Archive for July, 2011

Factory Floor Efficiencies: Manufacturing Tools 101

Friday, July 29th, 2011

If you are in charge of finding new ways to streamline manufacturing, 3DVision Technologies has a webinar for you.

Presented by Noah Zehringer, Application Engineer for Stratasys, Inc. In this webinar you will learn how to use additive manufacturing’s Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology to create lightweight, inexpensive jigs, fixtures, guides, gauges, patterns and more.

Tight deadlines? Changing schedules? Revised productions plans? No Worries. This webinar will help you see how you can put new manufacturing tools in action in just a day.

What you will learn:
– How to use thermoplastic fixtures in place of metal frames.
– How to prevent downtime on your manufacturing floor.
– How to decrease assembly working fatigue.
– How to create workholding tools faster and easier than with manufacturing.

Who should attend?
– Production Engineers
– Manufacturing Engineers
– Operations Managers
– Machine Shop Supervisors
– Machinists
– Assembly Supervisors

Make additive manufacturing your competitive advantage by learning how it can streamline your production facility.

Click here to register!

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Copy From Your Preview

Friday, July 29th, 2011

A wise man once said: “The fastest way to open a document is to not have to open it in the first place.”  When I said that, I meant  I want my data fast, if I can skip the step of having to open an application first it’s all good.

I just learned today that you can copy text out of many documents right from SolidWorks Enterprise PDM’s preview window! Copy

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Instant3D…do you use it?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Instant3D has been a feature of SolidWorks for years but are you using it?  Maybe the right questions to ask are “what is Instant3D and why would you want to use it?”

Let’s start with the first part of that, “What is Instant3D”.  It lets you quickly create and modify geometry by using drag handles and scales.  You can use Instant3D in parts and assemblies.  To turn it on, select the “Features” toolbar and select “Instant3D” which is on the far right end of the toolbar.


The second part of the question, “Why would you want to use it” is a little more subjective.  If you need to change a dimension, you have the ability to just select the model face which will show the dimensions making it very quick to modify the model.

Face Select

This option is great when you are not “sure” of the design and you have some dimensions on the model.  The dimensions have a small blue dot at the end of the extension line which is what you left click and hold on.  Then a scale will show up that you can “drag-n-drop” on for your new dimensional value.


Another great way that you can use Instant3D is when you want to create an Extrude.  When you are done sketching and exit, select a segment of the sketch which will activate an arrow.


This arrow will allow you to drag it away from the model, creating a boss extrude, or into the model creating an extrude cut.


This is just the basics of Instant3D.  I suggest you try it out and see how it can help you be more productive.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Search for Dimensions in EPDM

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Great Aunt Eleanor can do many amazing things. She can name and describe all RAID configurations, she can rewire an HDMI connection so her old black and white movies will be black and white again (she curses Ted Turner the entire time) and apparently she is the lead elf in her WOW guild…but she can’t cook. The lady can [and has] burnt water. Thus apparently it would be logical for her to buy an Indian restaurant.

The nice thing about Indian dishes is that they are pretty easy. Every thing is brown, crazy spicy and all the food is cut up into simple hexahedrons. The only thing different about the hexahedrons is their length, width and height.

Great Aunt Eleanor has decided she wants to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM to be able to store her food cutting guides. She wants to be able to enter in a few dimensions in a search window and have EPDM return all the food pieces that meet the search criteria. This is her datacard:


Pretty nice, though since Great Aunt Eleanor is always playing with the sizes, she wants to link the dimensions of her SolidWorks models to the datacard. So if the food size changes, the datacard updates automatically.

Here is how I linked her dimensions to the datacard values.


I created the three custom file properties (height, width, length), then for value, I used this format: “Dimension Name@Sketch Name@File Name”. I usually find it easier to click in the “Value/Text Expression” column and then click on the dimension. SolidWorks build the required format for you. (Note: the dimension names were renamed by me, typically they will have a “D1″, “D2″ type format.)


Now your file properties update as the dimensions update, all that is left is to connect your EPDM variables to your file properties, and thus as your model dimension change, your EPDM database updates automatically!

Next Great Aunt Eleanor stored this file as a SolidWorks template, so when she comes up with a new food type, (perhaps something brown-ier?) she starts with the template and the settings already to go.

Another tip, make the controls in the datacard read-only, that way they only way they are updated is via changing the SolidWorks model.

Now Great Aunt Eleanor can quickly use EPDM to search for the exact size of food she needs.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Referenced Documents Doesn’t Do Subfolders!??

Friday, July 22nd, 2011


Now I know this sounds a little crazy, but it is TRUE. It is a common mistake to think that when the SolidWorks search routine includes a “Referenced Documents” folder, that all the sub-folders of that location will be included in the search. It is reasonable to think that we would all benefit from an Enhancement Request that would include sub-folders. In fact, we would not benefit and let me tell you why.

The purpose of the Referenced Documents folder list is to have a “prefix” in the case of moving files such as entire assemblies or the entire Toolbox. The SW Knowledge Base gives a great example of this.
An assembly is in “C:workingmain assy”
Its parts are in “C:workingmain assypartref”

If the entire directory is moved to “E:newdata”, add “E:newdata” as a reference path, SolidWorks will search in the “workingmain assy” folder path underneath “E:newdata”

If you are moving one component to a sub folder, then add that folder manually to the “Referenced Documents” list. Referenced documents are not searched for in every folder listed for every part because performance would be drastically affected. SolidWorks would have to search every sub folder, every file, etc….

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Animating Arrows With Assembly Groups in 3DVIA Composer

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Check out the latest YouTube video from the 3DVIA Composer folks for a quick way to generate an animated arrow using Assembly Groups and Associative Paths.

