Author Archive

About Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP
3DVision Technologies

Here are my most recent posts

Creating SolidWorks Library Features From Scratch

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

6 Easy Steps to Create SOLIDWORKS Library Features From Scratch

Creating Library Features from scratch is a VERY valuable technique to know. It can save you tons of time when you have “common features” that you want to reuse over and over again.
In this case let’s say we have a drafted, filleted, pocket that we are tired of creating over and over every day. (Fig. 1) We would like to “capture” this feature into the Design Library so that we can just Drag & Drop it into any model.



Yes. You do actually have to build it one time. When you do, consider if you want it to be “locked down” with some locating dimensions, or if you want it to remain “free” to position anywhere. If you do add dimensions to locate the feature (from the side and bottom edges in this case) then you are laying an extra requirement on the end user that they will have to identify those references (edges in this case) when they use it. This action is really repairing the dangling relation/dimension that comes in with the feature.



This step is totally optional, but sure does make the part a lot more user friendly. If you just leave everything named “D1@Sketch3” and “D4@Cut-Extrude2” that isn’t going to make a lot of sense to anyone who goes to use this Library Feature.  If you right click on the Annotations folder in the Feature Tree and turn on “Show Feature Dimensions” (Fig. 2) this will display ALL of your part dimensions on the screen. Then if you also turn on “view dimension names” from the heads up view toolbar (Fig. 3), you can see the names that were auto assigned. Now you can just select a dimension and over in the Property Manager give it a new name. Or you can double click a dimension and change its name right there. (Fig. 4) You of course only need to worry about renaming the dimensions that you are actually going to use in the library feature. In this example we wouldn’t need to worry about renaming any of the dimensions in the big block. Only those in the “pocket” features.






In the Feature Tree, Ctrl+select the features that make up the library feature you want to create. After you let go of the Ctrl key, on the pop up toolbar will be an appearance icon (color ball). (Fig. 5) Use this to change the FEATURES to something that stands out. You could also change the rest of the part to something like gray or white. This is just going to make the thumbnail graphic show better in the Design Library. Next you would want to orient your model to however you want the thumbnail graphic in the Design Library to look. However, there is a setting you most likely want to turn OFF. It is Document Properties—Image Quality (Fig. 6)





Open up the Design Library in the Task Pane and navigate to the folder you want to store your new library feature in. Hit the “Add To Library” button at the top. (Fig. 7) In the property manager that comes up on the left, under “Items To Add” (Fig. 8), BE SURE to select which features you want included in the Library Feature! (use the flyout feature tree). For example in this model we would select everything EXCEPT the first feature (the big block that we cut the pocket into). If you included that block then it would also get inserted when you used the Library Feature rather than just the pocket with the fillets. A lot of people miss this step. By the way, you could of course PRE-select the features in the feature tree BEFORE hitting the “Add To Library” button if you wanted… Hit OK to finish adding the features to the library.

FIG7     FIG8



You should now be in a “.sldlfp” (library feature part) file now. Look in the Feature Tree. There should be green “L”s on all of the features that you intended to be included in the library feature. (Fig. 9) The library feature is really ready to use, but there is some “clean up” work that should be done in the file first. Open up the “REFERENCES” and “DIMENSIONS” folders in the Feature Tree. (Fig. 10) The References folder shows what the user will have to “satisfy” when using the feature. In this example the user will drag & drop the feature onto a face to satisfy the Placement Plane, and then they will select two edges to position the feature. These two edges are required because we DID put positioning dimensions to some edges of the block in the original part. If we had left the original feature “free” to move, we would not have this requirement in the Library Feature. In the Dimensions folder, drag any dimensions that are considered “locating dimensions” into the Locating Dimensions folder (i.e. the two dimensions from the edges of the block). By default when the library feature gets used, any of the other dimensions listed in the Dimensions folder will be able to be modified as the feature is placed. This is very nice to be able to modify the feature on the fly on a case by case basis. However, if you want to lock the user out of being able to modify certain (or all) of the dimensions of the feature, drag those dimensions into the Internal Dimensions folder. In our example we have locked the user out of being able to change the Draft Angle and the Corner Radius of the pocket. (Fig. 10)
Now Save the .sldlfp file one more time, and then close all open files.

FIG9     FIG10



Have fun creating an infinite number of Drag&Drop features in your library to save you tons of time!


