May, 2011 | CADD Edge Blog - Featuring SolidWorks 3D CAD Design Software

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GrabCAD Design Contest Offers Chance Improve Your SolidWorks Skills


A challenge I often face when looking to improve my SolidWorks skills is hunting down real world design tasks.  I can take a pair of calipers and whatever is lying around and make a 3D model, however that isn't designing that's modeling.  The guys over at GrabCAD have teamed up with Amarok racing and set up a design contest challenging their members to design a Triple Clamp for their Zero Emissions Race bike.  At stake is an iPad 2.  Not a bad deal for them. They tap into a community of thousands of users to do their design work for them all for the cost of a 500 dollar iPad. (Hmmm maybe I should start a blog article contest.  Submit an original blog article to me and get an eye pad. )

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Well they've got my attention.  Tackling a real world design challenge with the potential of winning a cool prize, gives me all the incentive I need to fire up SolidWorks and see what I can come up with. 

If you want to enter head over to GrabCAD for the contest details. Submission deadline is June 1st so time is short.  You don't have to work in SolidWorks but you will have to submit your entry in STEP or IGES format.  Stay tuned and I'll post some screen shots of my entry.


Using Benchmarks When Selecting Computer Hardware to Run SolidWorks

We get asked a lot about what hardware to buy to run SolidWorks.  This is always a tricky question to answer because there are so many variables.  David wrote an article a while back highliting some of the common myths to hardware selection.  Even that probably created more questions than it answered.  Frankly there are tradeoffs when choosing hardware. The ideal computer for one person is another's boat anchor.  Weight, size, speed, availability, stability are often competing factors that will influence selection.

SolidWorks 2011 features a Performance Test addin to SolidWorks Rx.  This test will run a series of automated SolidWorks tasks and report back the time to complete them.  At this point you may be thinking "big deal, I don't care how fast my computer is. Its what I already have it."  Of course with any test we want to know how we stack up to others and the great thing about the tool is it allows you to upload your test results and then view the results for other systems.  It can be quite useful.  Take the following example. 

We recently talked with a customer who was trying to decide between a laptop and a desktop.  The specs seemed fairly close and the costs were also reletively comparable.  If the performance was going to be relatively comparable he wanted the laptop. (I hope he realizes how big the power supplies are for laptops. Red Swingline included for scale. Don't take it!)describe the image

Laptop Desktop

CPU: I7-840QM Quad 1.86GHz 8MB L3 Cache  

GPU: 1.0 GB Quadro FX 2800M

RAM: 12GB DDR3 1333MHz

CPU: I7-840QM Quad 1.86GHz 8MB L3 Cache  

GPU: 1.0 GB Quadro FX 2800M

RAM: 12GB DDR3 1333MHz

So I headed over to the Benchmark site and did a little searching. I searched for "840" and then "W3550." The 840 search got me to one laptop with nearly identical specs. The benchmarked system only had 8GB but we can assume the benchmark test is designed to not excede 8GB so extra RAM shouldn't matter. It yielded an overall score of 358.9 seconds(CPU+Graphcis+I/O) the lower the number the better.

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The search for W3550 yielded me two identical systems with  an overall score that averaged 258.5seconds.  That is a difference of 100 seconds, or about 30%.

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Of course we would expect the Workstation to outperform the Laptop. The laptop is going to have comprimises to things like size, battery life and heat management.

  Overall CPU Graphics I/O Render
Desktop 258.5 125.7 37.0 97.1 46.4
Laptop 358.9 173.1 47.9 137.9 62.7

describe the imageIn conclusion I wanted to post the results of my own system just to prove a point.  I have a laptop with an older generation Dual Core Centrino Processor.  However because its got a faster clock speed at 2.5GHz its only slightly slower than the newer I7 based quad core laptop we've been discussing.  Not by a whole lot, about 5 seconds, but it still lends weight to the addage for SolidWorks More slower cores is not better than a single faster one.

Again I've probably created more questions than I've answered but the shareyourscores section of the SolidWorks website can be helpful in selecting your next system.  Its also important to understand what the benchmark is testing.  In a nutshell, it opens parts assemblies and drawings, then renders them with PhotoView360.  Because not everyone needs rendering the results are split out seperately. 

Also the site is only as useful as the data it contains, so please run the tests and upload your results. 


CADD Edge Antes Up & Returns to Foxwoods for Annual User Group

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After a few years of doing our road tour, I am happy to announce that we will be holding a one-stop user conference on October 26-27, 2011. This time around, however, we have relocated to the new and spectacular MGM Grand at Foxwoods. The site features state-of-the-art meeting spaces - all of which will be centralized for the length of the event.

We are still in the planning stages so there aren't any specifics regarding breakout sessions, etc. yet. As before, though, the 2-day event will feature educational sessions on SolidWorks, 3rd-party add-ins, and tips/tricks to help you be more productive.

You'll also have the chance to speak with some of our partners and network/socialize with other SolidWorks users. Keep an eye on the blog and the CADD Edge website for further announcements but definitely save the date on your calendars. 

Also, because we are still in the planning stages, now is the time to get us your ideas.  If there is any topic or session you particularly enjoyed from previous years and/or have suggestions for something you'd like us to cover, send us your comments below.

Can't wait to see you there... Gabe

Hardware store for Inventors


A lot of our customers are designing some wild new products.  If you are one of them you may be interested in Inventables.  They have assembled an online store featuring all sorts of cutting edge components, like conductive Velcro-like strips, heating shielding gel,  and translucent concrete.  The products are offered in trial sizes so its easy to sample and determine if they will meet your requirements. In addition to providing product specs and application ideas, they have a YouTube channel with demonstrations of some of the products.  (see the heat shielding gel in action below)  They summarize their business on the site:

We believe that it is currently too difficult for designers, artists, and inventors to source materials. To solve this problem, we are building an online store that will streamline the process of innovation and inspire everyone—regardless of profession—to explore what’s possible.

I'm thinking we need to get some of their Stainless Steel Coating and try it on some Objet Parts. Taking a rapid prototype part and then treating it with a Stainless Steel finish strikes me as a good use for the Corporate Card. If we get some and try it I'll be sure to post some pictures.  If you're an Inventor, Designer or Hacker you should definately check out the site.  Thanks to the KK Cool Tools blog for turning me on to the site.


Stainless Steel Coating

Provides a strong metallic shine at a fraction of the cost of stainless steel

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Example of Interactive Content from 3DVIA Composer

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describe the imageThe folks over at 3DVIA put together a demo website with some interactive content generated in Composer.  This site is not particularly new, but I had forgotten about it.  Once  there you can try out examples of Interactive Work Instructions, Product Configurators and Spare Parts Catalogs.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I will shut up and leave you with the link and a few screen shots. 


If you need further details or would like to request a demo fill out our "Quote Request Form," and we'll be in touch.

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