Archive for February, 2011

SWUGN Calendar

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Are you like me and itchin’ to attend a SolidWorks user group meeting every night of the week? Here is a handy link to help you keep up with all the user groups world wide:

While there, I just happened to notice that the Miami Valley SolidWorks User group is meeting tonight. Not on February 29th as earlier posted. Apparently they won’t let you book rooms at Gander Mountain on the 29th on non-leap years?


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Configuration List in Enterprise PDM

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Well here’s a new topic for me…Enterprise PDM.

You have this part (or assembly) file with multiple configurations that’s in EPDM.  You have named your configurations a good name that’s easy to find and identify.  You find the file in EPDM and then select it.  The data card comes up and all you see are a few configurations.  That’s fine because you know you can just click on the arrows on the right side and it will show you more configurations.

Data Card for Configs

Well that’s great, but what if I want to see a list of all the configurations?  Here’s a trick taught to me by Jeff Sweeney.

If you Right Mouse Click on any of the configurations you get a full list of all of them!!

Configs in EPDM

Now you can click on which one you want and see its data card.  How cool is that?

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

EPDM maintain your Best Practices

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Several years ago I wrote a presentation “How to write a best practice document”. I have given this presentation to several user groups and even twice at SolidWorks World. In the presentation, I discuss different mediums to use when writing and maintaining the document. Word processors, wikis and Docbook are the three main tools I recommend.

A few days ago a customer asked if SolidWorks Enterprise PDM would be a good tool to store his best practice document. Blew me away. I had never thought of a PDM being Best Practice repository, but it is perfect!

For a best practice document to be successful:

  • Users need to be able to quickly find the information they are looking for
  • It has to be easy to maintain and keep current

Things PDM does for you!

What if…instead of creating a big long document that will be hard to read, navigate and maintain, you created a bunch of little .avi files demonstrating your best practices? [I will not do the voice overs, stop asking.] To make finding them easier, create a special “Best Practice” datacard and place it in your best practices sub directory.


Don’t forget that you can watch avi files through the preview tab…(sound works too)

Obviously it doesn’t have to be only movie files, pictures (they really are worth a few hundred words), machining charts, internal memos, spreadsheets…can all be categorized in your datacard for quick access.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Constant Velocity Motion Along A Multi Directional Path

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The Animation and Basic Motion options work well for most animations, including movement along straights, and gradual curves in a path.  What do you do when the path is not a single direction?

To accomplish movement around sharp radii corners or a closed loop you will need to use the SolidWorks Motion Add-In, and Motion Analysis.


  • Create the path component with a stationary reference object.
  • Mate the moving component to the path using the path mate.
  • Define a velocity results plot referencing one of the moving objects faces.

Step One

  • Instead of a motor use an Action Reaction Force with an expression to govern the movement.
  • The expression has a 10 as a multiplier and specifies that the 4(units of velocity) is the speed you wish to obtain.
  • Subtracting the reported velocity achieves this speed based on the force balance.

Step Two

The result is a smooth animation as seen in the examples below.


YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Greater Cincinnati SolidWorks User Group Meeting Announced

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Miss SolidWorks World this year? Jeff Arthur has the cure for what ails ya. At the next Greater Cincinnati SolidWorks User Group meeting he will give you a run down on what you missed.

Dave Woodruff will also do a Simulation presentation…you know it will be a good one.

The meeting will be on the Ides of March, but unless you are an emperor, don’t let that stop you. Click on the link below to get the full pdf.

GCSWUG Meeting 03-15-2011

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DraftSight is no longer in beta!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

For all of you flat landers out there…the PC version of DraftSight is no longer in beta! It is now the 2D editing software that you can be proud to take home and introduce to mom.

Ever wonder why there is never a gamma release?

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

View Your Windows 7 Reliability/Stability History

Monday, February 21st, 2011

If we worked in the restaurant industry and you asked me how to increase reliability, I would say that’s easy – make the burger on my plate look like the burger on the commercial. In the computer world, however, it’s more like – prevent messages from popping up on my screen that announce that something ‘has stopped working and now needs to shut down’.

Windows 7 actually provides a tool to monitor your computer’s reliability. It keeps track of Application Failures, Windows Failures, Miscellaneous Failures, Warnings and Information. It then presents that data in a graph form so you can monitor your computer and/or application reliability on a scale of 1-10 (least to most reliable).  You can track by Days or Weeks and by selecting a particular day or week, can investigate what kind of errors you experienced during that time frame. If you want to go deeper, you can export the data via .XML files to do further analysis.

