Archive for February, 2013

DriveWorks Webinar Schedule for March 2013

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

DriveWorks webinars are proven to help greatly reduce the learning curve for SolidWorks. Join a few webinars in March to become more efficient with your automations and save countless hours of your time in the future.


DriveWorks Xpress Head Start Webinar

You will learn…

  • How to capture the parameters you want to control
  • How to create a simple form to specify your products
  • How to build rules that link the form inputs to the captured parameters that control your designs
  • You will see how you can start automating YOUR designs straight away.

    Register here for the March 5th webinar from 11:00am – 12:00pm


    DriveWorks Solo Head Start Webinars

    DriveWorks Solo Headstart Webinars are led by Certified DriveWorks Solo Application Engineers and are a great way to demonstrate how to Get Started with the Software! You will be taken through the quick and easy steps involved in automating your design process with DriveWorks Solo.

    You will learn:

  • How to capture the parameters you want to control
  • How to create a good looking and intelligent user interface to specify your products
  • How to build rules that link the form inputs to the captured parameters that control your designs
  • 1 hour of your time today learning how to set up the software will save you countless more in the future!

    Register here for the March 6th webinar from 11:00am – 12:00pm

    Register here for the March 20th webinar from 11:00am – 12:00pm


    DriveWorks Solo Training Part 1

    In this session we will be going over the start of the DriveWorks Solo Training.

    This will include:

  • Model Capture
  • Creating Forms
  • Building Rules
  • Running your Project
  • New File Names and Locations
  • Register here for the March 25th webinar from 11:00am – 12:00pm


    DriveWorks Solo Training Part 2

    In this session we will be going over the middle section of the DriveWorks Solo Training.

    This will include:

  • Replacing Files
  • Tables
  • Form Navigation
  • Improving Your Forms
  • Driving Replacement Files
  • Controlling Custom Properties
  • Register here for the March 26th webinar from 11:00am – 12:00pm


    DriveWorks Solo Training Part 3

    In this session we will be going over the end of the DriveWorks Solo Training.

    This will include:

  • Documents and Contolling Drawings
  • Register here for the March 27th webinar from 11:00am – 12:00pm

    3DVision Technologies

    Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

    What Can’t You Design In SolidWorks?

    Monday, February 25th, 2013

    RC Hovercraft #1

    For this blog series I wanted to design something from scratch.  Not necessarily a new idea but something fun and cool.  My intention is to design a Remote Control Hovercraft from the ground up.

    I want to give you a brief description and history of a Hovercraft:

    A hovercraft or air-cushion vehicle is a vehicle capable of travelling over variable surfaces, such as land and water.  The hovercraft operates by forcing a high pressure of air between the bottom of the craft and the surface below.  This high pressure of air lifts the vehicle upward essentially “hovering” above the ground on a cushion of air. The first practical design for hovercraft derived from several coinciding inventions in the 1950s to 1960s. They are now used throughout the world as specialized vehicles for transport and other applications.


    1. Propulsion Propellers
    2.  Air
    3. Lifting Fan
    4. Flexible skirt

    YouTube Preview Image

    I have specific goals in mind that I want to meet in the design and build of this project.


    Goals of the Hovercraft Design:

    • Utilize the SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation Suite of software to develop and optimize the hover craft design.
    • The RC Hovercraft’s main components will be 3D Printed using the Stratasys UPrint.
    • Easy to Assemble. I want to make the assembly as easy and as straight forward as possible with concise instructions.
    • For purchased components, use low cost, off the shelf components including the electric motors, electronic speed control (ESC), batteries, and propellers.

    I am starting from just an idea, and a sketch. We will see where the design leads.

    Hover Craft2

    Robert Warren

    Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

    Register Now for the Northern Indiana SolidWorks User Group (NISWUG) Meeting March 12th

    Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

    3DVision invites you to register for the Northern Indiana SolidWorks User Group (NISWUG) Meeting Tuesday, March 12th. The event will take place from 5 – 8pm and there will also be food provided.

