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Coolest CAD Guy Eveeeer!

No need for words other than, Meet Richie Parker…Coolest CAD Guy Eveeeer

Save money? SolidWorks Sustainability, The real “Green” thing

Many people think that sustainability means healthy ecosystems and environments. They ain’t wrong, but few have realized that SolidWorks handed them a phenomenal function inside SolidWorks Sustainability that can help them save money(Another kind of green).

What Material is similar?…
Working years on the shop floor I know how materials can become the biggest pain in the neck. Some crazy engineer have decided this part should be made out of the weirdest material found to man. Price has gone up. Material is not available because a truck is stuck or a mine is shut down. Whatever!…The leading manager asks the question you for some reason should know on your fingertips. What material is similar?
Find Similar

“Find Similar” hidden inside SolidWorks Sustainability and SustainabilityXpress (Yes, more free stuff from SolidWorks) is your answer when looking for materials with similar properties. This tool will look right into your SolidWorks Material library and let you filter through all the material properties using cool in-depth conditions.
Tools->Sustainability(Xpress)->Find Similar->Set your criteria

Narrow it down

Select each material

You can quickly narrow down you search by selecting check boxes next to the materials and then click “Show only selected” above. That will filter down to the materials closest in properties and give you a nice overview with the Environmental dashboard. Giving you Carbon, Energy, air, water and my favorite, Material Financial Impact.

If you are anything like me, we both thought it was kind of cute when SolidWorks got all “Green” and stuff, but brother this “Find Similar” tool is resulting in going green making you save time and money. What’s not to like?

Want to see a little more about SolidWorks Sustainability? check out this video that I recorded recently.

DFMXpress=Your FREE Design For Manufacturing Consulting inside SolidWorks

It will happen, one day you will receive a part that is nearly impossible to manufacture. Not because the part is on the “top secret out of space” difficult level, but because something as simple as an unexperienced engineer/designer did not realize that there is some physics rules that apply to make a design that actually can be manufactured in a very competitive industry.
SolidWorks has a nifty tool that pretty quickly can run an analysis on you part, and provide you with some feedback on some possible manufacturing street bumps, or should I say stop the design in its tracks before its manufacturability becomes too costly.
DFMXpress belongs to the Xpress family that you will find right at top of your Tools dropdown menu right inside SolidWorks.
Who should use this…
This tool is seamlessly integrated into SolidWorks, and will give you an opportunity to apply some basic sets of rules for drilling, milling, turning, sheetmetal and even give you a thickness analysis of a injected plastic parts. This tool was created, fed and raised for manufacturing!
So this tool should defiantly be on the list of CAM programers who gets designs handed to them, and/or if you are one of those young unexperienced engineer/designers…well, this can safe you from having one of those grumpy machinest yelling at you.
What is some of the things it does…
Figuring out how to use it could not be more simple. In SolidWorks go to your Tools dropdown-> Select DFMXpress and when it open in your left panel, Go to the settings tab, select your application, and set your parameters.
DFMXpress has parameters like…
  • Hole Depth to Diameter Ratio.
  • Mill Tool Depth to Diameter Ratio.
  • Minimum Corner Radius (Turn Part).
  • Minimum % Bore Relief (Turn Part).
  • Hole Diameter to Thickness Ratio (Sheet metal).
  • Recommended Bend Radius (Sheet metal).
What really rocks is that if your start looking in the DFMXpress help section you will find what for many has been hard earned advice.
I think we sometimes forget some of these tools excist. Tools that could improve the bottom line should get a fair trial or the result can be loosing parts to the scrap bin.
This being the Xpress version there is a big brother with more options and strength. We will visit DFMPro later for review.

SolidWorks World 2012…The final big stage.

Sitting back in the snow covered Upstate New York, it is time to wrap up the 4 day tour to SolidWorks World 2012 in San Diego California.