Have you every used Library Feature?  Let me know in the comments why you used it or if you wish you knew about it before now. For more  SOLIDWORKS Tips and Tricks follow us on Twitter for weekly Tech Tips.


Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

What’s (hopefully) New In SolidWorks 2016

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Here is a compilation of a bunch of WHAT’S (hopefully) NEW in SolidWorks 2016 that was shown at SolidWorks World 2015 in Phoenix this past February. Some of it makes sense just reading it and some of it you had to see. I also say “hopefully” because there of course is the chance that ANY of these could get dropped from the software between now and when SolidWorks 2016 gets released in October. Some of these are really great, time saving enhancements as you can see from my excitement !!!!!

24 Possible New Features for SolidWorks 2016

1. Hide/Show Main Planes
2. Select Sketch Mid Point without a Rt+Clk !!!!!
3. Sketch Context Toolbar Stays Visible even after moving away !!!!
4. Plane For Pattern Direction
5. Convert Entities – Internal Loops
6. Hide/Show Bodies w/ Tab Key
7. Bi-Directional Sweep
8. Flatten Surface Enhancements (new functionality in SW2015)
9. SolidWorks PDM Standard !!!!!
10. Extended Quickmates
11. Toolbox Favorites Folder
12. Copy & Paste Mate Support
13. Copy With Mates Enhancements
14. Change Toolbox Fastener Type
15. Rename Part !!!!!!!
16. Drawings – Direct Scale Change
17. Drawings – Nested Balloon Sorting
18. eDrawings – Spin About Screen Center
19. eDrawings – Tabbed Documents/Multi Window
21. PhotoView360 Scene Illumination Proof Sheets
22.User Interface REVAMP – “Modern Look” (you mean “boring, bland, 1990’s cad look”???)
23. Child Feature Reference
24. Breadcrumbs

Be sure to participate in the SolidWorks 2016 BETA program starting around June or July!!

Continue to Check out our Events Page for our upcoming SolidWorks 2016 Rollout Events

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Adding relations is faster/easier in SOLIDWORKS 2015

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Often the small, simple things are the ones that can save you the most time. Perhaps because they are easy to remember to use?! SOLIDWORKS 2015 has many of these awesome time savers just waiting for you to take advantage of. Today we are going to look at the NEW super easy way to add relations in SOLIDWORKS 2015. This will be great for new users to the software because it is so instinctive, but also save experienced users tons of time as well.

Adding Relations Method 1: “JUST DRAW IT”

One of the quick and easy methods for adding relations in SOLIDWORKS 2015 is to just do nothing! Just draw a line as you normally would. As soon as you end the line or arc or spline at the endpoint of another entity, you will be instantly be prompted if you want it to be tangent, collinear, perpendicular, paralell, curvature continuous, etc.! No more drawing it, deselecting it, then going back and ctrl+ selecting both entities just to get the relation… Can’t get much easier than that!

Adding Relations Just Draw It



Adding Relations Method 2: “Click the VERTEX”

The other super easy way to add relations, in this case after the entities have been drawn, is to simply click the vertex (corner) of the two. You’ll get the familiar relations pop up you were used to in the past by ctrl+ selecting the two entities, but with less clicking and less to remember!


Adding Relations Click the Vertex

Hope you implement SOLIDWORKS 2015 sooner than later so YOU can start taking advantage of all the great time saving enhancements!

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Make Your Voice Heard! Vote for the SOLIDWORKS World 2015 Top Ten List!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Voting is NOW open on the annual SOLIDWORKS World Top Ten List!

Just folow the link below to log on to the SOLIDWORKS World 2015 section of the discussion forum. You can give the thumbs up or down to as many ideas as you like. But HURRY, voting closes on Friday, January 23, 2015.

Vote Here

The ten ideas with the most votes will become the Top Ten List for 2015. This list will be presented at SOLIDWORKS World 2015 in Phoenix, AZ in February. If you don’t vote you are passing up on an easy way to tell SOLIDWORKS how they can improve the software to meet your needs.

So please review and VOTE VOTE VOTE for submitted ideas.

SolidWorks World 2015

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Power Select

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

In this blog I am going to talk about a VERY under used, and almost unknown tool in SOLIDWORKS.


Ever wanted to select all the fillets/cuts/extrudes/etc in a part ?
How about all the faces/features/parts/etc that are colored a certain color ?
All the convex or concave edges ?
The possibilities of obscure things you can select with this tool go on and on…

I know that some of this selection can be achieved by using the FILTER box on the top of the Feature Manager / Assembly Tree, or possibly by using the F5 filters, but nothing like what the POWER SELECT tool can do for you !   Plus it is all in one place !