    The meeting will be hosted at:

    Lake Michigan College
    1905 Foundation Drive
    Niles, MI 49120
    Room 108A

    For more information or to RSVP for the event please email
    When you RSVP, please provide your name, title and company name to update their email address list.

    3DVision Technologies

    Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

    Variable Pattern Instances in SolidWorks 2013

    Monday, February 18th, 2013

    The pattern command in SolidWorks is quite helpful for making quick work of taking a feature, face or body and copying it around in order to create a patterned set of instances. But what if you want to vary the spacing of the instances or the size of the feature being copied? The image below shows the oval-shaped cut on the left side of this muffler guard being patterned down the left side of the guard. Not only is the size changing (length and width are increasing), but the spacing between each instance is changing as well.

     Vary pattern seed feature


    This is new functionality in SolidWorks 2013. Simply set up the pattern like you normally would and then activate the ‘Instances to Vary’ option at the bottom of the property manager of the Pattern command. You can increment the spacing and/or the size of the feature being patterned. For incrementing the feature dimensions, select the dimensions from the graphics window. If you need to make a modification to one of the instances, select one of the instance markers, choose ‘edit instance’ and type in the specific value for that instance. This functionality also works in the circular pattern command.


    Vary pattern input


    The pattern command got a power upgrade in 2013! Enjoy.

    Chris Snider

    Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

    Supersonic Ping Pong Balls

    Thursday, February 14th, 2013

    Every now and again, there are interesting Engineering feats that catch my eye.  I think it happens to all of us when we’re in that Internet browsing haze (or looking for interesting topics to write about)!  While I played my fair share of ping pong during college, I can honestly say that my best forehand smash never resulted in breaking the sound barrier!  Enter the Purdue College of Technology, some motivated doctoral students and their Supersonic Ping Pong Gun!

    After watching the video a few times, I decided to attempt to recreate this virtually using SolidWorks Flow Simulation and SolidWorks Motion.  There are a couple of things to note about solving a problem like this.  Since SolidWorks Flow Simulation will not physically move the ping pong ball as the air strikes it, I will have to measure the force of the air acting on the ball’s surface.  I’ll use that force in SolidWorks Motion later.  Also, I don’t know the dimensions of the model or the flow characteristics of their system, so I’ll make a guess or three and see what happens.  Finally, with all I do not know about the Supersonic Ping Pong Gun, this should be a fun exercise to see how close I can get with a few guesses.

    I started by creating a model of a launcher tube, a standard ping pong ball (40mm diameter, 2.7 grams mass), and added two lids for the Flow Simulation.  I set up a Flow project using air as the fluid, an Inlet Mass Flow rate of 1 kg/s and an environmental pressure outlet.  I also used the High Mach Number Flow option and set up the problem as a transient analysis, analyzing flow into the launcher for 0.00015 seconds!  To be honest, my initial time setting was 1/100th of a second, but that proved to be far too long to analyze the Flow model.  The last steps were to add a Surface Goal for the normal force acting on the ping pong ball and use a very refined mesh to capture the flow characteristics between the ball and launcher wall.


    While running the Flow study, I watched the normal force acting on the ping pong ball rise from 0.075 N at time step 0.000116 seconds to 117 N at time step .00015 seconds.  This is where I have to make an assumption about the model.  The ping pong ball will start moving due to the force of the air, so analyzing the model past this point isn’t adding anything to my simplified analysis.  It also wouldn’t be correct as the spacing between the nozzle and ping pong ball would change, so I considered this to be a good stopping point.



    With the normal force calculated, I set up a Motion Study and use that force value to motivate the ball into becoming a high velocity projectile!  Since this happens very fast, I set the Motion Study properties to 10,000 frames per second and the Motion stop time to be 0.02 seconds.  The setup for the force acting on the ball is done in two steps.  First, at time zero, I add 117 N force acting on the ball, oriented along the axis of the tube.  Second, I moved the timeline to 0.015 seconds, edited the Force and set it to 0 N.  Again, I am making another assumption about the model.  I don’t know exactly when or how the force will be dissipated, so decreasing the force over a period 100 times longer than the Flow study time is, in my opinion, as good a place to start as any.