(Previous SolidWorks World 2012 posts SolidWorks World 2012…Hold up your rookie card ~ SolidWorks World 2012…Sunday: Partner Pavilion and Fabulous Tweetup ~ SolidWorks World 2012…The Midway:The boat and the conference)

Like I stated in my 1st post, I have never heard anyone complaining about that it is that time of year again. SolidWorks is defiantly more than capable to throw a awesome engineering event, and I can assure you that I will do my best to attend next years event in Orlando Florida.

The 3D Experience…
As I am tearing up my rookie card I have concluded that SolidWorks World is a 4 stage event.
1). SolidWorks gets to address a few thousand of their users, their reseller channel and the imported press. With CEO Bertrand Sicot, Dassault’s(The mother company)CEO Bernard Charlès and former SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray all present at the event. My general take from this events general messages “We are looking out in the feature…”(The next generation CAD) “We will continuing developing…”(The current generation CAD).

2). Technical break-out sessions. I believe I read at one point that there was 150 sessions available for conference attendees. These sessions are presented by SolidWorks employees, reseller application engineers, SolidWorks bloggers and SolidWorks power users. The amount of tips & tricks and priceless SolidWorks knowledge a user can obtain here is simply magnificent.

3). Partner Pavilion. SolidWorks has a big trunk of products that runs inside or right along with SolidWorks. The partner pavilion gives attendees an opportunity to see how possible to enhance their business with these add-on’s. Here is a link for the partners from SolidWorks Partner Site

4). SolidWorks and their partners gets to throw their users some social get together and networking opportunities.

Wednesday, the final and most exciting…
The final day is when SolidWorks announces what is in the horizon for next years release. SolidWorks is not disappointing when it comes to adding new features to their product. Ricky Jordan has done a fantastic job covering this years SolidWorks World. His SolidWorks World 2013 Sneak Peek does an excellent job covering what SolidWorks is working on. on SolidWorks 2013 Sneak Peek

Picture worth a 1000 words, video then equals…
To wrap it all up I came across these fabulous videos created by the Solidbox team.

SolidWorks World 2012…The Midway:The boat and the conference

I have made it past the halfway mark of this fantastic event. As in my last blog post I am going to cheat. I am just going to hand you pictures (The 1000 word thing, right :-)). and throw some comments in there.

General Sessions
The general sessions are fantastic. Over 5000 people entering what feels like a rock concert.

On an aircraft carrier. Wow how awesome! The Midway has served in Korea and Desert Storm. The evening was fantastic. Just a heads up, we are some that need to get our certification going. Next year this event will only be for CSWE… Cutting the heard from this years 800 attendees.

Then of course there is all the presentations. This is defiantly where most people get their moneys worth. I got my presentation out of the way “Dumb Solids: How to make them your friend in SolidWorks”. The session was recorded, and should be available later this spring on SolidWorks website.
I have to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedule and attended. I am so grateful.
I also had a chance to sit in on one of Jeff Sweeney’s presentations on EPDM, Simply fantastic. And also attended one of Charles Culp’s presentations, Awesome.

What’s new in CAMWorks 2011 General Operations

Another version of CAMWorks has been released for some serious fun of machining to take place inside SolidWorks. The version is 2011 and if your plans for this year is to decrease the amount of programing time, this version has plenty of new and improved features to get you there. Also Check out “What’s New Milling” and “What’s New Turning”.
Create Feature Conditions within CAMWorks
One of your favorite things about CAMWorks has to be how this software crunching numbers and toolpath conditions from its Access database while rocking inside SolidWorks. New for 2011 is a very cool option to “Save Operation Plan..” from the CAMWorks Feature Tree.

This new function lets you quickly make changes to your CAMWorks Access Database. This really gives you 2 nice options.
1). You have found yet again that you are making the same changes over and over again, like changing the default endmill size to your favorite 1/2 endmill or the parallel leadin to the fancy arc leadin. Well with your changes in place you can easly save this data back to your database with this feature.
2). It is simply the right time to add some more automated knowledge into the Access Database. As I like to say, taking the software and make fit more into your way of doing things than regular CAM does. So now you can set up new feature conditions from this window.