This tool is located under Start>Control Panel>System and Security>Action Center>Maintenance>View reliability history



Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Work Orders II – the SQL

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The SQL! Get it – “sequel”?!?! Because this is a continuation of my previous post! Ahhh…PDM humor is there any better?

That joke is the only reason I broke the post up into more than one entry.

We now have a work order. This work order “file” can have its own EPDM workflow, so you can push it around within your organization. Now you can track the requisitioning process. Hopefully you came up with that ideal yourself, but let me show you some other cool things we can do.

You can take the sub assembly(ies) that represents the workflow and paste it as a reference. Now you have a nice BOM.


What if you want more than one of these assemblies made?

Do a quantity override! Remove the “As built” (make sure the work order is checked out) and change the quantities.


Switch to “parts mode” and let EPDM do all of that hard multiplication for you!


Now your engineering data can stay “as designed” and other departments can have records of how your assemblies were requisitioned. All within SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

Sometimes a work order is only a partial release of an assembly. That situation really isn’t any different than the sub  assembly concept, because you can paste as reference many files to the work order as you want. If you do only parts, obviously the needed quantities will need to be manually entered, just do a quantity override and you can trickle your assembly’s requisitions one part at a time if you wanted to. [The Engineering Data Specialist Man cannot be held responsible for the nasty phone calls you will receive from your purchasing agent.]

Push your work order through a workflow, sit back and enjoy the accolades raining down from your co-workers.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Improve your efficiency with Drawings

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

One of the biggest pain points in SolidWorks is drawings.  It’s not that creating a drawing is difficult – far from it.  Creating multiple drawing views is as easy as dragging and dropping predefined views from the View Palette.

2011-0215a View Palette

I believe drawings are perceived as difficult due to the amount of time people spend trying to make their drawing “just right”.  As an Engineer or Designer you spend a lot of time creating your CAD models, adding dimensions and sketch relations, so you know exactly how each feature will behave.  Your investment is making your CAD model “just right”.  So why after placing a handful of drawing views onto your drawing sheet(s) are you manually recreating every dimension?  That is what Insert Model Items is for!

2011-0215b Insert Model Items

I’ll be the first to admit that using Insert Model Items is a scary proposition.  Dimensions often seem to propagate onto drawing views randomly.  Rather than cleaning up dimension placement, you manually recreate all of the model dimensions on the drawing.  I’m not one to recreate the wheel, so I’ll point you to a great blog article written by one of our friends at Javelin Technologies, Alin Vargatu, CSWE.

Do you want to save a lot of time when dimensioning your drawings?

Now that you’ve read about time saving methods for dimensioning drawings, you’ll have more time to improve upon the wheel. Good luck!

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

EPDM Work orders – Demanded from the great beyond

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Sadly, because of all of my blog fans I recently had to get an unlisted phone number. However because of FCC regulations I have learned it is not possible to get an unlisted séance phone. As a result I still get Marie Antoinette calling offering me Little Debbies, Pince Albert asking me why I have him in a can, and Slimer asking me if I know how much longer Bill Murray will be with us. Though yesterday I got an interesting call from Leo Tolstoy saying my blog entries have been too short lately and asked if I could “beef” one up a bit in his honor.

Okay Leo, if you promise to stop calling me (once he gets started you cannot get him off the phone) I’ll tackle a topic that I get asked about all the time – How to create and manage work orders inside of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

Work orders, kits, packages…whatever you call them are a little out of the scope of what most people think of when they think of PDM. A PDM generates and maintains the data, an ERP/MRP handles the requisitioning and storage of the actual parts. [That is where I draw the line … data files vs. actual parts.] Don’t let “out of scope” stop you, EPDM laughs at scope and draws gray lines everywhere.

A work order is not a file. So you need a different way to maintain it. I have in past entries demonstrated that EPDM’s item master can be used to maintain work orders. I still rather like this method, but let me show you another that I think also has merit and perhaps has less setup.

Virtual Documents are thought of by most people as only place holders for items in the BOM that you don’t want to model inside of CAD. [Paint, grease, fasteners, etc.] However they can represent anything – even things you invent. How about your “.wo” files?

You don’t have any .wo files? (Probably not, it is typically an Apple file type and since you aren’t a hippy…) So from this point forward I proclaim .wo files as work order files. (You can use any extension as long as it isn’t something already used in your vault. However I would get on the .wo train now, it is going to be hot!)

First make a .wo datacard containing information you might want to store about a work order. This is an image of a rather clever design: (click on thumbnail for full size)


Now we can make our first work order:




I don’t know how my Tolstoy did it. I am worn out. I’ll take on more of this novel in my next blog entry.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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