    Once the Motion Study is calculated, I created a result plot of the velocity of the ping pong ball.  The speed of sound is 343.2 m/s, so that is ultimately the number I am looking for.  My Motion study result shows the ping pong ball reaches a maximum velocity of 325 m/s.  All things considered, not too bad of a result given all the assumptions I made about the Supersonic Ping Pong Gun!


    The next time you come across a really cool Engineering feat, take a few minutes to consider how you could utilize SolidWorks Simulation to prove out the results.  With a few assumptions, I’m certain you could get your answers close to reality.  Now go make your products better with SolidWorks Simulation!

    *Disclaimer:  No ping pong balls were destroyed as a result of writing this!

    Bill Reuss

    Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

    New “Bounding Box” in SolidWorks 2013 (NOT just for Weldments) !

    Friday, February 8th, 2013

    If you attended one of 3DVision’s “What’s New in SolidWorks 2013″ rollouts or even if you were a good user and read the “What’s New” guide for 2013, you hopefully saw something about the new automatic BOUNDING BOX that gets created for plates in Weldments.
    But, if you don’t do weldments you may have also thought, “SO WHAT ?!”

    Well here is WHAT…

    You can use the new automatic bounding box tool for ANY kind of part !!

    Say for example you want to find the material needed to machine a part.
    Once you get any SolidWorks part modeled (or imported), use the INSERT–WELDMENTS–WELDMENT feature to “turn it into a weldment” (even though it really isn’t), then Rt+Clk the “Cut list” item in the Feature Tree and choose UPDATE.  Expand the “Cut list” item in the tree, Rt+Clk the “Cut-List-Item1″ folder that got created, and choose CREATE BOUNDING BOX.


    If you just want to see the 3D bounding box that got created, expand the “Cut-List-Item1″ folder and SHOW the 3D Sketch that was created.   If you don’t like how the bounding box is oriented, no problem. Just another Rt+Clk on the “Cut-List-Item1″ folder and choose EDIT BOUNDING BOX !

    You could add reference dimensions to the bounding box if you wanted to actually show some dimensions, OR if you just want to know what the dimensions of the box are, guess what you Rt+Clk on ??
    Yep, the “Cut-List-Item1″ folder once more, and this time choose PROPERTIES.
    In here you will see the Thickness, Length, Width, and Volume of the 3D Bounding Box !

    AND of course, if you make ANY changes to the size of the part file, the bounding box updates !

    Pretty great new feature in SolidWorks 2013 that can save you a lot of time and definitely NOT just for Weldments !!

    Randy Simmons

    Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

    Coffee with the CAD Guys

    Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

    You are personally invited to join 3DVision and the SolidWorks Technical Team for a new monthly webcast series, “Coffee with the CAD Guys”. This series of educational webinars will be held monthly and will last 30 minutes each.

    The first new webinar to be offered this month will be: Going 3D by leveraging 2D.

    With all of the 2D drawings you have I bet you wondered if they would be any good if you were to move to 3D. Well your 2D drawings have value and we’ll show you. By using DraftSight to open and edit your 2D drawings you can also use it to help create 3D solid models. That’s right, going 3D by leveraging your 2D drawings.

    This webinar will be offered:

    Friday, February 15th from 8:30am – 9:00am Eastern Time.
    To register for Going 3D by leveraging 2D click here.

    The second new webinar to be offered this month will be: Overview of SolidWorks Electrical.

    More and more products have embedded electrical content, including power systems, user controls, complex wiring, and harnesses. SolidWorks Electrical simplifies electrical system design with its intelligent design tools, comprehensive parts database, and real-time integration of your 2D schematics and 3D models.

