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
Post By Jon Sorocki
Seeing is believing! What I am talking about is a spring in SolidWorks. While we can create motion with spring forces in SolidWorks, the spring itself is not modeled and doesn't move. To work around this obstacle, many users ask me how to model a spring that can be compressed or stretched in a SolidWorks animation. The answer is not too complex, but is definitely not orthodox.
What we are basically going to do is attach the path of a sweep to a face of another part.
First, let's model the spring. To make this coil, we are NOT going to use a helix curve. Instead, we will use a single sweep function with two sketches. Sketch a line on the front plane. It should start at the origin and go straight up. DO NOT give it a dimension. Rename this Sketch LENGTH. Sketch a circle on the front plane located somewhere off of the origin. I like to place a construction line from the center of the circle out to the right. I then pierce the free endpoint of the line to the LENGTH segment. You can make this line horizontal to guarantee a smooth sweep. Dimension the circle (gauge) and the distance from the origin (diameter).
Exit the sketch and rename it GAUGE. Choose Swept Boss/Base feature.
The profile will be the sketch GAUGE. The path will be the sketch LENGTH. Under options,choose Twist Along Path> Define by Turns. Set the turns to however many coils you need.This will create our spring. After the spring is finished, cut off sections on the top and bottom to make mating it easier.
To get the spring to move, place the spring into an Assembly. Mate the bottom of the spring to a face from another part (PLATE) with a coincident mate. I suggest mating planes of the coil and the PLATE to keep the spring from rotating. For this example, I have inserted a second instance of the PLATE to use as the motion driver. Save the assembly.
Edit the sketch LENGTH. Choose the free endpoint and another edge (circular, linear; it will not matter) from the 2nd PLATE within the assembly. Choose coincident relationship. Exit the sketch and exit edit part mode. (Yellow is spring preview. Pink highlight is the edge I selected.)
Now, move the 2nd PLATE up. Press rebuild (ctrl+B). Move the face of the body down. Press rebuild. You should see your spring change in height.
With the relation is set up; let us get the animation going! Create a new animation through Motion Study.
Move the time bar to 2 seconds. Drag the PLATE up.
A key should be placed for you on the timeline. Move the timebar to 4 seconds. Drag the PLATE down. Another key is placed for you.
Press Play from Start. You should see the spring move dynamically!
Post By John Hall
This is the second in a 2-part series. In case you missed it, here's the first installment -Importing Files Into SolidWorks
Now that we know the basics of all the different file types, let's talk about importing. When you're importing files into SolidWorks, it's always a good idea to see if you can obtain a Parasolid. These have the most success with translation and will usually have great results when importing into SolidWorks. Not all software can export a Parasolid, and not all software runs on Parasolid, so sometimes the export isn't perfect, but Parasolid is in use and licensed by over 20 different CAD/CAM packages, so that's usually a good place to start. If you get bad geometry or have an issue with a parasolid, you can then move on to a different file type.
Parasolid is formatted in .x_t or .x_b file type. The .x_t is most commonly used, the .x_b is binary and only a few CAD software packages have this as a required Parasolid format. Parasolid supports assemblies and multi-body files, but does not support configurations, so you'll need to export each configuration individually. As of this writing, SolidWorks 2014 supports opening and exporting up to version 24.0 natively.
IGES is another file translation path that people will use. This is a very old file translator that was developed based on punch-card data. The IGES files actually contain all of the points of the file. IGES was first developed in 1980 by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards, and the last published standard was Version 5.3, released in 1996. It's not an actively developed standard, but it does see a lot of use. It supports assemblies and multi-body files, but does not support configurations. One thing I've experienced is that IGES does not tend to deal well with very complex shapes, and if you're opening up anything with a smooth surface or a non-prismatic shape, I wouldn't attempt using IGES as an import method. One feature that IGES has that others don't is that it generates .rpt report files to show any errors that may have occurred during the import.
STEP is a translator that is fairly common as well. STEP files are typically a .stp or .step file. STEP was developped by ISO, and is also known as "ISO 10303”. There are two versions of STEP, AP203 and AP214 - both are very similar, but AP203 was developped for the aerospace industry and AP214 was developed for the automotive industry. There has been development of AP242, which is soon to be released, and will replace and update the STEP translator to merge AP203 and AP214. The STEP translator works much better than IGES with surfaces and complex shapes, and if you can't request a Parasolid of a complex model, I would ask for a STEP if possible.
