Posts Tagged ‘Chris Snider’

The Design Looks Great, But How Much Does It Cost? Let SolidWorks Costing Tell You.

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

The world is full of ‘what ifs’. What if I knew I could drive as fast as I wanted to work every day because I knew the police would never stop me for speeding? What if I knew moving my investments from one broker to another would guarantee me an additional 10% in earnings this year? What if I could simulate the cost of manufacturing my product before it ever left my computer?

SolidWorks can’t help you with getting to work faster or growing your investments, but it has a great tool for doing ‘what if’ analyses on your sheet metal and machined parts. It’s called Costing and it’s available in the Professional or Premium SolidWorks license.

You create templates with manufacturing and material information and in turn they drive the Costing tool to determine the manufacturing cost. In the templates, you can specify the material used to create the part, the manufacturing processes (such as laser cutting, bending, or milling), and the associated costs of these materials and manufacturing operations. The templates also let you create custom operations such as packaging, ERP entry, painting, or cleaning.

The tool is great for both designers and manufacturers: it helps designers make design decisions based on the cost to manufacture and it helps manufacturers create quotes for customers. Whenever you change your SolidWorks design, you can see the new, updated cost immediately, along with a detailed cost breakdown. Additionally, you can generate automatic cost reports.

‘What if’ scenarios are important to both Designers and Manufacturers because making smart decisions about costs means retaining a robust design while maximizing profits. Changing your SolidWorks models by removing features, changing materials and using different manufacturing processes gives insight into the cost of the design before it is actually built – saving you time and money. For the manufacturer, the Costing tool gives you an accurate, repeatable system that can adapt to changes in material or labor costs.

Set yourself apart from your competition by utilizing Costing to produce the lowest cost design that maintains your design intent for your sheet metal, machined, and multibody parts. See the following link to get more detailed information and get started.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Hidden Smart Mate Command

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Smart Mates are quite handy for creating commonly used standard mates in your assembly. As a matter of fact, the first time I learned how to create a Smart Mate I figured I would never create mates any other way. Just hold the ALT key down, select a face of a component and drag and drop it onto a face of another component. Confirm the mate and BAM! you are done. Efficiency I say!

But what if I need to rotate my assembly in the middle of creating the Smart Mate? I can’t use the left mouse button to select/drag and also the middle button to rotate at the same time – or else the universe will implode. Foiled I have been! Until now.

I ran across a solution to my Smart Mate dilemma and it was right there all the time – hidden in plain view – on the Move Component property manager.

Hidden SmartMate command

To use this version of SmartMate, click the SmartMates icon shown, then double-click on the face of a component you intend to mate to another component. **At this point you can rotate the model around if you like (Woohoo!)** Then click on the face of the other component and confirm the mate.

Sometimes the best place to hide things is in plain sight…

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Get Design Changes To The Manufacturing Team Quickly With SolidWorks Composer

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Quick – how long does it take you to get your design changes communicated to the manufacturing team?

Your answer depends on many things, including stakeholders and workflow, but if the bottleneck is your documentation process, read on to discover a real-world example of how you can repurpose your hard-earned CAD data to also quickly provide manufacturing instructions.

In the video below, Yaris Kabin shows us some output from SolidWorks Composer. (Note they are using a touch-screen device on the shop floor.) The operator is able to quickly gather information about the assembly process with interactive parts lists and the ability to rotate the images in 3D space to get an alternate look at the design. Imagine getting interactive instructions in a 3D format that shows you exactly the steps to follow, vs. traditional paper (2D) documentation that needs to be updated any time a change takes place.

And that takes us to one of the value points of Composer – using digital media to present the assembly instruction set means we can update the digital media quickly, efficiently and accurately. No more searching for the latest (paper) instruction card or pdf – it’s right at your workstation. Any design changes made in the CAD software can be updated easily using Composer and new parts lists and 3D display windows can be produced in minutes. Upload this output to your manufacturing workstations and now everyone has the latest assembly instructions!

Contact us if you’d like to see a demonstration with your files.

YouTube Preview Image

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Variable Pattern Instances in SolidWorks 2013

Monday, February 18th, 2013

The pattern command in SolidWorks is quite helpful for making quick work of taking a feature, face or body and copying it around in order to create a patterned set of instances. But what if you want to vary the spacing of the instances or the size of the feature being copied? The image below shows the oval-shaped cut on the left side of this muffler guard being patterned down the left side of the guard. Not only is the size changing (length and width are increasing), but the spacing between each instance is changing as well.

 Vary pattern seed feature


This is new functionality in SolidWorks 2013. Simply set up the pattern like you normally would and then activate the ‘Instances to Vary’ option at the bottom of the property manager of the Pattern command. You can increment the spacing and/or the size of the feature being patterned. For incrementing the feature dimensions, select the dimensions from the graphics window. If you need to make a modification to one of the instances, select one of the instance markers, choose ‘edit instance’ and type in the specific value for that instance. This functionality also works in the circular pattern command.


Vary pattern input


The pattern command got a power upgrade in 2013! Enjoy.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Multiple Mate References in One SolidWorks Part

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Recently a customer asked if they could create multiple mate references on a part, so that it would position itself as desired when dropped into an assembly. That is to say that a mate would be created for not only the primary mate reference, but the secondary and tertiary as well.  The answer is yes – and here’s how you do it.

The trick is that you have to (also) have a Mate Reference in the part you are mating to and it has to be the same name. That’s the secret sauce here. The rest is just making sure you have your desired mate types and the aligned/anti-aligned settings specified so that the new mates position the inserted component properly.

