Archive for December, 2011

Tips for your “Configure my product” web site

Friday, December 30th, 2011

I’ll never admit this publicly, but when I’m specifying a component for my design, it’s a pretty big deal if a supplier has a nice 3D model for me to drop into my design. If other variable are pretty close, the company with the easiest to use CAD models often gets my specification.

I’ve noticed since the release of the newer versions of DriveWorks Live, more and more companies are allowing us to download their models directly from their web sites. (Bonus: No programs to install on my end!)

The less time I have to spend modeling your product, the happier I am.

If you have just purchased DriveWorks and are looking for some usability tips…

  • I want a single part. An assembly only if I need to see the motion of your product. Even then, the fewer the parts the better. I don’t want to have to spend a lot of time managing your files.
  • Don’t make me learn your part numbering schema to specify your product. Let me pick on pictures of options or worst case drop downs and radio buttons. I do want to know what the final part number is, after my specification is complete. (I like sites that allow me to watch the price change as I modify options.)
  • I like meta data being put in the file’s properties, however let me choose the file properties names. I don’t want additional file properties that have no meaning to me that I have to manually delete. Your name, part number and description is pretty much all I need.
  • A quote included with the part’s download is nice, so is a nice cut sheet; I don’t want the entire catalog.
  • I want a simple configuration of your part. Most of the time I want your models for space claiming. I don’t need the helical threads, air fins or other crazy detail -it slows down my assemblies. You can put your company’s logo on the part if it is a decal. If you want the details in the part because it makes the models look cool, give them to me in a separate configuration.

Pretty tough list? Nah, not really. Most of this is out of the box stuff for DriveWorks. Don’t forget, I am your customer, you help me, I’ll help you by buying your product.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Beam Elements in Simulation

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

One of the things that we emphasize in our Simulation Training classes is simplifying the model. It’s an easy concept to understand – the simpler the model, the faster you’ll get results! For designs that use SolidWorks’ weldment functionality, Simulation will automatically make one of the most significant idealizations of a model. 3-D geometry is idealized into a 1-D finite element for the mesh, a Beam element.

Here is a simple example where two standard c-channel structural members come together at what could become a welded joint (left side). Notice how Simulation has automatically meshed the structural member with beam elements (right side)! In Simulation 2012, you now have the option to render the beam mesh on the structural member geometry – a welcomed enhancement!
2011-1216b SW Beam Mesh-w630-h630

In Simulation, the purple spheres represent the ‘joint’ where the two or more beams are connected. There are also options for each beam’s end condition –rigid connection, hinged connection, etc.
2011-1216d Beam End Conditions-w630-h630

How should you handle the automated power of Simulation with weldments? I say ‘handle with care’! Let’s assume that you have one of these c-channels as a simply supported beam – fixed at one end with a load applied at the other. The standard, cantilever beam that we all know and love from our Engineering studies! Recall that the deflection of the end of the beam is calculated by the following equation:
Deflection = (F * L^3) / (3 * E * I)
Where F is the force acting at the end of the beam, L is the length of the beam, E is Young’s Modulus for the beam material and I is the Moment of Inertia for the cross section of the beam.

This is valid, assuming the beam has a uniform cross section throughout its length. What if there are holes cut through the beam? In this scenario, the cross section of the beam is not uniform throughout the length – which is a critical assumption for the deflection of a simply supported beam. In this scenario, Simulation does not recognize the holes and still meshes the structural member with a Beam element.
2011-1216c Edit Joints-w630-h630

In my opinion, you have two options for proceeding with the analysis. The first option is to recognize that using a Bea for the structural member is not an accurate representation of the model, but proceed with the analysis to obtain a baseline result. If this particular structural member does not significantly contribute to the overall strength of the model, you may choose to proceed based on these results. The second option would be to treat the structural member as a solid body. With this method you will obtain more accurate results with your analysis, especially if the structural member contributes to the overall strength of the model.

