3D CAD software has come a long way over the past few years, and the technology is only getting more accessible. Not too long ago, I had to lug a desktop computer around to perform demos, but now I can run SOLIDWORKS on a 15” laptop and still have more horsepower than my old desktop. But there seems to be a lot of conjecture about the eventual demise of the laptop to their cousin mobile devices and touch screens. As people are becoming more and more enamored with the ease of use and power of tablets (Apple iPad, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung, etc) and smartphones, it’s easy to see where they could potentially fit in to the daily design work of an engineer.
You’ve probably seen that eDrawings is available on mobile devices, and that you can interact with design concepts on a touch screen (video)
. You may have even seen the awesome augmented reality running on an iPad (video)
where you can view the 3D model as if you’re watching it in person (if you haven’t seen it, check out that video
). In terms of real applications, these may be a great way to get the point across to people in the field, and to communicate your designs and possibly even work instructions to someone who wouldn’t need to have a whole printout or be reliant on getting access from a computer.
You may have also seen the new SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual software, introducing social interaction to designers and engineers regardless of platform - mobile devices, tablets, laptops or just a normal web browser on a desktop (video here). It doesn’t seem very far-fetched that before long we’ll see 3D CAD and mechanical design in general available to any device anytime. At the very least, for the short term, Mechanical Conceptual is a great way to collaborate with other people who might not necessarily be in charge of designing, but who want to communicate their ideas in real time without having to rely on meetings or email chains to get things done.
Personally, I'm even more excited about the Microsoft Surface Pro, where you can actually install a full license of SOLIDWORKS and drive the software from a tablet even when you’re on the go. Granted, the horsepower might not be there for doing any serious modeling. I haven’t tried it out yet as I’m still saving up for the Surface Pro 3, so we can’t officially recommend it. However, SOLIDWORKS has actually come up with a few things that might make it easier to run on a tablet, like the option to make icons much larger and to turn on mouse gestures for quick access to commonly used tools.
So that’s where we are at – you can leverage your 3D information downstream easily with things like the eDrawings app for iOS and Android (download it here) and you can collaborate your ideas with social interaction tools inside SW Mechanical Conceptual. You can even run the full design software on a tablet if you’re so inclined. Even though Moore’s Law may have seen its day, it might not be long before we see programs like SOLIDWORKS and others running 3D design on tablets and smartphones. This could be a great idea for people on the go who just want to capture a quick idea or a snapshot of a design and then refine it later. It’s a cool concept, and I’m excited to see what the future brings.
Contact our Sales team for more information about SOLIDWORKS products.
By: Leon Austin
Technical Manager for CADD Edge
CSWE (Veteran of USAF)
|How can you say no to helping out an American Veteran?
We recently received a request from a member of the veteran’s organization - AMVETS (American Veterans) - to make some modifications to a medal he had so that he could generate chocolate molds for promotional purposes. The downside was he didn’t have an electronic model, he only had the medal itself.
As a designer and instructor with with over 14 years of experience with CADD Edge, I have access to the cutting edge SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD technology needed for such a task. And as a fellow veteran, I wanted to help.
|How do I get this model into SOLIDWORKS?
I started by putting the medal and a ruler onto a regular office scanner and emailed myself an image. SOLIDWORKS allows me to put an image file into a sketch. This could be a scan of an actual model, or even an artist hand drawn sketch. The ruler will ensure I get the correct size.
|Next, I imported the scan as a Sketch Picture (Tools->Sketch Tools->Sketch Picture). As I add the picture, I can size the it to the correct dimension, which makes the ruler handy.
From here I was able to create sketches and start extruding geometry to duplicate the original model. Below you can see my approach. I started on the outside edge with an extruded feature. After that, I just used a circular pattern to get it around half the part, then the mirror command to ensure both sides were identical.
Imported Scan into Sketch Tools
Spline Tool Trace
|The spline tool made it easy to trace the eagle. Using fewer points is best to make it easier to control and look smooth. The Control Polygon also makes adjustments easy. I added a little text instead of tracing it and I was almost done.
Step by step, I was able to duplicate each feature and make the height changes needed so it would work as a chocolate. The key was getting the detail pronounced enough to stand out. With the completion of the medal, I was able to create the mold tool. I simply used the disjoint bodies to create two separate bodies and then used the Combine feature to subtract one from the other.
|A 3D model on the screen is good, but nothing is better than having the part in your hand. Using our Objet30 Pro 3D Printer from Stratasys, I was able to print out an actual model.
|This proved I was able to capture a perfect replication of the original with even a little added depth so it would be recognizable when made out of chocolate.
