In the mood for a challenge?

Posted on June 30th, 2009. Posted In Software Review

Well, are ya? If so, I’ve got just the thing for you!

Desktop Engineering is looking for designers, inventors, products or companies who are creating products that will impact our lives now and in the future. You can go to DE’s site here, or check out the press release:


New Awards Honor Pioneers of World-Changing Innovation

DUBLIN, NH – June 29, 2009 – Desktop Engineering (DE) magazine, the largest circulated media brand focused on upfront technologies that drive the product design/development process, today announced it is now accepting submissions for its 2009 Designs that Will Change the World Challenge. Entries will be accepted today through August 17, 2009. There are no entry fees for submissions.

Designs that Will Change the World honors inventors, innovators, products, and companies creating products or processes that will have a major impact on our lives and future generations. Categories for submissions are Design, Simulation/Analysis, Rapid Technologies, and High-Performance Computing. Designs with top honors will be profiled online and in the December issue of DE magazine.

“These awards bring well-deserved recognition to engineers, designers, and innovators who take on major problems and develop solutions that not only change the world but make things better for future generations,” said Steve Robbins, executive editor and CEO of DE. “We are continually amazed by the engineers who are on the frontlines of changes driven by today’s economy, environment, industry, agriculture, and consumers. Designs that Will Change the World will spotlight breakthrough developments and the talent that makes them happen.”

Entries should affect true world-changing developments in one of 4 categories

  • Design — Use of design software including 3D-MCAD, visualization, 3D modeling to create the design.
  • Simulation/Analysis — Use of specific analysis and/or simulation software used to create the design.
  • Rapid Technologies — A design using prototyping, rapid manufacturing, and/or reverse engineering as a significant aspect of the design process.
  • High-Performance Computing — How HPC is used to create the world-changing design.

Judging and Recognition

Designs that Will Change the World provides a platform for the world’s best innovators to earn well-deserved honors from a preeminent panel of experts with deep experience in innovation and design. On top of the panel of experts, DE readers will participate in the process of selecting First, Second, and Third prize winners.

Designs and innovations chosen as most notable will earn the right to use the Designs that Will Change the World logo in advertising, marketing materials, and packaging. DE will promote each honoree in print, online, and through our award-winning blogs.

Submit Your Design

To submit your design for consideration or to download 2009 Designs that Will Change the World rules and eligibility, please visit or contact Steve Robbins at for additional information.

About Desktop Engineering Magazine

Desktop Engineering is based in Dublin, NH. For over 14 years, DE‘s editorial mission has focused on delivering technology information and solutions in the areas of design, simulation, and rapid technologies that help design engineers and engineering management bring better products to market faster and at lower overall costs.

I’ve been slammed at work lately, but knew that I should come up with some sort of a post. How about a bunch of random SolidWorks tips & tricks.

  • Holding ‘Ctrl’ and dragging a part in an assembly will copy the part. This is true if you click on the part in the tree or the graphics area. You can do the same with a sub-assembly out of the tree.
  • Hold ‘Ctrl’ and dragging a plane will create a quick parallel copy of said plane.
  • Dynamic Line/arc creation – Hover over the line endpoint to switch to the arc tool, or press ‘A’ to alternate between the two.
  • F9 will hide the FeatureManager, F10 will hide the toolbars, F11 hides all.
  • F5 turns your selection filter toolbar on and off. F6 clears enabled filters.
  • Holding down ‘Shift’ while dimensioning arcs will auto dim to ‘Max’.
  • If you use the ‘Shell’ command without selecting a face, you’ll create a hollow part.
  • Use Multi-mate to speed up mate creation in assemblies.
  • Did you know that you can rotate, in 3D, a view in a drawing?
  • Use a surface cut to quickly remove half of a model.

Ok, that’s it for now. Just a quick post!


This is it, the final installment of this critically acclaimed mini-series on SolidWorks Crashes & Slowdowns. Ok, ok, fine, so it received more criticism than anything, but I liked it and that’s what really counts.