    This webinar will be offered:

    Friday, February 15th from 9:30am – 10:00am Eastern Time.
    To register for Overview of SolidWorks Electrical click here.

    So join of us for one of the above webinars on February 15th, we look forward to you joining us.

    3DVision Technologies

    Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

    A Sneak Peek into the Future of SolidWorks

    Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

    Last week at SolidWorks World 2013, SolidWorks shared three glimpses into the future of its products.


    Mechanical Conceptual Preview

    It’s a mouthful of a name, but it’s a brand new product that’s been in the works for the last few years.  It’s SolidWorks’ very first product that will be based on Dassault Systèmes’ 3D Experience platform, and it’s designed to compliment SolidWorks by taking care of the upfront conceptual design stages.  It’s focused on ease of use, creativity, and ease of change to provide an unprecedented amount of design flexibility during these early stages.  Mechanical Conceptual is targeted to replace the simplistic processes of sketching on a napkin or a drawing board while providing an output with so much more intelligence, communication, and (of course) translation into SolidWorks for the detailing and manufacturing design phases.

    The product seems to use a similar interface to the SolidWorks we know today (e.g. context menus and mouse gestures), but when you see it in action, it performs/reacts very differently.  Everything changes and moves without any menus, checkboxes, and drop down lists cluttering the screen and overwhelming the designer.  The 3D Experience platform allows it to combine the benefits of feature history parametric modeling and direct editing into a single environment.  It looks incredibly simplified, yet it’s capable of providing advanced design feedback such as dynamic assembly motion, stress analysis, and even a never before seen motion envelop.

    Communication is probably never more important than during the brainstorming phases of our designs.  So, Mechanical Conceptual has also incorporated a social media-like communication platform that will allow us to operate with the influence of public or private networks consisting of stakeholders such as customers, vendors, managers, investors, etc.  Not only will this fall in line with SolidWorks’ commitment to collective intelligence, but it will open doors to unique design workflows and levels of team collaboration that were never before obtainable.

    We’re going to be able to get our hands on this product as early adopters/testers in May, and the product should be available to general users in the October/November time frame.  Expect much more information then.  Very exciting!

    YouTube Preview Image


    Top Ten List

    Each year, SolidWorks asks its users to generate and vote enhancements (via they’d like to see in future versions of the software.  The list is then revealed at SolidWorks World, and historically speaking, SolidWorks has delivered about 3/4’s of the requests.  So, expect most of the functionality listed below in a SolidWorks major release in the near future.

    • Make rebuild time faster – Who wouldn’t want this?  SolidWorks has actually been doing a great job of optimizing the coding behind many of its popular features throughout the last handful of years with great success.  It’s good to know the trend will continue.
    • True backward compatibility – This was introduced last year in a way that only lends itself well to assembly modeling workflows.  I guess the users want feature history to propagate to prior releases too.  I’ll be amazed if SolidWorks finds a way to pull this off.
    • Slot mate – This is going to align (no pun intended) beautifully with one of the 2014 bullet points listed below.
    • Cylindrical mates need an option to lock rotation –   I always tell my trainees never to add unnecessary mates that will slow down assembly performance (e.g. parallel mates to keep fasteners from rotating in holes).  So, as long as this doesn’t add any time to the rebuild time of the mate, I’m cool with this.
    • Provide a version of the eDrawings mobile app for Android devices – Wow – that was fast!  You’ll see below that this is already coming out this summer.  I’ve been asking for this one for a while.
    • Option for equal spacing on linear patterns – The current work around is a curve driven pattern, but this would be so much easier.  This was another longtime request of mine.
    • Default concentric mate for axis to cylindrical surface – To be honest, I never knew this wasn’t the case.  This definitely makes the most logical sense.
    • External thread wizard for all thread types – Sounds more versatile and easier to use than the current Cosmetic Thread features.
    • Draw a line segment starting from the midpoint – We already have this functionality for circles, rectangles, and other sketch tools…  why not lines?  I like this idea.
    • Create auxiliary line for dimensioning angles


    SolidWorks 2014 Preview

    Each year at SolidWorks World, we also get a preview of the next year’s major enhancements that are currently in the works.  This is typically the most entertaining part of the show.  Below is a list of the features and a few personal notes.  For a more complete list (I omitted Simulation, Electrical, CircuitWorks, and Drawings)  and detailed explanations of each new feature, check out (he does a great review of these enhancements on an annual basis).

