LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Relative newcomer to the 3D design scene SolidWorks Corp. wants to edge out competitors like Autodesk and PTC by offering designers and engineers more affordable, easy-to-use tools.

The goal, says CEO John

McEleney, is to unleash the power of 3D modelling on everyone’s desktop and to make the SolidWorks platform the industry standard for 3D design.

McEleney and his colleagues are sharing the firm’s vision with more than 2,000 resellers, users, solution providers and employees this week at SolidWorks’ fourth annual design show and exposition at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

The nine-year-old Concord, Mass.-based company began shipping product five years ago and has 175,000 users worldwide, with 60,000 new users added last year.

“”The reality is 3D is still too hard,”” McEleney said. “”There’s a lot more work to do to make it easier.””

SolidWorks also used the conference to release Collaboration Edition, its mobile communications product. It includes SolidWorks Office, the flagship product which the company says was the first 3D CAD software to affordably bring the power of solid modeling to a Windows environment. It also includes 3D TeamWorks, a Web-based workspace that lets design teams review and troubleshoot projects over the Internet.

“”It’s for leaders who struggle to communicate with the extended design team,”” said Scott Harris, SolidWorks’ vice-president of collaborative services.

Though the 3D design marketplace is highly competitive, McEleney said he thinks SolidWorks has a great opportunity to maintain leadership in the industry. “”This three-horse race is becoming a two-horse race,”” he said, adding that he believes PTC will be eclipsed because of its plummeting MCAD sales. Autodesk, he said, has a lack of focus and “”desperate pricing.””

SolidWorks, on the other hand, has an edge because it offers enhanced performance, affordable 3D CAD software, a standard easy-to-use interface and compatibility with engineers’ current systems, McEleney said.

Another integral edge, McEleney added, is its reseller network, which numbers about 300 worldwide. Last year, the company expanded its Gold Partner program by 20 per cent.

Approximately 85 solution providers exhibited at the conference. GlobalSpec announced a partnership with SolidWorks to facilitate the integration of the latter’s CAD software with GlobalSpec’s SpecSearch Pro technology. Elsa, meanwhile, unveiled a line of Gloria Graphics Accelerators for the workstation market.

The product launches aside, there are still a host of challenges in the 3D space space, experts said. Will Shoemaker, an executive with SolidWorks customer Proctor & Gamble, said SolidWorks needs to offer more seamless integration into other packages, better free-form surfacing capability, faster design for voice/touch and activated systems, as well as more industrial design direct at creating rather than engineering.

“”That’s where I think we should take SolidWorks,”” Shoemaker told a packed crowd during a keynote address. “”Then it would be easier to use SolidWorks on every engineer’s desktop.””

For a complete roundup of partner offering and reseller reaction, see the March 8th issue of CDN.

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