Archive for November, 2009

Shun the drawing

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

In the PDM world drawings are always seem to be the after-thought. Are they the parent or the child? Should they be revised if you need to add a missing dimension? Does meta data go in the part or drawing or both? If the meta data does go in both, how do you ensure the data is synchronized?

Even red-headed step children point to 2D drawings and laugh.

During a SolidWorks Enterprise PDM install I did last week, we implemented what I think is a rather unique solution. We didn’t create a datacard for drawings, and the drawings don’t even enter the design workflow, they just sit in a simple “Uncontrolled” state with no transitions going in or out.


I hear some of you gasp: “But Engineering Data Specialist Man how do they find their drawings? What about revision control?!?” It actually is pretty simple. For them, the model is the master, the model is what is revised and searched on. If you want the drawing from a search, do a “Where used” on the model. The drawing’s titleblock information points to the model’s file properties anyway, so what is the point of having a drawing datacard? Designers can check the drawing in and out all day long, adding their missing dimensions, but they cannot modify the model without revising it.

It could be argued that changing a tolerance on a dimension can change the model, thus designers add their tolerance to the model and replicate these tolerances to the drawings. The model is the master, the drawing only annotates the model.

I’ve been to places where they have had the same issues and we have written quite a few little tricks and “work arounds” for these problems where in fact the simplest solution may have been to do nothing at all!

This solution isn’t for everyone, but it is very easy and can solve many data management drawing issues.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

This is the Money You Could be Saving with SolidWorks Premium!

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

The money you could be saving with SolidWorks Premium

Rendered in PhotoView 360

Why choose SolidWorks Premium over Standard SolidWorks? This should be no different than any other business decision…. it comes down to money. With all the time-saving solutions that SolidWorks Premium provides, it is almost a no-brainer. But, if you are still on the fence, let me elaborate. Here are the key add-ins that are made available with SolidWorks Premium that are not available in Standard SolidWorks: eDrawings Professional, Workgroup PDM, Simulation (Design Validation), Toolbox, Design Checker, TolAnalyst (Tolerance Stackup), SolidWorks Utilities, PhotoView 360, SolidWorks Routing, CircuitWorks, and Scan-to-3D. I’ve ordered these by their ability to save money for the average design/manufacturing company. Obviously, each company is different and would benefit from utilizing various add-ins. Let’s take a look at how each of these can save you money!

eDrawings Professional – You say, “I already have eDrawings in my standard SolidWorks. What can the pro version do that will help me?” One of the best tools eDrawings Pro offers is the ability for the recipient to be able to markup/redline the drawing. I strongly believe that most problems can be attributed to communication. That goes for business and personal life. The more tools that will allow our employees, vendors, and clients to communicate their thoughts – the more costly problems we can avoid. Marking right on the drawing ensures that communications are clear and concise.

Workgroup PDM – This one is about efficiency and security. I go into customers all the time to help them with an issue. I am amazed how long it takes them to “dig up” a file. It just kills me to look over their shoulder and watch them wander around aimlessly in a mess of Windows directories, to finally find that important file stored in their own My Documents folder. This wasted time adds up faster than any other issue I’ll discuss in this article. The more engineers you have the more this problem costs you. That doesn’t count the engineers frustration making him less effective. Throw in the fact that the companies biggest asset is its proprietary design data. These CAD models are the life blood of your company, shouldn’t you know where they are at all times? This one is common sense.

Simulation (Design Validation) – This one may not be for everyone, but it should be used by more than you might think. So, why have I put this so close to the top of the list? Because it can save the most money! If you design, you should be validating those designs virtually. If your design validation process solely relies on physical testing, you are missing out on some major opportunities to reduce time to market. Simulation does not remove the requirement for physical testing, but it will reduce the amount of physical testing significantly. We all know that design changes late in the design process cost more than those found up front. Simulation can open your eyes to flaws or areas of improvement in your design early on. Later in the design process you can validate the design before going to physical testing. You will catch many problems that you can address virtually. This gives you a lot of confidence going in to that physical test knowing it should pass. There are so many angles on how this product can save money. Reduce field failure, reduce physical testing time, catch design changes early. Don’t be intimidated by Simulation. There are quick and easy returns to be had!

Toolbox – One unified library of fasteners for everyone. No creating your own fasteners. No searching through hundreds of directories to see if your coworker made a specific fastener. No managing naming conventions for fasteners. Automatic placement of fasteners into assemblies. Enough said.

Design Checker – This one is underutilized in my opinion. Create a standard or pick a standard like ANSI. Have each user check a drawing with Design Checker before submitting it. It can catch dangling dimensions, fonts the wrong size or standard, under defined sketches in the models, mate problems in the model. Every drawing that gets submitted with one of these errors has to make the long trip back through the design/review process. Why not have the user catch a lot of these themselves? This is especially useful if you have users that struggle to double check their work or have large workloads that do not allow them to check the way they would like.

TolAnalyst – A tolerance stackup tool can help to avoid costly mold/die/tooling changes. Tolerance stackups can be difficult to manage. If your engineers are doing tolerance stackups, they are probably doing it by hand or in Excel. Either way, it is time consuming to setup and involves a lot of manual entries that are suspect to human error. Setting up the tolerance stackup right on the model ensures accuracy and allows for quick analysis if changes are made to the model. If you can nail the tolerances the first time out the door, you stand to save money on mold/die/tooling changes. If you aren’t aware of what you are spending on mold/die/tooling changes, it would be a worthwhile study to commission. I remember many times in industry seeing multiple thousands of dollars lost to mold/die/tooling changes for things that could have been caught with TolAnalyst and Simulation tools.

