Templates are the foundation of your SOLIDWORKS design. By having your templates setup correctly, you’ll be able to automate data downstream. It’s amazing how many people, even companies, don’t realize this and fail to leverage the power of templates. Thankfully, you’ve found this post and will be able to rectify a situation you may not have even known that you had.

Set up your part template so that information can be mined from it for your drawings. I recommend using the ‘Custom Properties’ tab located on your Task Pane (that’s the pop out on the right side of your graphics area). If there’s no template available, they’re easy to create. The nice thing about using the ‘Custom Properties’ tab is it’s right there, making it easily accessible. You can have the custom properties pull data directly from your model (mass, name, material), as well as quickly fill in data like supplier & supplier number, creator, date created, part number. This is all information that can then be automatically pulled into the drawing for the part.

The same holds true for your assembly templates. Again, use the Custom Properties tab to input the necessary info. Bear in mind that you’ll need a different property template but it’s easy to create as well. As with the part template, you can automate some of the data and it can all be pulled into your drawing template.

Drawing templates come in all shapes and sizes (pun intended). The great thing about them is how easy it is to pull the information in from its corresponding part or assembly files to propagate the title block. It seems that this actually gets easier each year too. One thing that you have to remember is that you not only need to save the drawing template, but the sheet format as well. Not doing so will illicit screams of frustration and accusations of SOLIDWORKS not working. 

If you work in a multi-user environment, please do yourselves a favor and have templates available in a network location. This will help to ensure that everybody’s drawings have the same general look and feel. Consistency is a good thing, no?

April 5, 2014 · Posted in Instructional, SolidWorks Community  

On an almost weekly basis, I see someone asking what the best way to learn SolidWorks is. The thing is, there’s no blanket answer. There are those who swear by VAR training. Others swear at VAR training and opt for online training. Still others go through the tutorials, then learn as they go along. There are also the ones who learn in a formal classroom with an instructor.
What’s best for you depends on you, your needs and your learning style.
Where I’ve experienced all of them as a student and/or instructor, I figured I’d give my esteemed opinion.
With VAR training, you get a lot of info crammed into your brain in a short amount of time. Depending on the AE doing the training, it could be a lot of info crammed into your brain in a monotone voice. The upside is you do get formal training and a book and files you can take with you.
It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another website offering training. The two biggest players, in my opinion are igetit.com and SolidProfessor.com. There are others, but I haven’t played with them enough to speak to them. The nice thing about online training is you can watch the lessons over and over. If you’re in charge of training for your group, some of the sites offer the ability to track each person’s progress. Some even offer DVDs should you want to go that route. The bonus here is it’s all self-paced training.
I’m of the next group; I started with the tutorials, then trial by fire. It took time, but getting formal training wasn’t an option. Long after it was needed, I hd an employer send me for VAR training, which is when I realized I could actually be the trainer instead of the trainee.
Last, but not least, is the formal educational route. I think people who can go this route are the luckiest. The training is usually spread out over 6 or more weeks with plenty of available one-on-one time with your instructor. You’re not under pressure to get work projects done, just classroom projects. You even get a student edition you can load up on your home computer.
What does it all boil down to? That depends on you, and how you learn. For me, I like the learn on my own approach. I learn from my mistakes and also learn multiple ways to do things. That’s me. You? You’ll need to decide on your own, unless your employer decides for you. If I were to make a recommendation, it’d be to go the online route. I think you get more bang for your buck.

March 6, 2014 · Posted in Instructional, SolidWorks Community, SolidWorks Tips  

Do you know about the Dynamic Mirror tool in SolidWorks? No? Well, stick around and I’ll show you.

The Dynamic Mirror tool is a sketch tool that allows you to dynamically mirror (duh) as you’re sketching. To use it, you first have to find it as it’s won’t be on your sketch toolbar, or ‘S’ key menu, by default. Hit your ‘S’ key, RMB on the menu and select customize. Go to the ‘Commands’ tab and select ‘Sketch’. There you’ll see the Dynamic Mirror icon:

Just drag and drop it to either the ‘S’ menu or to the sketch toolbar.

Now that you’ve got the button, let’s talk about using it. It’s quite simple, actually. Just like the regular ‘Mirror Entities’ command, you’ll need a centerline. It can either be a sketch, or an existing edge. Simply highlight it and click on the ‘Dynamic Mirror’ button. Start sketching and with each click of your mouse you’ll see a mirrored entity of what you just sketched. While you can, in fact, sketch on both sides of your centerline, you’ll want to stick to one side or the other to prevent overlapping geometry. Once you’ve finished with whatever you wanted to mirror, you can turn off the dynamics but clicking on the button again.

Dynamic Mirror is a great way to quickly, and easily, create symmetric sketches.

May 26, 2010 · Posted in Instructional, SolidWorks Community, SolidWorks Tips  

By a show of hands, how many of you have tried SimulationXpress, or any of the ‘Xpress’ products available in SolidWorks? Sure, they’re meant to be like gateway drugs, tempting and teasing you into purchasing the full-blown product, but that doesn’t mean that they’re bad for you.

