Archive for February, 2009

The Design Insight Plot

Friday, February 27th, 2009

The importance of this plot cannot be overemphasized. The Design Insight Plot (new in 2008 and after) is an excellent tool to try to understand the path that the load takes as it travels through the design. The plot shows two areas:

  • Areas in blue are the locations in the geometry that are effectively carrying the load
  • Areas that are translucent are not involved in the load transfer path, and can hence be redesigned.

Such a plot affords the user the luxury of making design changes by cutting material from the translucent areas, while beefing up the areas in blue to increase strength and durability.
In 2009, the user can take it one step further by activating the design insight plot, and making the design changes in the graphics window while looking at the plot. This ensures that the removed material does not eat into the blue areas.

Another nice enhancement that the users can benefit out of!!

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Rembrandt was a terrible design engineer

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a brilliant design engineer, though he was quickly fired. His production drawings were beautiful but they had so much detail they took him too long to produce. [citation needed – and because I made it up, probably cannot be found]

Back in the early days of 2D CAD computers were slow. For an example to compensate, if you were putting threads in a plate, the top view would contain one circle (guys on a 286 would add the second, hidden-line hole) and maybe two parallel lines in the side view. We would hardly ever add the fastener. [We didn’t need them, the assembly guys didn’t use the fastener we specified anyway, they just grabbed a handful and put the assembly together. They knew what a tapped hole meant.]

We kept our drawings simple mostly because of computer limitations, but just because today we have bigger computers doesn’t necessarily mean we should put more into our drawings.

The image below is an actual file I found in an “extremely slow” assembly. (Click on it to enlarge.) Takes 4 seconds to rebuild this part. Not too bad, except they had 50 of them in the assembly. Rembrandt may have given it the thumbs up, but there was no return on investment for this detail. This fastener should have been just a cylinder with three steps in it.

Pretty screw

A more fun example: I once had a friend who complained that since he had switched to 3D CAD he was significantly slower than he was with 2D. He complained: “It takes too long to create the models and way too long to open them!” He was working on a conveyor design with a chain drive. To give you an idea of the detail in this chain drive, upon closer examination of the chain, I noticed he not only modeled the chain links but the little cotter pins, rivets, even the text on the links were there! A beautiful Rembrandt quality model. I looked at his earlier models of the same assembly as modeled in 2D. This same chain was portrayed as simply two arcs and two tangent lines. The entire drive assembly was a purchased component …I don’t know why he was even modeling the chain in the first place.

With 3D CAD it is tempting to make highly detailed drawings, but just because you can does not mean you should. A production’s drawing job is to convey how a product is to be produced. If it contains more detail than needed, you are wasting money -your time to create that extra detail, and your time having this detail regenerated by CAD at every rebuild.

[If you need this detail for renderings, or for customer approval prints, consider putting this detail in configurations that can be turned off -so you don’t have it slowing your computer down during your normal design process.]

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Central Indiana SolidWorks User Group Meeting Announcement

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Central Indiana SolidWorks User Group meeting.  Make Your Reservation Now
Date:  Thursday, March 19h.
Time:  4:30 p.m.
Venue:  Hosted by Overton Industries. 1250 Old State Rd 67 South, Mooresville Indiana 46158

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Dimension Printer Used by Leno, No Joke!

Friday, February 20th, 2009

I’ll have to admit that I am a Letterman guy, but this is really cool. Jay Leno is using our tools to recreate parts for his famous antique car collection. In this video he uses the Next Engine Scanner, a SolidWorks Partner, to scan a broken part from a steam engine he is rebuilding. He then uses the Dimension Printer to print a plastic prototype of the part, testing its function in the design. Jay also appreciates that both of these technologies are developed and owned by American companies. The 3D printing technology has really taken off lately. Just last month, Dimension announced the uPrint, a 3D printer you can order and install yourself! Learn more about it here.

If you are interested, here is the video from Jay Leno’s website,


Scott High

Technical Services Manager 3DVision Technologies

Webinar Announcement : Understanding the Effects of Thermal Loads

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

If your designs are subject to temperature changes, then you must be aware of the fact that these temperature profiles can cause thermal stresses and deflections. Characterizing these stresses become critical for achieving sustainable designs.

Join me in a webinar next Wednesday, 3:00 – 4:00 PM as I explore the various methods by which I can examine the effects of thermal loads on designs. If you are interested in attending this presentation, you can pre-register by  going to You can also get in touch with Susan Dudek at in case you are unable to register using the link above.

Please note that there will be upcoming webinars that will be advertised on our website as well as on our blog. If you would like to be added to our email list for future notifications, you can let Susan know about it as well.

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

DriveWorksWorld 2009

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

For the past three years, the day after SolidWorks World is traditionally DriveWorks World.

DriveWorks Guy

For me, the highlight of the day was the unveiling of DriveWorks 7. This blog entry was originally significantly longer -I had a list of nice new features that I saw….however Maria just reminded me that I cannot tell you anything – the software is still in pre-alpha stages, so I guess it would not be prudent to share. Yet.

One thing [I think] I can share that struck me as rather amusing –Philip showed us DriveWorks 7 on Windows 7. Thus he was demonstrating a pre-apha program on a beta OS.

No crashes!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Sneak peek at SolidWorks 2010

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Wednesday is always my favorite day of SolidWorks World. It is the day we get a sneak peek into what SolidWorks is working on for the next version of SolidWorks.