SolidWorks Utilities – I’ll just focus on two utilities included. The compare tool. Compares two documents and shows you visually in 3D what the differences are. This can be a life saver if two files are very similar. If you deal with imported or shared data, this can give users a valuable tool that can help them avoid cutting tooling from the wrong model. Thickness check tool. This one could have saved my previous employer $4000. I made a mistake modeling and left an investment cast with a .008″ wall. This wall thickness could not be seen visually. Unless I had sectioned it twenty different ways and reviewed all the wall thicknesses, there was no good way to catch this mistake. Enter, thickness check. It will alert you to anything thinner than an entered value or thicker than an entered value. So, it can be used to catch mistakes or to lighten a thick part.

PhotoView 360 – This one is harder to quantify, but boy is it fun! Seriously, you have to look at where you are using imagery. Is your art department spending long hours generating or photographing prototypes or production designs? Would a photo-realistic rendering suffice? Could you get the final product with manuals out the door faster if you had the capabilities to produce high quality images? What about using these high quality images during the sales process. Do you think that showing off your 3D capabilities to prospective clients could be a key differentiator in your next proposal?

SolidWorks Routing – If you do a substantial amount of pipe routes or electrical harness routes, then you should move this to the top of your list. This tool is all about automation. The user draws a 3D sketch, dimensions it in place, attaches it to the assembly and Routing will add the elbows and pipes, create a 3D drawing with BOM, and return the cut lengths all on its own. If you do a lot of routing then this is worth the price of admission alone.

CircuitWorks – Manually creating circuit boards? ECAD and MCAD groups duplicating efforts. Can’t communicate design changes to each other. CircuitWorks connects ECAD and MCAD data. Automatic generation of circuit board models. I might be sounding like a broken record by now, but this will save you time (obviously, since it is creating the models), reduce mistakes due to communication break downs between ECAD and MCAD teams, allow designs to be created around these circuit board models up front in the design process reducing costly changes late in the ball game.

Scan-to-3D – This is very new technology! SolidWorks Premium is one of the lowest price points for dealing with point cloud and scanned data. If you are using scanning services, I don’t need to tell you how you can save money with this one.

Summary: So, did I convince you that it is worth taking a serious look at SolidWorks Premium? I’ll save you some time researching. The difference from Standard SolidWorks to SolidWorks Premium is $4000. I am confident that if you look at the above tools and study your current trends, you will see that SolidWorks Premium will pay for itself in a year as well as provide you with the tools to build on that savings year after year.

Perhaps you are still on the fence. I know something that will knock you right off. Call your local 3DVision Account Manager or email us at to find out how you can get SolidWorks Premium for the price of Standard SolidWorks in the month of November.

Scott High

Technical Services Manager 3DVision Technologies

Upgrading to EPDM 2010

Monday, November 16th, 2009

I don’t have the exact numbers, but it surprises me how many of our customers have already upgraded to SolidWorks Enterpise PDM 2010. I am sure the number is close to half -and the release hasn’t even been out a month yet!

So far I haven’t found anyone that had a bad upgrade experience. The upgrade runs just as your 2009 service pack upgrades went except you will need to get  new license file, and you will need to run the “Update.exe” routine to upgrade your database.

Since everyone will be locked out of the vault until you enter the new license file, I recommend getting the license file before you upgrade. Log in to the customer portal, register the product (you’ll need to know your serial number) and the file will be emailed to you automatically.


Average upgrade times seem to be about a half hour – depending on hardware speed and the size of your vault.

Why is everyone upgrading so quickly? The new Tasks feature? Toolbox integration? …or are they just excited about SolidWorks 2010 and they know you need to install EPDM 2010 first?

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

3DVision Technologies annouces partnership with SimpoeWorks

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

3DVision Technologies is thrilled to announce our newly formed partnership with SimpoeWorks.

For those of you unfamiliar with SimpoeWorks, it is a plastic injection simulation tool for Designers, Mold Makers & Part Manufacturers who use SolidWorks.

The team at SimpoeWorks has brought a fresh approach to the plastic injection simulation market by offering a new breed of software, which offers radically improved power & productivity to the plastic design community.

Here are 8 reasons why SimpoeWorks is better than its competition and why the 3DVision Technologies team has brought them on-board.

1. Seamless single window integration to SolidWorks.
2. Best in class geometry handling.
3. State of the art meshing.
4. Unparalleled ease-of-use.
5. Powerful & complete analysis capabilities, yet affordable.
6. Extensive and fully customizable libraries.
7. Intelligent insight with results processor.
8. Collaborative product design optimization tool.

For more information, contact us at or visit the SimpoeWorks blog at

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Excel tips for Engineers

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Are you an Excel novice but too embarrassed to admit it? SolidWorks has a nice little video I think you will enjoy.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

(one of) The “HIDDEN” relations in SolidWorks – FACE TANGENT

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Ever want to make a 3D Sketched entity (usually a Spline) TANGENT to a FACE (funky curved face or otherwise), possibly for use as a bridge curve ??
Well in SolidWorks 2009 (and possibly in the past) you can do it.
But it definitely isn’t obvious… :-)

You pick the SPLINE, the FACE you want to make it TANGENT to, AND the EDGE of the face that the spline touches. THEN you get the magic “TANGENT FACE” relation !!
Piece of cake !! (when you know about it…)
(see the video for a visual explanation)

YouTube Preview Image

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

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