Forgotten SOLIDWORKS Tools and Reasons to Use Them

    by Jay-Shan Jackson on November 15, 2017

    Within SOLIDWORKS, there are some useful tools and features that many users overlook or simply forget about during their daily grind. In this blog, I’ll be discussing one of my favorite additions to the software that is often forgotten about: SOLIDWORKS Up to Reference Patterns.

    The SOLIDWORKS Up to Reference Patterns tool allow the user to create patterns that are driven by the geometry of their part. Conditions can be set for the spacing, number of instances, but references for where the instances are measured from as well as where they end. Up to Reference Patterns allow the user to create dynamic patterns that change with the size parameters of their part geometry. Keep reading to learn more about this useful tool and why you should start using it now.



      Where is the SOLIDWORKS Command That Lets Me Do…

      by Paul Kutolowski on October 27, 2017

      where-is-the-command-that-lets-me-doA common lament among new SOLIDWORKS users, and especially of those coming to SOLIDWORKS from another 3D CAD platform, is “Where is the command that lets me do..." You know the action you want to perform but you can’t remember where the command icon is located to let that happen.

      SOLIDWORKS has a search tool for just such questions and coincidently it’s called “Search Commands”. In this blog, I’m going to give you a quick tip on where you can find this tool, how to use it, and how to keep it handy for further use.



        Bringing Flat Files into SOLIDWORKS to Create Models (Part 2): Pictures

        by David Janicki on October 13, 2017

        This is the second part to a blog I wrote on how to bring flat files into SOLIDWORKS. In my first blog, I showed how to bring in drawings and DXF files. In this blog, I am going to show you how to bring in pictures.

        If you’re a conceptual designer, just mocking drawings up on a whiteboard or napkin sketch, you may be wondering if it is possible to bring those 2D sketches or pictures into SOLIDWORKS. With the ability to directly import and size a picture, we are able to bring in our sketch-up and move through the process of part creation. Let’s get started.

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          Using a Data Card for State Changes in SOLIDWORKS PDM

          by Todd Barr on October 6, 2017

          Using-a-Data-Card-for-State-Changes-in-SOLIDWORKS-PDM-1When you have multiple SOLIDWORKS PDM users that need to make approvals or need to track tasks completed by different departments or individuals, it’s not always easily done using the Parallel option in Transitions. Using Automatic Transitions and Radio-button selections on a Data Card will allow multiple users to select when they are either completed with a task or approve a document. The last person to select approve or complete will send the document to the next State in the Workflow. Using the Data Card option you can also use the Search Tool to create Excel reports showing the status of documents, (i.e. who has approved or completed a task.)

          In this blog, you’ll learn how to configure the Vault for tracking completed tasks.

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            The Power and Value of the SOLIDWORKS Hole Wizard

            by James Reeher on September 29, 2017

            The-Power-and-Value-of-the-SOLIDWORKS-Hole-Wizard-1I am often surprised to discover how many SOLIDWORKS users are not taking advantage of the SOLIDWORKS Hole Wizard and all the capabilities that it brings to the table. The SOLIDWORKS Hole Wizard provides a myriad of hole options from threaded and clearance holes to pipe threads, dowel holes and slots.

            What many people don’t realize is that by using the SOLIDWORKS Hole Wizard you can automatically bring in your hole callouts into drawings, have the toolbox match the appropriate fastener size to the hole, and even have SOLIDWORKS automatically populate your holes with the correct fastener. If you do not use the Hole Wizard then you are manually performing all of these actions, which is a lot of extra design work that could be better spent on other tasks.  It’s time to work smarter, not harder.  Keep reading to learn more about the SOLIDWORKS Hole Wizard.

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              Bringing flat files into SOLIDWORKS to create Models: Drawings and DXF Files

              by David Janicki on September 22, 2017

              In the current state of CAD affairs, everyone is either using or has heard of 3D CAD. But for users who have been using a 2D system for many years and have an exorbitant amount of data, making the switch isn’t always as easy as deciding to.

              Inside of SOLIDWORKS, there are a multitude of tools to help you take and convert your old 2D drawings, and begin to create 3D parametric models with them. In this blog, I’m going to take you through those steps to ensure none of your data gets left behind in this smooth and easy process.

