Posts Tagged ‘assemblies’

3D ContentCentral: Get Those Models for Free

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Most companies I work with use purchased components and want to add them into their assemblies.  So how do you get the solid models?  You might contact the company for the model or just model it yourself.  Well you could download the models for free without contacting anyone by using 3DContent Central.

3D ContentCentral Logo

3D ContentCentral (3DCC) is a free service for users to download solid models.  How is this different than other similar sites?  This is a Dassault Systemes site and the models are not just from users.  You have the ability to download models that other users have modeled but you also have the option to download from certified suppliers.

Suppliers can upload their models from their catalog to allow consumers to download them for free.  This way you can add it to your assemblies and have the BOM show the true items to be assembled.

3D ContentCentral BOM

There is also integration into your SOLIDWORKS interface.  If you open the Design Library, you will see it on the right side.  When you click on it, it will take you to the website allowing you to download the files.

3D ContentCentral  Integration

Many of the files allow you to configure them before you download.  So you can choose a different color, different size, etc.  You can also choose what format you want to download the file in.

3D ContentCentral Configure

How many suppliers are on 3D ContentCentral?  I just counted 840 which are from all over the world.  You can search for a specific supplier or find them in the global list.

So what if you want a model from a supplier but they aren’t on 3DCC?  You have the ability to request the content.  You can make the request to have a member of the 3D ContentCentral community model it.  Or you can request that a supplier be added to 3DCC.

3D ContentCentral Request

3D ContentCentral is going through a website redesign.  They are changing the interface, adding a new eDrawings viewer which will be available in many browsers/mobile, and an improved searching tool.  The viewer will allow you to rotate, section, and shade the models so you know what you are downloading.

3D ContentCentral preview

Check it out here: Beta 3D ContentCentral

3D ContentCentral Interface

I have used this site many times and have suggested users check it out.  There are over 1.3 million members who have used 3DCC.  Are you one of them?

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve used it and what you think.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Available Tables in SOLIDWORKS Drawings

Friday, February 13th, 2015

I get asked about the different tables in SOLIDWORKS drawings.  I’ll go over some of these as a high level overview.  This will cover BOM, Hole Table, Revision Tables, Weldment Cut List Tables, General Table, Weld Table, Bend Table, and Punch Tables.

Closed Table Rendered in SOLIDWORKS Drawings

The Bill of Materials is a list of the components and the quantities of each needed to manufacture the end product.  This can be customized a lot to be able to show different properties, different fonts, etc.

Bill Of Materials in SOLIDWORKS Drawing

Bill Of Materials

Once you would get it looking like you want, you would want to save it out as a template so you can easily get back to same style.  If you Right Mouse Click on the table you will get the option to save it.  You can then specify it as a Template and place it with your other ones.  The next time you start a BOM, you will want to choose the one you just saved out and the columns and font will be the same.
Save as template in SOLIDWORKS Drawing
When you RMC, you will notice you can save the BOM as an excel file.  Now with it in excel, you can import it to an ERP/MRP system.

Hole Table

This is used to automatically generate hole information in a tabular format.  The table will show the location and hole size from a specified origin.

Hole Table in SOLIDWORKS Drawing

Hole Table

You also have the ability to customize it with a specific font and size.  You can also add tolerances for the locations and the hole sizes.

Revision Tables

This type of table is used to represent the latest revision of the drawing.  You can see the description of the change, the date it occurred, who did it, and the revision symbol in the drawing.



The revision table can also update the Revision Block in your title block.

Weldment Cut List Tables

A cut list is similar to a BOM.  This is used with the weldment function to represent the cut lengths for structural shapes.


Weldment Cutlist

The cut list can again be customized like the BOM to show what is important for final manufacturing.  It has the same ability to be saved as a template and excel file.  This is only active when you have a part file that is a weldment.

General Table

This would be used when you need to type in data in the cells rather than having the software automatically generate the data.  You have the same ability as other tables.  You can split, merge, sort, save, etc this table just like the other types.

