November, 2010 | CADD Edge Blog - Featuring SolidWorks 3D CAD Design Software

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Tips and Tricks: Changing Sketches from John


We've posted another of John's Tips & Tricks videos over on YouTube.  If you've ever had to make changes to a sketch and it was dimensioned or constrained in a way that made it difficult you should check out this video.  SolidWorks has some great tools for changing sketches and others for fixing problems in them when they occur. 

Check it out and let us know what you think.


Tips and Tricks for Reference Planes and Centerlines from John


Johns latest video tips are centered around reference planes and center-lines.  SolidWorks 2010 revamped the interface for creating planes making the creation of certain planes a lot easier.  If you work with molded parts with draft, imported parts with planes in the wrong places, or any part with symmetry you'll find John's tips this week useful.


Choosing a Computer for 3D CAD: Common Myths


Ever wonder how your CAD system utilizes all those pieces of hardware buried in describe the imageyour PC?  Have you been told that a graphics card does one thing only to have another person tell you it does something else?  If so this article is for you.  I recently saw a webinar by Mark Johnson from SolidWorks Technical Support and he discussed many common misconceptions regarding computer hardware.

There are 4 major components CAD systems use during their operatin.

  • The CPU (Central Processing Unit)
  • RAM (Random Access Memory)
  • Hard Drive
  • Graphics Card

This article will cover common misconceptions about how these components work.  There are many assumptions out there about hardware that aren’t necessarily true and we are going to address them. 


describe the imageAssumption:  Higher clock speed is better.

Truth:  The formula for clock speed is “Bus/core ratio” x FSB speed.  AMD and Intel use the same formula but get different results.  For example AMD Phenom II x2 550 (rated at 3.01 GHZ) and Intel Core2 Duo E7400 (rated at 2.8 GHZ).  However their performance/speed is essentially the same even though the AMD clocks faster.


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Assumption:  Adding more RAM will make your computer faster.

Truth:  Yes and no.  If you don’t have enough then putting more in will make the machine faster.  There should be at least 4 gigs as 32 bit Windows by default holds 2 gigs for its operating system.  The type of memory will make the machine run faster as well i.e DDR<DDR2<DDR3, assuming your computer supports it.  A 32bit operating system cannot utilize more than 4 gigs, adding more won't help.  64bit operating systems can address more RAM than you can fit in your machine.


Hard Drive

Assumption: Higher RPM means faster read/write function.describe the image

Truth:  Hard drive speed is a function of RPM and cache size.  Example 7200 rpm drive with 64 MB cache runs almost as fast as 10000 rpm with 32 MB cache.  Hard drive speed benefits you most when opening and saving the large files associated with 3D CAD.


Graphics Card

describe the imageAssumption: A Good graphics card for a gaming machine will run SolidWorks.

Truth: It may run SolidWorks but it is not supported or guaranteed to always work.  Gaming cards also generally don’t support “real view” graphics.  Always use a certified card for your CAD System.  The reason for this is that some graphics cards are not designed for 3D modeling.  This is the reason SolidWorks tests cards.

I hoped this helped clear up some common misconceptions about computer hardware.  Remember before purchasing a new workstation for SolidWorks always check to make sure your video card is supported by going to the SolidWorks Hardware Testing Site.

 Dave Geldart

Dimensioning Sketched Arcs in SolidWorks

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We've uploaded John's next video to YouTube.  In this installment he covers how to dimension arcs with SolidWorks.  Why go to the trouble to make a video on dimensioning when it is so easy with SmartDimension?  John goes into some of the hidden tools which will make your sketching even easier.  If you'd like to see how to dimension Arc Length, or an angle without using lines, watch the video below.

Apologies in advance for the audio quality, we are stilling working some things out.  We're CAD Engineers not audio engineers.

Productivity Tips for Windows 7 users


I like many people stuck with Windows XP for a long time.  I think I first started using it in 2003.  I finally got a new system that came loaded with Windows 7 and made the switch.  It wasn't a seamless transition, but some of the new features easily made it worthwhile, and you couldn't get me to go back. I just looked up the launch date and its been available for just over a year so this post may not seem all that timely. Howver, we see a lot of users still on XP so I thought I'd share this link.

SolidWorks created a screencast called 7 Tips for Windows 7. The screencast features a number of great time saving tools within Windows 7.  There is also a pdf with a list of shortcut keys that alone makes it worth checking out the link.  The screencast series is billed as "Tips for Engineers" but these tips will help anyone using Windows7.

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I think the "Problem Steps Recorder" could be useful for writing tech tips.  If you've got a tip you've found in Windows 7 please share it in the comments section.  Thanks to everybody who reminded me to post this link.


Tips and Tricks for Better SolidWorks Sketching from John


Last week we posted John's Tips & Tricks presentation from the Northeast Rollout.  He has started producing a series of short video versions of these videos. 

This week he starts with some little known tools that are really powerful and will allow you to sketch more efficiently with SolidWorks.

Using SolidWorks Virtual Sharps at the Intersection of Two Lines


A question we get a lot on the support lines is “How do I dimension to the theoretical intersection of two lines?"  If you use a sketch fillet it's really easy since SolidWorks automatically puts in a virtual sharp for you.  But what if you didn’t use a sketch fillet? How come there isn’t a “Virtual Sharp” command within the sketching environment even though there is a whole section under Document Properties dedicated to controlling their appearance.  The solution is simpler than the preceding introductory paragraph.  Thanks to Stefanie for providing the screen captures and directions.

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Step 1

  • Hold Ctrl and select the 2 lines as pictured below.
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Step 2

  • Select the Point describe the image icon.
  • A point/intersection will appear representing the virtual sharp.
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Virtual sharps can be inserted into 2D sketches, 3D sketches and Drawing views.  To change their appearance go to Tools/Options/Document Properties/ Virtual Sharps.

John's SolidWorks Presentations from the CADD Edge Northeast Tour

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The CADD Edge Northeast Tour wrapped up in Pennsylvania last week.  We presented the new features in SolidWorks 2011,  and also shared some Tips and Tricks.

John Hall's two presentations have been extremely popular and he has been inundated with requests for copies of his presentations.  We decided the easiest way to handle these requests is to make them available here on the blog.

All we ask in exchange is that you subscribe to this blog.  Choose "Subscribe" over on the right and we'll email you when new content is posted to the blog.  I promise that is all we will do with your email address.  If you do the RSS thing you can use the link above(Check out this article on how RSS allows you to follow multiple blogs without cluttering your inbox.)  If you look at the earlier articles you will see our goal is to make this informative and entertaining, not just corporate advertising. 

We'll be posting video versions of the presentations, as well as the keynote address by the founder of Quirky.


Cool Tips & Tricks

How to Plan a Succesful Upgrade

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