I didn’t see anything earth-shattering in SolidWorks 2010. It reminded me a lot of the 2009 sneak peek…lots of little usability enhancements. I tried to write them all down; but they were going so fast, my notes are more like scribbles. Apparently SolidSmack can write faster than I. There were two Enterprise PDM enhancements that caught my eye:

  1. Toolbox will now be in the vault. Today the files go in the vault, but the supporting information is still outside. This is a little messy in a multi-site installation. Perhaps we will no longer have to suffer with the Microsoft Access file?! Sweet!
  2. I am not sure I fully understood this one, but it appears we will be able to offload chores to a server now? Printing? Conversions? Printing?! Finally!

[As always, none of these things are promised for the next release, but it is still pretty fun to see what may be!]

For the first two technical sessions, there really weren’t any that I “had to see”, then for the third session there were three that I wanted to attend. I want to be in charge of scheduling next year! [No, not really]

As I mentioned Friday, the third session I attended was “Innovation Management in Manufacturing” by Don Richardson.

His presentation started off with the a statement: The best inventors die poor, it is the innovators who make the real money. Essentially saying, you may have a good invention, but it is more important to get your idea to the market in a way that inspires people to buy it. Since I do not like being poor, at this point I sat up and took notice.

Don’s assistant (sadly I did not write down his name) then showed a system Microsoft has developed to help companies share ideas and promote innovation from within. The system can be downloaded for free from Microsoft (though it requires MS SQL, Project and SharePoint as backbone infrastructure). If you are looking for a way to get your entire organization involved in your innovation process, I highly recommend you visiting Microsoft’s EMP Connect web site.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Sluder and Burmenko make a great Tuesday at SWW

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I was pretty excited for my Tuesday sessions. Of the four I attended, two of them I had circled before I even left for Orlando.

The first was Phil Sluder’s “SolidWorks Tips and Tricks”. I have been to several of Phil’s presentations before so I knew to get there early. I am glad I did -the line was very long to get in, and I would bet more than half of the people were turned away. Thankfully Matthew West recorded the session and posted it on the SolidWorks blog. I urge you to take some time to watch it.

The other “red circle” presentation was “Introduction to Item Centric PDM in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM” by Dan Burmenko. Dan did a great job introducing this new tool that arrived in the second [first] service pack of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

Item Centric PDM gets its value due to the fact that for most companies there really is two different BOMs. The one the engineer produces, and the BOM that is used to procure all the parts needed to make the product. Two quick examples:

  1. Imagine your assembly requires three pieces of a 2″x4″, one foot long. Imagine you buy 2″x4″s in 8 foot lengths. Obviously you are not going to buy three 2″x4″s, you’ll buy one and cut it to the needed lengths.
  2. Oil, grease, paint, packing materials, pallets, etc. are items that you may not typically put on the engineering BOM, but often times this needs to be documented in some form.

These are two of many examples of how a item centric BOM can be helpful. I’ll probably have a blog post of the many other ways it can be used in the future….or maybe I can talk Vik into writing a white paper on it.

Vik’s White Paper on Enterprise

Bottom line: Item Centric PDM is a nice tool to help you bridge the gap between your Enterprise PDM and your ERP system.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Viva the design checker!

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Before I forget, congratulations to Dan Bertschi founder of the Northeast East Ohio SolidWorks User Group for his Lifetime Achievement Award he received Wednesday at SolidWorks World! Dan is certainly very deserving…it was pretty neat to see an Ohio guy up on stage.

I attended three great presentations Monday at SolidWorks World. Bill Briggs put us through our paces with Workgroup, Jeff Cope unveiled his new Office2PDM program, but I think my favorite of the day was “An Overview of the API in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM” by Scott Stanley. I took about a page of notes, but I circled one nugget that I thought I would share:

Are you one of those administrators that feel your files should follow certain standards before they are even allowed in your precious vault? [Good for you!] Scott demonstrated a little piece of code that upon checkin, runs your drawings through the design checker and if the design checker fails the drawing, the drawing cannot be checked into the vault!

RunDesignCheck is the name of the design checker method. The code itself is pretty trivial, but I thought for this tip, the concept was the most important thing….at least for me it was -because I didn’t even know the design checker had an API. Thanks for the good tip Scott!

Viva the design checker!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

SWW 2009 – a good show

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I am back from SolidWorks World. I know many of you were expecting daily blog updates from me. Sadly I did not have Internet access the entire time I was there! Four days no Internet – I survived with only minor issues. Since I am now nearly a week behind the press and all the other bloggers, I figure there is no reason to rehash all the happenings that went on. The Internet is big and you know how to use Google. My plan is to simply share some of the things I learned at the sessions here in this blog over the next few days.

I did have a good time and learned a lot. I mostly took the data management track [surprised?] and spent quite a bit of time with the DriveWorks folks.

My biggest “chicken out” moment was Wednesday. I attended a session named: “Innovation Management in Manufacturing” by Don Richardson, director of Global Innovation and PLM Industry Strategy at Microsoft. At the end of his session, his door prize was a free copy of Microsoft Office Professional – and I won! As I was walking to receive the DVD, I thought it would be wildly funny if I jokingly shouted “I’m finally legal!” as I held my prize over my head. Instead, I politely thanked him and walked back to my seat.

He’d probably already heard that joke a million times before anyway.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join other followers
Powered By