Saturday March 8, 2014 at 2:26pm
If you're new to SolidWorks, or even if you are not, you are always learning about new features and functions that hopefully make your life easier and products even better. The more commands you use, the tougher it is to keep track of them, and the busier your toolbars will be if you keep adding them again and again.
Many users have I’m sure encountered the frustration of knowing what tool they need to use but the exact location escapes them, this poor man seems to have had such issues.
Back in SolidWorks 2012, the product developers introduced the "Command Search" a fantastic additon to the user interface- where you simply need to recall the name (or first few letters) of the command and type it in a search box, and you'll find it in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
From the drop down menu there are a few optionsallowing you to search various resources- some online websites, and some local directories for files and models.
The one we are really interested in however is the Command Search option - this allows users to type in the name of the tool or function that we require and it allows us to click in the automatic drop down to activate the tool, or if we click on the glasses icon it shows where in the menu’s section that command or tool is found. this is really clever as the system goes into an autopilot mode and magically menus and toolbars are brought into view highlighting the feature.
Sometimes the command is greyed out and unavailable to use, this will be because you are in a status that the tool cannot function within. An example would be if you search for a sketch tool whilst not being in sketch mode, the sketch tool will be greyed out from the search bar.
If there are specific tools that are used with a lot of frequency it is probably worth having the tool on the command manager permanently, the command search allows us to do this very easily.
With the command in the drop down it is just a case of clicking and dragging the command from the dropdown menu to the command manager and it will be saved permanently in that location.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to lay out the user interface and toolbars in a way that is best for you. Knowing where the common commands are is a huge way of increasing your efficiency and productivity in the software and as such is worth the time investment up front. Any changes you make to your UI is retained each and every time you reopen and launch the software. You can also save you UI customisation through the Copy Settings Wizard. You can find this through your start menu (again search for is in the Windows Search Bar) or in SolidWorks 2014 you can get there from the Options pull down button.
For further resource, check out Solid Solutions TV
for a short video on menu and UI customisation.
By Chris Morrogh
Monday March 3, 2014 at 9:02pm
During one of my recent training courses, one of the delegates asked about surface modelling. I thought it could be easily digestable by relating it to an everyday common item, so I thought- why not a Rubber Duck!
Initially this type of shape can be a tough challenge but if broken into the small pieces of how this model is actually made it can be a much less daunting task.
First Step was to try and create the largest feature the body, so this is done firstly by drawing outlines of the shape I wanted to create (in this case tracing around a picture of a rubber duck!) these sketches will be used as guide curves in the loft and also to help me place my other sketches.
The next step was to create the profiles for the loft - these were now much easier to create as I could link them to my guide curve sketches. Next I lofted the profiles together and added in the guide curves.
Next step I created the beak, again this can be done using a lofted surface but rather than having the profiles parallel to each other they can be at an angle in this case 90 degrees.
Again I’ve then trimmed away the excess using the surface trim tool and the purple surfaces on the inside have been removed. I then repeated this process with 2 new sketches to create the lower beak as well.
Then to add a slightly more realistic look I have created to split lines which I have projected on the head to create the eyes and then repeated this process on the side to create the face for the wing. Which allows me to select the faces and give them some colour.
Once I was happy with the surface model I now wanted to turn it into a solid. So to do this I decided to use the insect tool with the front plane this will give me a solid model of the area between my surface model and the plane.
All I had to do then was mirror it across to get my duck. Mirroring is great for complex shapes as it means you can focus on getting one half of the model spot on, knowing you get consistency across the other half. The key however is ensuring you have good quality surfaces along the line of symmetry so that there is no evidence of a witness line, or sharp edge when you mirror.
Once I had my duck I then took it into photo view to create a render. And using the flatten floor option within edit scene I can make my duck look as if it has been placed in the environment and not floating around…..
Sometimes the best way to learn new feature sets is to challenge yourself to an item nearby- not that we are saying your should be using your laptop in the bath...
Check out our training schedules for surface modelling courses if you want to learn more.
