You Need to Use SOLIDWORKS Shortcuts

April 17th, 2015

Life is full of shortcuts but those typically don’t work out well for anyone.  Well that’s not the case with SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  There are many places to use shortcuts in parts and sketches.

Think about how you create a model in SOLIDWORKS.  You choose a sketch plane, start a sketch, find a sketch entity to use, add some dimensions, then extrude that sketch into a feature. You do this over and over again until the model is created.  But during that process are you being as efficient as you can be?  Are you using any SOLIDWORKS shortcuts?  Well I hope you are.

When I’m teaching, I emphasis SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  I say they really will help get your design done quicker but I never really had any data to put behind it.  So I figured that I would model the same part 2 different ways.  One way I would model using my typical shortcuts and the other would be with none.  I timed myself modeling both ways to see which one was faster.  I also downloaded 2 tools to help track my mouse movements.  One shows where my mouse has been with a black line and the other tracks the distance in feet that my mouse has traveled.

Here’s the model that I choose.  It’s a part that has 3 extruded bosses, 3 cuts, 3 fillets, 19 sketch entities and 19 dimensions.

Ratchet Screen

The first model I used my typical, everyday SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  These are some hot-keys (i.e. “L” for line & “D” for dimension), mouse gestures, and the shortcut tool bar (“S” key).

It took me 226 seconds to model it and my mouse traveled 28 feet.  That isn’t too bad as a good base value.  Here is what the mouse path graphic looks like.

Ratchet Screen_Shortcuts

You can see that my mouse really stayed in the middle of my screen right where my model is.  I didn’t need to move to the command manager for anything.

Now let’s look at the one where I didn’t use any SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  I knew that this one would be slower and I would have a lot more mouse movement.

It took me 421 seconds to model it and my mouse moved 103 feet.  Here is the mouse path graphic.

Ratchet Screen_Manual

I can say that I modeled this as fast as I think I can.  I had to really try to not use any shortcuts.  This was harder than I thought it would be.  As you can see, my mouse spent more time on the property manager and command manager than in the graphics area.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.  I can see that I had a savings of 46% in time and 73% in mouse movement by using SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.


I don’t know of a reason not to use SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  I just proved out the reason for them with sketches and parts.  You need to customize your environment to match what you do.  So if you do a lot of sheet metal then add the sheet metal tools to the shortcuts or whatever features you use the most.

I thought you might be wondering what my “S” key has on it.  Here it is for sketches and parts.

SOLIDWORKS Shortcuts SketchSOLIDWORKS Shortcuts Parts

I also have shortcut keys that I use and mouse gestures.  Here are 2 PDFs that have my tools.

SOLIDWORKS Shortcut keys document

SOLIDWORKS mouse gestures document

Again, you need to customize yours to match what you do.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

New Stratasys Objet1000 Plus

April 15th, 2015

Introducing the new Objet1000 Plus

the World’s Largest Mult-Material 3D Printer

objet1000 Plus

Create Large or Small Production Tools and Full-Scale Prototypes

Maximize your productivity and quickly achieve ROI with the Objet1000 Plus 3D Production System. Its multi-material capabilities, substantial throughput and ultra-large build tray get your jobs done faster, smarter and with more precision. Based on PolyJet™ technology, this versatile system enables engineers, manufacturers, designers and universities to 3D print any design, no matter how complex or detailed.

Part size is also no object: The Objet1000 Plus is equally adept at printing large or small prototypes with no compromise on precision. Print large parts over 1 meter in length in one build, eliminating the need to split your largest files in CAD and later bond the parts. Print many parts in one job and enjoy a competitively low cost per part.

Multi-Material Versatility

Along with its size, the Objet1000 Plus offers impressive multi-material 3D printing capabilities with the power of Digital Materials. Build parts with diverse material properties in one job, and even combine as many as 14 materials in one part.

High ThroughPut, Low Cost of Ownership

With an ultra-large build tray measuing 1000 x 800 x 500mm (39.3 x 31.4 x 19.6 in.), the versatile Objet1000 Plus amplifies productivity without sacrificing accuracy. It works largely unattended to produce multi-material parts directly from CAD data, preserving fine details and geometric complexity at any scale.

