By JDHill
Maxwell for SolidWorks version 1.7.0 Release Notes

The following topics outline changes and improvements made in the Maxwell for SolidWorks plugin in the new 1.7.0 version.


The Database Manager in 1.7.0 adds a new sub-window: the Volume View. Since the plugin can easily manage a database of several thousands of Materials, they are purposefully not shown with thumbnails into the Materials Catalog, instead being represented using a simple tree-structure. Since it would take a great deal of memory to fully-load all of these Materials into memory, the actual Materials are only loaded on-demand. This is efficient, but it is also not very convenient since it is not possible to know what each Material looks like without loading it – to address this, the Volume View provides a way of loading a Volume of Materials into memory complete with thumbnails for easier browsing. It also provides a context-menu with several useful functions, one of which is a new ‘Select Assigned Objects’ command, which makes it easier to tell what Material is assigned to which entities.

The Scene Manager now includes a Scene Materials Browser. While the Materials used by the Scene ‘live’ in the database, it is still useful to know and control which ones are used by the Scene. All of the Materials shown in the Scene Materials Browser will be saved directly in the document. When the document is opened on a machine whose database does not contain the Materials found in that document, they are automatically added to the database.

The Material Editor has been updated to provide access to the new Maxwell SubSurface system. A BSDF layer no longer has a SubSurface as a child layer. Rather, a BSDF is converted into a SubSurface by right-clicking its’ node and choosing ‘Turn to SubSurface’. Reverting the layer back to a BSDF is done in a similar way. In the SubSurface editor window, there is a ‘Presets’ drop-down which sets the layer parameters to one of a collection of pre-defined types.

Similar to the new 1.7 Maxwell MXED material editor, plugin Materials also now provide a run-time-only ‘history’. At any time, you can click a button in the Material Editor which will take a ‘snapshot’ of the current state of the Material. This will be added to a list which may be recalled by pressing ‘Back’ and ‘Forward’ buttons, similar to those used in a web-browser. While Material ‘snapshots’ are not saved in files, the are actually live Materials - that is, they may be edited in-place when they are recalled, and they may be saved as a new Material by dragging them from the Material Editor to the Database Manager.

In Plugin Options there are a few new settings which relate to Materials. In the Material Defaults section, you will find a new setting: Preview Threads. This setting simply controls how many threads will be used by MXCL when it is used by the plugin to refresh Material previews. This is good for making sure that the preview-refresh routine does not slow down the whole machine. The ‘Only Export Active Camera’ setting also does what it says, preventing multiple Cameras from being exported when they are not needed.


The plugin’s Object Properties window now includes a Texture Rotation slider which is used to adjust the rotation of textures for the selected entities. This corresponds to the rotation slider found in the regular SolidWorks texture editor.

The Material Editor’s texture-editor pane now supports visualization of the new saturation, contrast, brightness, and RGB clamp parameters which have been added to Maxwell textures in version 1.7. These parameters (located in a small window which drops down from the texture-editor toolbar) are per-texture, and they work with the CTRL and SHIFT keys in the same way as the other Texture parameters – CTRL applies changes to all Textures in the current layer, and CTRL+SHIFT applies them to all Textures in the Material.


Version 1.6.8 Cameras have an Auto-exposure feature. This has been extended and improved in version 1.7.0 with the new EV (Exposure Value) parameter. When Auto-exposure is enabled, the current EV is used to calculate the exposure whenever fStop, Shutter, or ISO are changed. When Auto-exposure is disabled, the EV is figured whenever these parameters are changed. Therefore, it is possible to adjust the exposure, then ‘lock’ it in by enabling Auto-exposure. EV may also be adjusted directly. Charts giving ballpark EV figures for different lighting conditions are available by searching the web.

Scene Management:

For convenience, each page of the Scene Manager now includes a button in its’ toolbar which has performs the function of re-setting the page’s parameters to default.

The 1.7.0 plugin also provides some new commands found in the main menu and toolbar: Export Current State and Import Saved State. These functions allow for exporting and importing complete sets of Scene data using standalone files (.sxl) which may be shared as desired. Also in this menu, you will find another new command: Relocate Paths. This is basically a ‘pack-and-go’ command, which prompts you to choose a new MXS output location. When the new path is chosen, the plugin copies all referenced files to a ‘textures’ folder located in the target directory, and modifies all plugin paths to point to the new location. When an MXS is then exported, all of the paths in it refer to the newly-copied files, making for easier MXS portability.

In the Environment Settings page, you will find controls for the new Maxwell Physical Sky’s atmospheric parameters. It is also possible to import and export the new Maxwell .sky format from the plugin using buttons in the Environment Settings toolbar. In the Render Settings page, you will now find controls for MXCL’s Simulens parameters: Glare and Scattering, in addition to the already-present Vignetting parameters.


Support for Maxwell instances has been added in this version. This capability is implemented in such a way that duplicate bodies in an assembly may be exported as Maxwell instances, when the plugin option ‘Export Duplicate Bodies as Instances’ is enabled.

With the release of 1.7.0, the SolidWorks and Rhino plugins now share most of their codebase – they both use the same basic structure, and share Material formats. It is possible to export a Material library (.mxl) or Scene state (.sxl) file from either and import it into the other. Furthermore, when installed on the same machine, the Database Manager in each plugin uses the same database, allowing the same Materials to be used in documents in both applications.
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