By Alex Hall
Wednesday February 26, 2014 at 2:00pm
Zoom to Selection
Time for little tip I showed in an Advanced Assembly training course last week that attendee’s seem to like; the little know ‘Zoom to Selection’ tool
It’s a great way to target your view in the graphical window right where you need to be, it works on a number of selectable items so let’s take a look;
When selecting something in SolidWorks you often see the context toolbar appear, and on the bottom row of icons you’ll find the magnifying glass with an equal (=) symbol, this is the zoom to selection tool, below you can see I’ve selected a Face inside the graphical window then…
Once selected, the view zooms in to show the selected face…
However where we see the biggest benefit of this tip is when using the feature tree to find things, so selecting a feature in the tree also brings up the context toolbar allowing us to show and zoom to the feature in the graphical window…
It also works on components at the assembly level…
Give it a try!!
By Russell Richardson
Elite Applications Engineer
Monday February 24, 2014 at 5:17pm
One of the most important things to do when you have just bought SolidWorks, is set up your own templates.
Here we will look at a Part template, later on we will look at Drawing templates.
Start by opening up a new Part file:-
Then go to File and Properties - this button is a shortcut to it: -
This will lead you to this menu: -
You'll want to be on the Custom
menu, click on the cell under Property Name
and you will get a drop-down list of all sorts of properties. If you pick Material
from the list and click in the cell under Value/Text Expression
you should pick Material
from the drop down list for that column: -
This means that if anyone edits the material on the Design Tree, it will change in the right hand Evaluated Value column.
If you click back in a new cell in the Property Name column, you might want to select Weight and then link that to Mass by selecting Mass from the list in Value/Text Expression - that way if you make the part bigger or smaller it will show a different value in the right hand column.
For some properties (eg. Description) you might just want to click in Value / Text Expression and just type something in - eg. "Fill in Description!" as a reminder.
What is the point of filling in these Custom Properties?
Basically, other files in SolidWorks can read these off automatically - eg. the title block on a drawing can have empty text fields that are looking for the Material property.
So the moment you put a view of the part on that drawing, the title block fills itself in!
Bills of Materials can also read off these properties from the individual parts that you have used in your assembly.
You might also want to to go to Tools, Options, Document Properties and change any other settings - eg make sure the Units are in millimetres etc.
You could also change the background/scene (if you don't like the standard one) and maybe go to an Isometric or Front view, depending on which you prefer.
Once you are done, use Save As to save the empty part as a Part Template - (a .prtdot file).
Tip: - change the file type to Part Template before yout start browsing the where you want to keep your templates.
Another Tip: - Don't save this to where the standard templates are - because if you do, then you un-install/reinstall the software, or upgrade to the next year's version, you may lose your customized templates!!!
Create yourself a new folder called "My Templates" - or whatever.
Save your part template to that.
Then you will need to tell SolidWorks where to find that: -
Go to Tools, Options, System Options, File Locations - you will see at the top there is a drop-down list
- in this case there is no need to use it, it says Document Templates to start with anyway.
Click on the Add button on the right: -
Then browse to the folder where you saved your template and hit OK down at the bottom.
The system will ask you if you want to add this folder to your search paths - hit "Yes."
The next time you create a new part, click on the Advanced button at the bottom left, below the three big
Part, Assembly, Drawing buttons, then you will see something like this: -
So now every part you do will have the Custom Properties already assigned, the units settings as you want etc.etc.
In a later post we will look at drawing templates...
by Rory Niles, CSWE
Monday February 24, 2014 at 9:56am
Congratulations to the latest members of our team to become Elite Application engineers, reaching the pinnacle of SolidWorks certification success.
Over the last year Steven, Simon, Kevin, Jon and Alan have all acheived SolidWorks Elite status, with over twenty Elite Application Engineers as part of our technical team Solid Solutions now has more Elite Aplication Engineers than any other SolidWorks reseller in the world!
On Friday afternoon Andy Deighton, Technical Director, SolidWorks - Northern Europe, presented the latest additions with their Elite awards at our Leamington Spa headquarters.
Well done boys!
by Lucy Appleby
Saturday February 22, 2014 at 12:38am
The Curve Driven Pattern
is a powerful feature in parts, and now in SolidWorks 2014
, assemblies. It allows you to repeat and array features, bodies or parts along a 2D or 3D curve direction, maintaining equal spacing as you go. It is in fact a great alternative to a linear pattern if you use a straight line as the reference sketch- this is the only way to achieve an equal spacing scenario. There is an Enhancement Request to allow equal spacing in a typical linear pattern.