So the next time you’re reviewing your analysis results, be sure to review the assumptions made by both you and by Simulation. Once you’ve verified that all of the assumptions are valid, or at least that you can accept them, you will be well on your way to making sound decisions based upon your Simulation results. Now go make your products better with SolidWorks Simulation!

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

How the Grinches stole the Christmas

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Every year the employees of 3DVision have a competition to see who can design the best Christmas card in SolidWorks. The winner’s image gets to be on the card the company sends out to our friends.

I’ve never thought it was fair that the image had to be rendered in SolidWorks, so this year, here was my entry:


I kinda thought it came out pretty cool, but I’ve learned my entry didn’t get any votes from the anonymous panel of judges. One judge complained that I capitalized “Merry” but not “Happy”. Another judge, felt Jordan’s entry had more artistic appeal. For the record, I happen to know neither of these “judges” have a degree in Art nor English!

Props to Jordan for a fantastic design. I see something new in it every time I look at it….but seriously?!

Wait till next year.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Section 179 Deduction

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

3DVision Technologies wants to alert you to important 4th quarter tax planning implications – to take advantage of by the end of this month.

What is Section 179?Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased of financed during the 2011 tax year. That means if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the full purchase price from your gross income.

What Software Qualifies?
For basic eligibility, software must meet all the following general specifications:
– The software must be financed or purchased outright.
– The software must be used in your business or income-producing activity.
– The software must have a determinable useful life.
– The software must be expected to last more than one year.

Section 179 does come with limits – there are caps to the total amount written off. For more specific details visit

The bottom line is, if you are thinking of purchasing software, now is a great time to take advantage of the tax benefits.

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

What’s New in SolidWorks 2012 VIDEO

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Streaming video for the entire “What’s New in SolidWorks 2012″ is available from our website!!
If you weren’t able to make it to one of our many local live events or you would like to pass it on to your colleagues to review, it is available here:

Enjoy !

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

DriveWorks Headstart Webinars Announced

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Looking to get a head start in your design/sales configuration?

Next week, Driveworks is offering two free classes to help you hit the ground running with either your DriveWorksXpress or DriveWorks Solo projects.

The DriveWorksXpress webinar is running on December 6th, 2011. (DriveWorksXpress is the version included within SolidWorks.)

The DriveWorks Solo webinar is on the next day, the 7th. (DriveWorks Solo is still available for a free 30 trial. Get the trial, then sign up!)

Click the links above to sign up or learn more.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

How Pack and Go Finds Drawings

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Have you ever been a room and some n00b clicks the “Include drawings” options from within Pack and Go?


“Wait! Wait!” Everyone in the room will shout…but the damage is done. There is nothing anyone can do but roll their eyes and scowl as everyone waits for Pack and Go to finally respond again.

Ever wonder why it takes so long?

First thing to realize is that a SolidWorks part and assembly files do not know what files reference them. Like father’s day in <city name> no kids know who their daddy is. Since SolidWorks cannot ask the files where their drawings are (or even if any drawings exists), SolidWorks must look at every drawing trying to find one referencing one of the files in your Pack and Go list.

“Is one of these parts your child?” No? “Is one of these parts your child?” and the cycle continues and continues.

Certainly SolidWorks cannot look at every single drawing file in the world, how does it decide where to look?

SolidWorks will look in the following places:

  1. Through all directories specified in the Referenced Documents lists in Tools, Options under System Options File Locations
  2. In the same directory as the actual component itself
  3. In all the directories of any other component in the list you are copying

The order above really isn’t important. If more than one drawing references the part, they are all added to the list. If the drawing is not in one of these places, Pack and Go will not add the drawing to its list.

The longer the list of directories and the more drawings in those directories, the longer it can take Pack and Go to generate your list.

What can you do to speed things up? Limit the number of directories in your File Locations list or copy your files from your PDM system, where the drawings can be looked up in a database. Looking up information in a database is a lot faster than knocking on every door in the neighborhood asking: “Is this your kid?”

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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