5. Transparencies and textures export for 3D Printing
This will only have to relate to you if capitalizing on colored 3D Printing. Specifically, when exporting your file using the format 3MF. In SOLIDWORKS 2021, we can export colors, textures, and transparencies in the 3MF file. Exporting with color was possible with older SOLIDWORKS versions like 2020. However, the 2021 enhancement included transparencies and textures as well. Keep in mind that you will only benefit from this when printing with Material Jetting colored 3D Printers that enable transparent and multi-textured 3D Printing in one part.
Other than for 3D Printing applications, 3MF files are a binary 3D Model format that can be easily shared and opened with any 3D Viewer like the default 3D Viewer pre-installed Windows 10. To know more about this 3D Printing process and how 3D Printing, in general, can be of great value added to your work, check out our 3D Printing: Opportunities and Applications course.
6. Performance Updates
SOLIDWORKS 2021 has come with multiple performance enhancements throughout. Demanding elements like opening large assemblies and switching between different big configurations is now faster than before. There is no precise data of how fast that could be. However, for most of those, you might only be able to notice a considerable difference when working with very large files, like an assembly or a drawing with 1000+ parts. The updates we explored here were for mechanical design and support functions. They were also the updates that will most likely impact you.
There are other updates on other parts of the software involving elements like sheet metal, weldments, etc. This is in addition to updates that involve independent packages like SOLIDWORKS Composer and Visualize. If you would like to check out the details of all the updates, you can check out the SOLIDWORKS whats-new page explaining those.
Which SOLIDWORKS version should I use?
For the vast majority of SOLIDWORKS users, it does not make much of a difference in which version you should use. This is especially the case if you are using the software for 3D Design. Because SOLIDWORKS is an expensive and heavily regulated software, the most practical answer is that you should use the SOLIDWORKS version you have access to. However, if you can choose which version you can access, then the newer the better. This is so you can get access to the latest features.
Limits on version control/working with different versions
One of the most notable issues in using different SOLIDWORKS versions is your ability to interact with users with an older or newer version than the one you have. With a newer version, you will be able to open SOLIDWORKS files that were made using older versions. However, with an older version, you will not be able to open files made with the newer ones. You will most likely notice this if you share SW files with other users who are using another version. You might also come across this as an issue when downloading SOLIDWORKS models from sharing sites like GrabCAD. In that case, if the model you download is made with a newer version than the one you have, you will not be able to open it.
Suppose you are looking to learn SOLIDWORKS from scratch or looking to upskill your current SOLIDWORKS skills. In that case, you can check out the TforDesign online school which has many offers on SOLIDWORKS and related topics.