What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2021

The new version of SOLIDWORKS 2021 again delights users with new features and improvements in familiar commands – all to help engineers develop products not only faster, but also more efficiently. This time, the developers set themselves the task of optimizing standard workflows, improving program performance and reliability of design procedures. Let’s take a closer look at where the changes took place.


Assembly design

Design mode, first introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2020, opens up graphics-rich drawings in seconds, but users are not limited to viewers. For example, you can perform common tasks such as adding and editing dimensions and notes. The model is not fully loaded; however, it retains information added in drawing views. It is now easier to draw hole callouts, as well as add callouts, broken views, and cropped views. Thanks to faster file operations, switching configurations and automatic setting of the reduced mode, working with even the most complex assemblies is seamless.

Saving simplified models as configurations allows you to quickly switch between full and downscaled models. A new method for obtaining complete design information has been implemented for reduced assembly components: you just need to expand a node or part in the tree, and the corresponding component will be dynamically loaded and resolved. This eliminates the latency associated with loading “heavy” assemblies.

Collision Detection is a powerful tool for quickly identifying design problems. SOLIDWORKS 2021 introduces the ability to save found clashes in a spreadsheet. You can “take a picture” of the collision on the screen and attach the snapshot to the report, so that, together with your colleagues, you can determine the cause of the spatial error and outline the steps for correction.

SOLIDWORKS has always supported flexible reconfiguration of individual component instances in patterns. Sometimes you want all components to reference the original instance. This can be tedious as it is done on a per component basis. One new feature in SOLIDWORKS 2021 is an option that synchronizes the configurations of all component instances in a pattern. It helps to avoid inadvertently changing any of these components via the Quick Menu by blocking changes in the component’s Properties dialog box. This also ensures that changes made to the configuration of the array root component are propagated correctly. In addition, arrays of chains can now be built along a trajectory with specifying the length of the curve (and not just the length of the chord).

The Silhouette method, first announced in the Defeature tool in SOLIDWORKS 2019, allows you to create a simplified representation of an assembly to help protect design data from unauthorized distribution, reduce model clutter, and improve performance. New in SOLIDWORKS 2021 is the ability to save a simplified representation as a configuration in the same assembly for which it was created. This eliminates the need to manage a separate file containing the simplified model. To use a simplified view in higher-level assemblies, simply right-click the component and select Defeatured.

Part design

SOLIDWORKS 2021 introduces a host of new features that open up a wide range of part design options. This is, first of all, the ability to repeat for more than 60 elements and commands for working with parts, flanges on non-planar tangent edges of sheet metal, nesting for compound flanges, material transfer when creating derived and mirrored parts, formulas in file properties and properties cut lists; and the widespread use of the color palette.

Productivity increase

Improved performance for operations such as opening, saving, and closing assemblies, detecting and reporting on circular references, and adding files to the SOLILDWORKS PDM vault. Select, pan, and zoom operations are faster. Removing hidden objects and shaping silhouette edges in drawings uses more GPU resources.

User interface

Engineers have long appreciated SOLIDWORKS ‘intuitive and customizable user interface. However, the developers do not rest on their laurels! In SOLIDWORKS 2021, the interface has become even more intuitive and user-friendly. Improved color palette that can now link to other applications such as the web browser. Searching for commands in the customization dialog makes it easy to arrange toolbars. The Command Manager can be minimized to provide more room to work on the screen, and the translucent size makes it easier to select objects.

In SOLIDWORKS 2021, you no longer need to compromise between interface versatility and command promptness. Just adjust the workspace to your preferences, and after that nothing will prevent you from focusing on the project at hand.

Interaction on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

A connected, end-to-end design and manufacturing environment that connects components through the cloud enables designers and technologists to interact in real time. In this case, a team member can physically be anywhere: he only needs a device with Internet access.

SOLIDWORKS 2021 provides new functionality to move from design to manufacturing. The derived format converter allows you to generate highly accurate geometry for use at all stages of product development and production. Users can control the modes of opening data obtained from the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform and the configurations stored in this platform.

Complex design and manufacturing workflows can be easily expanded with new tools as business needs grow.


New simulation capabilities in SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2021 help you achieve even better design quality. The engineering analysis process has been simplified and made more flexible, the accuracy and speed of calculations have been improved.

Significantly accelerated calculations for contact modeling. Optimized parallel computing, CPU load, stiffness calculation and contact data processing. Due to the stabilization of contacts, the convergence of the calculation is improved.

By default, a new mesh mode is offered: common nodes are not forcibly formed, and the mesh is built much faster, not inferior in accuracy to meshes with common nodes between parts. In addition, new diagnostics tools allow you to identify problematic elements in grids and fix them. Automatic selection of the algorithm for solving equations makes the simulation accurate and fast.

In SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation 2021, the range of CFD tasks is expanded and the processing of results continues to improve. The powerful Rotating Region feature is used to simulate rotating fluid flows. Now in Flow Simulation, rotating regions can be combined with freely moving surfaces. This is ideal for mixing simulation tasks and can be used to analyze product behavior in service.


In the nodes of the Plastics Manager tree, the processes related to material selection, specifying a workspace, setting process parameters, and other key tasks of modeling plastic injection have become more orderly and logical. For the cooling system, a new function has been added that divides the flow into two halves by inserting a plate into the channel (in bubblers, the role of such a plate is played by an inner tube of a smaller diameter). We have partnered with the world’s leading plastics suppliers to provide our customers with the most accurate material properties data and help them improve simulation quality.


The performance of routing wires, cables and harnesses in 3D is greatly improved. Splines are now supported in toolpaths along with lines and arcs, which greatly improves the quality of routing in geometrically complex products. Added tools for calculating the mass properties of a system of electrical wires, cables and harnesses inside the 3D model of the product being developed. Several wires / cables can be secured with a clip. Splicing of wires is done with or without a connecting component. End termination is supported in the connector tables and accessory library.

In projects, it often happens that multiple cables connected to the same connector go to different parts of the electrical system. Routing such a group of cables as a single assembly does not provide designers with sufficient flexibility in making decisions. In SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic 2021, a new field has been added to the cable properties to separate one cable from another. You can also control this option in the SOLIDWORKS cable routing command.


For those working with SOLIDWORKS PDM, you will probably agree that the speed of work is largely determined by the efficiency of the database. The performance improvements in the new release significantly speed up most common file operations and workflows. Functions such as adding and returning files to the PDM system, changing state, opening, saving and deleting files have become faster.

SOLIDWORKS PDM 2021 allows you to analyze and document links using the Treehouse view on the Contains and Where Used tabs. Workflow icons visually inform project participants about the work of colleagues. Standard PDM operations are faster than the previous version.

One of the most useful features of SOLIDWORKS PDM has long been its Windows Explorer integration. The 2021 version expands support for Windows 10 UI elements such as the Ribbon.

The Details view is where the full breadth of PDM comes into play. When working in this view, the columns define sets of properties that are visible to users. SOLIDWORKS PDM 2021 provides more options for customizing columns and, most importantly, allows you to work with multiple sets of columns.

All new features and improvements cannot be even briefly described in one article, so we only touched on the most important ones here. As the material accumulates, we will acquaint readers with the details. Follow our publications!

We also invite you to familiarize yourself with what’s new in SOLIDWORKS 2021 by watching a series of webinars:

All webinars are in Russian. Pre-registration is required.

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