Archive for September, 2010

Features within a part on different layers

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Most CNC software packages have the ability to recognize layers within a drawing and do different things with them depending on which layer an entity is on. (i.e. perhaps you put your annotations on a particular layer – the CNC ignores that layer, else it will try to cut your notes into your part!)

It can go even farther than that…a layer may signify the hole depth or even the tool to use during the cutting process – drill diameter, counter sink, counter bore, etc.

The problem is within the same part, you cannot have different edges/features on different layers. The work around I have always seen is to add sketch entities to the drawing view, and place those sketch entities on the needed layer.

This work around works well…but there is quite a bit of drawing work -or what if you want to automate the process with DriveWorks?

Aly Farber, of Farber Specialty Vehicles, ran into this exact same issue. She is using DriveWorks to produce the custom cabinets that go into their vehicles. Her goal was to send .dxf files of the cabinet cutouts directly to the CNC, and have the CNC cut out the cabinet parts without any user intervention.

First she starts with the cabinet face without any holes:


Then she makes a model of the holes:

holes ahhh…who said holes have to be zero mass?! Since the final output will be just a top view dxf file, a solid cylinder will look just like a hole.

Next she places these “holes” in an assembly with the cabinet face…since she can have several different hole sizes and depths, they are all placed in the assembly and she uses DriveWorks to place the correct holes in the correct location.


Now each “hole” can go on its own layer for dxf export.


This trick will work for DriveWorksXpress, Solo and Pro…except Xpres cannot automatically export the dxf file.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

PDM is all that AND a bag of chips

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

You’ve been told PDM is all that and a bag of chips. Your sales rep has given you white papers, graphs, ROI tools, demos, slick little sales sheets -at this point you probably could get him to do the chicken dance if you asked.

The real question you have been asking yourself is: “Why is it right for me?”. Your company has gotten along just fine without it, your directory system and SolidWorks’ file locking does the job, is SolidWorks Enterprise PDM a luxury or a necessity?

Wayne Keller has been there. He knew there were others out there just like him needing help so he did like many others do…he developed a 12 step program to help you get through your day.

The first step, is to go to Javelin’s blog and see how Using Enterprise PDM with SolidWorks can make life a lot easier.

Me: “Hi, I’m Jeff, I haven’t had a day without PDM in nine years.”
Group: “Hi Jeff”

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

What’s New in 2011 Rollouts Announced

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The two greatest days of the year are when they give us a sneak peek at what will be in the next release of SolidWorks at SolidWorks World, and when you finally get a chance to see it live at the What’s New Rollout.

Nine days from now the What’s New tour will begin in Louisville. -We’re getting close! Have you registered yet?

You can see there are also some web casts on that page as well. Though if you get a chance to see it live -I recommend it. It is a good time for networking, getting some face time with your local AE, or seeing the fancy new silk shirts Vik has picked out for the shows.

I’ll be showing SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, DriveWorks Solo, and DriveWorks Pro. There will be a special presentation that will only be shown for the live rollouts. I don’t want to say too much, but we should be able to finally put to rest the age old argument between who is better: Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DraftSight for Mac

Monday, September 20th, 2010

DraftSight for the Mac has been released today.

Did you know the average Mac user’s drawings have over 73,000 polylines and layers in them? (Number yet to be verified.)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

SolidWorks user group meeting in Columbus

Monday, September 20th, 2010

A few weeks ago Peter Fischer emailed me and asked if I would like to present at an upcoming SolidWorks user group meeting in Columbus.

Kids, here is why it is important to pay attention in geography. Turns out there is more than one Columbus. I was thinking Columbus Ohio – a location I can get to in less than 45 minutes. Actually the meeting is in Columbus Indiana – a destination quite a bit further away.

No matter, I love going to user group meetings. This will be my first CISUG meeting and I am looking forward to meeting everyone there.

If you have not already done so, please register and bring a guest.

Date: Thursday September 23rd. 2010
Time: 4:30pm Registration and Networking. Meeting starts at 5:00pm

Meeting Agenda:

  • Location: Impact Forge Corporation. 2805 Norcross Drive, Columbus, IN 47201-4911
  • Guest Speaker: Matt Hendey, President, M.R. Hendey Consulting will talk about SoildWorks on alternative platforms.
  • Dinner: (Sponsored by SWUG Corporate)
  • Technical Presentation: Jeff Sweeney, 3D Vision will present Maximizing Enterprise PDM as a fully integrated management control system.
  • Tips & Tricks. Jeff Sweeney and all attendees. Bring your problems or solutions on a memory stick to share with others
  • Premium Door Prize Sponsored by: FBG Consulting
  • Door Prizes: 7:30pm “ish”.

I see Peter snuck the “Tips & Tricks” section in on me. I wasn’t expecting that! No matter, I’m good for a challenge. Most of these turn out to be a group effort anyway…and that is a big reason why I enjoy user group meetings.

Turns out there are twenty cities named Columbus in the United States. The guy takes a few rides in a boat that wasn’t even his and gets all of that?