In industries like automotive and aerospace, the Objet1000 Plus streamlines production of 1:1 models, patterns, molds, fixtures and other manufacturing tools. It’s up to 40 percent faster than its predecessor, and offers the lowest cost of ownership per part of any PolyJet system. Its size, speed and precision amount to higher throughput, lower cost per part – and ultimately a quick return on investment.


Learn more about the Objet1000 Plus and contact us with any questions.

Cody Markham

Assistant Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

Show Plot on Selected Entities

April 13th, 2015

Show Plot on Selected Entities vs Isolate Command

Post-processing your SOLIDWORKS Simulation results is an important step of your analysis work.  It is also the step that most of us spend the least amount of time on because we’ve focused our efforts in the pre-processing phase.  While there are several options available to you for improving your post-processing efforts, I’m going to discuss a Simulation tool that you can use instead of a SOLIDWORKS tool.  Specifically, I’m going to describe how to use ‘Show Plot Only on Selected Entities’ instead of using ‘Isolate’.

The Isolate command was introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2007.  It allows you to set all components, except the ones you have selected, to be hidden, transparent or wireframe.  This allows you to focus on just the selected components and not the entire CAD model.  Isolate can be used in conjunction with Simulation when viewing analysis plots.  Using Isolate with Simulation, you need to save an image of the plot and then include that with the report.  While these extra steps don’t take much time, there is a better option.

The ‘Show Plot only on Selected Entities’ option was introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2013.  While this has been around for a couple of years, I find that it is highly underutilized.  You access this option when creating or editing most Simulation result plots.  You’ll find it by expanding the ‘Advanced Options’ section of the plot property manager.

Show Plot On Selected Entities

When checked, the ‘Show plot only on selected entities’ option provides the flexibility to show results on either selected faces from the CAD model or on components of the assembly.  Using this tool will allow you to customize the look of result plots that you generate during post-processing your analysis results.  The benefit of utilizing this feature is that each new plot you create with this option will be saved inside the Simulation study and, when you generate a report, the plots will be included automatically.

Show Plot On Selected Entities

This should be your go-to plot option in place of Isolate!  Be sure to investigate the other plot options available to you when performing your post-processing activities for Simulation.  I’m sure you will find many other tools to help make your Simulation reports look like a million bucks!  Now go make your products better with SOLIDWORKS Simulation!

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Automatic Handling International Inc.

April 7th, 2015

Automatic Improving Engineer-to-Order Production with SOLIDWORKS Solutions

Automatic Handling International, Inc. is a worldwide manufacturer of custom handling and packaging systems, serving leading companies in the pulp and paper, tissue and towel, nonwovens, fiberglass, agriculture, stone, and steel industries. With a mission of continuous internal and external improvement, Automatic Handling helps its customers improve efficiency while reducing costs by integrating the latest technology with proven machine designs.

Automatic Handling

The company brings the same focus on efficiencies and cost reductions to its own machine development, manufacturing, and assembly operations. In 2002, Automatic Handling transitioned from AutoCAD® 2D development tools to the SOLIDWORKS ® Professional 3D design platform. According to Media Group Manager Nathan Pienta, Automatic Handling upgraded from 2D to 3D to improve design accuracy and efficiency, choosing SOLIDWORKS for its ease of use, large-assembly capabilities, and extended suite of integrated solutions.

Automatic Handling then implemented SOLIDWORKS Premium design and analysis software to take advantage of integrated finite element analysis (FEA) tools, SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM (EPDM) product data management software to automate workflows and revision controls, and SOLIDWORKS Composer™ technical communication software to accelerate the development and improve the quality of machine assembly and usage documentation.

