Archive for October, 2011

Are you smarter than a Cincinnatian?

Monday, October 31st, 2011

During last week’s SolidWorks 2012 rollout in Cincinnati, I asked if anyone knew how to rotate a part (that has no mates) inside of an assembly. We all know you can translate a part clicking on a face and dragging it, but no one could give me an easier way than going to the assembly toolbar and choosing “Rotate Component”


There is an easier way. Do you know it? Are you smarter than a Cincinnatian? The answer, after a word from our sponsor:
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Answer: Instead of left mouse button clicking on a face, use the right button, the part will rotate.

Award yourself 10 Great Aunt Eleanor points if you knew this one!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Successful Flight of Unmanned Aircraft System

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

3DVision customer SelectTech GeoSpatial is doing some AMAZING things that I just had to share with you.

Just a few weeks ago SelectTech GeoSpatial’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility Technical Team in Springfield, Ohio launched a successful test flight of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

The UAS was designed and built with SolidWorks and a Dimension 1200 3D printer. This is the first non-government built aircraft of its kind.

The aircraft has a wingspan exceeding 4 feet and weighs 5.3 pounds. Best part, it was made entirely from ABSplastic. Powered by an electric motor and lithium polymer batteries, it flew in winds in excess of 25 knots. The pilot, Jad Lowrey said, “it took off very smoothly and handled well even in high wind”.

The aircraft was designed and engineered by Frand Beafore, Executive Director of SGAMF, and Beth Galang, Chief Designer. Galang indicated “this design and build system revolutionizes the product development process – not to mention speed to delivery”.

The initial flight trials were made at the Springfield-Beckley airport under The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) flight rules.

The combination of the amazing design team at SelectTech and the supported solutions of SolidWorks and Dimension 3D printing is a great example of how anything is possible.

For more information on SelectTech, visit their website at


3DVision Technologies

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SolidWorks ‘Tip of the Day’ – Complete List

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

If you come to this blog to learn tips and tricks, you’ve just hit the jackpot. Have you ever noticed those little tips in the lower right hand corner of the ‘SolidWorks Resources’ tab of your task pane? Have you ever clicked the ‘Next Tip’ link a countless amount of times because you just couldn’t get enough?


Well, this is quite a spoiler to anyone that wakes up in the morning overwhelmed with curiosity of what each day’s SolidWorks tip is going to be, but here’s the complete list. Just be aware that this list was pulled from a 2012 installation, so there is exclusive 2012 SolidWorks functionality referenced in some of the tips.  Enjoy all 163 of them!

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Virtual Data Centers running EPDM

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Virtual data centers (Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)) can be a very nice option for both small and large companies running SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. Here are a few advantages:

  • You can easily adjust the “horsepower” of your server. Start small then as more of your company adopts EPDM, you can slowly increase the size and speed of your virtual machine.
  • Many data centers include backup services. Let them worry every night about ensuring your backups started successfully.
  • Data security. Hackers, firewall settings and security updates become someone else’s responsibility.
  • Guaranteed up-time.
  • No hardware/server/operating system obsolescence.
  • Great bandwidth options.
  • Sometimes less latency for your remote EPDM locations.

You still may want to have your EPDM archive server local, but I’ve seen packages where the bandwidth to the IaaS was so great users didn’t even notice when the archive server was moved to the IaaS.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

A worthless EPDM Enhancement

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

One of my favorite new SolidWorks Enterprise PDM enhancements is, at least today, practically worthless….this enhancement didn’t even make it into the “What’s New” document. However its potential may make it one of the biggest EPDM enhancements yet. It is the EPDM Partner Program.

We’re all familiar with the SolidWorks partner program. Some of the best SolidWorks functionality has actually come from it. Simulation, Toolbox, Hole Wizard, Workgroup, Photoview 360 and even EPDM originally started out as 3rd party partner products that eventually became part of the SolidWorks family. This has helped SolidWorks grow and mature very rapidly. Even the 3rd party applications that SolidWorks hasn’t purchased still make SolidWorks a good investment. If SolidWorks cannot do something you wish it could, there is likely an application that can do it.


