Archive for June, 2010

Rapid Dimensioning – turn it off on slow days

Monday, June 28th, 2010

SolidWorks 2010 introduced a great little productivity tool for placing dimensions in drawings: the Rapid Dimension widget – you know, that little blue and yellow ball that pops up when you are placing your dimensions

RD widget

Well, it turns out that many people liked their level of productivity as it was, thank you very much, and wanted to eliminate the tool and toss it into the SolidWorks scrap yard. If you are one of those people, you need to install 2010 SP4.0 (rapidly).

You now have 2 options to rid the little widget from your screen:

1) press the ESC key to turn it off for the dimension you are currently trying to place. If you have a fancy mouse like mine (Logitech VX Revolution), you can program one of those extra keys you are not using to be the ESC key. (Very handy for all of SolidWorks world)

2) uncheck the new toggle switch in the property manager to turn it off altogether. This setting will ‘persist across sessions’, so says the Release Notes.

RD toggle

So now you can decide how quickly your dimensions will be placed. Enjoy!

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Babysitting SQL

Friday, June 25th, 2010

In the world of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM administration, maintaining the Enterprise systems is really pretty easy. You need to add/remove users (assuming the HR department bothers to tell you when they hire someone) and ensure you have good reliable backups.

But don’t forget Enterprise’s playmate – SQL.

SQL is that one kid who was hard to babysit for. Sure he was good when you were watching him, but if you left him alone for too long you would catch him chewing on the furniture, burning the hair on your sister’s dolls, or using a shovel in your mom’s flower bed.

He’s a good kid, he’ll serve you well, but every once in a while you need to pat him on the head so he knows you are watching him.

Like any Microsoft product, SQL requires some occasional maintenance. Tim Kwong, SolidWorks Sr. Technical Support Engineer, recommends this schedule:


  • Preform backups of the SQL database (and log file if using Full Recovery Mode)
  • If using the SQL backup feature, offload the backup from the SQL server

Weekly or Monthly:

  • Rebuild the SQL indexes using SQL Maintenance Plan Wizard
  • Review the MDF and LDF files to make sure they haven’t exceeded the initial sizes
  • Defrag the SQL drives


  • Check the integrity of the SQL backup by restoring and testing a recent database backup on a test setup

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

A New Product: DraftSight

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Here’s some BIG news for you! DraftSight is here.
You might say, ”Wow…now Josh, what is DraftSight?”
I’m glad you asked. DraftSight is a new 2D tool that is designed to help you manage your legacy 2D data. It is very similar to your old 2D CAD tool but with a little twist. It is easier to use.
The development of DraftSight was driven by customer feedback. This will allow experienced 2D CAD users to get up to speed on DraftSight very quickly with minimal training.

Here are some questions that you may ask yourself:
Q: What will DraftSight run on?
A: It will run on Windows XP, Vista, and W7. A MAC and Linux version is planned for later this year.

Q: How large is the footprint?
A: The download file size is about 43MB.

Q: What if I need training for DraftSight?
A: If you sign up for the Community Support, you get access to online training videos, tutorials, curriculum, and discussion forums.

OK, well DraftSight does sound great but the biggest question of all; “How much will it cost?” This is starting to sound like an infomercial where the host asks if you’d pay $39.95 and then $29.95 and so-on. Well the final price is….$0!!! That’s right, it’s FREE!!!

All you need to do is go to and download it.
DraftSight Logo

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Working for your computer

Monday, June 21st, 2010

I was recently visiting a customer who’s standard procedure for putting a BOM on a drawing was:

  1. Finish the drawing
  2. Type the BOM into Excel
  3. Copy/paste the BOM into the drawing
  4. Manually balloon the drawing, matching the items in the BOM to the balloon.

Don’t laugh too hard. I bet you are doing something that isn’t as efficient as it could be, I hardly ever leave a customer without giving them some sort of time saving tip.

How do you find weaknesses in your standard operating procedures [SOP]? First, look around your office walls. See any sticky notes listing several steps to do something in SolidWorks? Don’t you suppose after sixteen years and a million installs, someone would have turned in an enhancement request and a native SolidWorks or [3rd party] solution exists?

So, how do you find a solution? First check out the help file, type in some key words and see if you get any hits. Next ask your user group or maybe the forums. Worst case get a macro written to help you. Macros usually have a very fast return on investment. A macro beats a lengthy SOP by: better adoption, better/more accurate data, time, less training, and apparently your sticky note budget.