What do you do when things have come to a grinding halt and you’ve tried all the tricks that you know, that you’ve read online and that your cubicle-mate told you about? You call your VAR. Before you do, there’s a couple of things you should do. First and foremost, make sure you’re calm. Calling up and yelling at an AE isn’t going to solve your problems. Believe it or not, AEs are actual people with feelings and everything. Also, they aren’t the ones who wrote the code so they’re about as at fault as you think you are.

If you’re experiencing repeatable crashes, document the problem. Thoroughly. Be specific, too. The more specific, the better. Don’t assume that someone else has had the issue, either. When you experience repeatable crashes, it’s important to be proactive so the issue can be fixed. Use SolidWorks Rx, or pack ‘n go, to send all pertinent files. Write up the issue using clear and concise language. “Thingie”, “doo-hicky” or “whatchamalcallit” may be a little too much for technical people.

It’s your computer, it’s your responsibility to know what’s up with it. Keep track of changes to it; new software or hardware, driver updates, IT screwing around with whatever. Keep an “issues” log to track things. Details of crashes, communications with your VAR, any SPRs that were opened.

Are you a ‘Techie’? Did you hack your graphics card? Overclock your CPU? Maybe you recently had it opened up to get rid of the dust bunnies? Make sure your cards and memory are seated properly.

When you decide to contact your local AE, remember that they are there to help, and most of them actually want to help. To the best of my knowledge, there are no AEs named ‘dipwad’, ‘hey you’ or ‘chump’. Develop a professional relationship with the AEs at your VAR.  Believe me, it’ll go a long way towards expediting issues when you call in. Be sure to research the problem a little as well. Having an AE tell you “Uh…no, you can’t ‘save-as’ as an older file” does little for your reputation.

Some hints for getting good support:

• Know your system

  • CPU model and speed
  • Installed RAM
  • Operating system
  • Video card and driver version
  • SolidWorks version and service pack

Don’t over-extend yourself

  • Technical support is NOT meant to replace training
  • Use the on-line help files

There are plenty of resources out there for all SolidWorks users. The SolidWorks website has information regarding hardware requirements and video card recommendations, as well as FAQs, installation guides and best practices. On the right side of my blog are links to other bloggers, SWUGN (SolidWorks User Group Network) and various SolidWorks forums.  Don’t be afraid to get info from multiple sources, sometimes it’s the only way to get the answer to your particular question.

Thanks to Richard Doyle and Matt Lombard for providing the foundation for the info in this series/presentation.

In this week’s post, we’re going to talk a bit about how you go about creating, and working with, assemblies. Remember, these aren’t hard and fast rules, they’re more guidelines. As anyone who has used SolidWorks for any length of time knows, there are multiple ways to get from point A to point B.

When working in large assemblies (>5,000 parts) don’t get click happy. Give SolidWorks time to crunch numbers and catch up. The same holds true when switching windows. Let the graphics catch up.

Use configurations wisely. Deriving a derived configuration of a derived configuration may end up causing a SolidWorks conflaguration (yes, that is a word). This is not a pretty sight and may cause you, the user, unnecessary stress.

The next tip can be contentious. There are those who strongly favor in-context features and those that don’t. I happen to fall into the latter category. While I see the need for them, occasionally, I’ll generally break the relations so that the part can stand on its own. I’ve had enough bad experiences to not like them. There’s a good chance that I should have just left this topic out, but that just wouldn’t be my style.

When working in assemblies, fix your mate errors. Seriously, why wouldn’t you? By “leaving them ’til later”, you’re only causing SolidWorks to have to work harder. The same holds true for rebuild errors. I know I’ve been on the receiving end of an assembly that had more meatballs than an Italian restaurant. “Meatballs” being the red circles with exclamation points. Leaving an assembly in that state is a sure-fire way to start a cubicle war.

Ok, that’s it for today. Next, and last, installment will be out late this week or early next week.

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