As I said, it is brand new, but there are already two partner products for EPDM. Keep an eye out, hopefully there is going to be a money saver in there for you, giving you an even bigger return on your SolidWorks Enterprise PDM investment.


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Transfer a SolidWorks Part to Another Template

Monday, October 17th, 2011

This post is actually a two-fer. I want to share how to transfer a part from one template to another, but I also want to highlight where I got this idea – our local SolidWorks User Group (SWUG).

Back in the summer of this year, during a SLUG meeting (SolidWorks Louisville User Group – think Louisville Slugger – the wooden bats are still made right here, believe it or not), someone asked how they might quickly transfer a part from one part template to another. So not only do you update the Units settings, for instance, but everything else saved in the desired template as well.

One of the SLUG members, Brandon Bibelhauser, came up with a solution to use ‘Insert Part’ to accomplish this. (click here to see his detailed solution) I tried this on a few sample parts and it works well. If you have experience with this, good or bad, we would love to hear about it.

I’m sharing his solution  because 1) I think it’s great and 2) to encourage you to be a part of your local SWUG chapter – not only can you walk away with swell ideas like this one, but there is always free food and prizes! Look up your local chapter here and get involved.


Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Borders around portions of a note in a TABLE ?

Friday, October 14th, 2011

New in SolidWorks 2010 was the ability to place a border (box, diamond, triangle, etc.) around a PORTION of a note. (we could previously only place a border around the entire note)
If you need to know how to do this, just do a search in the SolidWorks HELP file for “NOTES”, and then scroll down almost to the bottom and look for “To apply borders to entire notes or portions of notes:”

The “problem” that I want to address in this blog is the inability to do this in a TABLE.
When you are editing a cell in a General Table on a SolidWorks drawing, you only get the “Formatting” toolbar and not the property manager that you need to apply a border around a portion of the note.
So you just can’t do it, right ?

Here is the workaround…
Somewhere else on the drawing make a NOTE, and place the borders as you would like them to look in the table. While you are still editing the note, select all the text, and do a CTRL+C (copy), then to edit a cell of the table and CTRL+V (paste). There you go !!

You can of course go back and delete the note you had to make to get this. The text in the cell of the table IS editable, just don’t delete the portion with the border or you will have to do the note trick over again to get it back.

This is a LOT easier than trying to make a “custom symbol” in your symbol library…

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Material Properties in Analysis

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Have you ever considered the importance of Material Properties to your Finite Element solution? What about the accuracy of the data provided by material vendors? As Designers and Engineers, we are used to dealing with tolerances. We usually provide default tolerances on our drawing title block. We may add tolerances to some of the model dimensions. For the really bold and daring – or wise and experienced – you might even add Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing to your designs. Do you ever see tolerances on material property data sheets? In my experience, the answer is somewhere between rarely and never, with never in the lead.

Let’s consider a material from the Simulation material database. Alloy Steel has the following properties (numbers rounded):
Young’s Modulus – 30 x 10^6 psi; Poisson’s Ratio – 0.28; Mass Density – 0.278 lb / in^3; Yield Strength – 90 ksi

What will happen to the Finite Element solution if one material property varies? I’m going to start with a simple model in tension and apply Alloy Steel as the material using the default property values. Then I will change Poisson’s Ratio and re-run the study several times in order to compare the displacement and stress results. Recall that Poisson’s Ratio is a measure of the lateral strain to longitudinal strain for a material, or E_lat / E_long (pretend the E’s are Greek epsilon’s). Poisson’s Ratio is relevant to the linear elastic portion of the stress-strain curve and is unitless. One thing to note, if you do not define Poisson’s Ratio for a material, Simulation will assume that Poisson’s Ratio is equal to zero. There is a pop-up warning, too, just in case you forget to enter a value. Note that if you do not have Poisson’s Ratio for a material, 0.3 is a good initial estimate. But definitely exercise all of your options to find out the correct value for your design materials.