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                Removing Padlocks in the SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal Area

                by Toby Schnaars on September 15, 2017

                One of the most useful resources available to subscription service customers is the ability to access the SOLIDWORKS customer portal. From this section of SOLIDWORKS, users may access the SOLIDWORKS Knowledge Base, grab a copy of the full download of SOLIDWORKS, examine the API support, and get some great tips and tricks from the SOLIDWORKS community.

                However, when first creating a SOLIDWORKS customer portal account, users may find themselves in a situation where many of these terrific resources are “padlocked” and the user is unable to access these sections of the customer portal. In this blog, we will explore how to properly register your software and remove these padlocks.

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                  How to Link Variables in SOLIDWORKS PDM to a Newly Created Drawing

                  by Jodi Degenaer on September 8, 2017

                  Often times, linking the variables in SOLIDWORKS PDM (Product Data Management) to newly created drawings can seem like a puzzle with a piece or two missing. Fortunately, this can be mitigated by arming yourself with a step-by-step system that I’ve found to be very useful.

                  In this blog, I’ll take you through the steps to easily link variables in SOLIDWORKS PDM to newly created files. Let’s get started.

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                    SOLIDWORKS Network Licensing: Installing/Upgrading the SOLIDWORKS SolidNetWork License Manager on the Server

                    by Jon Sauerbrey on September 1, 2017

                    SOLIDWORKS-Network-Licensing-Installing-Upgrading-the-SOLIDWORKS-SolidNetWork-License-Manager-on the-Server-1Our technical support department often gets questions from customers regarding installing and upgrading processes. Depending on the situation, this can be an extensive support case. This blog is going to take you through the entire process and instructions for installing/upgrading the SOLIDWORKS SolidNetWork license manager on the server.

                    Before installing, upgrading, or reinstalling the SOLIDWORKS SolidNetWork License Server, you must first check the system requirements and review the “SOLIDWORKS Network License Server section. Now let’s get started.

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                      How to Create a Custom OCR Dictionary in SOLIDWORKS Inspection

                      by Nady Osmat on August 25, 2017

                      How-to-Create-a-Custom-OCR-Dictionary-in-SOLIDWORKS-Inspection-1Inspection software aids tremendously with the creation of quality control and planning documentation. If you are using the standalone version of SOLIDWORKS Inspection to balloon PDF or Tiff files and create inspection reports, you may run into a situation where the drawing you received has a non-standard font. This may result in inaccurate extraction of dimensions and/or notes.

                      Keep reading to learn how to avoid this issue and gain a quick tip on how to fix the problem.

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                        A Quick Lesson on SOLIDWORKS Treehouse

                        by Ken LaVictor on August 2, 2017

                        Often when I teach SOLIDWORKS training classes, my students will ask me what the best way is to copy an assembly in order to ‘reuse’ the design. Though there are a few ways to easily copy existing assemblies, I find that the best method is through a tool that was introduced a couple of years ago called SOLIDWORKS Treehouse.

                        In this blog, I’ll give a quick lesson on what SOLIDWORKS Treehouse is, and how it can save you time when creating a design.

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                          Tech Tip: The difference between a sheet format and a drawing template in SOLIDWORKS

                          by Matt Haywood on July 7, 2017

                          Almost every SOLIDWORKS user has the need to insert a unique company title block into the SOLIDWORKS drawing template. In this blog, we’ll discuss a few handy strategies that will streamline your process. Understanding the terms “Sheet Format” and “Drawing Template” in SOLIDWORKS terminology will be central to your success. Although they might look the same on the screen, they have distinctly different jobs within the SOLIDWORKS file infrastructure.

                          In general drawing templates are used to start a new drawing. A sheet format is an overlay or title block that we might see on the initial drawing template, but it can be hidden. Also, sheet formats are useful on multi-page drawings as you might want a different looking title block on subsequent pages in a multi-page drawing. Before we get to saving anything, let’s make sure we cover some background information. Here’s an outline of the topics we will cover.

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                            How to Insert a Printed Circuit Board in SOLIDWORKS

                            by Ken Reinert on June 14, 2017

                            As I was walking around town recently, I noticed a woman pushing a baby stroller that had USB ports. Her phone was plugged into one and a travel mug was plugged into another. It occurred to me that so many things today are designed with a printed circuit board, even something like a baby stroller.

