Let’s Talk Sheetmetal

Posted on September 24th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Tips

I really like the Sheetmetal functionality in SolidWorks. I like that it’s fairly intuitive and does a nice job of creating your part. There is one aspect of it, however, that many people seem to miss. That would be the unfold/fold commands. When you have a part that’s been bent, and you need to cut some holes in it, this is the way you want to go, especially if you’re putting a hole in that straddles one of the bends. How do you use it? Simple. From your sheetmetal toolbar, select the ‘Unfold’ button. At this point, you’ll need to select a fixed face. You’ll then be prompted to select your bends. Generally, I simply ‘select all’. Hit the check mark and your part will unfold. One thing to note is that your ‘Flatten’ feature is still surpressed. You can now insert your cuts. Once done, select the ‘Fold’ button, the fixed face from before and the bend(s) you used. Voila! Your holes are done. Why not just use the ‘Flatten’ feature? Because the cuts you put in would be surpressed in the "unflattened" state. I know, from experience, that this can be rather frustrating.

North East SolidWorks User Conference

Posted on September 22nd, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

What an excellent job the NESWUG committee did organizing this event. The conference center they chose was excellent, the vendor turnout was great and, most impressively, was the attendance. 180+ users showed up to learn about SolidWorks.

The conference started with a nice continental breakfast during which Ed Gebo spoke about the day’s breakout sessions. He then introduced the guest speaker, none other than Jon Hirschtick. Jon spoke about where SolidWorks came from, where it is and where it’s going. His time was limited, but his speech was energizing. Once all the attendees had left for the morning’s first session, I got a chance to introduce myself to Jon. How flattered was I that he knew who I was? Jon and I spoke for a while about SolidWorks, I then commented on his absence from Twitter. He pulled out his phone right then and posted, promising to become more active. We spoke, too, about the project I’m working on. He seemed very interested and gave me the name of someone at SolidWorks to talk to with the hope that, together, we’d be able to overcome the hurdles I’m facing.

I was lame and didn’t attend any of the breakout sessions. Many I’d already attended in the past, so I took the time to visit with the people from DriveWorks and TactonWorks. I also spent time talking to fellow blogger and presenter, Rob Rodriguez. In talking with some of the attendees, it was apparent that everyone was impressed with the conference and learning.

The time arrived for my presentation and I was a bit nervous. It had been a while since I’d presented. As I walked back to the podium, after getting myself some water, I managed to trip over the power cord to the projector. The mood was set. I went through my presentation and SolidWorks locked up only once. It wasn’t a big deal, though. I got the impression that most everyone in attendance had experienced a SolidWorks crash before…

I hope that people left with a bit more knowledge of DriveWorksXpress and COSMOSXpress. Though, admittedly, there’s the outside chance that I may have actually caused their IQ’s to drop a bit. I guess we’ll find out how well I did if NESWUG asks me back next year…

Helping Others

Posted on September 14th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

One of my favorite things about having this blog is helping others. Sometimes it’s via a review of a partner product or a tip or trick I might post. My favorite way is through the questions I get through email. I love it when a random email shows up in my inbox asking if I can answer a question or two. I consider it a compliment that the individual thinks enough of my knowledge to ask me "how do I…?". I always take the time to answer their questions to the best of my ability. If I don’t know the answer off the top of my head, then it becomes a learning experience for me, too. Whether I can answer the question or not, I’ll direct the emailer to other, more useful, resources such as the SolidWorks Forum, SolidMentor or eng-tips.com so that they can, hopefully, become part of the larger community. A knowledge seeker today becomes a knowledge sharer tomorrow…

Never hesitate to send me your SolidWorks questions. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll get it for you. I think the same holds true for any of the SolidWorks bloggers. We all love to help. Well, except, maybe, Matt. He’s becoming grumpy in his old age…ok, that’s not true. Matt is a kind and giving person. It’s Gabi who is becoming grumpy. j/k…

GO SOX!!  GO PATS!!

My BIG Project

Posted on September 12th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I know I’ve alluded to the project I’m working on here and there, but I thought I’d talk a little more about it for a couple of reasons. One, I think it’s pretty damn cool. Two, though I need to be vague due to confidentiality, I thought some of you might think it’s pretty damn cool too.

At last count, the main assembly was at 2200 components. After some retraining of the other designers, and going back into models, the number of bodies has shrunk from ~7200 to ~3000. I should explain here that the group I’m working with are completely new to SolidWorks, except from one other person. My duties include training, managing the upper level assembly, managing PDMWorks, and finding the answers/work-arounds to the hurdles that we face almost daily. Thankfully, my days are far from mundane! (A special thanks to the guys at Quest Integration for putting up with me.)

Best guess is we’re about 30% done. When it is completed, I’m figuring somewhere in the neighborhood of 4500 to 5000 components covering an area in excess of 255,000 square feet. Just for kicks, I "weighed" the structure the other day. It was ~8880 tons (17,767,116 lbs) and took up 490,433,621 cu. in.