2011-1012 Material Properties Blog-OctoberBlog-Results-Displacement1.analysis

For a ½” square bar, 4” long, I have fixed one end and applied a 10ksi force at the opposite end, putting the bar in tension. After running the analysis with default material properties, I set a baseline with Trend Tracker. After creating several custom Alloy Steel materials, varying Poisson’s Ratio from 0.0 to 0.5, I re-run the analysis with each custom material. Trend Tracker will record the details for maximum displacement and stress in the model.

2011-1012 Excel Chart

As you can see from the chart, the Von Mises Stress results vary approximately 16 ksi and the displacement results vary 0.00006 inches. As percentages, this is a 28% variation in stress and a 1.2% variation in displacement. I don’t think most of us would be concerned with 1.2% variation in our models, but 28% is an entirely different matter! I did, however, choose the model with this purpose in mind. The high stresses are at the fixed end at the sharp corner – something most Engineers would avoid in their designs. Now that a 28% variation has your attention, let’s look at a more practical model.

2011-1012-b Material Properties Blog-OctoberBlog-2-Results-Displacement1.analysis

This is a simple bracket, a modification of a part in the SolidWorks Essentials manual. I’ve applied a fixed boundary condition to the bolt holes in the base and a normal force to the counter bore face. I’ve repeated the rest of the analysis, just like the square tensile bar, including using Trend Tracker and varying Poisson’s ration from 0 to 0.5.

2011-1012-b Excel Chart

For this “practical” model, the Von Mises Stress results vary approximately 4,300 psi and the displacement results vary 0.0006 inches. The percent variation in this model is 5.8% for stress and 6.6% for displacement. If you’re designing for a large Factor of Safety, less than 6% variation in your stress results are not significant. Using SolidWorks Simulation, however, most of us are designing for the lowest acceptable Factor of Safety in order to save the maximum amount of money possible on material costs. In this scenario, a 6% variation can be significant!

So the next time you’re analyzing that awesome design, consider reviewing the sensitivity of your analysis by varying a material property or two. Now you’re armed with powerful information you can share in your next design review. Material property variations from your vendors are no longer an issue! Now go make your products better with SolidWorks Simulation!

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

How I lost a bet to Gallo

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

A few weeks ago during our weekly “how are we going to take over the world” planning sessions with Lou Gallo, we were brainstorming on ways EPDM could alert you when a file had been in a workflow state more than a certain number of days. I theorized that it would be very difficult to do because EPDM does not have any timer based triggers.

Lou countered with the comment that EPDM does have a way to alert you when I project is due.

“Bah!” I shouted jumping on my desk! Anything that cool I’d certainly know about it!

Lou calmly showed me the Deadline property of a folder,


went to the notifications area,


and then pointed to the tiny little option down at the bottom of the folders tab…


Saaaayyyyy…a timer based notification! There’re in there, just need to find a way to harvest it!

EDSM quiz: There are at least three other timer based functions inside of EPDM. Can you name them?

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

2012: Mouse Gestures that Save Time

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

I must confess, ever since mouse gestures were introduced a couple of years ago, I haven’t been using them.  The truth is that I’m too hooked on keyboard shortcuts.  Why try to do everything with your right hand when your right (on the mouse) and left hand (on the keyboard) can work together in perfect harmony?  Not only that, but you also had to memorize exactly where each mouse gesture command resided in each of the modeling states (Part, Assembly, and Drawing).  Much too hard for my scrambled mind to manage.

Well, SolidWorks 2012 SP0 (which was officially released earlier this week) has introduced an enhancement that will probably fly under most peoples’ radars, but it will finally get me using mouse gestures on a daily, hourly, minutely, and even secondly basis.  The enhancement is simple – you can now assign the ‘OK’ and ‘Cancel’ commands as mouse gestures (you also now have the ability to assign custom macros to gestures).  The ‘OK’ command as a mouse gestures saves me from stumbling my left hand all the way across my keyboard to the ‘Enter’ key which may or may not have been recognized as the ‘OK’ shortcut.

This enhancement is too great to be overlooked.  If mouse gestures were too much trouble for you to use in the past, try giving my ultra-simplistic mouse gesture mapping a try in 2012.


3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

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