Design Engineering

SolidWorks mixes social media, self-publishing into 3D ContentCentral 2009

By Design Engineering staff   

General CAD Software SolidWorks

Already a large online community of engineering parts, suppliers and buyers, the 3D ContentCentral service has embraced self-publishing and social networking. It now includes an array of self-publishing tools that enable suppliers to build vast catalogs of 3D models by simply clicking a mouse. As well, new social networking tools let users build Facebook-like communities of members for sharing knowledge on components and suppliers.

More than 450,000 registered users use 3D ContentCentral to find configurable models of engineering components from hundreds of suppliers. With this upgrade, DS SolidWorks is transforming it from an online catalog to an interactive online community where product designers and suppliers can exchange information on an infinite range of design issues.


“Before 3D ContentCentral 2009, users and suppliers who communicated through online catalogs were restricted to exchanging CAD data,” said Fielder Hiss, director of product management at SolidWorks. “Now, with the social networking features we’ve added to 3D ContentCentral, they can have real conversations, compare their knowledge and experience, and help each other make better buying decisions. At the same time, the self-publishing options will attract more suppliers, which give users a wider range of parts to choose from.”

Self-publishing innovations

3D ContentCentral’s new supplier services self-publishing section eliminates the cost and technical barriers to creating online catalogs of engineering parts models. It enables suppliers to create their product catalogs without relying on a third-party service provider. Among the key features of Supplier Services are a file upload program, content manager, supplier dashboard and model preview and edit pages. They enable suppliers to build, update, and maintain catalogs.

Social networking for design knowledge

3D ContentCentral 2009 features a revamped “My 3DCC” page that enables users to build communities for trading knowledge and experience. Among the key new features are:
 • “My Updates”: Automatically keeps users up to date on everyone in their community of contacts. For example, it notifies a user when a contact uploads a new 3D model, or contributes a comment to an online discussion.
• Favorites: Lets users track specified users and parts catalogs without inviting them to become a contact.
• Rate and Comment: Enables users to collaboratively evaluate model quality and share their experiences with one another.  
• Requesting: Gives users a direct channel to suppliers so they can ask for modifications and new designs.


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