3DVision Tech Tip-Center of Mass Tool

January 7th, 2015

Using the SolidWorks Center of Mass Tool

Use the Center of Mass tool to show the global center of mass of your parts and assemblies. Use Insert Model Items to display them in drawings.  The Center of Mass feature will stay at the top of the feature tree and indicates the global center of mass.

 If you want to show the Center of Mass at a specific place and time in the feature tree, use the Center of Mass Reference Point (parts only), which indicates the center of mass at that point in the model.  This reference point can be used to drive dimensions in the model.

Solidworks Center of Mass Tool

Scott High

Technical Services Manager 3DVision Technologies

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

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

Changing languages on drawings

January 6th, 2015

I know companies that spend a lot of money translating drawings. Typically it is a slow, tedious, manual process. Since often times the translators aren’t engineers, you can sometimes get embarrassing translations.

If your standard notes are blocks, translating these notes can be done very quickly.

SOLIDWORKS’ blocks have a “FileName” property that a macro can easily change. Change the “FileName” property and the block immediately changes to the new block. So if you are clever about your block naming strategy, a small macro can be used to quickly change your notes from one language to another.

I break my notes in folders by language:


For example above I have three “Chamfer.sldblk” files. All with the same file name but defined with different languages as the text within the block.

The English version is in: “c:\vaultname\Standard Notes\English\Chamfer.sldblk
The French version is in: “c:\vaultname\Standard Notes\French\Chamfer.sldblk
The Mandarin version is in: “c:\vaultname\Standard Notes\Mandarin\Chamfer.sldblk

This little SOLIDWORKS macro snip cycles through all of the notes in a drawing, looks at their path, if it finds the word “English” in the block’s file path, the block gets changed to the “French” version.

Dim swApp As SldWorks.SldWorks
Dim swModel As SldWorks.ModelDoc2
Dim swDraw As SldWorks.DrawingDoc
Dim vBlockDef As Variant
Dim SwSketchMgr As SldWorks.SketchManager
Dim swBlockDef As SldWorks.SketchBlockDefinition
Set swApp = CreateObject("SldWorks.Application")
Set swModel = swApp.ActiveDoc
Set swDraw = swModel
Set SwSketchMgr = swModel.SketchManager
vBlockDef = SwSketchMgr.GetSketchBlockDefinitions
If Not IsEmpty(vBlockDef) Then
For i = 0 To UBound(vBlockDef)
Set swBlockDef = vBlockDef(i)
swBlockDef.FileName = Replace(swBlockDef.FileName, "English", "French")
Next i
End If

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Store common notes as blocks

January 5th, 2015

A library of drawing notes for your drawings:

  • Helps save time
  • Avoid confusion with groups outside of engineering
  • Makes training easier for new hires
  • Make things easier if in the future you need to make changes to your notes through automation.

I like turning my common annotations (notes) into blocks, then saving the blocks into my design library.


Now when I am ready to add common notes to my drawings, I can drag and drop my notes from the SOLIDWORKS task pane to where I want within the drawing.

If you store these blocks in a common location where everyone has read access, everyone can take advantage of the standards you created.


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Tables in DriveWorksXpress

December 12th, 2014

Let’s imagine you are doing a DriveWorks project where the number of holes in a part varies dependent on the model number. Something like this:

Model Number # of Holes Model Name
A 1 Kathy
B 3 Anna
C 7 Danella
D 2 Marisa






Something like this is rather easy to do in DriveWorks Pro or Solo because you could do a lookup table, but in DriveWorksXpress we are limited to only IF/Then logic. Acording to most documentation I’ve seen, they would want you to write an equation in DriveWorksXpress that would look like this:


It reads: IF the ModelNumber is “A” then 1 ELSEIF the ModelNumber is “B” then 3 ELSEIF the ModelNumber is “C” then 7 ELSEIF the ModelNumber is “D” then 2. Perfectly legit rule, but as your table grows troubleshooting the equation does become more difficult.