    DISCLAIMER:  The functionality listed below is not guaranteed to be in SolidWorks 2014.  It’s still in its early stages of development, and all of the functionality hasn’t made the final cut just yet.

    User Interface

    • Environment Themes – This allows you to save toolbar layout work spaces.  I’m used to using this functionality in applications like Photoshop.  I think it will work great in SolidWorks for people that participate in a diverse set of modeling workflows.
    • History Folder – This new feature tree folder will store your most recently edited features in a similar style to the 2013 Favorites Folder.
    • Flexible Assemblies context menu – Quickly toggle subassemblies to by calculated as flexible rather than rigid from the context menu.
    • Streamlined Save As Copy – Best part is the new copy will now stay open on your screen.

    Features & Skecthing

    • Slots in Hole Wizard – I told you the request for the slot mate will eventually come in handy.
    • Path Length Dimension – Combine arcs and lines and assign a driving overall length dimension.  If you add linear length and arc length dimensions to the individual entities, you’ll probably have to leave one (or more) under-defined for this to work.
    • Fixed Length Spline – YES!  I have been wanting this for a very long time.  This allows you to add a dimension to any spline to drive its overall length.  A lot of very intelligent models are about to get made in 2014.
    • Style Spline – This looks like an easier way to draw and control splines while also producing a better quality spline (i.e. very smooth curvature combs).
    • Replace Sketch Entities – This allows you to swap sketch entities while maintaining connected relations.


    • Smart Mate Delay – Honestly, I’m not a fan of this one.  But as long as you can adjust the timing to zero, I’ll be happy.  I like my graphics to update immediately.
    • Feature Driven Component Pattern – Component patterns that reference component patterns.
    • Rotate Exploded Views – Wow, you thought the current ‘Animate Explode/Collapse’ functionality was cool?  Wait until we can rotate our components.  Extremely detailed assembly video instructions will be able to be composed in SolidWorks.
    • Quick Mate Context Menu – I’ve always said mates in assemblies are synonymous to relations in a sketch.  It’s about time they’ve become just as easy to add via the context senitive pop-up menu!  This is most definitely going to be a fan favorite in 2014!  Very slick!!

    Sheet Metal

    • Sheet Metal Corner Gusset – This was possible to do with design library features, but very hard to manage.  This tool is going to be great!  And the formed faces automatically get ignored during the flat pattern calculation.
    • Lofted Bend Transitions – The lofted bends are now actually visible in the formed state, so you have a more realistic idea of what the manufactured part is going to look like.


    • Order Independent Transparency
    • Sunlight & Sunlight Animations – Brilliant!  Add a light that mimics the sun and locate it by defining your location and time of day.  Amazingly, you’ll be able to created animations that capture the path of the sun/shadows throughout the day/night.
    • Network Rendering Animations – In 2013, they introduced the ability to network render images by up to 10 workstations at a time.  Now you will be able to use this same functionality for rendering animations as well.  Next week, we’re actually upgrading our Cleveland training lab to 10 new mobile workstations with 8 processors each.  I CANNOT wait to hit the ‘Final Render’ button in PhotoView 360 and see 80 little rendering squares dance around on my screen.


    • eDrawings for Android – Woo hoo!!  About time!
    • Augmented Reality – You have to see this in action to understand how cool it is, so check out the video below.
    YouTube Preview Image

    3DVision Technologies

    Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

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