While the company realized time and cost savings by moving from 2D to 3D, the ability to access the open SOLIDWORKS Application Programming Interface (API) enabled Automatic Handling to further automate workflows and processes, achieving natural synergies and resulting in a completely paperless, more efficient, model-based definition (MBD) approach to production. “Using the SOLIDWORKS API, we’ve leveraged EPDM to combine SOLIDWORKS eDrawings® files with manufacturing and production information instructions through computer terminals in the shop—completely eliminating paper drawings, travelers, etc.

“We’re an engineered-to-order business with over a dozen mechanical engineers, all working on overlapping projects,” Pienta continues. “The structure and control provided by SOLIDWORKS EPDM workflows enable us to work more accurately and productively, using virtual documents to develop, manufacture, and assemble machines, instead of pushing paper.”

 Going Paperless

Automatic Handling eliminated paper drawings by using the open SOLIDWORKS API. “With the API, we were able to give EPDM data cards their own workflows for releasing designs to manufacturing—all linked through references,” explains Mechanical Engineer Phil Morris. “We put the manufacturing due dates, type of process, routing, and even paint color in EPDM. When engineering releases a design to manufacturing, the system automatically and instantaneously creates the eDrawings, purchase orders, and work orders that drive production and assembly.”

“In the past, an engineer could spend a day or two just printing off engineering drawings,” Pienta notes. “Now, the release process is instantaneous, and production personnel receive the information that they need via 30 computers with 50-inch monitors on the shop floor. The process is not only faster and more accurate, leading to improved quality, but also eliminates printing, paper, and administrative costs.”

Automatic Handling


 Taking Advantage of FEA and Technical Communication

The company also takes advantage of SOLIDWORKS Premium finite element analysis (FEA) and SOLIDWORKS Composer technical communication tools to support its all-digital approach to development, manufacturing, and documentation. With these solutions, Automatic Handling engineers can leverage the SOLIDWORKS CAD model to easily validate and optimize design performance, and quickly create illustrations and renderings to automate the production of assembly and user documentation.

“We use SOLIDWORKS Premium software to perform linear static stress and deflection analyses to ensure that we have a good safety factor,” says Lead Mechanical Engineer Manager David Rizo. “With SOLIDWORKS Composer, our Media Group is able to rapidly create renderings and illustrations without needing to know how to use SOLIDWORKS CAD software.”

Automating Steel Orders

By integrating SOLIDWORKS EPDM with its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Automatic Handling has extended digital automation to related business processes, such as ordering steel for fabricating machine components. “When a project is released for manufacturing, the system automatically places an order for steel via FTP, complete with eDrawings files with all the pertinent details,” Morris explains. “The automation that we’ve been able to achieve with SOLIDWORKS has cut manufacturing release time by over 80 percent.”

“Using technology to improve the bottom line is a driving principle of Automatic Handling, as is empowering our machinists and fabricators to become part of the development process,” Pienta adds. “Whether it involves leveraging the SOLIDWORKS API to support a completely digital approach to production, or using webcams, microphones, and speakers to facilitate communication between development and production personnel via videoconferencing, our goal is to find ways to work smarter and more efficiently. Our decision to standardize on SOLIDWORKS is helping us achieve that objective.”

Cody Markham

Assistant Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

WACO Aerobotics Advance to World Championship

April 6th, 2015

waco aerobotics

The Troy, Ohio based WACO Aerobotics; a US First FTC (First Technical Challenge) high school robotics team recently competed in the West Virginia State Championship where they swept many of the top awards including the Promote Award(60 Second Video Promoting FIRST), Winning Alliance Team Captain(Undefeated robot runs the entire day), and the First Place Inspire Award (Best overall team at a tournament, robot, notebook, outreach, and gracious professional acts of helping other teams).

Here is one of the final matches

YouTube Preview Image

WACO Aerobotics was just getting started and competed in the Des Moines Iowa at the North Super Regional Championship this past weekend. There were 72 teams from 13 states in the north central region of the United States. The team went on a roller coaster ride of emotions for three days straight, but finished with big smiles and once again moved on to the World Championship!

The US First FTC World Championship event will be held this year at Union Station in St. Louis Missouri on April 22rd – 25th. There the team will compete with the top 128 FTC teams in the world. There were over 4,500 teams registered this season, so the competition will be tough, but the team is excited and ready to go.