Consider writing the equation like this:


This treats these IF statements as an equation, adding zeros if it isn’t the model number we are looking for. (If the model is “C”, the equation would be 0+0+7+0.) It’s a little longer, more to type, but I think it is much easier to read and change.

You can do the same thing with strings too! They would look like this:


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Customer Spotlight- SelectTech Geospatial

December 11th, 2014

Advancing rapid military systems development with

SolidWorks Premium

SelectTech Geospatial Customer Story

The SelectTech GeoSpatial Advanced Manufacturing Facility specializes in the rapid development, production, and delivery of command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C2ISR) systems.

The company was founded to create and manufacture C2ISR systems more rapidly than other defense contractors. To accomplish that mission, SelectTech GeoSpatial needed to use the latest 3D development technologies and lean, flexible manufacturing processes,according to Executive Director Frank Beafore.

“Our niche is being able to design and build a range of special projects on the fly,” Beafore explains. “To succeed, we need to develop, manufacture, and ship C2ISR and related systems for deployment faster than anyone else. The US Department of Defense (DOD) values contractors who can consistently deliver on time and on budget. From the very beginning, we sought out the best design and manufacturing tools available to help our people meet that standard.”

After evaluating 3D design solutions, including the Autodesk®, Inventor®, Solid Edge®, and SolidWorks® design systems, SelectTech GeoSpatial chose SolidWorks Premium software as its sole development platform. “We chose SolidWorks software because it is designed and packaged well,” Beafore recalls. “It has an intuitive user interface and provides access to a lot of complementary tools and technologies—such as finite element analysis (FEA) and rapid prototyping—in a single integrated environment.”

“I’ve used other packages, and SolidWorks is so much easier,” adds Chief Designer Beth Galang. “SolidWorks Premium provides all of the modeling tools that we need—like weldments, sheet metal, surfacing, and simulation capabilities—to quickly design, manufacture, and deliver important defense systems.”

Supporting C2ISR rapid-response demands

Since implementing SolidWorks Premium software, SelectTech GeoSpatial has supported a wide range of DOD projects, including UAS (unmanned aircraft system) ground stations, command and control units, PED modules, secure field facilities, transportable SATCOM stations, mobile data centers, UAS secure field maintenance hangars, and tactical operations control centers. The company’s string of successful projects has enabled SelectTech GeoSpatial to expand into the growing UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and UAS market.

“We’re used to working in tight spaces, integrating electronics, antennas, and other C2ISR system components inside small design envelopes in military aircraft,” Beafore notes. “Because we have become so proficient with SolidWorks software and have entered the UAV market, we decided to do something that no one’s ever done: design, build, and fly a small UAV plane that was completely manufactured on a 3D printer.”

Printing a UAV

Working with SolidWorks Premium software and a Stratasys® Dimension® FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D printer, SelectTech GeoSpatial set out to prove that an agile, innovative company could produce a UAV quickly and with limited resources. Using SolidWorks software, the company cut development time on the plane by  75 percent and prototyping costs by 83 percent. The plane’s successful test  flight marked the first time that a 3D-printed UAV took off and landed sucessfully. The only parts of the plane, which has a four-foot wingspan and weighs less than five pounds, that did not come off the 3D printer are the motor, landing gear, and two carbon-fiber rods.

“The purpose of the project was to demonstrate that we can conceive, develop, and execute complex systems and get them out quickly, “Beafore stresses. “We basically built a UAV in a week and a half, and SolidWorks played a major role in that effort. Because of this project, we’re now developing a full 25-pound UAV with a 10-foot wingspan. SolidWorks software enables us to rapidly design and build UAVs.”

SelectTech Geospatial Customer Story 2            SelectTech Geospatial Customer Story 3

Seeing and testing a system before it is built

One of the reasons that SelectTech GeoSpatial is so much faster than competitors is that SolidWorks design visualization and simulation tools allow the company to present design concepts to customers and simulate component performance before building a single part. “On a recent special project, I created a walk-through animation that virtually showed what the final facility would look like,” Galang says. “the rendered system looked so real that the animation alone pushed the project through to the next step in the process.

