Is the demise of the 2D manufacturing drawing just around the corner? I’m sure engineers hope so. Model based definition (MBD) may be helping to do away with drawings, but it’s still not used across the board. And many engineers using MBD to annotate models with  3D product manufacturing information still have to learn a separate application, which takes time.

In the MBD module of SOLIDWORKS2015, the company’s newest release of that system, engineers can annotate 3D SOLIDWORKS models with PMI such as dimensioning and notes. While annotating 3D models already saves time formerly spent creating 2D manufacturing drawings, this new release saves engineers who design in SOLIDWORKS even more time because they don’t need a special authoring application for 3D annotation.

This post looks at what’s new and notable in SOLIDWORKS MBD 2015, the impact it has for 3D PMI annotation, what the application isn’t, and where we might see it go in the future.

 Capabilities provided by Solidworks MBD

Most notably, this offering provides the capability to add Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI) to 3D models within SOLIDWORKS. This includes things like notes, dimensions, GD&T and more.

This is a fundamental improvement that needed to occur. If you compress all of a drawing’s dimensions, which are spread across different views, onto a single space, it gets messy quickly. You suddenly have a confusing star of notations you can spin around. The model can even become obscured. Locking the display of these annotations to specific views is a big step towards addressing this issue.

Commentary and Analysis

Commentary and analysis by Chad Jackson

So, is this new SOLIDWORKS MBD offering a big deal?

MBD and design time

Well, first off, let’s talk about some drawing issues in general. The Lifecycle Insight’s Model Based Enterprise Study conducted last year, revealed some eye-opening findings. For example, engineers on average spend 21 hours a week working on drawings. Furthermore, they spend another 11 hours a week answering questions to clarify drawings and generating additional documentation. That leaves far too little time to design… even if engineers do put in a 50- or 60- hour work week. Use of Model Based Definitions can cut the time spend on engineering documentation overall down dramatically.

A module, not a 3DEXPERIENCE app

Per the same study, we found that only 60% of respondents were creating MBD deliverables through CAD applications on desktops and laptops. The remainder used specialized 3D authoring applications that opened 3D models and allowed users to add PMI. This extension of functionality in SOLIDWORKS allows those users to stay in the same application instead of learning a new one.

Another point of note is how this offering was delivered. Dassault Systèmes is creating 3DEXPERIENCE apps right and left. Frankly, this could have been another one. Much like Mechanical Conceptual or Industrial Conceptual offerings, there could have been a new MBD app that works with SOLIDWORKS, CATIA or other 3D data. Perhaps we will see that in the future. However, for those longing to see SOLIDWORKS stay on the desktop and as an independent software application, this is a positive sign.

The takeaway

So, what does this really mean for SOLIDWORKS users? To be frank, other CAD applications have provided this kind of functionality for over a year now. SOLIDWORKS isn’t being innovative in the market here. However, it is providing functionality that can help engineers save time spent on product documentation without going to another software environment.


  • Engineers spend about 32 hours a week working on and answering questions about drawings. For them, MBD would cut documentation time dramatically.
  • SOLIDWORKS MBD 2015 saves time for engineers already designing in SOLIDWORKS, who will no longer need to move to another environment to create MBD deliverables.
  • For clarity, annotations are shown based on views, a much needed improvement.
  • The offering is a module of desktop SOLIDWORKS, not a 3DEXPERIENCE app.

Would SOLIDWORKS MBD 2015 be useful to you? How do you feel about MBD in general? Let me know. And thanks for reading.