Weld Table

The weld table is a summary of weld specifications.  It will represent weld quantity, size, symbol, length, and other custom bead properties.


Weld Table

The table will get the data from the drawing view.  If you add the weld beads to the model, it will automatically fill the table out.  If you are only placing the weld symbols on the drawing views, there is an option in the property manager to include drawing annotations.

Bend Table


Bend Table in SOLIDWORKS Drawing

Bend tables are used with Sheet Metal parts.  In place of having many callout for each bend, you can represent these in a table.  It will specify the bend direction, the angle that it needs to bend to, and the radius of the bend.

Punch Table


Punch Table in SOLIDWORKS Drawings

Punch tables are also used with Sheet Metal parts.  This is very similar to hole tables but in place of holes, it is used with form features.  The table will represent the location of the punch on the flat pattern, the punch ID, the quantity, and the angle between the X-axis and the tool.

Thank You

This was just a high level overview of SOLIDWORKS tables.  If you have any specific questions about them, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Weldments and Bill of Materials

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

There are many different ways to create structural frames.  One method might be creating it as an assembly with many individual parts.  Another method, which is my preferred  way, would be as a single multibody part…as a Weldment.
Weldment Icon
The Weldment way allows for easy design changes, automatic structural member trimming/extensions, and creation of cut lengths.  This however is typically just a portion of the overall design.  There might be many more pieces that go on the frame.  This is when you would add your Weldment design to an assembly.

Now with your Weldment in the assembly and the other components attached, you need a Bill of Materials (BOM).  It’s possibly to show the cut list for all the structural members in an assembly BOM.  You will need to choose a BOM Type of Indented in the PropertyManager.

BOM Property Manager
Once you choose the indented type, the BOM will show as a cut list.  The QTY column shows a total length for the structural member.

BOM Image
If you then choose “Detailed cut list” in the BOM Type, it will break each member out in their own row with a length value.

BOM Image Detailed
Now your assembly BOMs can show all the individual items even in the Weldment.  But what if you are using Enterprise PDM.  Can you see the cut list in EPDM?  Of course you can.  It is under the Bill of Materials tab.  You would need to set-up a Weldment Cut List template in EPDM but that is very simple.

EPDM Cut List
As you can see, the cut list item names can be shown to make finding the correct member easy.  Just like in a drawing, you can choose to see a Weldment BOM.

EPDM Weldment BOM
This will group all the members together giving you a total quantity.  If you select the “Contains” tab, and RMB on a Weldment member, you get some more useful functionality.

EPDM Contains Tab
When you choose “Properties”, you can see the members data card with the length.

EPDM Data Card Weldment
You will need to add the length field to the card and map it to the “BOM Quantity” variable.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

What Can’t You Design In SolidWorks? #2

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

RC Hovercraft #2 – SolidWorks

To review, I had 4 main design criteria for the Remote Control Hover Craft.

  • Utilize the SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation Suite of software to develop and optimize the hovercraft 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 purchases components, use low cost, off the shelf components including the electric motors, electronic speed control (ESC), batteries, and propellers.

I proceeded forward with the design of the Hovercraft using SolidWorks 3D mechanical design software.  SolidWorks allowed me to quickly develop and execute a first pass design, utilizing Multi-Body Parts, In context Assembly Modeling, Sketch Pictures, Fastening Features, Interference Detection, and several other standard options.  All of this came together in an initial design that meets the above criteria.

The design started with the Top Plate part that houses the downward facing fan assembly and gives the craft its overall dimensional size.  I kept the craft under the 8″ by 8″ tray size of the Stratasys UPrint 3D Printer.  The part consists of multi-bodies; one for the plate and the other for the fan housing.  These bodies have minimal tolerance so they are a snug fit when pressed together for final assembly.  This design criteria is so that if the propeller needs to be serviced later total dis-assembly of the craft does not have to take place. Simply pull the fan unit upward out of the top plate.