New…Edit and lock those toolpaths info feedback
Not new that you can edit and lock your toolpath, but it is nice when the software are feeding us with easy info on what we done and tell is what has happened and going to happen.
Edit a toolpath…

And you have the purple color telling you it is locked but also very handy a note telling you that the actually toolpath was hand edited(Very helpful if more than one person could be handling this file!)

Spiced up menus and icons…
According to the “What’s New Document” CAMWorks is on a continued task of upgrading there menus to fit in the SolidWorks Property format, and making icons easier on the eyes. (Wonder how come this has taken this long).

Some Tool Crib sorting…
Got some snazzy header modification available for the tool crib. Ascending, descending, reorder and hide functions.

License Borrowing…
Floating license users can borrow specific license for external use. This has to be a fantastic function when you need to bring your CAM with you on your next 6 days cruise.

Simulate and Step Thru Toolpath…
This could defiantly become a favorite function. It just need one more trick up its sleeve…Re-generate tool operation!. CAMWorks has added these two taps in the upper right corner of the “Edit Definition…” menu, so you can quickly jump out and verify or step through that operations toolpath. As is now it can defiantly be helpful if you need a refresher on what it did before you entered the “Edit Definition…” but at this point you still have to jump out of the operation to Re-generate the tool operation, so you can not see your changes live. Pray for next service pack.

How was that for enhancements on General Operations? Some new functions and fun tools. Also Check out “What’s New Milling” and “What’s New Turning”.

Useful tools when mating in SolidWorks

One of the coolest things I have found about working for a Solidworks reseller is that I get to see some of the cool stuff you guys are doing with SolidWorks. A favorite is when I get to talk to costumers who have recently migrated from another 3D modeling software to SolidWorks. They know where they want to end up, but still trying to convert to the SolidWorks way of thinking.
Recently I talked to a customer who just made the leap from Inventor to SolidWorks, and was looking for a “Best practice” for mating in SolidWorks Assemblies. Here is some of the stuff we went over;

Filtering & Transparency
Two of my favorite tools when flying around in assembly mode is the filtering tool and also picking my spots to use transparency.

It is good practice 99% of the time to mate faces over edges, but as you might find that when you are swinging with the white cursor of yours those lines can interfere with your target face. Using the SolidWorks Face Filter can make things a lot easier. sitting right there hooked up to the F5 on your keyboard.
Now the only reason that using transparency really squeezes some easiness into your assembly is that when holding down the SHIFT key while mouse clicking will make you select the transparent face, instead of picking through the transparent as normal. This technic can make for quick picking and face selection when working with multiable parts, and mating stuff together.

If you are using toolbox you might come across “Mate-Reference”. If you select your fastener and while holding down your left mouse button and drag it over your part, some nifty icons appears symbolizing “Concentric”, “Parallel” and “Coincident”, making it possible to automaticly add you mates. This feature is not some secret magic feature for toolbox part, but actually a feature that you can do this without even looking at the help menu once. Check out this little nifty video SolidWorks has created to get you started;
SolidWorks Time-Saving Tips: Mate References

My Favorite SolidWorks Mating Trick…
After years of using SolidWorks and then one day this little simple trick involving the Alt key enlightened my day. Check out this little video I made.
Mating Trick In SolidWorks

There is many cool tips, tricks and “best practices” in SolidWorks. When it comes to working with assemblies it will defiantly make sense to experiment a little. Do you have any tips, tricks and best practices?…

Your chance to make your CAD/CAM sweeter looking.


So just as we got the looks of looking a little sweeter for your eyes, NVIDIA decide to give you a chance to make it even better. I received an email from Brian Harrison, the Director of NVIDIA’s Software Product Management, that for a short 5 minute survey his company would like to give someone the opportunity to win one of there new Quadro cards.

NVIDIA is conducting a survey about the usage patterns of SolidWorks. With the launch of SolidWorks 2011, we would like to gain a better understanding of how the application is used and what issues your readers have when using it~Brian Harrison

The importance of having a good graphics card when working with CAD and/or CAM can not be emphasized enough, so you better have a good excuse for not spending the next few minutes on this fairly painless survey that can be starts by following this link : -) (Survey will close on Tuesday, October 12th-2010)

When Solidworks 3D Instant Website wheels your costumers in.