With tools like SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys printers available, how could I not offer to help?
To all the veterans who have served to make this country what it is, I thank you.
Leon Austin, CSWE
(Veteran of USAF)
The big product announcement at SolidWorks World 2014 was SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. This is a collaborative tool to create any sort of mechanism designs at the conceptual phase in a much faster and easier manner than most people are doing it today. Currently, most companies create pen and paper sketches to create a mechanical concept, but this is very difficult to share and evolve the design from pen and paper. SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual allows you to very easily create the conceptual designs and share the design with your customers, while allowing very powerful collaborative tools to design concurrently with other engineers.
So here are my first thoughts about SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual:
|SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual updates modified components live in your session, ensuring that you're always working with the latest data.
The interface is the most intuitive that I've ever seen. A lot of times when I see how something is done in SWMC, I'm shocked that it can be done so easily. For instance, if you want to dimension a line, you click on the line, and the dimension is already there, you just type in what you want to give it a true driving dimension. Simple! All of the tools you would expect to use pop up when you're working, and all you need to do is click on the object you want to modify. There's so many cool concepts about the way the software handles the interface that I'm really impressed. There were a few times that the adaptability and the ease of the interface actually blew my mind - i.e.: the fact that you can just toss a fillet on a whole bunch of bodies and it puts the feature where it needs to be in the feature tree without having to
think about it. It just makes sense, it's simple and easy.
|Connect instantly to collaborate with other SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual users through chat, screen capture, and on-screen annotation.
The community aspect is also very exciting - the ability to pass files back and forth with ease, but also to get live feedback and allow customers to view and provide feedback on projects was essential to a lot of the lighthouse customers. The seamless way that users can work on the same project at the same time is very impressive. Users can both work on the same design and can add and change geometry live while the other one is working. You can even preview a new change live in the 3D before accepting the change! This adds a ton of adaptability to the design process. Project structuring seems very simple - every project can be focused on a single design, or a series of designs, and you can add collaborative users to each project as needed. Also, the way that the software handles searching for files is easy and everything is searchable in seconds.
The motion analysis is very cool, the fact that you can see the motion path of any object without having to calculate a motion study, and even see the 3D space that the object will take up is very useful for any mechanical design. I'm also very impressed by the SIMULIA aspects - all of the designs can be simulated and verified to ensure that they'll work correctly when under stress or thermal loads. The interface was very intuitive and setup was simple - but the solver was what really impressed me. It's using the Abacus solver behind the scenes, and the speed in which that calculated analysis was stellar.
From what I heard talking with other attendees, there's a lot of buzz about the product and it seems like it will be replacing a very costly and manual process of the conceptual and planning stage of products for a lot of customers. There were some great customer testimonials from what they've termed the "lighthouse" customers - early beta testers who were able to work with the product and collaborate their designs before the products release. Some of the time savings that these lighthouse customers were saying were astronomical - some were able to push the product through the initial concept phase weeks faster than before.
Learn more about SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual on our website.
I’ve visited a few customers lately that have legacy 2D CAD data. The question always comes up “we want to migrate into a single source provider for our CAD software, do we need to keep a seat of “that other program” around if we ever have to view or edit this legacy data?”
Call me a bit biased but I tell them there is no need as we have multiple solutions to address that concern. Of course we have eDrawings and Solidworks where we can view and edit 2D files as required but everyone knows that. What I’m going to talk about is a different program Dassault provides called Draftsight.
When you open the program you will get an interface that you are already accustomed to:
This gets better, when drawing or editing within Draftsight no special training is required (drawing is done in the same manner as the “other guy”). For example, “L” opens the line command, “C” opens Circle, etc.
If you are like most (myself included) we all “grew up” with that familiar command “array”. The good news is that command also works inside of Draftsight but if we are still thinking in a Solidworks state of mind we enter “pattern” on the command line instead. Guess what, both work inside of Draftsight which means we don’t have to remember which one goes into which program…
Just for giggles, I went ahead and opened up one of the first 2D CAD files I created (for those that want a trip into the past, this was created with a DOS version on a 386 & CGA graphics - take a look at the date stamp). By the way, did I mention Draftsight has native .DWG & .DXF format support?
