Archive for December, 2013

GrabCAD: A Learning Resource for All

Monday, December 30th, 2013

If you’re a SolidWorks user, and you’re not familiar with GrabCAD, you’re missing out on a great free learning resource.  Already with one million registered users, GrabCAD is becoming the standard for sharing 3D models online.  Run by the users and for the users, there is no limit to what you might be able to find and download from the site.

SolidWorks users, specifically, can reap some of the biggest benefits from GrabCAD.  SolidWorks (with its own user base greater than 2.25 million users world wide), is expectedly well represented in the GrabCAD community.  40% of the models uploaded are in native SolidWorks format (notable competitors: Inventor – 10%, Pro/E – 3%).

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So what does this mean for a SolidWorks user?

  1. Save Time – Can’t find a 3D model from 3D ContentCentral or a supplier’s website?  Then download one another user has already created for free!
  2. Learning Resource – Tasked with creating some complex geometry and you have no idea where to start?  By downloading a file in the native SolidWorks file format, you’ll be able to go through the entire feature tree and check every parameter to see how a very advanced user got it done.

A GREAT example (wink wink) of using GrabCAD as a learning resource was covered in Sara Sigel’s blog post.  I’ve uploaded this football helmet model as an example of how to use the SolidWorks’ Part Reviewer functionality to our advantage.  Just open it up, fire up the Part Reviewer, and click through my notes of how/why I created the features that I did.  Stay tuned for more models like this from me in the future.

There are many talented users on GrabCAD.  Create an account and start following them to enhance your skills.

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

What’s New in SolidWorks 2014 VIDEOS

Sunday, December 29th, 2013


Merry Christmas ! and Happy New Year !

The COMPLETE “What’s New in SolidWorks 2014″ videos are up for viewing on our website !

FYI, There is a table of contents on the left hand side that will allow you to skip to any section you want to view.


Videos for What’s New in SW Electrical, SW Composer, SW Simulation, and EPDM will also be up soon…

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Hiding buttons so PigeonHole runs once per data card

Friday, December 27th, 2013

We have a few customers who are using PigeonHole as middleware. Users click a button on the SolidWorks Enterprise PDM data card, PigeonHole connects to an external database, reads the information, and populates several fields on the data card.

We have a former SyteLine customer who was updating “Description”, “Material”, and  “Treatment” on his  data card from this older system, but wanted his users to only be able to update the data card once. i.e. If later, someone changed the data card, he didn’t want users to accidentally click the button again changing the card values back to the old values.

This problem was solved with the data card’s control logic. The visibility of the macro button is determined by the “material” field on the data card. If there is a value, the button is hidden.


(In this example, the maco button is hidden if “material” field has a value.)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Pretty form validation in DriveWorks

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

I’ve always liked how DriveWorksXpress handles form validation.


When you build the form, you tell DriveWorksXpress what type of data you want (text or number) and if it is a number, tell it the range of numbers you will accept. With no more setup than that, the validation output looks like the image above -if there is a validation issue, the field is pinkish and a tooltip is available to help the user fix the issue.

This seems a bit nicer than how DriveWorks Solo does validation by default:


This isn’t terrible, but I want my users to see the issues right on the form, and not have to look in the tasks pane.

The other day I was complaining of this issue to Great Aunt Eleanor, she rolled her eyes, pulled down at the corers of her mouth and looked at me like I was the biggest numskull she ever laid eyes on. Finally she showed me this setup:

Create the text box on the form as usual, but add rules in the properties to mimic what DriveWorksXpress does.

Under the “Background Color” property, you’ll see she created an if/then statement that says if the value for the customer name is empty, make the color “LightPink” otherwise leave it “White”. The logic is the same for the tooltip, if the customer name is empty, show a helpful tooltip reminding your user that you need a value, otherwise don’t show a tooltip.


By default, both of these properties are static. (They’ll have a little gray circle next to them -like what you see next to the “Caption Color”.) Static properties do not change while your user populates the forms. However you can convert these static properties to rule based, by double clicking on the gray circle, the circle will then turn green, then you can build a rules similar to these above.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Preparing for the CEPA

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Most of the Certified Enterprise PDM Administrator (CEPA) exam is basic EPDM administrator troubleshooting. You’ll build a vault, import some users and workflows from a provided import file then fix the vault as described in the exam. Be sure to study the administration guide on workflows, transitions and revisions, these topics are most of the exam.

For most people the most concerning thing about the exam is that it includes questions about basic project management.

From my experience, the average EPDM administrator has never had a formal class in project management, even the actual SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Administrator class skips this topic! So how should you prepare for this exam? First, take the sample exam to get a feeling for the difficulty of the questions. Most people find the level of project management questions are rather “common sense” and they do not find a need for further study. If you do need to brush up on the topic, in the SolidWorks forumGagan posted the following two links to help you study:

Two last points:

  • You will be working with some SolidWorks files; however the machine you take the test on does not need to have SolidWorks installed.
  • You will be creating a new vault and vault view. Ensure you have enough access rights on your computer(s).

Good luck!



Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Should the CEPA Exam include Project Management Topics?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Interestingly, in addition to questions on workflows and user rights, the Certified Enterprise PDM Administrator (CEPA) exam also includes questions about basic project management. No other SolidWorks certification includes topics beyond what the software does, is it fair for the exam to ask questions beyond the button clicks of administrating the software?

Being a good SolidWorks Enterprise PDM administrator does, on occasion, involve more than clicking check boxes and making backups, there are upgrades to plan and sometimes workflows to modify. (We’ll assume your company is changing/growing, on occasion you should modify your PDM system to grow along with your processes.) It is important that an administrator have the necessary skills to properly plan for these activities. A poorly planned project can result in downtime, or <gulp> worse…


To answer the question of the fairness of including project management topics in the exam, I think we need to consider the purpose of the SolidWorks certification process -is it a means to prove to an employer that you know “what button to press when” or is it to prove that you can manage the software AND the environment in which it exists? I like to think it is the latter, it certainly adds more value to the certification. When comparing two resumes, a CEPA certification should be a distinct differentiator.


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Mesh Improvements For Simulation Flow

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

SolidWorks Flow 2014 has been released and there are several updates.  I want to talk about the Mesh Improvements inside of Flow Simulation.

Two Main Changes:

  • Mesh Parallelization
  • Local Initial Mesh Regions now Adaptive


Lets discuss the Mesh Parallelization first.  There are three stages during mesh generation in Flow Simulation  Geometry Evaluation, Mesh Capture, and Mesh Saving.

Flow Simulation in 2013 utilized one processor for all three mesh operations.  Flow Simulation 2014 utilizes multiple cores(user specified) for the Mesh Capture(resource intense) portion of the process.  This speeds up the mesh drastically between versions.  A 1.5 million cell model in 2013 took 23 minutes to mesh.  In 2014 the same computer, model, and mesh settings took 11 minutes. Over a 50% improvement for this example model.


Adaptive Meshing has always been available in Flow Simulation, however it was only effective on the entire computational domain.  Adaptive meshing is a setting that allows the software to automatically refine areas of high gradient in the flow, allowing the software to converge the results.  Adaptive meshing on a localized region is now available for 2014.  A localized region is a region that a user specifies to have manual mesh refinements on.  This is done by inserting a body in the flow region and specifying it as a local initial mesh.  This region can now be specified to be affected by adaptive meshing.  This speeds up convergence by localizing the adaptive changes.



Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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