Got a salesman out of town holding a potential costumer hostage, and if your 3D magic skills could be reached for a quick overview it would be so much less embarrassing?

The real question here is, how fast and easy can you deliver your newest fabulous design to your costumer for approval?  Solidworks 3D Instant Website might just be your solution.

UntitledThe tool is not new. 3D Instant Website was an early Christmas present back in 2000. But since we still have a way to go until the cloud age kicks in, having the possibility to upload and interact with your design on a standard Microsoft Web Browser is still a pretty nifty way to reach upper management and/or costumers.

Solidworks tree

Tools=>Options=>Add-Ins and you will quickly be able to publish or administrate current uploads. The uploading can be done on SolidWorks-hosted Website or locally over a corporate Intranet.

The biggest point to be made is that 3D Instant Website a very easy tool to master. With easy wizard based menus it does not take long to realize the potentials, and with a little reading in the help file you can actually dig deep and customize the design layout of your web page also.


So less than 30 seconds after your finger has touched the submit button, your email client is ready to launch emails containing links and passwords to whomever you have decide should be allowed to view, handle and judge your 3D creations. 3D Instant Website will of course also gladly show off your 2D stuff, if you decide to cut a dimensional view, and make a drawing.


Depending on your selection when setting up 3D Instant Website, your clients could have access through a password secured Windows Internet Browser the possibilities to rotate, zoom and hide components on your design, for then comment, debate and most likely approve your work. All this done without downloading some fancy viewer.


Proven in the real world. 3D Instant Website is a fantastic tool to quickly get your design out to people who might be unsecure in the CAD room, but have a big impact on the success of your product. Yep, the guy with the check book is important, but also the guy who need to quote plating or finish assembling down the road could find this very handy. Defiantly worth a test run if you are not familiar with this feature in Solidworks. 

Do you sensor your stuff in Solidworks?


Using sensors in Solidworks is not only for constructions of power plants and streamlining parts for a Formel 1 racer, even us regular people can find use for these sensor functions from time to time.

But before we start looking at this adorable tool, lets make sure that if you do not already see the “Sensor” folder in the top of your FeatureManager tree, we will get it turned on with 4 easy steps.

Power up the sensor folder




3)~Choose Show from the Sensor drop down menu

4)~And confirm it is now there.

Sensor the mass


With a “right-mouse” click on the sensor folder it is quick and easy to add a new sensor.

Mass Properties can be your best friend when designing parts. You set up your parameters at the start of the design process, so when you are playing with fillets or thin features Solidworks will make sure to warn you gently if you skate outside your boundaries. 

But of course Solidworks doesn’t  stop with options there… 🙂



It is a huge advantage that you can set sensors on dimensions that absolutely can not be modified while you are working on a part level.


So when someone with not enough caffeine in there blood, decides to modify your part on the 500+ assembly gets a clear warning signal. This is an easy way to assure you stay on top of things, even if it is really out of your hands.

Be aware there is an enhancement request for the Dimension Sensor…

The method you have to use to choose you dimension is defiantly a bit of a work around;

Right-click on ‘Annotations’ folder in FeatureManager design tree and select ‘Show Feature Dimensions’. This will make dimensions visible >now select add measurement sensor and select required dimension.

Interference Detection

Interference Detection1

In assembly mode you get “Interference Detection” and “Proximity” available. Here is an example of “interference Detection”.

If you ever design something where keeping an area clear of other object is essential “Interference Detection” might just be the tool you will appreciate.

On the picture above you will see the square frame has been selected for true interference.

Interference Detection2

And you really have to put in an effort not to realize that the FeatureManager tree is NOT pleased when the basketball enters the “No Go” zone.


I think Sensors in Solidworks is one of those functions you easily can forget about if you do not have a regular use for them. Yet I think you will agree with me that they can be a pretty fabulous tool to throw around at your design at times.