeds Online Catalog Publishing

3D upgrade boosts content control.

An upgrade to SolidWorks Corp.s three-dimensional catalog software gives component manufacturers a template-based tool for publishing online catalogs in days, rather than months, according to company officials.

SolidWorks 3D 3.0, which will begin shipping this week, features enhanced content management tools that provide manufacturers more control over their online catalog content, as well as the ability to provide downloadable 3-D CAD designs.

3D 3.0, which is available as a hosted service, enables a manufacturers customers to view products from all angles and configure models based on their requirements. Likewise, customers can download 3-D CAD drawings and incorporate them into their specifications.

Version 3.0 provides a 3D ProductPage Web authoring tool that allows manufacturers several design choices, including the addition of company header branding and numerous style and layout options.

A new user interface simplifies model uploading, model previews and model sorting options. Configuration rules allow customers to select proper product configuration based on attributes such as dimensions, features, colors and accessories specific to each product line.

In addition, 3D offers a product categorization functionality that allows users to categorize products into a natural hierarchy, while beefed-up search criteria tools allow manufacturers to determine how customers search for products, officials said.

Enerpac, a division of Actuant Inc. and a manufacturer of hydraulic tools, is using 3D in its Workholding division to let customers contract with the company to make dimensionally precise hydraulic pumps that fit into larger tools. Because the dimensions of each tool are specific to each customer, Enerpac uses SolidWorks software to enable customers to download CAD files of the hydraulic pump design and dimensions directly from the Internet.

"Everything thats come out [in Version 3.0] has been geared toward the supplier—to us—to be able to update and manipulate [the look and feel of the catalog]," said Tom Eggert, marketing manager for Enerpacs Workholding division, in Milwaukee.

Being able to incorporate a suppliers 3-D CAD drawings directly into a customers specification is a huge advantage over paper catalogs, said officials at SolidWorks, in Concord, Mass.

"An automobile manufacturer might flip through a catalog, look at a 2-D motor and try and envision how that would fit in their own engineering designs," said Jim Giebutowski, director of content sales for SolidWorks. "3D PartStream allows them to incorporate the 3-D design."