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A Look at SolidWorks Sustainability Xpress (Or How Green is Homer Simpson’s Beer Can?)

Special Report on SolidWorks 2010 — Part 1: Video report on SolidWorks Sustainability Xpress, now available as a plug-in at SolidWorks Labs. The module will ship with every license of SolidWorks 2010, now in beta testing.

For more on SolidWorks 2010, read “SolidWorks 2010: Sustainability and Productivity Take Center Stage,” August 26, 2009.

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.


  1. With regards to the “product sustainability” add-on to Solidworks 2010; I can’t believe they spent the time to create this functionality! I realize companies have to expand their product offerings to increase market share and expand into new markets, but I thought Solidworks was an engineering tool, not a marketing tool. I sincerely hope this portion of the software does not load automatically and slow down the improved speed realized with Solidworks 2009. The “product sustainability” software does not fit our needs as a “custom” aerial lift manufacturer. I believe the time spent developing this new marketing feature would have been better spent creating a better 2-D parametric sketcher for quickly conveying concepts to potential customers. Currently I am still using CADKEY to perform this task. I think the Solidworks developers need to do more research into the small business engineering world instead of creating a “feature software” which will become an “update nightmare” for limited use.

  2. Eric: Sustainability Xpress is an optional plug-in for SolidWorks 2009; in SolidWorks 2010, it’s part of the software’s “evaluate” tab. This feature didn’t cause an “update nightmare” (as you put it) in my experience using it with 2009. It’s a feature with a small hard-drive footprint, so I have no reason to think it’ll affect the software’s performance adversely. I don’t think you need to care about sustainability or green design to get value out of this feature. In fact, the “find similar” feature in Sustainability Xpress can help any manufacturer identify alternative materials with similar properties. I’m impressed with its simplicity and effectiveness and would encourage users to give it a try. I don’t see how this could be a “marketing tool.”

  3. Interesting feature. Has anybody done an independent study on how well this actually works? Is there documentation that provides justification for the information that it provides? A few years ago when the first express FEA module was put into SW there were some errors that were confirmed and later fixed by the Cosmos guys. With FEA there are numerous test procedures available, what it there for Sustainability express?

    As for the 2-D parametric sketcher, I too would like this feature. The slddrw files allow one to make schematic drawings and some labels for our products but they are a bit clunky. Still useful though.

  4. Dana: Thanks for the feedback! Good question about the verification process. SolidWorks developers informed me Sustainability Xpress was developed in partnership with PE-International (http://www.pe-international.com), which specializes in product lifecycle assessment software and consulting services. I think Sustainability Xpress makes a lot general assumption about carbon footprint and energy use, because it’s meant to be a general-purpose tool. It’s certainly not as sophisticated as PE’s GaBi, which lets you dig deeper into your material flow and supply chain to get a better accounting of the environmental impact.

  5. This idea will catch on I believe because I think there will be more users of it than not. We might even be moving into a reality that will necessitate that before you can produce a product for world marketng you will have to submit an extensive study like this to the patent offices in the world, in order to get a registered patent number. This would be much like the environmental impact statements that architechs and builders must file before a building permit is issued. We all live in the same world together and anything we do affects the rest of the world.

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  7. Homer Simpson is so funny! I think I’ve seen almost all episodes!

  8. Is it beer 30, yet? I’m ready to crack open a nice bottle of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale!

  9. I agree with the author’s point of view! I learned a lot. Thank you!

  10. Are you a professional in that field?

  11. In general, its an excellent post, but you might have spent a littlemore time on it. but an excellent post

  12. An interesting and very well crafted blog post. Thank you for posting it. I await your forthcoming blog posts.

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