                            Designers today have to consider not only the aesthetics of products, but how to integrate all the electronics that go with it. Trying to document that integration can be challenging without the proper tools. When you select the “Insert Printed Circuit Board” icon in SOLIDWORKS Electrical, you are given four options. Keep reading to find out what each of those options mean.

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                              What's New in SP3.0: Import SOLIDWORKS BOMs Into SOLIDWORKS Composer

                              by Sean O’Neill on May 26, 2017

                              A few weeks ago, I was teaching a rather large SOLIDWORKS Composer class. It was comprised of ten students, all hailing from one of our larger customers. With each passing lesson on how to make their product assembly instructions more decipherable and their product exploded views much quicker/lighter, I couldn't help but notice them giving those "where have you been all my life" eyes.

                              While discussing bill of materials (BOM) tables, one of our more actively-involved students asked a very intuitive question: "Can we import our bill of materials from our SOLIDWORKS files into SOLIDWORKS Composer?" My answer then was different than my answer today because of a great timesaving enhancement to SOLIDWORKS Composer 2017 SP3.0.

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                                How to Use the ‘Pack and Go’ File Management Feature in SOLIDWORKS

                                by Matt Haywood on May 15, 2017

                                In my opinion, one of the better file management features in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD is Pack and Go, which was introduced around 2007. Included in every release of SOLIDWORKS since then, this feature is still very useful today.  I’ve been providing SOLIDWORKS tech support for nearly 14 years and it’s fun to show unsuspecting users Pack and Go.

                                In this blog, I’ll take you through two scenarios:

                                1. Duplication of a data set for sharing or repurposing
                                2. Organizing a data set by renaming multiple files simultaneously

                                It’s true that these tasks can be done outside of Pack and Go, but I think you’ll find that through the use of Pack and Go, these processes will be completed faster and you will have fewer problems with mixed up file references.

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                                • POSTED IN CAD, PDM, SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SOLIDWORKS

                                  Using Custom Search Columns to Create Simple Reports from PDM Searches

                                  by Peer Larson on May 10, 2017

                                  It can often be very useful to collect information about your files from a high level, such as if you were interested to learn the internal PDM Document ID or who in your department approved what when.

                                  You can use custom search columns to change how a search card displays information and then export your search results to Microsoft Excel. This can also be useful when tracking project management documents, as you can have all of your relevant fields show in the PDM search card and then export those results to Microsoft Excel for easy portability and communication.

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                                    How to Deal with Fixture Warnings in SOLIDWORKS Simulation

                                    by Drew Buchanan on May 3, 2017

                                    How-to-Deal-with-Fixture-Warnings-in-SOLIDWORKS-Simulation-00You sit down at your desk to finalize the design for a new product you are working on. You want to verify that the product does not fail under loading, and expect the finite element model to be fairly easy to set up and run.  However, much to your chagrin you run the model and a warning pops up.

                                    If you have been working with SOLIDWORKS Simulation for a long time, you most likely have seen this warning box before. In today’s blog I will show a handy tool which can remedy this issue very quickly. It should be noted that all tips in today’s blog pertain to a traditional Linear Static Analysis, which is available in SOLIDWORKS Premium,  SOLIDWORKS Simulation Standard, SOLIDWORKS Simulation Professional, and SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium.

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                                      How to Utilize the SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal

                                      by Toby Schnaars on April 26, 2017

                                      Did you know that SOLIDWORKS has a customer portal? Whether you’re a new user, an existing user, or just need a little help, the SOLIDWORKS customer portal is an excellent resource available to all SOLIDWORKS subscription customers.

                                      This blog will take you through how to use the portal, along with a step-by-step guide on how to get your questions answered before calling technical support.

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                                      • POSTED IN CAD, SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SOLIDWORKS

                                        Setting Parts Colored and Opaque when Editing in SOLIDWORKS

                                        by Toby Schnaars on April 7, 2017

                                        When editing a component in the context of an assembly, SOLIDWORKS automatically makes all of the other components transparent. This makes it easy to see through everything else, to get at what you need, but can bring on its own challenges.