This is true not for just SolidWorks tasks, but anything you do in your office. Go through your SOPs. Anything that is very long, complicated, repetitive, or you find people aren’t even doing, should be scrutinized. If it is a computer related SOP there has to be a better way. It is a computer -its job is to do long, complicated, repetitive tasks! You shouldn’t be doing your computer’s job.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Quick surface curved 2 directions

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Here is a super easy way to make a surface that is curved in 2 directions.
The Boundary Surface command makes you think that it needs 2 curves in each direction,
but all that is really required is one each way !

From THIS:


Piece of cake !!

If you want to learn other awesome SURFACING tips & tricks, you should attend 3DVision Technologies Advanced Surfacing class next Thursday & Friday (June 24 & 25) in the Cincinnati office !! See the website for details. Or contact Kim Foster (513) 745-2700 to register !

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Keeping the welders happy.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Welders. They’re a finicky bunch. Some want to total length of the stock pieces, others only want a cut list. How can you keep both sides of the weld shop happy?

SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2010 can get you both automatically! You don’t even have to raise a mouse-button-clicking-finger.

When you are in the “Bill of Materials” tab of a weldment, you can have two types of weldment BOMs available to you. A weldment BOM and a weldment cut list. A weldment BOM lists the components and total component length for the weldment part. A weldment cut list contains the cut lengths and quantities for each component.

Isn’t it great when you can make people happy when the software does all of the work? Now the Montagues and Capulets can be together at last.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

eDrawings: Setting the record straight

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Some of us at 3DVision Technologies recently “discovered” some things about eDrawings that you may or may not already know, but I thought everyone should be made aware of them at least.

Most people understand that if you are sending someone .easm, .eprt, or .edrw files created in eDrawings PROFESSIONAL, that you can choose to enable/disable measure capabilities.
BUT, the next ones will be a surprise to a lot of you…

1. If someone has the FREE (downloaded) version of eDrawings, and they open a native SolidWorks file that was created in BASE SolidWorks they will NOT be able to measure.

2. If someone has the FREE (downloaded) version of eDrawings, and they open a native SolidWorks file that was created in SolidWorks PROFESSIONAL or PREMIUM, they WILL be able to measure !!

3. If someone has eDrawings PROFESSIONAL (not free), they will ALWAYS be able to measure a native SolidWorks file (no matter what it was created in). This CANNOT be disabled.

Bottom line, just send .eprt, .easm, and .edrw files to people. Then you get the control.
And be VERY careful sending out the NATIVE SolidWorks files !

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Need an Intersection?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

This is a tool that you may have forgotten about or have never used. It is the “Intersection Curve” tool.
It finds the intersection and creates a sketched curve. Well this is great…but how does this help me?
Here’s an example:
I have a lofted part or a part with an angled face and I need to create a baffle/rib that is parallel with the bottom face and about half way up the part.
Intersection Curve
Ok, now how do I use it?
You will want to select the plane/surface that intersects the face then click Intersection Curve (Tools>Sketch Tools>Intersection Curve), and finally select the face(s) of the part. A 2D sketch is created at the intersection of the plane/surface and the face.
If you don’t preselect the plane/surface, a 3D sketch will be created.

I know you’ll find a use for this tool.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

eDrawings…3 Useful Tricks

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Here are some great tips when using eDrawings.

1. Open any SolidWorks assembly inside of eDrawings and press the “E” key.
The assembly explodes without an exploded configuration. You can rotate the assembly and measure it.
Press the “E” key again and watch it collapse.

2. Something else you can do in eDrawings is hiding components in the assembly. If you Right Click on any component, you have the option to hide it. This will allow you to see inside the assembly. Right Click again and you can show all hidden components. You can also make individual components transparent. You do the same thing that you did to hide components but choose to change the transparency.

3. Here’s one more trick. If you Right Click on a component in your assembly, you can choose “New Part Document”. This will create a new part inside of eDrawings. This is great if you only got the assembly from your customer but you need see the individual files.

Give these a try and let me know what you think.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

File: Heal thyself!

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

You just received a non-SolidWorks file to import. -Some hippy who hasn’t started using SolidWorks yet no doubt.

When the SolidWorks import of this file is complete, it looks okay, however SolidWorks says there is some issue with the file.

Next you use SolidWorks’ tools to try and automatically heal it. Sometimes this is all you need.

Sometimes it isn’t.

At this point you have two options:

  1. Use a 3rd party program (i.e. FormatWorks) to try to heal it.
  2. Try to manually heal the file

…but what if you really only need the file for space claiming – a few microns here or there isn’t going to hurt anyone? Who has the time?

Try this: Export the file as a Parasolid binary (.x_b) file. Now re-import this file. You will be surprised how often this simple export/import step automatically heals your models.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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