Archive for March, 2009

Drawing Templates

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Since this is my first blog and because I have a goal of obtaining half as many fans as Mr. Sweeney already has, I have come bearing gifts. One of the most popular questions that’s asked during our training classes is, “Can you help me set up some drawing templates?” The reason this is a popular question is because it’s not fun! We’re 3D modelers; we’ve grown out of the phase of drawing boring lines and notes all over the screen.

The other reason the question gets asked is the fact that the templates SolidWorks supplies are a bit lame. It’s actually no fault of SolidWorks. Their theory is that everyone’s going to have such a customized version, there’s no use in supplying a detailed template. Still, when I supply my basic drawing templates to customers, they usually respond by telling me, “That’s exactly what I was looking for!” So, if you’re looking for a basic template or at least a better starting point to create your own templates from, try out these files and see if they might be what you’re looking for. Make sure to read the ‘README’ file that I’ve included… Enjoy!

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Finding the Culprit Node/Element

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Every now and then, I get the question “How do I find a particular node in the mesh?” The most likely reason for the question was to diagnose the cause of a solver error message that referenced a particular node.

The solution is simple yet tricky. The solution can be obtained easily by doing the following:

  1. Right click on the mesh folder and select “List Selected”.
  2. Choose either nodes or elements based on what was indicated in the error message.
  3. Select the component(s) from the solid body/surface body folder in the SolidWorks FeatureManager Design Tree, and hit Update.

This will list all the nodes/elements in the mesh.

Now comes the tricky part – having to scroll inside the small list-window (in the List Selected property manager) until you find the required node/element. A good enhancement to this would be to allow the user to key in the node/element number and thus avoid having to replace the up/down arrow keys on the keyboard prematurely!!

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Let 3D ContentCentral do your work

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Easy question: What is better than spending an enjoyable day modeling parts in SolidWorks? Answer: Someone else doing the modeling for you!

3DContent Central

3D ContentCentral® is a free service for locating, configuring, downloading, and requesting 3D parts and assemblies, 2D blocks, library features, and macros. Currently there are over 500,000 users who share and download user contributed and supplier-certified 3D parts & assemblies, 2D blocks, library features and macros.

If you have not been there in a while, it is worth your time to stop back in.

Back in the early days of 3DC, nearly every time you wanted to download a model from a supplier, you had to create a login account with that supplier. I had a sheet of over 20 usernames/passwords trying to track all of the suppliers. Now, your one free 3DC login gets you access to all suppliers.

If you are new to SolidWorks, there is an additional bonus to using 3DC. Most models are in native SolidWorks format, thus I urge you to download interesting models and study how they were built. They may not be modeled using your companies best practices, but experiment with the models learn how and why different features affect others.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DriveWorks SP7 Released

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

DriveWorks has released its seventh service pack for version six. (Version 6.7 for all you cool cats out there.)
DW Logo
A few of my personal favorite changes:

  • Can drive custom properties in drawings (always been able to drive them in parts and assemblies…FINALLY we can do drawings!)
  • More control over the themes in DriveWorks Live (so your web users get a nice user experience)
  • Now we can change the sheet name in a drawing where it was difficult to do so before.

If you stand back and look at all the drawing improvements/controls that have been added in this sixth release, you gotta wonder how anyone made good looking drawings in the past!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DWGeditor uses lisp

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

DWGeditor logo

Think you need to keep your AutoCAD around because you have a bunch of custom programming? Not so fast my 2D friend! DWGeditor supports four different APIs:

  • LISP programs are supported. [Some existing AutoCAD AutoLISP programs may require some “massaging” to work with the DWGeditor.]
  • C and C++ programs are supported.
  • VB programming is supported.
  • Dialog box design for LISP and SDS programs are supported via DCL (Dialog Control Language)

By the way, did you know that lisp stands for: Lost In Stupid Parenthesis? I know all of you lisp programmers LOVE that joke!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Differences between uPrint and Dimension 3D printers

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

The most noticeable difference, other than price, between the uPrint and Dimension printers is the size. The uPrint’s build envelope measures 8″x6″x6″, the Dimension Elite measures 8″x8″x12″, and the 1200es measures 10″x10″x12″. Dimension noticed that 80% of the parts printed on Dimension machines fit inside this smaller envelope size. The smaller build envelope also means that the machine can heat up to the 77 degrees Celsius required for modeling faster.

The uPrint only offers one layer resolution .010. The means that every part is sliced into layers measuring .010 thick. The Dimension line offers the ability to choose between .007 and .010 on the Elite and .010 and .013 on the 1200es. In most cases Dimension users only use the lower of the two choices so the uPrint is a great option for most users.

The uPrint is built off the 1200’s technology so both are up to 30% faster than the Dimension Elite printer. The uPrint and 1200es also offer the ability to rotate your part 90 degrees after slicing. That means you can pack more parts onto one tray without slicing a part once in one direction and then slicing the same part in the opposite direction. The Elite does not offer this because the head does not toggle between model and support.

All three machines use the same ABSplus model material. The uPrint currently only offers one color, white. The Elite and 1200es offer White, Black, Blue, Olive Green, Nectarine, Fluorescence Yellow, Steel Gray and Natural. The uPrint and Elite only support the soluble support material. The Dimension 1200es offers the option of either breakaway OR soluble support.

The uPrint material comes in spools containing 30 cubic inches. Dimension material comes in cartridges containing 56.3 cubic inches. With the uPrint you can choose to add a second material bay which doubles your capacity to 60 cubic inches and gives you the ability to build with one spool while reloading the second.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to check out the Dimension line of products I encourage you to check them out for yourself.