SimulationXpress is a decent, first-pass, analysis tool. It’ll let you know if your part is in the ballpark, though I wouldn’t base my final design off of it. You can find it on the ‘Evaluate’ tab of your Command Manager, or under the ‘Tools’ dropdown. It’s a simple tool to use just by following the prompts. The wizard walks you through the necessary steps to run an analysis of a part so that you can have an idea of how it’s going to react. It is limited to force/pressure analysis but, again, you’re just going for a ballpark idea here.

Where SimulationXpress, and its fellow Xpress tools, are already in every seat of SolidWorks, don’t you think you owe it to yourself to try them out? As I’m so fond of saying, if I can do it, anyone can do it.

March 12, 2010 · Posted in Instructional, SolidWorks Community, SolidWorks Tips  

Back in June, I posted a quick SolidWorks T & T post that seemed to be well received, so I figured I’d post another one.

  • ‘Ctrl’+8 will change view to Normal to. Hitting it again will flip to the opposite side.
  • F5 turns your filter toolbar on/off. F6 clears enabled filters.
  • To created geometry without snapping, hold down ‘ctrl’ before or after dragging to disable inferencing.
  • Repair broken sketch relationships by dragging, or manually repair by using relations.
  • Name your features, it’ll make your life easier down the road.
  • If working in a multi-user environment, enable multi-user environment to receive update notices (Tools->options->collaboration).
  • If you use variations of the same part, you owe it to yourself to check out DriveWorksXpress.
  • Always use fully defined sketches. Trust me.

Tips & Tricks sessions are always popular at SWUG meetings and at SolidWorks World. It looks like there’s a least 5 different T&T sessions at SWW’10. If you’re planning on attending, make sure you get there early, you’ll want to be able to take notes.

December 16, 2009 · Posted in Instructional, SolidWorks Community, SolidWorks Tips  

This week, let’s talk about your PC. There are things you can do, and should do, to help keep your PC running smoothly. Hopefully, a lot of this will be old news for many of you.

Keep your hard drive clean. Clean out your temp directories and defrag monthly. I like to use ccleaner to take care of my temp directories. It’ll get rid of all those unneeded files as well as clearing out unused registry files, cookies and other memory fluff. I know that there are other products out there, so feel free to add your favorite in the comments section.

Speaking of hard drives, don’t skimp on size; not that that is easy to do these days. As with so many things PC-related, bigger is better. Even with that super-mega-sized hard drive, be sure to not let it get too full. The more free space the better. The more crap that’s on there is the more crap that has to be gone through to find what you’re looking for. That equals slowdown.

I know that I’m as guilty as the next for repeating this but, don’t go cheap on RAM! SolidWorks still says that the bare minimum required is 512MB, unless you’re using ’09. Not. RAM is cheap, people, so don’t go cheap! You can get 4GB of RAM for ~$60 on newegg. There’s no excuse for not doing it, unless your PC just can’t take that much which brings up a whole new set of questions. For those of you using 32-bit machines, you can still benefit from 4GB of RAM by enabling the /3GB switch. This involves editing your boot.ini file. Google “3GB switch”, you’ll find plenty of info out there. I’d rather not disseminate the instructions. The last thing I need is to mistype something and have someone email death threats because they can’t get their computer to boot up.

Be nice to your computer. Turn it off when you’re not using it; it saves energy and releases memory. Make sure you keep all your drivers up-to-date, both for hardware and software. Stay away from “semi-professional” software. They can overwrite or delete files you need as well as cause driver conflicts.

Just a short post this week. Have a great weekend and GO SOX!

May 15, 2009 · Posted in Instructional, SolidWorks Community, SolidWorks Tips  

I’ve seen this come up a lot in various SolidWorks forums, so I figured I’d go ahead and post a little something about it.

When you need to insert a cut on a bend in sheetmetal, you need to use the Fold and Unfold commands, not the Flatten command. If you use the Flatten command, your cut feature will end up suppressed when you unflatten the part. To unfold a part, simply click on the ‘Unfold’ button. A dialogue box will pop up requesting a fixed planar face and the bend(s) you want to unfold. Click on a planar face, then the bend(s) you want to unfold. You can also have SW grab all the bends automatically. Once done, hit the check mark and your part will unfold and you’ll be able to create your cuts. When you’re finished with the cuts, hit the ‘Fold’ button. A dialogue box will pop up asking for the same stuff as the first one. Simply make the same choices you made when you unfolded the part, hit the check mark and you’re done.

I hope this helps!

December 15, 2006 · Posted in Instructional  

Administrative Images

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Do you have multiple seats of SolidWorks? Are you maintaining them individually? Silly Admin, create an image! It doesn’t matter if they’re network licenses or not, maintaining them through an administrative image is the way to go.

We only have four seats of SolidWorks, but I maintain my three seats of Office Premium (the fourth is a stand-alone Office Pro) through an admin image. It doesn’t take too much more time on the front end to get everything set up, but the amount of time it saves you not having to deal with service packs individually is worth it. Even setting up batch files to install Cosmos, SolidWorks Explorer, or PDMWorks (enterprise) is fairly easy. I know virtually nothing about HTML, API, or any of that stuff but, with a little help, I was able to do it.

As a CAD Administrator, you owe it to yourself to learn how. Click here to get the basics. Have more questions? Contact your VAR or you can email me.

September 23, 2006 · Posted in Instructional  

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