Anyway back to the main focus of this blog, and what I wanted to discuss is how to better control patterns along more complex 3D curves- in this example I use a Helix. The starting point was to draw a helix and the seed feature- I then wanted to pattern the nut so that it followed the helix as if it were linked or welded to a chain that passed through.
The problem is the preview the Curve Driven Pattern gives only previews using the "Align to Seed" option therefore all additional instances are parallel to the seed feature, not what I wanted.
So how do we get the previews to be perpendicular to the curve?
Well the key to this is the option "Tangent to Curve" available in the Property Manager. However when a 3D sketch/ curve is used for the pattern direction an additional item must be selected to get the pattern to work - this is an option under the heading "Face Normal"- this is defined in the SolidWorks Help as follows:
So we need a face that the curve lies on to set the "Normal" direction.
In this case no such face exists, so instead we can model a surface with a simple extrude to get a face on screen- this surface can be subsequently hidden or deleted. The circle used to drive this surface extrude is the same DIA as the helix ensuring that the helix lies on that resulting face.
Then with this selected in the Face Normal box, the preview looks a lot more like it:
So with a bit of extra work you should be able to get the result you need.
By Adam Hartles
Tuesday February 11, 2014 at 5:22pm
Model Mania @ SolidWorks World 2014 – San Diego
After a great week at SolidWorks World in San Diego, I’m now reflecting on how the technical content shown can impact positively our customers business, I hope to add a series of short blogs on a number of exciting developments
As an introduction I’d like to share with you my experience of winning the Reseller Model Mania Challenge at the conference and explain how I tackled the modelling challenge…
Here we have Mark Schneider part of the Product Marketing team introducing the winners of Model Mania and showing the rest of the conference on Day 3 the content of the challenge
MODEL MANIA 2014
So to start the contest you enter a booth, close the curtains behind and sit at the laptop to review the drawing for a few minutes, then off you go…below you will see Phase 1,
During the modelling process I aimed to keep in mind one of the most important aspects we teach in our SolidWorks Training Syllabus; that of Design Intent, as phase 2 required a design change (unknown at this point) I had to model the part keeping the feature tree flexible enough to accommodate the edits.
STEP 1: I first modelled the base with the fillets and shelled the body to its wall thickness
STEP 2: Next I modelled the triangular shape on the front using the circular cuts in the base as a reference with tangent lines to complete the sides, this was then trimmed using the useful Power Trim command
STEP 3: The circular cuts were then taken as a separate feature to allow for potential changes
STEP 4: Using a series of offsets the ’Y’ shaped cut into the triangular feature was completed, cutting back to the base feature face
STEP5: The fillets were added and the correct material chosen
Although this maybe wasn’t the quickest modelling method, something I always stress in the training courses I teach is to keep the feature tree flexible for design changes and ensure the model is accurate.
Once this was completed the SolidWorks Representative handed over the drawing for Phase 2,
It indicated that the large diameter was to be reduced and that the fillet surfaces needed to be changed to aid manufacture. It also asked to run a simulation study to gauge the Factor of Safety of the component
This is then where my previous modelling methodology helped as I was able to independently change the base diameter without causing any feature errors, add the extra geometry and then re-evaluate the fillets and add the additional edge selections. The change therefore took less than a minute and I could move on to the simulation study. The easy setup tools of SolidWorks Simulation helped me create the study, run the results and evaluate the Factor of Safety in a couple of minutes
So, back to Mark Schneider to announce the winners to the rest of the conference in the General Session Day 3, 5500+ attendees;
A proud day!
by Russell Richardson
Elite Applications Engineer
Monday February 10, 2014 at 11:42am
The weldments feature set in SolidWorks is a powerful way of generating geometry off the back of standard profiles- whether this be tube, box section or channels. We have always had to rely on creating each profile variant as a separate profile sketch which is then saved to be used for the Structural Member feature.
Looking back at the 2013 downloadable profiles, the ANSI standard has 233 files to download, manage and customise! Now in 2014 SolidWorks has streamlined this process, harnessing the power of configurations. The logical step has now allowed users to create profiles on a configuration basis, but still maintain and use the older profiles and methodology. The benefit here is that you can have one file representing the profile shape, which then has all of the size variants built in through configurations. The obvious advantage is far fewer documents on the machine to manage, but also if custom properties need adding, you now only have to add the property to the single source file. The final, and arguably most useful advantage of this method is when changing profiles. It may be typical that you wish to go from a 100mm to a 150mm square tube for example- in the past because you were changing the profile document, it may have meant that downstream features linked to the original profile generated errors- this is because the ID of the edge was no longer found. With configurations, the size variants are all built off the same sketch, and therefore lines would have the same ID reference making swapping them over error free.
