Annual Migration

Posted on January 21st, 2011. Posted In SolidWorks Community

And so it begins, the annual migration of the Humanus SolidWorkus. These creatures, a subset of Humanus Geekus, come together once a year in a feeding frenzy known as SolidWorks World. They come from all over the world to gorge themselves on each other’s knowledge of SolidWorks.
To the uninitiated, the sight of thousands of these creatures can be a bit daunting. However, the vast majority of them are quite harmless. (There are a few who suffer from Gremlin Syndrome, where they become quite mischievous if they drink after midnight.) Unlike most species that migrate to the same locale each year, Humanus SolidWorkus changes it’s location each year. This year they are descending upon San Antonio, Texas. Are you migrating?

Learn SolidWorks, Win an iPad!

Posted on December 11th, 2010. Posted In SolidWorks Community,SolidWorks Tips

My good friend, Ben Eadie, has a new teaching website ( and to help get things going, he’s giving away a 32GB iPad. Check out the video for all the pertinent info.

Using SolidWorks Giveaway

Like what you see? Go here to sign up.

SWW2011 – 73 Reasons to Go

Posted on November 24th, 2010. Posted In Software Review

360 Enterprise Software (Mecanica Solutions)
3D QuickTools Ltd.
Altium Inc.
AMC Bridge LLC
AMD Inc.
AMV s.r.l.
Barry-Wehmiller International Resources
CAD Partner GmbH
Camtek GmbH
Cideon America, Inc.
Custom Tools
Dassault Systèmes
Delcam plc
Dell Inc.
DriveWorks Ltd.
DS SolidWorks Corp.
Edgecam – a Planit Co.
ESPRIT/DP Technology
Extensible CAD Technologies
Geometric Technologies, (a Division of Geometric Americas, Inc.)
Gibbs and Associates
Imagecom, Inc.
keytech GmbH
Luxology LLC
Mastercam/CNC Software
Metamation, Inc.
Moldex3D (CoreTech System Co.)
National Instruments
NEI Software
Next Limit Technologies
Objet Geometries Inc.
OPEN MIND Technologies AG
Proto Labs
Prototype Solutions Group
Rapid Sheet Metal, Inc.
Rapidform, Inc.
Rockwell Automation
Roland DGA Corp.
SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Sigmetrix, LLC
SofTech, Inc.
Software Cradle Co., Ltd.
SolidCAM Ltd.
SolidPartners, Inc.
Stratasys 3D Printers and Product Systems
Synergis Software
Tacton Systems AB
Tata Technologies / i GET IT
Trace Software
Z Corporation

Picture it, Design it, Sell it

Posted on November 22nd, 2010. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Have you ever been lying in bed and have a vision of the ultimate widget float through your mind? Next thing you know you’re up sketching out a rough design, refining it, smiling at the simplicity of something so ingenious. Then it hits you, you don’t have the means to get it to market. Well, now there’s Ponoko. By utilizing their ‘Personal Factory 4’, you can bring your idea from a thought bubble to a marketable item.

With Personal Factory 4, Ponoko has added 3D printing capabilities via the CloudFab network of printers (check out Mr. Ming’s post about CloudFab). By doing so, you, the designer, can now produce that ultimate widget using 2D and 3D materials. Check out this lamp:

By using Pokono’s network, you too can produce cool products like this. With Personal Factory 4 it’s even easier to buy, sell or make good online whether you have design skills or not. That’s right, even if you’re without design skills, you can still take your million dollar idea to market. What are you waiting for?

SolidWorks World 2011

Posted on November 21st, 2010. Posted In SolidWorks Community

SolidWorks World 2011 is just over two months away and I’m getting really excited for it. It’ll be the 7th time I’ve had the opportunity to go, and I know I’ll be just as blown away as I have been the 6 previous times. There’s something awe-inspiring when you see 5000+ SolidWorks geeks coming together for three days of learning and networking.

This time around we’re going to be in(vading) San Antonio, Texas from January 23rd to the 26th. I expect that I’ll come away as overloaded with information as I have in years past. I’m looking forward to hitting a couple of Simulation sessions, checking out the partner pavilion and seeing old friends. I’ve also requested interviews with a few SolidWorks employees; Matthew West, Rick Chin and Asheen Phansey. Matt is SolidWorks’ Social Media Manager. I’m quite sure this means he does more than post on Twitter, so I’m going to find out. Rick is the director of Product Innovation. I plan on using whatever means of torture necessary to find out what he and his team have up their sleeves. Asheen is the Product Manager for Sustainability. Asheen and I have sparred a bit in the past, so I’m really looking forward to sitting down with him, assuming my interview request is accepted. I’ll be working up questions to ask all three, so let me know if there’s something you’d like answered.

One of my other great pleasures is walking around the Partner Pavilion and checking out all the great products that work with SolidWorks. I’ve gotten off track when it comes to doing product reviews, but I’m hoping to rectify that situation at World this year.

Are you going? What are you looking forward to seeing/doing?

Review – Template Wizard

Posted on November 14th, 2010. Posted In Software Review,SolidWorks Community

Let’s get this legalese out of the way first: I was provided with a copy of Template Wizard to review. At no point in time was it implied that acceptance of said software would result in a favorable review. Let’s be real here, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a sell out. I like it or I don’t, and have no problems stating my opinion.

Kevin Van Liere is the creator of the Template Wizard found at SolidWorks It was through his consulting business, 3Dawn Consulting, that he found that many people had difficulties creating effective templates. It was out of this realization that the Template Wizard was born.