“With SolidWorks, we can model something up in a fraction of the time of other packages,use integrated simulation tools to make sure that the design can withstand adverse conditions and use PhotoView 360 to show the system in photorealistic detail,” Galang adds. “SolidWorks lets is simultaneously create, test, build, and demonstrate designs, which results in faster deployment.”

Click Here to Learn More About SOLIDWORKS Premium

Cody Markham

Assistant Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2015 – FEA Solvers

November 26th, 2014

A few years ago I wrote an article regarding Solver Selection for SOLIDWORKS Simulation.  At that time we had two solver choices – FFEPlus and Direct Sparse.  Last year, SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2014 introduced the Large Problem Direct Sparse Solver.  Now with the introduction of SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2015 there are improvements to the FFEPlus solver as well as a new solver, the Intel Direct Sparse Solver.

2014-1125 Solver Options

Per the SOLIDWORKS 2015 What’s New documentation, the FFEPlus solver has improvements to connector formulation and contacts.  The new Intel Direct Sparse solver is available for static, thermal, frequency, linear dynamic and nonlinear study types.  Like you, I want to see how these changes affect the solution times for my finite element studies.  Faster solutions are always welcome!

Using SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2014 and 2015 I solved several different study types to compare solver performance.  The benchmark files I used were a combination of SOLIDWORKS Simulation Training files and customer files from technical support cases.  All of these files were originally in SOLIDWORKS 2014 format.  For testing these models in 2015, I used Pack-and-Go to create a version to update.  Once I opened the files in 2015, I forced the model to rebuild then saved them to the 2015 file format.  In Simulation, I updated the components for the FEA study and re-meshed the finite element model.  Finally, after the solution completed, I recorded the solve time for each study type and solver combination using the Solver Messages information.  The results of my testing can be seen in the included picture.

2014-1125 Solver Performance Blog

For the improved FFEPlus solver in 2015, I calculated how much faster a study ran compared to the 2014 solution.  Half of the study types investigated had improved solution times while the other half were slightly slower.  Until I can investigate several more finite element models, I’ll consider this a draw.  As for the new Intel Direct Sparse solver, the solve times calculated were quite impressive!  The percentages shown are how much faster the Intel Direct Sparse solver was compared to either the (original) Direct Sparse or the Large Problem Direct Sparse solver.  In all six studies, the Intel Direct Sparse solver performed better than the other Sparse solvers.  The Intel solver really shined for Steady State Thermal (62%), Linear Buckling (46%) and Linear Static (31%) studies for the models I investigated compared to the Direct Sparse solver.  To be fair, the Large Problem Direct Sparse solver is intended for Finite Element Models with greater than 1.5 million degrees of freedom, which I did not investigate during this testing.

With the majority of our work, what we care about most is getting the job done.  With regards to Finite Element Analysis, this means getting the study to calculate to completion.  If that study can be solved faster by choosing one solver over another, all the better!  For SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2015, I think I’ve identified my default solver of choice – the Intel Direct Sparse solver.  Now go make your products better – faster – with SolidWorks Simulation!

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

2015 Flow Simulation Compare Tool Improvements

November 24th, 2014

Every new release of Flow Simulation adds more functionality, faster solution times, and customer requested enhancements.  One of the 2015 enhancements is the Study Compare Tool overhaul.  In 2014 a user could compare any active plot and goals between projects in the same model.  This is very useful functionality when comparing between different design options under the same flow conditions.  Only being able to compare active plots lead to some drawbacks and some fumbling for what you actually wanted to see.  The goal plots gave the engineer only a table view of the reported values.  Great for a quick numerical comparison, but this left the user manipulating the data in Excel to get nice visual graphs.


This is where 2015 Flow Simulation Compare Tool comes in.  2015 Compare improvements allow the user to directly compare all the generated plots in the project, not just the active one.  If they do not want all the plots they can pick and choose which ones they want to see though a check box interface.  The comparison does not end there, we now can compare XY plots, Tabular Data, and other enhanced chart options.  New to the goal plot is a series of enhanced display options allowing the user to display the goal plot data in bar chart, scatter plot, and over/under displays.