3DVision Technologies is a proud sponsor of WACO Aerobotics. Providing them several 3D printed components, printing consultation, and SolidWorks Software to aid them in make the best robot they can.

We are hoping to have them attend our next 3D printing open house so continue to check our Events Page for the next event.

Cody Markham

Assistant Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

Use Notepad++ to search API code

April 3rd, 2015

When you first begin programming for applications, the Internet is your friend, it is usually the fastest way to figure out how to write a section of code.

Over time your own personal code library is going to grow. You would rather use code from your own library – you trust it. The problem is that it is usually easier to find code examples on the Internet than your own hard drive!

I recommend trying the “Find in Files” function in Notepad++. [Notepad++ is a free (as in “free speech” and also as in “free beer”) source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages. Running in the MS Windows environment, its use is governed by GPL License.]

Let’s imagine you are writing some code that needs to use the SOLIDWORKS EPDM command “AddTail” but you’ve forgotten how to use the command….and in which project you even used it!


As you can see in the image above, “Find in Files” is in the same dialog as “Find” and “Replace”. In this example Notepad++ is going to search my entire VS folder and all sub folders looking through all *.vb files that contain the word “addtail”. Doing so, Notepad++ may return something like:


You can then copy this found line right from the search result or double click on the file name and Notepad++ will open it.

This works really well with .NET code, because the source code is stored as a text file (*.vb). However Notepad++ actually does a pretty good job searching in SOLIDWORKS macros (*.swp, *.csproj) too! In the filter, separate the extensions with a semicolon.


The results aren’t as nice, I wouldn’t bother trying to open files with these extensions in Notepad++, but at least you found the file!




Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Monthly Best – March 2015

March 30th, 2015

Don’t miss any of our articles from March. Catch up now with our Monthly Best – March 2015 recap.

1.Stratasys Awarded Patent for Concealing Seams within the 3D Printing Process

Stratasys, which relies heavily on their Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers for a large part of their business, via their Fortus and uPrint lines of machines, in addition to the machines sold by their consumer-targeted subsidiary MakerBot, realizes the importance of the continued success of FDM technology within the market. Clearly they have been working on methods to improve the output of such printing methods.

Full Article

2. SOLIDWORKS World 2015 Proceedings Website Now Available 

Watch breakout session videos, download breakout session PowerPoints and check out photos from this year’s event. Also, view the 2015 highlights video and videos from general session each day. Don’t forget – SOLIDWORKS World 2016 is January 31!

SOLIDWORKS World Website

3.What’s Your Favorite Update In SOLIDWORKS 2015?

Each October, SOLIDWORKS  releases a major upgrade to their software. In these upgrades are hundreds of improvements, many gathered from user feedback. Of all the improvements each year, I am always surprised at how some seemingly small upgrade garners so many ‘hurrahs’ at our rollout events.

Full Article 

4. What’s (hopefully) New In SolidWorks 2016

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.

Full Article 

5. Printing a 3-D heart to save a heart

Learn how 3DVision Technologies Customer, the University of Cincinnati and their Objet260 Connex 2 3D printer is helping to save lives.

Full Article 


As a valued customer we would like to provide you with the most relevant content that you are interested in. Connecting with 3DVision Technologies will instantly connect you with news and information that directly relates to your industry including:

  • 3DVision News and Success Stories
  • Latest Product releases
  • Latest Industry News and Events
  • 3D Printing
  • Networking with hundreds of professionals.

Connect with us: 

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Cody Markham

Assistant Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

What’s (hopefully) New In SolidWorks 2016

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

Material Models for Simulation Premium

March 20th, 2015

What Material Model should be used for a specific

Non-Linear Study?

A commonly asked question is what material model should be used for a specific Non-Linear Study?  The answer is divided into three parts.