I’m going to admit here that I was a bit skeptical about it when Kevin presented me with the opportunity to try it out. I mean, c’mon, templates aren’t that hard to create, they’re just time consuming. Sure, if you don’t plan things out correctly you end up redoing a template a couple of times to get is just right. Not a big deal, right?

Template Wizard takes away all the guess work. By simply answering some questions, and filling in some blanks, you’ll end up with the template you want in just a short amount of time. It’s recommended that you create your drawing template first. By doing so, the template wizard can easily create the needed part and assembly templates, complete with their needed custom properties.

The steps you follow are easy and pretty self-explanatory. I was a bit confused by the preset template names, but the help section cleared it up quickly. Kevin has, obviously, spent quite a bit of time thinking things through on these templates. I’m glad he did, because it certainly made things a lot easier for the new templates I set up. Font sizes, title block, borders, links, everything set up and ready to go. I think what I appreciate the most is the fact that I didn’t have to remember anything. I can’t tell you how many templates I’ve created in the past, only to have to go back and insert something I forgot. The Template Wizard takes your hand and gets you through the process quickly and painlessly. I’m no longer skeptical.

Where have I been?

Posted on October 4th, 2010. Posted In Personal,SolidWorks Community

Wow, it’s been too long since I’ve posted anything. Work has been encroaching on my personal life quite a bit lately. 10-, 11-, 12-hour days will do that. We had a big push to get the latest press design done. By ‘we’, I mean me, as in I was being pushed to get the latest design done. I did, and it’s now being built, so I’m hoping I’ll have some breathing room.

Currently, I’ve installed the template wizard from, and will be giving you guys the lowdown as soon as I’ve played around with it a bit. Also, there’s going to be a SWUGN summit here on November 16 which I’ll be presenting at. I’m looking forward to it. I feel as so I will have come full circle. It was a SWUGN summit in Seattle a few years ago that I first met Richard Doyle who got me started down the blogging trail.

I also owe you all more of my impressions regarding SolidWorks 2011. I’m hoping to be giving you my impressions of ePDM as well. That, however, will take a bit more time.

So please be patient with me, I’ll be getting on top of it here real quick.

2011 – Saving the Planet

Posted on September 8th, 2010. Posted In Software Review,SolidWorks Community

Asheen Phansey, the PM for SolidWorks Sustainability, came up to show us Sustainability. “Show” isn’t really the right word. Asheen is so passionate about sustainability, I felt guilty for not recycling the gum I chewed earlier in the day.

Here’s the deal for me, though: I get sustainability. I recycle, I try to minimize waste. Basically, I do my part as best I can. However, I’m an individual who has that freedom. The same would hold true, probably, in smaller companies. Once you get into large corporations, multi-nationals, etc., then you’re screwed without buy-in from the people that control the bottom line. SolidWorks has provided excellent tools so that you can see just what kind of impact your design will have, but it’s all for naught if the check-writers don’t care. Asheen and I talked about this a bit, and he agreed. He, however, is a force to be reckoned with and I don’t envy any corporate bean counter that comes up against him.

As for sustainability within SolidWorks, the jury is out for me. I’m going to try to incorporate using it in my current design, so we’ll see what happens.

Admittedly, Simulation isn’t my cup of tea. I use it minimally, but leave the hardcore stuff up to those that know. However, I am learning more about it. I may even take the exam some day…maybe.

Stephen Ensby, the Simulation Product Manager, was quite happy about the changes they’ve made to Simulation. Their thought was ‘the least amount of work for the most benefit’. To me, this sounds basically synonymous with ‘work smart, not hard’, a saying that I’m quite fond of. As I mentioned, Simulation isn’t my strongest facet when it comes to SolidWorks, but I don’t want to leave out what’s been changed. The last thing I need to do is aggravate the Simulation team. I may need them in the near future.

Stephen touch upon a number of improvements:

  • Revamped Solvers
  • Multi-threading, i.e. better usage of multiple cores.
  • Enhanced UI
  • Faster Meshing
  • Better Reports
  • Planar Simplification

I don’t have much of an opinion on any of this. I just haven’t used Simulation enough to know if these are good things, great things or what. Ah, hell, I think it’s all great. Let the fanboy comments start.

2011 Part II – No more shiny stuff

Posted on September 6th, 2010. Posted In Software Review

That’s what customers are saying, according to Shaun Murphy, no more bells and whistles. What does that mean for the development folks at SolidWorks? It means they’re going back into the code to make it better, more robust. To that end, a major focus for the 2011 release was lowering the memory footprint.

We’ve all been kicked in the ass by the memory foot. I can’t imagine that there are many who haven’t received the ‘low resource’ error message. Shaun says that the internal memory management has been improved so that we won’t be subject to that message nearly as often. One thing for everyone to remember here is that SolidWorks is a Windows based software, so it is, therefore, subject to the follies of Windows. This means that there will still be memory usage similar to what you see in MS Office. The longer it’s open, the more resources get used. 2011 is going to lengthen the amount of time you need between restarts. Yup, that’s a good thing. Really, how can you complain about that? For years, people have been screaming for this, so if anyone complains, I’ll be sending Josh your way to headbutt you.

Another improvement they made was holding 2011 SP0 to the stability and performance of 2010 SP4.0. While there will be those who cringe at the thought, but I’m happy with it. I’ve been an early adopter for years, anyway. The fact that I have less to worry about just makes me happier, and, contrary to popular beliefs, I like to be happy.

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