                                        This blog will demonstrate step-by-step instructions on how to override this default behavior to get assemblies looking just the way you need.

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                                        • POSTED IN CAD, ELECTRICAL, SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SOLIDWORKS

                                          How to Handle Multi-Part Components in SOLIDWORKS Electrical

                                          by David Hofer on March 31, 2017

                                          I was recently working with a SOLIDWORKS Electrical project that a customer had developed, and I ran across a situation that I see quite often. Users that develop components that are made up of multiple parts, often run into issues when associating symbols to them in SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic.

                                          Often the problem goes unnoticed until the project is moved to SOLIDWORKS CAD using the Electrical 3D add-in and the wires and cables are routed. Generally, the routing analysis will display an error having to do with the connection points.

                                          In this blog I’m going to show an example where this can easily happen and a way to spot the issue and fix it before entering the CAD environment.

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                                          • POSTED IN CAD, SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SOLIDWORKS

                                            Best Practices when Installing SOLIDWORKS 2017

                                            by Toby Schnaars on March 29, 2017

                                            When the time comes to install or update your SOLIDWORKS software to a newer version, the process can feel a bit overwhelming.  Below is a guide to help you through this process.  Following these steps should ensure a clean and successful installation.  

                                            I have broken down the sections into “RECOMMENDED” and “OPTIONAL”.  Each step in “RECOMMENDED” should be followed and thought of as required.  The sections marked “OPTIONAL” can be skipped, but might give you some good tricks for ensuring that everything goes smoothly on the user end.

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                                            • POSTED IN SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SOLIDWORKS

                                              Two Great Tools Every SOLIDWORKS User Should Know (But Many Don’t)

                                              by Toby Schnaars on January 3, 2017

                                              As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve been a user of SOLIDWORKS for 18 two-great-tools-every-solidworks-user-should-know-but-many-dont-1years and began teaching new and experienced users since 2001. Today we are going to examine two great tools in SOLIDWORKS that every user should know how to use, but many don’t:

                                              1. CTRL+Q = Force Regen
                                              2.  V.O.R. = Verification on Rebuild

                                              These two tools share the same theme: They both generate a rebuild, which is more thorough and elaborate, but takes a longer time to complete.

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                                              • POSTED IN CAD, SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SOLIDWORKS

                                                Tips for New SOLIDWORKS Users Part 2: Keep Your Sketches Simple

                                                by Toby Schnaars on October 12, 2016

                                                Welcome back to our series of tips for new SOLIDWORKS users. As I mentioned in my last blog, I started teaching SOLIDWORKS CAD software to both new and experienced students in 2001.  This blog series covers three great tips I’ve learned over the years to help new SOLIDWORKS users get started off on the right foot:

                                                1. Always start your sketches the same way – and know when you are in sketch mode
                                                2. Keep your sketches simple
                                                3. Fully define, every time

                                                My last blog covered the first tip. Today, we will move into the second: Keep your sketches simple.

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                                                • POSTED IN CAD, SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SIMULATION, SOLIDWORKS

                                                  The Right Tool for the Job Part 3: Getting Your Fix with Fixtures

                                                  by David Roccaforte on September 20, 2016

                                                  In the first blog in this series, I introduced SOLIDWORKS Simulation Standard, our entry level but high value analysis package. In my second blog, I discussed the single body limitations in Sim Xpress and compared that with the extended capabilities in our more full featured tools. In this post, I will discuss the fixed constraint option in Sim Xpress and compare this to the capabilities of Simulation Standard.  

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                                                  • POSTED IN CAD, SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SIMULATION, SOLIDWORKS

                                                    The Right Tool for the Job Part 2: The Single Body Limitation in Sim Xpress

                                                    by David Roccaforte on September 8, 2016

                                                    In my last blog, I introduced SOLIDWORKS Simulation Standard and how it is a lot of analysis power for the money. One point that I made is that there are many times when SOLIDWORKS users might be trying to do too much with the free Xpress tools or might not realize what they are missing in a more complete solution like Simulation Standard Professional or Premium. In this blog, I will discuss the single body limitation imposed by Sim Xpress.