So here is a snap shot of the listed configurations, generated by an excel based design table (note this isn't a requirement but the fatest way of generating configurations.
The excel spreadsheet can have the column heading representing key dimensions that may alter between each profile:
When using these profiles within the Structural Member feature, the familar pull down menus are still used, but the profile is tagged with the suffix "Configured" to show that it uses the new 2014 style.
For older versions the second pull down menu in the list would have related to a folder where the profiles lived, but with configuration based profiles, this pull down now refers to the file- this affects the folder structure that needs to be adpoted for these new versions- further info below.
As mentioned the folder structure has to be a little different for these- basically they need to be located one less folder deep. In the SolidWorks Options - File Locations - Weldment Profiles, the linked folder in the past needed to have two subfolders nested beneath (in 2013)- the Standard and the Type, in this Type folder would be all of the separate documents for each profile. For these configuration based profiles, you only need one sub folder for the Standard- the file residing in that folder represents the Type and then the configuration represents the size. All a little confusing, so hopefully this image captures it all!!
So in summary- with this new function you can create any new profiles with the configuration method but the old style profiles are very much relevant and can still be used in the normal manner.
By Jon Crookes
Friday February 7, 2014 at 1:37pm
Last week I wanted to go through my settings and customise them. I hadn’t done this in a while and didn’t feel like my current set up was working for me. You can get to the customise menu by right clicking the command manager, going right down to the bottom of the list and choosing ‘Customize’. Alternatively you can use the Tools menu with Customize near the bottom.
The window that appears houses options to customise pretty much every aspect of SolidWorks.
‘Toolbars’ can be switched off or on and will add a small menu of commands related to a given topic to SolidWorks.
‘Shortcut Bars’ allow you to customise the icons that you see when pushing the ‘S’ key on the keyboard.
‘Commands’ houses all of the different commands in SolidWorks. Once you have found the one you want left click and drag the icon from the Customise window to your Command Manager.
‘Menus’ refer to the pull down menus across the top of SolidWorks and generally these should be left alone.
‘Keyboard’ will allow you to create your own keyboard shortcuts. You can choose only to show commands with shortcuts assigned which is very useful to see what shortcuts already exist.
‘Mouse Gestures’ occur when you hold the right mouse button and then move the mouse in a given direction. By default this changes the view but can be set to any command you like.
When perusing this dialogue, you may even find a command that you had either forgotten about or had never seen before! Many of our customers like to input dimension values as they are drawing the geometry. So, as you draw a line you can type 100 and it will make the line 100mm long. You can turn this on in the Options > System Options > Sketch and then tick ‘Enable on screen numeric input on entity creation’. Now it may be that you wish to toggle this option on and off to get the best of both worlds, well looking at the Commands Tab i found an icon for it- this can then be dragged to my toolbar as a permanent addition.
Give it a go!
By Peter Harkness
Tuesday February 4, 2014 at 11:59am
As a highpoint in any SolidWorks reseller’s year SolidWorks World is an event Solid Solutions look forward to with eager anticipation and SolidWorks World 2014 most certainly did not disappoint.
Following a packed 72 hours spent learning what SolidWorks will be offering in the near future, the event culminated with the annual SolidWorks World Awards dinner - think the Oscars only with more technical engineers and a few less A-List actors.
The awards celebrate excellence within the Reseller field, last week saw Solid Solutions collect eight of the eleven awards within the EMEA category – gaining recognition for:
Presidents club 2013
100% Club for Education
Furthermore Solid Solutions were able to collect an additional five awards on behalf of our ever growing team of Elite Application Engineers, it looks like we may need to invest in a larger awards cabinet!
Congratulations to our New Elite Applciation Enginerers...
Stephen White, in San Dieago with the
5 new Elite awards.
At Solid Solutions we are immensely proud of our recent achievements and use it as motivation to strive forward, continuing to provide excellent customer support and training.
"Solid Solutions should be immensely proud of such achievements. This excellence is going to help their customers flourish with such a strong team offering training and support.”
Andy Deighton, Territory Technical Director, SolidWorks - Northern Europe
by Lucy Appleby