Yes, I know this is a very complicated part but hey, this was almost 20 years ago. The point is my legacy file opened without any compatibility or corruption issues (even after 20 years in storage).
So by now you are thinking this will be a huge benefit but in the end how much will this cost? Will the program cost as much as a seat of SolidWorks, Composer, Electrical, etc.? I hate to be the bearer of bad news but no PO’s will be filled out as Draftsight is a FREE product. Yes, I did say free, well almost free. You do have to provide an email address to register the program but that is all (for the record, I’ve yet to receive an unsolicited email from Draftsight).
Of course as with all things in life we have an option to upgrade (for a fee) to the Professional or Enterprise pack of Draftsight. I won’t get into details here but I encourage you to check out our website or give us a call for more details as you get a lot of bang for your buck with these two upgrades.
If you took any of our SolidWorks classes or perhaps saw a YouTube video, you may have noticed a discrepancy between the dimensions seen on other users’ drawings and your own. For instance, many students have noted that dimensions in drawings come in gray in some cases, and black or blue in others. This can be particularly frustrating if you have been able to bring in both colors separately without knowing. This blog will show you how to control the color of dimensions in a SolidWorks drawing.
|There are two basic ways to import dimensions in a drawing:
Smart Dimension or Model Items.
If you use Model Items, you can bring in dimensions Marked for Drawing and Not Marked for Drawing as well as other locating dimensions and annotations. Almost always, these dimensions will come in black. However, some features may not be fully dimensioned.
If that is the case, you will need to use your smart dimension tool to place what some call Reference Dimensions. These reference dimensions are also known as Non-Imported (Driven) dimensions. Almost certainly, these dimensions will be a confusing gray color.
One other significant reason that dimensions are gray is due to the layer properties. If you place dimensions on a separate layer so you can easily hide them, you may also affect the color. Look for the small color box on the layer dialog box. Is this color set to something other than black?
If so, then you should expect all dimensions and lines assigned to that layer to follow that color scheme.
The last significant reason for dimensions being gray is if someone has simply changed the color of the individual dimension through the Line Color command on the Line Format Toolbar.
Now that we have identified what causes dimensions to be gray, let’s control the colors of these dimensions.
For starters, if you used Smart Dimension to bring in Reference / Non-Imported dimensions, go to System Options> Colors> Non-Imported (Driven) located here.
Choose the Edit button and change the color to anything you would like. In this case, I changed them to a distinct red color.
If your layer has been set to gray, launch the Layers Properties dialog box from the Layers toolbar. Choose the colored square and pick another color. In this case, I chose blue.
|To change any particular dimension, select the dimension and then select Line Color and choose an appropriate color. In this case, I chose green.
I hope this has helped you determine and control the color of your dimensions in a SolidWorks drawing!
Post by Jon Sorocki
Instead of recreating the same feature all the time, why not insert features into Solidworks Design Library? That way you can drag the feature out whenever you need it. This is one of the perks of using SolidWorks and should be utilized by just about everyone. In today’s post I will show you how to insert features into Solidworks Design Library.
First, let’s start with where to find the design library. By default, one is installed in C:\Program Data\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 20xx\design library where xx represents version/year of SolidWorks. The default library comes with some features and parts already. You can add other library locations by going to Tools> Options> File Locations> Show folders for: Design Library. Locating the library while in SolidWorks is simple. Look to the right hand side of your screen for a stack of books, usually located under the house icon in the Task Pane.
Now, let us create a common feature that we will store in the library. For this example I will use a logo, since having a logo to engrave or deboss is very common with customers. Create a new part and sketch out a dummy body. I like to use a 2”x4” rectangular prisms with 1” depth.
Sketch the logo on this top face. Use a Cut-Extrude feature to deboss down however much you want; I usually keep it minimal and around .02”. If you dimension any part of the logo to the edges you will be required to reference these edges every time you drop the logo in from the library. If you want to keep certain spacing feel free to use dimensions, otherwise sketch the logo free form without any dimensions or relations to existing geometry including the origin.
View your feature manager tree. You should see a Boss Extrude and a Cut Extrude. We are only interested in saving the logo out, so select the Cut Extrude from the tree. Press File> Save As. Choose file type as Library Feature Part (.sldlfp). Save to any folder in your design library or save to the root. It is absolutely necessary that you select the feature and verify that it is highlighted before pressing Save As. You must also make sure to save as Library Feature Part!
Once it has been saved, you should see a stack of books next to the part name at the top of the tree.