                                                    Sim Xpress allows only a single body and "fixed" constraints that stop motion on the chosen face in the X, Y, Z directions. The main reason for this limitation is that it prevents users from creating an unstable model by accident. Fix any face in X, Y, Z directions on a single body and you are going to have a stable model. In other words it's a slam dunk that the solver will able to solve for equilibrium and we can find a solution. This limitation guarantees a solution but limits the areas we can accurately extract stresses from and limits the types of situations we can accurately reproduce.

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                                                    • POSTED IN SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SIMULATION, SOLIDWORKS

                                                      SOLIDWORKS FLOW SIMULATION: Animating Transient Flow Runs and Solver Iterations

                                                      by David Roccaforte on September 24, 2013

                                                      In this simulation tech tip, I am going to cover using animations to display the auto mesh refinement splitting cells, since it is useful for watching steady state flow solutions develop, as well as viewing multiple time steps in a transient solution.

                                                      1. Make sure we are saving the steps during the Flow solution. Open the "Calculation Control" dialog. This is accessible from the flow feature manager, command manager, and the solver menu window:


                                                      1a. Choose the saving tab and enter how often you want to save results.
                                                      1b. The individual iteration results will be saved in your Flow folder for each iteration as  "r_XXXX.fld"
                                                      These are individual result sets which will be referenced to create your animation. Be careful: this is a good way to fill up your hard drive for larger models with small times steps.CONTINUE READING:

                                                      2. Solve the flow model.

                                                      3. Load the results (last iteration is default) and create a plot that you want to animate, such as a cut plot or surface plot.

                                                      4. To begin creating the animation, either right click "Animation" in the feature manager and choose Insert or right-click the desired result set to animate such as a cut plot and choose Animation.

                                                      5. Once the animation pane appears, you will want to drag the study "control point" all the way until the start of the animation (to the left).

                                                      6. To bring the individual time frames/iteration in, you will then click the "Movie" icon.
                                                      6a. Enter the desired duration of the animation, and click "Next."
                                                      6b. Choose rotation or not; you can still rotate the model using control points and views later if you choose "no" here. The rotation will add key frames for a simple rotation about the global axis. Click "Next."
                                                      6c. Select "Scenario" to animate multiple timesteps. Click "Next."
                                                      6d. Choose "Uniform" or "Proportional" and select the start and finish from the sliders if you don't want to include all the timesteps/iterations results.


                                                      6e. Now you will see a "control point" for each iteration brought into the animation.
                                                      7.  To determine when the features are displayed in the timeline, you can insert and drag the "control points" for that feature.
                                                      7a.  To choreograph different plots, you can adjust "control points" for the individual features to begin and end at different times or overlap etc... (see the video we phase out the mesh cutplot then phase in the flow stream cutplot.)
                                                      7b. To change the view during the animation, you can place "control points" in the animation pane to move from one view to another. First, you must right click the project name and unselect "Lock Orientation." Each control point is a specific view orientation, and when they are connected, the model moves from one view to the next dynamically. To adjust the orientation at a "control point," drag the slider bar to the point and adjust the model view. (See the video below).
                                                      8. Now you can hit the play button and the view orientation will change based on your view "control points." In addition, your feature plots with "control points" will update based on the solver iterations. You can also save the animation as an .avi file by clicking the record button. This can be useful since the frames can take some time to load.
                                                      Watch the video below a couple times and you will see that it's a pretty quick process.

                                                      • POSTED IN SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS, SOLIDWORKS

                                                        Multiple Configuration Tables

                                                        by Angelle Erickson on November 29, 2010

                                                        Working with SolidWorks configurations just keeps getting easier thanks to the "Modify Configurations" window. If you use configurations and you aren't familiar with this then you need to pop open the Help menu and get acquainted.

                                                        In SolidWorks 2011, Modify Configurations got even better with the addition of the dedicated All Parameters button at the bottom of the dialog window. Simply click this and every configured parameter will open up in the table.
                                                        One of my favorite features about the Modify Configurations window is the ability to arrange configuration tables to your liking and then save them for reuse in the future. Add columns by double clicking dimensions and features in the graphics area, delete columns using the right mouse button, click drag columns to reorder and then, when it looks just right, give it a name and hit the Save Table View button. Now whenever a change is needed just open up the table which can be found in the Tables folder on the Configuration Manager tab. What's even better is you can make and save as many tables as you want.

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