1. What is the material in the design(Steel, Rubber, Plastic, etc.)?

2. What is happening to the material(remain elastic, plastically deform etc.)?

3. What material property data is available for the material?

Material Choice in Design

Lets discuss material choice first.  Typically metals are characterized as a linear material and act as such.  Linear materials are simplified to behave predictably under specific loading criteria.  For Linear materials the Elastic Modulus, Poisons Ratio, and Yield Strength are all assumed to be constants.  Rubber, Plastics and Composites are accepted as Non-Linear materials and immediately require more than fixed material values.  As a rule of thumb the fore mentioned grouping holds true as long as the loading conditions dictate as such.

What is Happening to the Material?

What happens to the material under load?  What happens to the material during loading is as much a factor as the original material choice when specifying a material model.  Metals typically operate with a portion of the stress strain curve known as the elastic region.  The elastic region is typically from zero stress/strain to the yield point.  The slope of this line is the Elastic Modulus. When a load is applied and then removed the geometry will return to a zero state of stress and strain.  However what happens when the model moves beyond yield.  The once Linear Material is now Non-Linear and requires a defined Stress Strain Curve.  The Stress Strain Curve dictates how the material behaves under load beyond yield. Plastics, Rubbers, and composites are already Non-Linear and require a Stress Strain curve for their definition as the linear region of their curves either does not exist or is very small.

Stress Strain

The information assumed about the material helps determine what material model can be utilized within simulation.  For some materials a simple stress strain curve is not enough and one or more of the simple tension, bi-axial tension and shear test curves is required.

 What material property data is available for the material?

SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium contains several different material mathematical models to choose from, and covers a wide range of options to best suite the analysis being ran. Please consult the Simulation technical reference guide and help file for more information on the models and their uses.

Simulation Material Choices

A general list of materials models and its use is below.

Elastic Models: Geometry Returns To It’s Original Position After Loading

Linear Elastic Isotropic –        Linear Material with properties the same in all directions x,y,and z

Linear Elastic Orthotropic-   Linear Material with properties different in the x,y, and z directions

Non-Linear Elastic-                Non-Linear Material with elastic properties (require a stress/strain curve)

Elasto- Plastic Models: Geometry Can Plasticity Deform When Loaded and Unloaded

Plasticity von Mises-              Studies von Mises Stress values, Goes Beyond Yield

Plasticity Tresca-                    Uses Shear Criteria and more conservative than von Mises formalization

Plasticty Drucker Prager-      Approximates Granular soil

Hyper Elastic Elastomers: Large Capacity To Take Strain With Relatively Low Stress Require a combination of the three curves mentioned above.

Mooney-Rivlin(M-R)-            In-compressible Strain up to 150% derived from 3 curves

Ogden(OHE)-                          In-compressible Strain up to 500-600%

Blatz-Ko-                                   Compressible Poisson’s Ratio is assumed to be 0.25

Simulation Premium also offers a Nitinol Model and a Viscoelastic for specific applications.

The above is meant to be a general guide as to what material model to choose for specific applications.  Three main factors are involved when choosing a material model, the material itself, loading conditions/application, and the material properties.

Click Here to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium. 

Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

What’s Your Favorite Update In SOLIDWORKS 2015?

March 13th, 2015

Each October, SOLIDWORKS  releases a major upgrade to their software. In these upgrades are hundreds of improvements, many gathered from user feedback. Of all the improvements each year, I am always surprised at how some seemingly small upgrade garners so many ‘hurrahs’ at our rollout events.

For instance, last year (2014), the ‘Displaying Annotation Notes in Uppercase’ option in drawings, with the ability to force ALL CAPITAL LETTERS to be displayed for note text and custom property values was a big winner.

It turns out that I can put myself in the mix. In SOLIDWORKS 2015, one of my favorite updates has been ‘Open Model in Position’. This is great because when you are in an assembly and want to open a part in it’s own window, it will be opened in the new window with the same view position and orientation as it had in the assembly window. No more reorienting the model back to where it was in the assembly!

SOLIDWORKS 2015 Open model in position

Part opens in new window:

SOLIDWORKS 2015 Open model in position - part

What about you? Let’s hear which SOLIDWORKS 2015 update is your favorite.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

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