A Tale of Two Experiences: 3DExperience's Promises and Pitfalls in Hardware Management

February 9, 2024

Hardware teams today have an abundance of choices when it comes to selecting the software stack needed to bring hardware products to market. In addition to the traditional CAD, PDM, and PLM systems commonly used by teams, the software stack also encompasses systems for FEA & simulation, supplier management, etc. However, with the increasing number of systems comes a growing cognitive load on engineers, who must navigate different applications, user interfaces, and workflows. This lack of cohesion among systems results in limited accessibility to information and ultimately leads to delays in product development or market release.

Over the past few decades, larger organizations like Dassault Systems have developed and acquired a variety of products to encompass more of the overall software ecosystem. While hardware teams have benefited from access to these additional systems, they have often functioned as siloed applications, leading to cumbersome workflows and inefficiencies in achieving desired outcomes. This issue is further compounded by the fact that many of these siloed applications have on-premise roots with associated architectures, lacking support for cross-application workflows.

Dassault’s solution to address the challenge of managing multiple applications while looking toward the future is 3DExperience (3DX) - an ecosystem of Dassault products. At first glance, the 3DX platform appears promising, offering unified user experiences, collaboration features, and cloud-based design. However, a closer examination reveals challenges encountered during actual usage, as discussed in various threads like this one.

Viewing Files in 3DX Bookmarks

From the onset, users have reported confusion around data management. Although users can self-migrate files, larger databases require migration tooling that only VARs have access to. CAD files can’t be drag/dropped from local folders to the Collaborative spaces as those would get recognized as different documents instead of CAD. The ability to navigate through the 3DX web platform also requires a certain level of proficiency with the tool - which is typically accomplished through required/costly training. Once users have onboarded to the 3DX platform, other pain points highlighted include a lack of realtime bi-directional updates between 3DX in the web and the Enovia plugin in SolidWorks. Additionally - unless files are selected to be stored locally, users are dependent on internet access to perform their day-to-day activities.

Overall, due to the “on-premise” nature of SolidWorks PDM - the 3DX ecosystem is lacking in proper version control for check outs/check ins. Users can “reserve” files to effectively check out, however any saves will overwrite previous versions unless users increment the revision every time. Despite this, the largest source of frustration for users continues to be the increased frequency of SolidWorks crashing due to the Enovia plugin - a compounded problem as both CAD and PLM will have crashed.

“Checking In” Overwrites vs Creating New

While the vision for the overall 3DExperience platform aims to consolidate user experiences and interfaces, the current reality falls short. Although core interfaces are localized to SolidWorks, the Enovia plugin, and the 3DX web version, there is still room for improvement in the overall user experience. Additionally, there are open questions regarding interoperability with products and applications developed by companies other than Dassault. For instance, what if teams wanted to use Ansys for simulation instead of a Dassault/3DX product?

Bild's Cloud PDM & PLM System - The easiest way to manage CAD data

Due to the myriad issues mentioned above, many teams are exploring other "cloud-native" PDM and PLM systems like Bild, which prioritize ease of use and enables hardware teams to swiftly release designs and source components. Cloud nativity also facilitates modern API-based workflows across different platforms, offering users the flexibility to choose the best systems for their specific needs while maintaining seamless information and data flow.

Check it out for yourself and book a trial to learn why Bild is rapidly displacing 3DExperience across the desks of hardware engineers.