The last translation method for importing 3D Solids is ACIS which is sometimes also known as the SAT translator. The file format for ACIS is .sat files. ACIS was developed by Spatial (owned by Dassault Systemes) and it's actually a mathematical modelling kernel, similar to Parasolid. ACIS stands for “Alan, Charles, Ian's System” which is the first names of the developers! Because it is a kernel, it is being developed actively and used in the background by quite a few CAD systems. It currently on version 24.0, but the version SolidWorks 2014 can save to and open is version 22.0. Like the other translators, it supports assemblies and multi-bodies. One other interesting thing is that ACIS is a great way to import 3D solids into older versions of AutoCAD, but AutoCAD does not import versions 8.0 and above, so you'll need to export the file as version 7.0 or earlier when working with AutoCAD 3D.
So hopefully this helps people that have been dealing with translation issues and having difficulty deciding which file format to use. If you skipped this entire article and scrolled all the way to the bottom, I'll sum up the entire article here: Use Parasolid first! This is your best route to success and usually provides the smoothest import for SolidWorks. If Parasolid doesn't work, try one of the other 4 solid translators.
Post By John Hall
This is a presentation I've been giving for a few years, including this year at SolidWorks World, and I finally decided to write it down so that I can share it with others. I hope that everyone finds it useful.
Many people deal with importing models and translating data back and forth between SolidWorks and other software on a daily basis. When importing 3D models from another software, requesting the proper file format can be daunting, and can be prone to errors if you're not sure what you're looking for. When you're importing a file, you can access a full list of file formats that SolidWorks can open up from the File Type pull down menu:
However, some formats have more functionality than others, and some work better as a translation path than others. So before we get into how to get solids to and from SolidWorks, I want to explain all of the different file formats that SolidWorks can open up, and what each file does.
Here's a full list of file types that SolidWorks can import:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- VDAFS (.vda)
- VRML (.wrl)
- STL (.stl)
- CATIA Graphics (.cgr)
- Pro/E Part (.prt)
- Pro/E Assembly (.asm)
- Unigraphics (.prt)
- IFC (Industry Foundation Classes)
- Inventor Part (.ipt)
- Inventor Assembly (.iam)
- Solid Edge Part (.psm)
- Solid Edge Assembly (.asm)
- CADKEY (.prt, .ckd)
- Add-Ins (.dll)
- IDF (.emn, .brd, .bdf, .ibd)
- Rhino (.3dm)
So as you can see, knowing what file format to request and what works best can be a bit tricky.
Here's a guide to help. I've broken the files out into a few different groups to help organize and understand the different file formats and the differences between them.
Adobe Illustrator (.ai)
The first is a group I'll call "2D Paths". These consist of files that only contain 2D information. This can be opened in SolidWorks and edited as a sketch, or inserted directly on a drawing. These are:
The next group I call "3D Mesh". These are wireframe geometry made from a series of polygons (triangular shapes). They are typically used in visual software or for rapid prototyping. There is a lot less mathematical accuracy to these files, and they do not typically import well into SolidWorks due to the geometry. They usually have to be changed into a solid using the ScanTo3D add-in for SolidWorks (in SW Premium) or using a 3rd party software to clean this geometry up. Most people use wireframe files merely as a reference to create geometry around.
Parasolid (.x_t)IGES (.igs)STEP (.stp)ACIS (.sat)
3D Solids are the best way to translate solid geometry to and from SolidWorks. These four formats are the typical import/export method for bringing files into and out of SolidWorks successfully. The geometry contained is "dummy" geometry, so it will not contain history, but it will have mathematically accurate solid geometry on import. The order of preference is exactly as shown - I would always try to import Parasolid first, then try IGES, then STEP then ACIS. SolidWorks actually runs on the Parasolid kernel - this is the mathematical backbone of SolidWorks, therefore Parasolid is always going to be a preferred method of translation.
SolidWorks can import these directly from the native CAD format. This can have varying degrees of success, depending on the complexity of the source. Some of these formats will allow you to import full history and some will not. For example, Pro/E files will import and give you the choice of wether or not you want to try to rebuild the model so it will have an intelligent feature history, or import just a dummy solid. In order to import Inventor files, Inventor requires you to have the Inventor viewer or a license of Inventor installed on the same machine to convert the geometry properly.
VDAFS (.vda)CATIA GraphicsRhinoIDF, EMN, BRDPoint CloudIFC
So these are all the formats that didn't fit nicely into the other groups. VDAFS is a 3D solid translator, but it is not really in use today. It was a German automotive data translation standard that stands for “Vereinung Deutsche Automobilindustrie Flächen Schnittstelle” which translates to “organization of the automotive industry - surface translation format”. It became DIN standard in 1986, but it was replaced by STEP format in the 90s. Today, this is a very rare file format.