It’s been interesting co-mingling SolidWorks and Revit models, trying to get architectural annotations created in SolidWork and dealing with the old-school nay-sayers. The more I hear that we’re not going to be able to get in done, the more driven I am to prove them wrong. We did manage to exceed the capabilities of eDrawings, which is why I implemented PDMWorks. The project managers want to be able to mess around with the upper-level assembly and there’s no way I’m about to let all those hours of work go down the drain. I was actually surprised that eDrawings crapped out the way it did. It simply couldn’t handle the size of the assembly.

I’m really looking forward to getting the finalized equipment in and beginning the routing process. It’s the one area that I’m a bit worried about. I don’t know how SolidWorks is going to handle the amount of cables, pipes and HVAC we’ll need to do. Good thing I’ll be in Concord next week. I plan on bending an ear or two while I’m there…

Stay tuned, I’ll be updating more as I can. I’m hoping to get permission to post some non-identifying pictures in the near future.

NESWUG Conference

Posted on September 12th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Next Thursday, yours truly will be presenting at the NEWSUG Conference in Westford, MA. My presentation is going to be on COSMOSXpress and DriveWorksXpress and I figured they’d make a good post as well.

Did you know that they both come in every seat of SolidWorks? Yup, you get a first-pass analysis tool and a bit of KBE software for free! Granted, they’re both limited to parts, but, c’mon, what’d you expect? They’re free for Pete’s sake! They do have a wizard interface to help walk you through their individual setups.

Now, just because they’re "limited" to parts doesn’t mean you can’t use them on assemblies, you just need to finesse them a bit. Now this doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to necessarily run them on an assembly of an excavator, but perhaps on one of the cylinders.

Take COSMOSXpress for instance. Let’s say you have the above mentioned cylinder and you want to run a quick stress analysis on it. How about using the ‘Join’ command and then running your analysis? Remember, this is a base product, you don’t want to be basing your final assembly solely on the data collected from COSMOSXpress.

Then there’s DriveWorksXpress. While it is a bit more versatile than COSMOSXpress, it is still limited. This doesn’t mean you can’t create an easily configurable assembly, it just needs to be on a small scale. You’ll still be able to create a new part/assembly/drawing(s) from the original. Throw in an equation here and there and you can squeeze a bit more out.

Both of these Xpress tools are, in my opinion, ‘Gateway Drugs’. They’re just going to leave you wanting more. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’m just saying…

For those of you going to the NESWUG conference next week, I promise my presentation will be a lot more exciting than this post (knock on wood). For those of you not going, talk to your VAR, or just get in there and try them out.

Confessions of a SolidWorks Addict

Posted on September 4th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I’ve been trying to write this post for a week now. It seems like everytime I sit down to start it, something pulls me away. Hopefully, I’ll get through it this time.

My name is Jeff Mirisola and I’m a SolidWorks addict. I’ve been using SolidWorks for 10 years now and can’t get enough of it. I know that the first step to recovery is admitting your addiction, but that’s as far as I’ll go with it. I don’t want to be cured. I don’t need to be cured. SolidWorks opened up a whole new world for me. Before it, I was just going through life without a plan. Now, my life has meaning. I get up in the morning and look forward to going to the office. I’m one of the lucky ones, y’know? I get paid to do what I love.

I remember when I first saw SolidWorks. I’d just been moved into a position as a Technical Writer/Illustrator. At the time, all of the illustrations were created in AutoCAD. I noticed some of the engineers using SolidWorks and said to myself, "hey, I bet you could create great illustrations with that!" With a bit of fanagaling, I got SolidWorks installed onto my computer and began to mess with it. It didn’t take long to start creating models. Admittedly, my first models were crap. I still hadn’t quite grasped some of the basics as far as how to properly orientate the first sketch, etcetera. This did come in time, though. My idea of creating illustrations with SolidWorks was met with quite a bit of resistance by the "old time" illustrators. They nay-sayed SolidWorks’ ability to accurately create Isometric views. They said it wouldn’t translate well into a 2D picture. They told me I was wasting my time, that it couldn’t be done. Naturally, this just compelled me to prove them wrong. And I did. Within a short amount of time, all the illustrations were derived from SolidWorks.

Life went along smoothly. I learned more and more about SolidWorks’ capabilities. I started getting involved in the SolidWorks community. I wanted to do more with SolidWorks. I wanted to learn more. These cravings drove me from the company I was with because I’d become pigeon-holed there.

Fast forward 10 years. I now am the proud owner of my own consulting and design company, a CSWP and avowed SolidWorks user. I wouldn’t be where I am today without SolidWorks. I went from being a Technical Writer/Illustrator, to a CAD Administrator, to an AE for a SolidWorks VAR to a small business owner. In there somewhere, I started writing this blog. I was honored to present at a SWUGN Technical Summit and I was further honored to be asked to present at the upcoming NESWUG summit in Westford, MA. To top it all off, I’m working on a project that I think is very cool and, from what I’ve been able to ascertain, is on the cutting edge of SolidWorks’ capabilities.

What’s my point with this post? What am I rambling on for? It’s this: If I can succeed with SolidWorks, anyone can. All you need is the will to learn, passion for what you do and the tenacity to plow through the BS thrown at you. This is why I’m a SolidWorks addict. It makes learning easy, gives me something to be passionate about and the will to see what is on the other side of the BS.   

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