Compare Interface



Pressure Chart

Bar Chart


To access the Flow Simulation Compare Tool, go to Tools>Flow Simulation>Results>Compare, or choose the compare Icon on the Flow Command manager.

Compare Results

Compare Results


2015 Flow Simulation Compare Tool enhancements, improve the direct outputs from Flow Simulation,  greatly decrease the time to get to the important data, give the engineer better knowledge of the Project results.  Flow Simulation in 2015 is helping make the user, Better, Faster, and Smarter.

Globe Valve Flow

Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DriveWorks Time Investment

November 19th, 2014

Money investments are easy to comprehend, we’ve been around them all our lives. I put $1 in the bank. A year from now that dollar will be worth $1.0045. (If you’re lucky.)

DriveWorksXpress takes a different kind of investment. A time investment. Same concept, but for some reason people are more hesitant to make time investments.

Imagine you have a common standard sub assembly like this frame. You use it as part of a larger assembly all the time. Figure it takes about 30 minutes to make a copy of this frame, tweak the model dimensions, generate drawings with customer names on them, etc.. You do this several times a year.


I could take this existing assembly put it into DriveWorksXpress and fully automate that copy process in about an hour. After which it takes me 30 seconds to generate a new frame. The return on investment is pretty easy to calculate, by the third frame I’m coming out ahead! It may take a few months before I need three frames, but if there are several designers in my company, my two hour investment comes back even faster.

I’ve been using DriveWorks for several years. It probably isn’t fair to think that everyone could put that frame into DriveWorksXpress in an hour.

SOLIDWORKS’ DriveWorksXpress tutorial is estimated to take you two hours to complete.


I feel confident that most engineers could go through that tutorial and build that frame in DriveWorksXpress in an eight hour day.

So maybe it takes sixteen frames to break even? However, now that you can build a frame, there are probably other little sub assemblies you copy…maybe there are bigger assemblies that you copy over and over that takes you hours to complete. Those hours could go to minutes with DriveWorksXpress.

It isn’t free, it takes a time investment, but you’ll do better than your savings account.

(DriveWorksXpress is already installed with SOLIDWORKS. Look in the Tools menu. You own it, go make some time with it.)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

New Objet30 Prime 3D Printer

November 17th, 2014

Objet30 Prime The World’s Most Versatile Desktop 3D Printer

3D print your biggest ideas right on your desktop with the ultimate in precision and versatility.  The Objet30 Prime is the only desktop 3D printer in the world that works with 12 materials and gives you specialized properties like flexibility and biocompatibility.

12 3D Printing Materials on Your Desktop

Explore new possibilities for desktop 3D printing. Print precise consumer-product prototypes with smooth surfaces and flexible components. Use Rubber material to prototype gaskets, plugs and seals. 3D print usable medical implements – like ear forms or surgical guides – that require prolonged contact with skin.

The Objet30 Prime also delivers versatility with three print modes: high-quality, high-speed, and new draft mode, a fast, economical mode exclusive to the Prime. Try out even your boldest ideas in three dimensions, from the moment of inspiration to late-stage design reviews.

Whatever you’re 3D printing, the Objet30 Prime’s productivity, quiet operation and small footprint will make it a welcome addition to your office.


The Objet30 Prime offers the broadest range of materials available on a desktop system, including:

  • Rigid Opaque materials (Vero family) with great dimensional stability and detail visualization in white, gray, blue and black
  • Transparent (RGD720 and VeroClear), for producing clear models with great dimensional stability and surface smoothness
  • High Temperature (RGD525) for advanced functional testing, hot air and water flow, and static applications
  • Simulated Polypropylene (RGD450 & RDG430) offers toughness and durability to create smooth prototypes with living hinges, flexible closures and snap-fit parts
  • Rubber (Tango Gray or Tango Black) suitable for a range of applications requiring flexibility or non-slip surfaces
  • Bio-compatible (MED610) suitable for medical and dental products including dental delivery trays, surgical orthopedic guides and hearing aids

Objet30 Prime


For more information Contact Us

Cody Markham

Assistant Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

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