CATIA Graphics are purely graphical information. It's not a format you see in use often. If you need to import CATIA files into SolidWorks, you can use ACIS as a translation method, but you lose a lot of accuracy and there are room for feature errors doing this. There is a CATIA v5 translator for SolidWorks that you can get as an add-in which will allow translation between the two, and it does a nice job of importing CATIA files directly.
Rhino files are surface models, and SolidWorks imports the surface geometry nicely from Rhino.
IDF, EMN, and BRD are all circuit board files from electrical engineering software. These can be imported as a block with SolidWorks and used to see the size of a circuit board. If you want to bring in a much more complex circuit board, you can use CircuitWorks (included with SolidWorks Premium), and this will import an entire board and propagate all of the components on the board.
Working with Point Cloud files requires ScanTo3D, and this will allow you to import all of your typical point cloud formats like .xyz, .txt, .asc, and also mesh files like .nzip, .nxm, .scn, etc.
You can also import IFC files, which are files used to communicate with BIM software. You can save files out for programs like Revit or other architectural CAD, and also set options like OmniClass.
Now that we know the basics of all the different file types, we'll discuss importing in the next post.
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Depending on your areas of interest, this may or may not be news to you. There were commercially available products well over 3 years ago and the topic is nearly 15 years old. However, if you’re reading this, you’re interested in CAD and if you’re interested in CAD you need to know about GPU computing. I’ll leave it to you to surf for the details, but I’ll get us started with some basics.
“In the beginning”, there was the CPU and it was good. Time passed, stuff changed and offloading functions from the CPU became a great idea. The GPU was one of the devices created for the extra workload. More time passed and someone decided that a processor is a processor is a processor. Said another way CPU, schmePU, we can do math with a GPU, too. GPU’s are smaller, do less and are less expensive than CPU’s. As with all things microprocessor, GPU’s got better – more powerful and more programmable. GPU’s became a more efficient alternative to the CPU for many applications.
Thus, the first acronym was born – GPGPU, General Purpose GPU – and the associated catch-phrase, parallel computing. In general terms, CPU’s are built for serial processing and GPU’s expect to be used in parallel. I know, I know, there are parallel CPU’s – multi-core and hyperthreading. I don’t plan to get into that discussion – I’m just reporting the basics here.
As CAD users, we’re familiar with using high-powered graphics cards for rendering, but if the GPGPU makers are successful, the day will come when we can run Simulation on our “graphics card”. And - work with me – since a graphics card is a plug-in device, it could be placed elsewhere, like in a small box on our desk or over a network or … in the cloud. And (you still with me?), if it can be on a network, then it can be shared. Distributed rendering, Simulation, you name it. Now all of the intensive math for things like rendering and Simulation can be done elsewhere as it is needed. CAD guys need to be aware of the possibility that’s coming our way.
As you may imagine, just like hyperthreading, using a bunch of parallel GPU’s instead of a multi-core CPU takes different programming. If you’re a GPU manufacturer, you’re presented with the classic business issue – I need programmers and devices, but each begets the other. But, there is significant progress being made. There’s a conference dedicated to this industry – GTC, GPU Technology Conference. SolidWorks’ VP of R&D Gian Paulo Bassi was at the 2013 GTC as part of a demonstration of nVidia’s Grid VCA product that includes – catch this – a SolidWorks license for up to 8 or 16 users. With products like the Grid VCA, we’re back to the 1970’s – relatively dumb terminals with centralized high-powered servers. However, I don’t consider a Macbook, iPad, or smart phone a “dumb terminal”, so maybe it's the 70's only better.
SolidWorks drawings are made up of three pieces:
- Drawing Template
- Annotations/Model Views
I didn’t make a mistake. There are three pieces. The drawing template includes a sheet format – three pieces.
- Drawing Template
- Sheet Format
- Annotations/Model Views
All of those combine to make up a drawing - *.slddrw.
SolidWorks gave us a separate sheet format so we can have the best of both worlds – standardized drawings at the tip of our mouse, but also custom title blocks and borders to match our company requirements. To save a sheet format, when a drawing with the one we want is displayed go to File > Save Sheet Format.
Check out the blog post from last year - http://www.caddedge.com/blog/bid/151868/how-to-create-multi-sheet-drawings-with-different-formats
The sheet format (*.slddrt) contains the border, title block, sheet size, and some other items. Check out all of the stuff in the FeatureManager under the sheet format:
To better demonstrate, here’s a page from the Drawings training class:
The sheet format (*.slddrt) is part of a drawing template (*.drwdot), as I mentioned earlier.