Top Plate

Top Plate

Exploded View Front

Exploded View Front

Exploded View Back

Exploded View Back


The chassis continues with a bottom plate and separating ribs.  The chassis is hollow as the air needs to fill this cavity before exiting out of the skirt.  The skirt is intended to be a bicycle inner tube cut to size with holes cut around the inner bottom portion allowing the air to escape.  The skirt will be held on by two fastening plates and standard hobby store machine screws.

Section View

Section View

The back cowling snaps into place with a Snap Hook.  The Fastening Feature command was used to create this geometry.  The Snap Hook will allow for ease of assembly, and the cowl contains a cross bar with built in motor mount sized for a 9V-11V brushed can motor. The Cowling and Top Plate will make up the mounting location for the dual rudder system.  The system is driven by  an S75 Nano servo available at most local hobby shops.





The canopy will cover all of the electronics including the Receiver, two Electronic Speed Controls (ESC), And two Li-Poly 300MAH 11.1V Batteries.  One ESC and battery per motor.  I originally set out utilizing the Sketch Picture and Surfacing to create the canopy structure. This worked out well, however at this time I did not have the electronics in the full assembly.  When trying to accommodate the electronics under the first variation of the canopy I visibly had interference. Luckily utilizing in-context editing and having a well planned design intent, the changes to the canopy allowed for an easy and quick change.

Sketch Picture

Sketch Picture

Interference Original Canopy

Interference Original Canopy

Receiver & ESCs

Receiver & ESCs


Batteries, Receiver, and ESCs

Batteries, Receiver, and ESCs

Canopy Design Change

Canopy Design Change



There is still much to do with the modeling aspect, but for now I have a good working start to the project and a starting point to investigate the flow and stress characteristics of the design.  The next step is to utilize Flow Simulation to verify the lift ability of the motor and propeller combination  for the lift fan and the rear facing fan assembly.














Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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

How to Hide & Show Components Fast

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Here’s a cool shortcut, added in SolidWorks 2012, to hide and show components in an assembly; “Tab” key.

If you move your mouse over a component and press the “Tab” key, the component gets hidden.  If you hold “Shift“+”Tab“, it will bring the component back.  Try holding the “Tab” key down and moving your mouse over the assembly and see what happens.

You can learn some other good tips in regards to assemblies in the Assembly Training Class.  We will cover everything from Top-Down assembly modeling, to all the selection capabilities, to working with large assemblies.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Assembly Visualization – the search for the missing file properties

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Releasing your drawings to the machine shop with missing information makes a machinist angrier than a baby boomer looking at a teenager that doesn’t have his pants pulled up all the way.

As we all know, looking through a large assembly, checking file properties can be a tedious task. (At least that is the excuse I always use.) I’ve found Assembly Visualization can be a great tool to quickly skim through your assembly’s components looking for missing information.

Here’s how I could use it to find any parts in my assembly without material specified:

1. Start the Visualization tool (it is either on your assembly or evaluate toolbar by default)

2. Right mouse button click on any of the headers (except “File Name”) and choose “Add Column”, or find any column with a little black arrow pointing to the right.AddColumn

3. Click on that arrow and choose “More…”


4. Choose the property you want to examine. (Check it out, you could work with formula too!)


5. Now you can sort by this property by clicking on its heading and your parts with missing information will come to the top. You can quickly see I haven’t assigned a material to my “crank-knob”missing

Thank you for attending “Jeff Sweeney’s SolidWorks tip of the randomly selected interval” please tune in next time, at a time to be determined when I feel like it, to learn more cool SolidWorks tips and tricks.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Game Show: Why won’t these references update? – The Solution

Friday, May 20th, 2011

In Wednesday’s competition we learned neither our champion nor challenger’s method of updating references worked. Did you figure out why?

The problem they ran into was caused by how SolidWorks finds referenced files when assemblies are opened.

SolidWorks has a set of rules to go by when trying to find components of an assembly. It is important to know and understand SolidWorks’ method.