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Free Solo training with a live instructor

Friday, September 10th, 2010

I’m a big fan of tutorials, but they cannot beat a live instructor.

Sign up to take the free DriveWorks Solo Training Class. This online LIVE class is delivered by a DriveWorks Solo Technical Specialist.

They have the class broken down into three, one hour sessions on September 27, 28 & 29th.

Download your free 30 day Solo trial and take the training class. This is a very low risk way to discover how you can save money using DriveWorks Solo.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DriveWorks Solo has achieved SW Gold Partner Status

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

DriveWorks has just announce that DriveWorks Solo is now officially a Certified Gold Product. I found this rather surprising because I assumed it already was –DriveWorks Pro has been a gold product since 2002. Turns out each new product needs its own certification.

When looking to buy a partner product, its certification status should be part of your decision making process.

Here is SolidWorks’ definition of a gold product:

Beyond demonstrating success in the SolidWorks market, Certified Gold applications present a seamless and familiar environment to the SolidWorks user. Certified Gold Products:

Run on the same operating systems as SolidWorks software, and have the same Windows® desktop application for ease of administration

  • Use and support SolidWorks documents and terminology
  • Utilize SolidWorks graphics display and selection
  • Provide edit definition capability
  • Use SolidWorks style UI and Help, including tutorials, etc.

Gold Product Certification requires an ongoing partnership with Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp to:

  • Keep up with and ensure compliance with new SolidWorks functionality
  • Test Gold Products with new SolidWorks releases builds and make timely corrections to any ‘bugs’ or glitches
  • Stay current with SolidWorks operating system requirements


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DraftSight Customization Review

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

I finally had an opportunity last week to download and use DriftSight, a free editor for DWG files.

“Quick, and easy” are my impressions so far. The install was easy, the application loads very quickly and my 10 Mb files (typical size) opened in seconds.

If you have used other 2D editors, you’ll pick right up on the interface. Trusty command line at the bottom, menu and toolbars at the top. -Everything seemed to work as you would expect. OSNAPs, the ability to override dimensions**, blocks, p-lines, XREFs…yeah, it’s all there and works just how you were taught in elementary school. [Ricky Jordan has a nice review, check out his site to learn more detail.]

I was curious about customization.

  • The free version does not support lisp (a.k.a. “Lost In Stupid Parenthesis”) nor VB, but you can use scripting; and scripting can do when the budget it tight. They say Lisp and VB will be available in the Enterprise version.
  • No editing .pgp files, there is a nice little interface for customizing your aliases. (Click on the thumbnails for better views.)alias These are saved in XML format, so sharing your settings is quite easy.
  • Mouse gestures?!mouse2Apparently they aren’t just for 3D any more.
  • The typical drafting options are all in there too.Drafting Options

In short. I like it. Beats the snot out of the 2D editor SolidWorks provides, and the price is better. (free for as many seats as you would like) DraftSight does the basics and you can customize it to your heart’s content.

I see later in October, DraftSight will be available in MAC and Linux versions too. Let’s hope it supports all six million TrueType fonts to keep the hippies happy. The Linux users should like it too, DraftSight’s command line will allow them to do the entire drawing without ever touching a mouse.

I created an account in the DraftSight community, this appears to be the best portal to getting free support (via forums) and an opportunity to provide input for what you want in DraftSight’s future releases. It is a typical user site, neat and well organized. I do have to gripe about it -when I created an account, the site forced me to create a stronger password than my bank did! One million and one new passwords I need to remember.

**Since everyone overrides dimension; it must be important to somebody. Though if I catch you doing it, the “Mark of the Engineering Data Specialist Man” you’ll certainly receive.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Little known uses for the POINT tool (pt 2)

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

A lot of people think that the POINT tool (you know, THIS thing * ) in SolidWorks may not be very usefull other than for the Sketch Driven Pattern command…
If SO, you are missing out on some cool things it can do !!

As mentioned in part 1 of this blog (posted on Aug 30th), there are 2 different types of POINTS in SolidWorks.
There are the ones that you can make when you are IN a sketch and then the ones you can make when you are NOT in a sketch !
For this little known POINT functionality, we are talking about the one when you are INSIDE of a Sketch.

You may have noticed in the past, when in a sketch, if you Dimension to a sharp corner and THEN add a Sketch Fillet after the Dimension, that would get rid of that corner, it adds a nice little “virtural sharp (intersection)” where the sharp corner USED to be, and keeps your Dimension attached to it !
Really nice, RIGHT ??
But what if you Fillet FIRST ?
Or what if the geomerty of your sketch doesn’t really make the sharp corner that you need to Dimension to in the first place ?

Any guesses ??

How about the POINT tool !?

Yep. While you are in the Sketch, ctrl+pick (any) 2 lines, and then hit the POINT tool.
Just like magic, it will make a VIRTUAL SHARP for you ! AND you can then of course Dimension to it.
You can even change/choose what the Virtual Sharp looks like…
Got to Tools–Options–Document Properties–Virtual Sharps
(didn’t you WONDER what that was for ??)

Stay tuned… there may be a Pt3 to this blog if I can figure out any more stuff to do with the points !

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

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