Drawing templates contain all the document specific information that is found in the Tools > Options > Document Properties dialog (i.e. units, standard, fonts, arrow sizes, etc.).
Combining the slddrt and drwdot with a model view and/or annotations makes a drawing (*.slddrw)
Let’s dig a little deeper.
With no other files open in SolidWorks, start a new, blank drawing. See that dialog?
The browse button will tell you the location of the sheet format – the slddrt – used for each drawing - Tools->Options->File Locations->Sheet Formats.
So, when we tell SolidWorks to start a drawing, it goes where we tell it in the File Locations for Documents TEMPLATES (tools->options->system options tab->File Locations)
In this case, I have two locations specified in File Locations for Document Templates -
a TEMPLATES folder and a TUTORIAL folder – those correspond to the tabs in the above screenshot.
When I select “Drawing” in the above dialog, SolidWorks goes and gets the drawing template (*.drwdot – not *.slddrw) from that file location.
So, if I want to change the title block on all of my standard drawings, I can either change the sheet format or the drawing template, because the drawing template contains the sheet format. Alternatively, if I want to change the arrowheads or the drafting standard – ANSI, ISO, etc. – I have to change the drawing template.
I recommend working with drawing templates to set up reusable formats such as company standards. It’s simple – just get the drawing to look the way you want and save the template (File->SaveAs->Save As Type->Drawing Templates). Otherwise, it’s just as easy to save the whole drawing with empty or no views to use as a standard.
Sometimes it makes sense to save the sheet format for reuse. The best reason I can think of to save sheet formats is a need for different formats for sheet 2. But for most Customers, saving the whole drawing with empty or no views is the shortest path to "done".
Sustainability is included with SolidWorks as an express product and also as a separate product. There are, of course differences between the two versions:
•LCA of individual parts
•Find Similar Material
•Environmental Impact dashboard
•Customizable Sustainability report
•Same capabilities as SolidWorks SustainabilityXpress plus…
•LCA of assemblies
•Support for Configurations
•Expanded reporting capabilities for assemblies
•User inputs for energy consumption and transportation methods
•Support for the new Assembly Visualization functionality
Sustainability allows SolidWorks Customers the ability to seamlessly evaluate environmental and financial aspects of the material and design.
First, some background. Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) is what I’m discussing – Sustainability is another term and in this case, the marketing term used by SolidWorks. LCA considers:
1. Raw Material Extraction
2. Material Processing
3. Part Manufacturing & Assembly
4. Product Use – Energy consumed during the planned life span of the product
5. End of Life – the percentage of the components of the product that are thrown away, incinerated, and recycled.
Transportation is also included in the assessment at each stage.
SolidWorks Sustainability categorizes the effects on the environment with four different environmental indicators:
Total Energy Consumed
The details of all this aren’t suitable for a blog post, and – read this the right way – I’m not aiming this at the group that is interested in the details. If you are in to the details, I think this product has a great story. I will tell you that the numbers come from PE International. They spent more than 20 years gathering material and energy input/output flows from a multitude of industries. The impact assessment factors for each of these flows come from the ―CML methodology http://www.cml.leiden.edu/research/industrialecology/researchprojects/finished/new-dutch-lca-guide.html .
However, I don’t like to focus on the numbers, the accuracy, and how they are calculated because the people who do like to focus on those things many times can’t agree with each other and I think all that discord makes designers and manufacturers avoid the effort. I think the SolidWorks Sustainability tool is a fantastic solution for both sides.
SolidWorks Sustainability can be used to make your product designs better for the environment and more cost-efficient at the same time without having to argue about whether a design change saves 1kg or 1mg of CO2. Sustainability gives Customers a way to make relative improvements in environmental and financial factors of their products. Regardless of the absolute value, 10% better is, well, better and Sustainability gives Customers the ability to calculate that in seconds.
See the 5 windows under Environmental Impact? Notice “Current” and “Previous”. “Better” – “Worse” – just like the optometrist. In seconds, Sustainability provides an easy visual cue on whether steel is better than nylon or 3mm fillets are better than 5mm chamfers. Add in SolidWorks Simulation for durability analysis and you can go toe-to-toe with any LEED architect – all without adding cost to your product development cycle.
There is a report generator for publishing results that can include the nice charts in the Task Pane. That provides some good graphics for your company’s web site or annual report, too. So give SustainabilityXpress a shot.