  1. Try to use an already loaded file
  2. Look in the paths listed in the “Referenced Documents” list in the options area
  3. Look in the same directory as the assembly
  4. Look in the directories where it has already found other components
  5. Look where the file was the last time the assembly was saved (excluding the drive letter)
  6. Look where the file was the last time the assembly was saved (including the drive letter)
  7. Ask you where the file is

Both contestants correctly told SolidWorks to look in the new location, but SolidWorks would rather find the file within the same directory as the assembly was found. (Priority #3) It only appeared the references were not updated.

If either of our contestants would have deleted the motor from the assembly’s directory they would have won the autographed coloring book because SolidWorks would have gotten to priority #5 and the correct motor file would have been opened.

What is the moral of the story?

  1. Spend some time learning how SolidWorks resolves referenced documents. This is a very important skill, that I promise can save you many headaches when files are acting funny
  2. Never duplicate file names for SolidWorks files. If these two files would not have had the same name, at worst our contestants would have been notified that SolidWorks could not find the file (gotten to priority #7) and they could have known to fix the issue.


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Game Show: Why won’t these references update?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Welcome everyone to America’s favorite game show: “Why won’t these references update?!” I’m your favorite game show host Guy Smiley.

Today we have two challengers. Our first challenger enjoys hopscotch and talking to her gold fish, say hello to Penelope Pendelton!

Our second player enjoys working in his store, Mr. Hooper.

Here is the challenge: Today we received a set of files from an outside contractor. Our producers have copied the files from our ftp site and have added them to our network as shown here:



The challenge we have for the two of you today is that the “182T.SLDPRT” file is a standard product of our company and we wish for you to change the assembly’s reference to no longer load the file from this downloaded directory, but to use the file in our standard parts library instead:


The winner of today’s challenge receives a coloring book autographed by me, Guy Smiley.

On your mark, get set, go!

Our challenger, Penelope wastes no time opening SolidWorks and changing the reference through the “Reference” button in SolidWorks’ Open dialog box.


She quickly opens and saves the assembly and clicks her buzzer. 37 seconds, an unbelievable time.

Now it is our champion, Mr. Looper’s turn.


Mr. Hooper notices the assembly is stored in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, so he uses EPDM’s “Update Reference” tool to change the reference in only twenty seconds!

It looks like Mr. Snooper has easily won this challenge, but let’s wait for the judge’s final decision.

Our judges go to each challenger’s computer, open each assembly and find the assemblies are still referencing the original motor! Neither method worked! Are we doomed to never have this assembly reference the file from the library like we want?

Both assemblies were checked out, the assembly files have a new time date stamp …what happened?

Tune in tomorrow to learn: “Why won’t these references update?!”

(Hint: This is not an EPDM issue.)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Pack and Go vs. EPDM’s Copy Tree – Who Wins?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Pack and Go vs. EPDM’s Copy Tree – Who Wins?

When working with files outside of the vault, you have no choice -Pack and Go is the only tool you have, and it is a good tool -all the cool kids are using it.

However, for copying files within SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, both tools are an option, which one should you use?

Easy. Copy Tree. No question, no contest. I don’t want to hear your argument for Pack and Go…your argument is bad. Copy Tree gives you:

  • Speed
  • Less Mistakes
  • More Options


Speed – What happens when you click “Include Drawings” with Pack and Go? Pack and Go goes through all of your referenced paths looking at each and every drawing trying to decide if it is a parent of one of the chosen parts. That can take time. If you have lots of paths, that can take a loooong time. Click “Include Drawings” in EPDM, since there is a database – all drawings are found almost immediately.

Less Mistakes – See those two radio buttons “Use latest version of references” and “Use attached version of references”? Pack and Go doesn’t have those options. This means that Pack and Go is going to simply copy the version of the file that is in your local cache. Is it the right version? You better hope so! These two options in Copy Tree help ensure you are copying the version you want.

More Options:

  • Rename with Serial Number – If you are using EPDM’s serial numbers, Copy Tree will look those numbers up for you and rename the new files on the fly
  • Check in files with comment – Checks in the new files after the copy.
  • Name drawings after their models – Very handy if you are renaming the models, you can get the drawings to have the same name automatically

Every tool has its place, ensure you are using the right one at the right time.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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