You should also see a small green “L” appear above the Cut Extrude icon. If this does not happen, try the Save As again. Check the design library in the task pane. You should see a thumbnail representing the logo.sldlfp you just created.
You should be ready to use this logo from your design library at any time. Simply find the part you want to place the logo on and drag-drop the logo thumbnail from the design library onto the flat face you want to engrave or deboss. If you created dimensions to edges, you will be required to select those edges again. If you left it undefined and free-form you are free to place your logo anywhere you want.
Can you run SolidWorks on a virtual machine? Virtual machines aren't supported by SolidWorks - for anything. As they say:
"Virtual environments force SolidWorks, eDrawings, and DraftSight to run in Software OpenGL mode resulting in significant graphics performance degradation."
Disclaimer to SolidWorks Users - check!
I can't speak for SolidWorks, but I wouldn't support SolidWorks on a virtual machine officially because there's too much to reasonably test. But, CADD Edge has installations of VMWare products around and we can support you from that perspective. However, if we find an issue we can't resolve, there's no "backup" from SolidWorks. So understanding the lack of official support, I was surprised to see this:
Look closely; that screenshot is a Mac. As regular readers of this blog know, I run on a Mac, so I use SolidWorks on a virtual machine (vm's) all day, every day. I don't have any performance issues, but that's a test sample of one. Recently though, we've been discussing expanding our use of VMWare at CADD Edge. After looking into the possibility, it seems that the biggest hurdle is graphics. VMWare appears to be aware of this objection to its use based on this mention of graphics-based applications:
So I dug into this with help from VMWare technical support and nVidia. As you may know, we are partnered with nVidia on the GRID computing product.
||NVIDIA GRID VCA is a turnkey network device that enables up to eight users to seamlessly run SolidWorks from a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC.
I only investigated Workstation 10. My goal is to understand how graphics work in general with SolidWorks and then translate that understanding to virtual environments.
The basic pieces used in the generation of graphics are the CPU, the GPU, and the operating system. This last item needs some clarification.
We know (or should know) there are graphics drivers and there's this thing called OpenGL. Understanding how they fit into the generation of 3D graphics will help us understand how using a virtual machine (vm) will affect the graphics.
The CPU and GPU need an operating system - say Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 contains software to interface with different types of devices. In our case, the software interface talks to a graphics driver and not the graphics card directly. In turn those drivers talk to the hardware - in this case the GPU. For 2D and 3D rendering, that interface software is OpenGL.
OpenGL is an API used to interact with the driver and GPU to render 2D and 3D graphics. In SolidWorks, the OpenGL API is used to to accelerate the 3D rendering, also known as hardware accelerated rendering.
That's the basics. Now we move on to a vm. In the case of Workstation 10, 3D graphics acceleration is an included feature. The vm has access to the GPU. There's a switch to turn on 3D acceleration.
However, while the vm does use OpenGL2.1, the vm doesn't have access to the graphics card driver, the vm uses its own driver. As many SolidWorks users know, having the correct, SolidWorks approved driver is important. So, graphics in SolidWorks may work fine for you on a vm, but there's every reason to be concerned that it won't. I understand that VMWare is working to improve the graphics and if I hear about it, I'll let you know.
Being a geek at heart, I always love pointing out to my friends and family a product that is designed utilizing SolidWorks. When the creator is a CADD Edge customer, I get even more excited, if that is even possible! That’s why Solidworks World 2014 was so fantastic.
Sitting in the massive convention center during SolidWorks World 2014 listening to presenters speak about cutting edge, life impacting innovations can be really moving. And it’s really something special when I hear, “That’s a CADD Edge customer!” Although I should be used to it by now, it’s still exciting to discover that year after year many of our customers end up on the big stage as presentors of the general sessions. This year was no exception.
One of the most inspiring was Hugh Herr from BiOM. After discussing and showing a video about the innovative design built into his company’s bionics legs, he rolled up his pant leg. There for all to see were two of his prosthetics, which he put to use running across the stage. Seeing a double amputee walk and run naturally is truly incredible. Add on top of that the knowledge that BiOM leverages both SolidWorks and Altium to bring this life-changing technology to fruition is frosting on the cake. Then knowing that CADD Edge is their reseller, is the frosting on the frosting. After all, who doesn’t like double frosting!
Another presentation of interest was by Superpedestrian. Superpedestrian's Copenhagen Wheel captures energy as you bike when braking or going down hill which is stored in a battery helping you bike faster, further and easier. Now that sounds like my kind of bicycling.
