As with so many aspects of SOLIDWORKS, there is no one way to go from a blank screen to having a designed solid in it. There are those who will sculpt a part and others who will build it up like a Lego┬« model. I tend to straddle the fence, utilizing whichever method suits my needs at the time. One thing, though, that I don’t deviate from is how I start the model. […Read More…]

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. […Read More…]

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. […Read More…]

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.

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.á 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.

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.

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 asá 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!

Sheetmetal Tip – Creating cuts in bends

Posted on December 15th, 2006. Posted In Instructional

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!

Administrative Images

Posted on September 23rd, 2006. Posted In Instructional

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.

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