Inserting and positioning standard parts in an assembly just got a whole lot faster.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Use Luxology Appearance Files When Rendering in SolidWorks 2013

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

As far as favorite new features go for SolidWorks 2013, using Luxology appearances to render my SolidWorks models is one of my favorites. Luxology provides the rendering engine behind PhotoView 360 and up until now you were not able to use native Luxology appearances in SolidWorks. They have removed that barrier and now you have access to hundreds of new rendering appearances.

To download these new appearances, you have to have a current subscription contract with SolidWorks (you can also access them if you have an account with Luxology directly). Simply log in to the SolidWorks Customer Portal and look for the ‘PhotoView 360 Appearances’ link located under the Download section of the Home page.

The link will redirect you to Luxology’s website where you will need to access the ‘Share’ section/page. At this point you should see a sampling of the appearances available for download. Once downloaded, unzip the file and place in a folder that you will access via your Appearances tab of the Task Pane. To apply your newly downloaded appearance to your model, simply drag and drop from the new Custom Appearance folder you specified.

The reason I like this upgrade is I like cool looking renderings, but I don’t have the time to generate my own custom appearances. True to their mission, SolidWorks has provided a tool that an engineer can use to generate very good looking renderings with very little input.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Customize Your Command Manager Icons in SolidWorks

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make your day. Thanks to a co-worker, I recently discovered that you can customize the look of the icons in your Command Manager ribbons. So I thought I’d document it for the world to enjoy.

You may have gone to Tools > Customize to bring up the Customize interface, where you can customize your Toolbars, Commands, Menus, and Keyboard & Mouse Gesture shortcuts. But did you know that while this dialog is open you can right-click on a Command Manager ribbon and modify the appearance of individual icons? You can show/hide text, position the text below or to the side of an icon and begin or delete a group. (those vertical bars between groups of icons)

Look out sliced bread here I come.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Modify Sketch Tool in SolidWorks

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Ever want to move, flip, rotate, or scale an entire sketch? If so, you will want to check out the Modify Sketch command.

Found under Tools > Sketch Tools > Modify… , you can use the command while editing a sketch or not. If editing a sketch, you have the full functionality of the command –

  • Translate (move) using a typed-in value or just click and drag in the graphics window
  • Flip (move) by hovering your cursor over one of the axes on the black origin and right-click
  • Rotate also allows you do type in a specific angle or you can click and drag with your mouse
  • Scale allows you to apply a uniform scale about the origin of the sketch or scale the sketch about a moveable origin

If you are not editing a sketch, you need to pre-select the sketch you want to modify and then you can either rotate or flip the sketch.

The only watchout when using this command is that you cannot translate or scale a sketch with external references. You can rotate the sketch, however.

This command is particularly useful if you want to Copy a sketch to another plane or face, or if you are creating a Derived Sketch – which is useful for duplicating sketches for use in lofting.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Dissection – Quickly Reuse SolidWorks Design Data

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I love to find things that help me keep from having to do something over again. Calculators. Assembly instructions. Programmable lawn mowers.

A great SolidWorks tool in this area is Dissection – SolidWorks dissects files to make their components available for reuse. When SolidWorks files are dissected:

  • Parts are dissected into features (extrudes and cuts)
  • Features are dissected into sketches
  • Drawings are dissected into general tables and blocks
  • DWG/DXF files are dissected into tables, blocks and views

To use this functionality, first use File and Model search to search the folders you have specified in: Tools > Options > System Options > File Locations > Show folders for: Search Paths. Your search results will show in the Search tab of the Task Pane.

If you search returns a part, for example, you are ready to drag and drop that part into an open assembly.

Go back to the Search tab and double-click on the part and you will be presented with a list of features that SolidWorks dissected (extracted) from the part – you can drag and drop one of these features onto the existing geometry of an open part.

Go back to the Search tab and double-click on the dissected feature and you will be presented with the sketch that was used to build the feature – you can drag and drop this sketch onto a plane or face of an open part.

The source files are not changed when dissected and there is no associativity created if you were to drag a dissected feature onto a new part.

Design reuse made easy!

Follow this link to read more about it in the Help file:

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Auto Arrange Dimensions

Monday, May 21st, 2012

One of my favorite enhancements to drawings over the past couple of years has got to be Auto Arrange Dimensions. This might be as close as you get to an ‘easy’ button in drawings. See the image below to discover a drawing view with the dimensions in a complete mess.

To fix this in flash, SolidWorks introduced Auto Arrange Dimensions the the 2011 release. This function will automatically arrange the selected dimensions for you. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Box-select all of the dimensions.
  2. Next, move the mouse pointer over the Dimension Palette rollover button     to display the dimension palette. (Incidentally, if you mouse AWAY from the Dimension Palette rollover button, it will disappear. To get it back just hit the CTRL button on your keyboard.)
  3. On the Dimension Pallete, click Auto Arrange Dimensions in the lower left corner
  4. Click in the graphics area to turn off the Dimension Pallete – Easy!

When you use Auto Arrange Dimensions, the selected dimensions are placed as follows:

  • Spaced from smallest to largest
  • Aligned and centered, if possible
  • Spaced with the offset distances defined in Document Properties – Dimensions
  • Adjusted to avoid overlapping
  • Staggered, if necessary

There are a number of other tools on the Dimension Palette that you will also want to check out for when you have multiple dimensions selected and you want to make some adjustments – including Space Evenly Linear/Radial, Align Collinear, Align Stagger, Justify Text and Dimension Spacing Value (either numerical input or thumbwheel). Enjoy.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

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