Then there was MarkForged displaying their desktop 3D printer that prints carbon fiber parts. 3D printing can be mind blowing and MarkForged is definitely on the cutting edge creating printers that deliver high tolerance parts for production use. I just had to smile upon hearing one of our sales people say that MarkForged is also a CADD Edge customer.
Onto the timely 2014 winter Olympics. Did you know that the US bobsled is designed with SolidWorks? Yes, another CADD Edge customer… BO-DYN. As if we needed another reason to cheer on the US bobsled team to bring home the Olympic gold!
And CADD Edge’s impact didn’t end at the main stage. When walking around the partner pavilion we were able to see even more of our customers and their products – Hologic, Quirky, Makerbot, etc.
I am already looking forward to SolidWorks World 2015 to see what CADD Edge customers will be presenting their products to the entire worldwide SolidWorks user community!
Connect with the CADD Edge team and let us help you take your business to the next level with innovative software solutions and expertise you can count on.
Post By Wayne White
Teaser time…I will be going back through the AR Drone, and focusing on Plastics…using it to gain insight on weld lines, sink marks, fill and pack times, and now in 2014 SP1: warpage and cooling analysis.
One of the great things about my job is there’s always something new coming out. Dassault is a great company and all great companies will introduce new technology to keep up with consumer’s needs.
This new tool, Plastics Advanced, does some pretty cool stuff. The entire breakdown between Plastics Pro, Premium, and Advanced is below.
SolidWorks Plastics Professional
The most cost-effective time to optimize plastic parts for manufacturability is during the initial stages of product design. Skipping this step often leads to an inefficient mold design with an extremely narrow “good parts” processing window, resulting in high reject rates and time-to-market delays.
- CAD Integrated: Fully embedded in the SolidWorks 3D design environment so you can analyze and modify designs for manufacturability at the same time you optimize for form, fit, and function
- Easy to Learn and Use: Takes only minutes to learn and does not require extensive analysis or plastics expertise
- Facilitates Design Team Communication: Web-based HTML reports make it fast and easy to communicate simulation results and design advice to all members of the design-to-manufacturing team
SolidWorks Plastics Premium
SolidWorks Plastics Premium gives designers or builders of injection molds an accurate, easy-to-use way to optimize them. Quickly create and analyze single, multi-cavity, and family mold layouts.
- Avoid costly mold rework: ensure molds will work right the first time to avoid time-consuming, costly, and unnecessary rework
- Optimize feed system design: analyze sprues, runners, and gates to balance runner systems; optimize gate type, size, and location; determine the best runner layout, size, and cross-sectional shape
- Estimate cycle time, clamp tonnage, and shot size: quote tooling projects quickly and accurately; size the injection molding machine for a given mold, optimize cycle time, and reduce plastics material scrap
SolidWorks Plastics Advanced
SolidWorks Plastics Advanced gives you complete understanding of your tool design and the molding process, allowing you to model cooling systems, and analyze warp.
- Investigate and correct warping issues: Predict post-molding warpage, and take steps to modify the tool and molding parameters to correct, or create counter-deformed geometry to allow for warp
- Model and optimize cooling channels: Investigate different cooling strategies to produce high-quality parts as efficiently as possible, and completely understand the conditions within the mold tool
- Apply complex cooling conditions: Simulate advanced cooling strategies, like baffles, bubblers, and model conformal cooling around the part geometry
Continue to ping the blog; learn Plastics you will J
SolidWorks 2013 introduced a new application called the SolidWorks Launcher that helps organize which version of SolidWorks opens the files. I mean, if we can open a 2013 file in 2012sp5 (a long-standing Customer request!) and have both 2012 and 2013 SolidWorks installed, then what should happen when we double-click the file in Windows Explorer? SolidWorks uses the Launcher to answer that question.
I'm bringing up this "old news" because sometimes, things don't go as planned and the Launcher isn't consulted when opening SolidWorks files from Windows Explorer. By default on a system with SolidWorks 2013 installed, SolidWorks file types should be associated to the Launcher (swshellfilelauncher.exe) and when opening files using double-click or right-click -> Open they should open in same SolidWorks session.
However, if the file types are associated directly to the SolidWorks 2013 (sldworks.exe), the files may open in separate SolidWorks sessions instead of the existing, open session. If that happens to you, check out this SolidWorks publication to correct the file associations:
SolidWorks Solution ID S-062896