The tool is located under TOOLS — POWER SELECT. (great time for you to assign a keyboard shortcut !)

PowerSelect Menu

It then launches over in the Task Pane and has primary selection options for Edges, Features, Faces, and Loops. Then subcategories under each of those such as Feature Type, Face Color, Feature Color, Edge Convexity, and Surface Type just to name a few. There is then a 3rd category of refinement for Fillets, Cuts, Concave, Plane, Cylinder, etc depending on your other choices.
One of the neatest ones is the Select by COLOR, and then an option to let you select what color by picking on the graphics screen and it will select all the faces, features, etc. matching that color.
The posibilities go on and on with this tool of course.

PowerSelect PM

Play with it for 2 or 3 minutes yourself and I guarantee you will start using it !
A LOT !!


Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Designing Better Beer w/ SOLIDWORKS

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Say WHAT ??
Free BEER on 3DVision ?

Join 3DVision Technologies for a jam-packed happy hour seminar as we demonstrate how SolidWorks tools seamlessly integrate the complete design process. We’ll take a light-hearted approach, as “master home brewer” Randy Simmons, Elite Application Engineer Robert Warren, and Paesol Veerakitti, highlight the process of designing a “home brew rig” in SolidWorks.

Learn the process of “designing beer” while seeing how the fully integrated tools work together to speed up all aspects of design, analysis and documentation, so you can get your designs brewing faster than the competition.

And did we mention that you all get FREE BEER and FOOD !?
How can you say NO !?

WED MAY 14th @ 5th Street BrewPub, Dayton, OH 2:30-5:00pm

Please click to REGISTER:

Hope to see you THERE !

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

Miami Valley SW User Group (Dayton, OH)

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The Miami Valley SW User Group (i.e. Dayton Ohio area) will be having their next meeting on TUES March 11th.

It will be held at a customer location this time (NOT AT GANDER MOUNTAIN).


7211 Taylorsville Road Huber Heights, Ohio

Room 103

I will be presenting “Sheetmetal: Beyond the Training Class” during the meeting.

BTW, Steve @ QC Applications says if you are using a iPhone to navigate there it will take you to the WRONG PLACE !


Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

EPDM: Copying data card properties from Part to Drawing

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Hey happy EPDM users !
Have you ever wanted to make a SW Drawing “copy” its properties from the SW Part card ?
I have ran into several customers wanting to do this for various reasons.
For example: You might want the DESCRIPTION from Part card be auto copied to the Drawing for that part.  (they would be the same usually, right ?)

Here’s how you do it:
In the DESCRIPTION variable, add a new ATTRIBUTE with BLOCK NAME of “$PRPSHEET” and ATTRIBUTE NAME set to same value as the Custom Property attribute (i.e. most likely “description”).

When you go to test this, you need to MAKE SURE you put some geometry into your test part and insert at least ONE VIEW onto the test drawing !!

This will also work just fine if the description is entered in the Save As dialog box for the part vs the data card. It all goes to the same place.

Holy cow… Did I just write a Blog on EPDM !??!

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

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

“Configured” Weldment Profiles for SolidWorks2014

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

New in SolidWorks 2014 is the ability to have Weldment Profiles with CONFIGURATIONS in them.

This is a significant improvement as far as file management goes.

Just for example if you had downloaded the 2013 ANSI Inch profiles from the SolidWorks content area of your Design Library (you knew you could do that right ??), the Rectangular Tube folder alone had 233 files to manage ! One for EACH different size.
If you wanted to add a property to your profiles or modify a few of the profiles you had to open EACH ONE and make the changes… whew !

The other fantastic thing about this is if you build a weldment and then want to change the structural members to a different size, in 2013 and before you were physically changing to a different FILE and most likely had to re-position the profiles to locate them, and/or would lose mates to the members if you were using the weldment in an assembly.
NOT in 2014 !! If you want to make this change in 2014 you are just changing to a different configuration so nothing gets lost or moved.

Now, where do you get these new 2014 Weldment profiles with the configurations ??
Eventually you will be able to get them from the SolidWorks Content area in the Design Library, but for now, just download them at the link below !

Don’t say 3DVision doesn’t take care of you…  :-)

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

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