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Tips when calling Tech Support

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

A few weeks ago during the big snow storms, several of our tech support guys could not make it into the office. Apparently they were desperate, they asked me to help.
Computer Tech Support
That is a tough job! I gained a ton of respect for the support technicians. I thought I would pass on a few tips in hopes it will make their life easier, and in turn help you get even better support.

  • If you call, leave a message. This makes it easier for them to call you back.
  • If you call and leave a message, leave your phone number. This makes it easier for them to call you back. (I could not believe how many calls that went like this: “Hey this is Joe, call me back.”!)
  • If you email or call, leave a short message telling them what the problem is:
    1. If more than one technician is on call, your issue can be routed to the guy best suited for the issue
    2. If they know what the problem is, they can look up the issue and maybe even have an answer before they call you back. *Double Bonus* If the tech knows the answer he can give it to you if he has to leave a message! -Can save hours of phone tag!
  • If you know your SolidWorks serial number, that is also helpful -if they need to contact SolidWorks with the issue.

Obvious? Ha, I would have thought so too!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

How Enterprise saved my weekend

Monday, March 9th, 2009

4:30 Friday. The phone rings. I sigh, and answer the phone. Customer is on the other end of the line. He deleted and destroyed a bunch of files out of his Enterprise PDM vault. Looked like my weekend was in jeopardy.

The SolidWorks knowledge base doesn’t give you many options for restoring your backed up data. Their advice can be summed up as follows:

  1. Restore your SQL database
  2. Restore your archive server …hope the restore points are pretty close to the same point in time else the two will be out of sync and you are pretty much out of luck

These steps can be laborious and if your archive server is very far out of sync with your database, you could spend months cleaning up the mess.

Then, like a dove from above, a SolidWorks technical support gave me this little nugget of knowledge: “If you destroy a file, the file goes into a queue to be deleted but it is not really deleted until the cleaner service runs (typically 3 a.m.)”

This means that if the cleaner service has not yet run, all you need to do is roll back the database to a point before the bad thing happened and your system will look exactly just like it did at that restore point! -Database and archive files! Deletes, destroys, moves, copies, all undone! (Renames are undone too; this might be an issue for CAD external references, watch out for those.)

Point in time restore

Don’t look at this as a ticket to dance on the mine field, but it is a swell safety blanket!

So we had the users make a copy of the files they had modified during the day to a safe location outside of the vault, rolled back the database and we were done! 5:30 – Engineering Data Specialist Man saves the weekend!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Showing Hidden Parts in Simulation Plots

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

In 2009, Simulation introduced two great tools:

  • Exclude from assembly: A way to exclude parts from the analysis without suppressing them in SolidWorks.
  • Showing hidden parts in plots: A way to view results on the analyzed components in the context of the entire assembly.

When used in conjunction, these two tools can yield very visual results. Let us see how:

Here is a model that requires only the stresses on the steering bracket. The steering rod end ball and the pin are the only other components that participate in the FEA.These two components are seen in Red, with a mesh superimposed on them.

Hidden Parts in analysis

Notice how all the other parts in the big assembly are gray. This was done by choosing to exclude the components in the analysis tree (Right click on the parts in the study and exclude them from the analysis). Furthermore, they were hidden in the SolidWorks model. However, when plotting the results, the parts can be shown so that the analyzed component is studied in the context of the entire assembly.

Other parts that are participating in the simulation (like the steering rod end ball and the pin) can be customized further by following the steps below:

To show hidden parts in display plots:

  1. Plot the desired result in an assembly document that has one or more hidden components.
  2. Right-click in the graphics area and select Edit Definition. The plot PropertyManager appears.
  3. Check Show hidden and click OK.
  4. Right-click the plot icon and select Settings. The Settings PropertyManager appears.
  5. Under Show hidden parts of the assembly, you can do any of the following:

None. To turn off the display of hidden parts.
Model. To display hidden parts in wireframe mode.
Mesh. To display the mesh on hidden parts.
Translucent (Single color). To display all hidden parts in a single color of your choice. You can adjust the transparency by dragging the slider.
Translucent (Part colors). To displays hidden parts each in its shaded mode color. You can adjust the transparency by dragging the slider.

This tool can be exploited to completely show the analyzed components in the context of the assembly!!

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

The Secret Fellowship of Enterprise Users

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

“Welcome Enterprise PDM users to our third [randomly chosen time interval] meeting! Southern Plate, thanks for providing refreshments.”

“Today’s topic: Enterprise settings when using SolidWorks. If you would all direct your attention to the slide on the wall:”

External References Settings

“If any of you have been using Enterprise PDM and don’t have the top two settings as shown, please surrender your membership cards to Christy as you leave the room. You’ll receive a refund of your dues next week.”

“Brother Alan Burke, from the Columbus Ohio chapter, I understand you have some settings to share?”

“I do, Grandmaster Engineering Data Specialist Man. If you would, please direct your attention to the next slide:”

Addin Settings

“I use very large assemblies where I work and found SolidWorks was very slow when I would switch from one window to another, add parts or even suppress/unsuppress parts. When I removed the check boxes from the options you see here, I noticed a significant performance increase. Granted my tree list in the Enterprise tab is not always up-to-date, but that is a small price to pay. -Besides I can always manually reload the tree if I need to see an update.”

“Brother Alan, it takes a wise man to know of these settings. You may bring refreshments to the next meeting. Meeting adjourned.”

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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