Be sure to sign up for the 3DVIA Composer channel while you are there – so you will be informed when a new video is posted.

(Click on the image below to watch the video)

Animated arrows in Composer

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Spice Up Your EPDM Web Interface

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

You know the default EPDM Web interface? Kinda pretty eh? People all over the world are using it.


Yet I still hear complaints: “It’s ActiveX so my users can only use Internet Explorer”, “It’s kind of plain”, “My back hurts”, “I’m only four

You wish it could do more? What’s stopping you?

You can call EPDM’s APIs through ASPX pages -and because of this, I have seen some glorious EPDM web sites — dashboard graphs, quick hyperlinks… Heck with ASP, if you can dream it you can do it.

I haven’t seen it run on a mobile device yet, but I am sure someone out there has done it.  (Making your site not require ActiveX makes the possibilities endless.)

PDM on the go! Like ice cream on a stick.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

3DVision Technologies is Pleased to Announce the Release of the new Fortus 250mc

Friday, July 15th, 2011

3DVision Technologies is thrilled to unveil the new Fortus 250mc 3D Production System.


Ideal for budget-minded buyers, the new Fortus 250mc 3D Production System is the most affordable Fortus machine. This hybrid machine combines the efficiency of Dimension 3D Printers with the versatility of Fortus 3D Production Systems.

Powered by Insight software, customers can access more file processing options to customize build speed, part accuracy, and surface finish. In addition you are able to build parts with three slice options: .178 mm (.007), .254 mm (.010in) or .330 mm (.013in).

The Fortus 250mc allows users to produce parts in a variety of ABSplus colors and easily remove supports with SR-30 support material. The build envelope of the Fortus 250mc is 254 x 254 x 305 mm (10 x 10 x 12 in), allowing adequate space to produce most parts.

For more information, contact Shannon Morgan, 3DVision Technologies 3D Printing expert at 1-800-745-3136 or at

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Convert Durometer to Young’s Modulus

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

If you work with rubber and plastic materials frequently, you more than likely have access to a stress-strain curve for use in Simulation.  What can you do, though, if you don’t have all the required material properties for analysis?  If you’ve ever searched for material properties via MatWeb, IDES or other sources, you’ll likely find the hardness of plastics and rubbers listed in Shore-A or Shore-D – and no Young’s Modulus.  Fear not!  There is a simple calculation to convert a Shore durometer to Young’s Modulus, which is sufficient to get you started with your analysis work.

Before I show you the calculation, you should be aware that there is not a direct relationship between a Shore scale and Young’s Modulus!  The calculation allows you to approximate ‘E’ based on a range of Shore-A (20 to 80) or Shore-D (30 to 85) durometers for simple static analysis.**  If you routinely work with plastic and rubber materials, you should be using SolidWorks Simulation Premium with the actual stress-strain curve for the material(s) you design with!

For a durometer given in Shore-A, multiply this value by 0.0235.  Then subtract 0.6403 from this result.  The next step is to find the inverse base-e logarithm of this new result.  The answer is an approximation for Young’s Modulus in megapascals (MPa).  To convert this to pounds per square inch (psi), simply multiply this number by 145.0377.  If you’re like me, word problems were never a strong suit!  Here are the equations to input into Excel for a Shore-A or Shore-D durometer – or download the Excel spreadsheet here.

Shore-A to Young’s Modulus (in MPa):
=EXP((Shore-A Durometer)*0.0235-0.6403)

Shore-D to Young’s Modulus (in MPa):
=EXP((Shore-D Durometer + 50)*0.0235-0.6403)

Replace the ‘Shore-A Durometer’ or ‘Shore-D Durometer’ with either a number or the cell location of the value.

** Making Engineering decisions based upon analysis results with this “material property conversion” is not recommended.

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Troubleshooting DriveWorksXpress Equations

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

You can get some pretty fancy equations when working with DriveWorksXpress, sadly the nice DriveWorks equation editors that make debugging these equations aren’t avalaible until you upgrade to at least DriveWorks Solo. Luckily you already own a nice equation editor…Excel!

Let’s take an easy example. Let’s imagine we want to drive a dimension of a part based on a DriveWorks drop down box that contains the values: “Small”, “Medium” and “Large”. [We’ll name the input “Choice” in DriveWorks.] We want the values of the driven dimension to be 2, 3, and 4 respectively.

So we build our DriveWorks rule to look like this:

To use Excel as a debugger, paste the formula into Excel as I did below at cell A1. (Put the equal sign in front.) At this point, Excel is going to do some simple syntax checking and parenthesis will be color coded to help you match them up. In our case the syntax is correct so Excel takes the equation without much of an issue.


However we do have a problem. The DriveWorks input “Choice” doesn’t make any sense to Excel. That is why it is giving us the “#NAME?” error. The solution is to create a named range with the same name as our DriveWorks input. Excel will substitute the values in the named ranges for the DriveWorks input. In the example below, I named name cell C1 “Choice”. Do this by: highlighting the cell, then type the name of the range [DriveWorks input] in the area just to the left of the equation…the trick is to hit the Enter key when you are done, do not click out of that cell with your mouse.


You see that now cell A1 has the value of “4”, which is logical because “Choice” (the cell formerly known as C1) is neither “Small”, “Medium” nor “Large”. I can now put different values into “Choice” and watch my equation update.


For gruesome equations -with many DriveWorks inputs, nested if-thens and more parenthesis than a lisp routine, I almost always use this trick as a sanity check…it is a fast way to ensure my equations are behaving as I expect.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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