Posts Tagged ‘Tips and Tricks’

Right Sketch, Wrong Sketch Plane

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

How many times have you created a sketch and then figured out that it’s on the wrong sketch plane or face.  Even after all the years that I have being using SOLIDWORKS I still do that.  You have the ability to move a sketch to a different plane/face with about 3 mouse clicks.

First you need to be out of the sketch.  You don’t want to be editing anything.

Find the sketch that you want to move.  The sketch could be consumed by a feature…it doesn’t matter.  Then you can right mouse click on it.  This will cause the in-context property manager to appear.  The great thing is that it’s right next to your mouse.

You will want to choose the ‘Edit Sketch Plane’ option.  This allows you to move it to a different face or plane.  It is the icon that looks like a plane with a hand pointing to it.  It is the second icon.

Edit Sketch Plane


You can also get to the option under Edit, Sketch Plane.  It’s the same feature as on the in context tool bar.

It then asks you where you want to place the sketch.  You can choose either a different face or a reference plane.  The face that you choose could be parallel to the original one, perpendicular, or angled.  It doesn’t matter where it is.

ESP Dialog Box

It is possible that you will get a message box that says something about moving it to a different face will cause dimensions or the relations to fail.  That happens when the edge you were originally referencing cannot be found.  I would suggest just choose to delete the item and add the dimension/relation back in.

Have you every used ‘Edit Sketch Plane’?  Let me know in the comments why you used it or if you wish you knew about it before now.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Pack and Go Now Available for Flow Results

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Pack and Go Now Available in SolidWorks Flow Simulation

Pack and Go has been a staple in SolidWorks functionality for years. It allows a SolidWorks user to package SolidWorks  files such as Assemblies, Parts, and Drawings into a new folder location, or a Zipped file.  Pack and Go can keep the current file structure of folders and sub folders, or flatten to one folder.  This allows a user to make back ups of their work, or transfer files to others easily.  You can rename the new saved files individually or globally with a suffix or prefix creating a new file set.  The user does not loose custom appearances decals or scenes saving time and work when copying the files.  Toolbox components can also be included in the Pack and Go.

SolidWorks Simulation files have always been able to be included with the Pack and Go, However New for 2015 SolidWorks Flow Simulation can now add results files (.fld) to a Pack and Go.  This added functionality allows a user to quickly roundup all the important files needed to transfer, or store their design.  Simply select the Pack and Go option from the file menu. Choose the “Include Simulation Results” check box, and proceed like normal.  Please note that with the Flow Results included the Pack and Go .zip file will be large in size.

Pack and Go

Pack and Go has always made it easy to accumulate all the important files to transfer or store.  Now in 2015 Flow results are added to this great functionality. Lets us know through the blog comments how this functionality has helped you in your daily engineering tasks.  Pack and Go will continue to improve and add functionality as it matures.  Users like you help shape how the product behaves and what new functionality is added.  keep up the good work.  It has been requested for a while and we finally have Flow Results included with Pack and Go.


Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Plastics Symmetry Analysis Saves Time

Monday, May 11th, 2015

SolidWorks Plastics has joined the other Solidworks Simulation Products (Simulation, and Flow)in offering a Symmetry Option.   What is Symmetry you ask?

According to Merriam- Webster Symmetry noun sym·me·try \?si-m?-tr?\ is: the quality of something that has two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position : the quality of having symmetrical parts.

With regards to analysis not only does the geometry need to be symmetric but the analysis boundary conditions need to be as well.

For SolidWorks Plastics Symmetry two rules need to apply.

  1. The model needs to be symmetric about a plane, two planes, or an axis.
  2. The injection location is also split by the symmetry condition.  This allows a user to take a fraction of a cavity and analyze it better, faster, and smarter.

Plastics Symmetry



Symmetry is accessed through the mesh settings with a solid mesh type.



Symmetry is an excellent option to save processing time.  The results are fast, efficient, and reliable getting the user answers like never before.


Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

DimXpert Tips

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

With SOLIDWORKS MBD being released, you might be trying out DimXpert for the first time.  If you want to learn more about SOLIDWORKS MBD, check out my previous blog entry.  Here are some quick tips that might help.

Change Annotation Plane

When you have an annotation, you might need it to be placed on a different plane.  An example would be the dimension is on the TOP plane and you need it on the FRONT plane.  If you select the annotation, click the Single Quote button on your keyboard.  It’s the button with the ~ & `.


This will bring up the annotation plane box allowing you to choose where to place it.

Annotation Plane

Combine Dimensions

If you have multiple DimXpert dimensions and they are the same, you can combine them.  Just select them and RMB; it will give you the option to Combine Dimension.

Combine Dimension

Dimension Names

In the DimXpert Manager, the dimensions are just listed out with a generic name (i.e. Diameter1, Diameter2, etc).  You have the ability to rename them to whatever you want.  This can help with finding specific dimensions later.


Basic Dimensions

When you have a Geometric Tolerance, you might want to display the basic dimensions (the ones with a box around them).  If you select the GT in the tree, RMB and choose to Recreate basic dim.

Basic Dimension

Imported Models

DimXpert isn’t only for SOLIDWORKS files.  You can import other 3D models and apply dimensions to it.  The dimensions do not look at features but rather geometry.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

You Need to Use SOLIDWORKS Shortcuts

Friday, 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

Material Models for Simulation Premium

Friday, 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

SOLIDWORKS Model-Based Definition (MBD) Has Been Released

Monday, March 9th, 2015

With SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP2, MBD was released at the same time.  Well what is MBD?  It is an integrated drawingless manufacturing solution.  Instead of creating a typical 2D drawing, all of the needed information is placed on the 3D model.  This helps reduce errors, increases production efficiency, and support industry standards.

You might wonder how this increases production efficiency.  It will make your process more efficient because there is not a need for 2D drawing files.  All of the information is already on the 3D file so why not use it?  The point of a 2D drawing file was to communicate to manufacturing on what the final item should look like.  This has been the main delivery.  A majority of the time it took to create the 2D drawing is now saved.


So you might be thinking that I still need to have dimensions and add notes so that will take a bunch of time.  All the time I am saving from the 2D drawing is being placed on the 3D model.  That’s not the case and leads me into the reduction of errors.  SOLIDWORKS MBD uses a tool that has been in SOLIDWORKS since 2008; DimXpert.  DimXpert is extremely powerful in creating PMI.  It has the ability to automatically create the manufacturing dimensions with tolerance on the 3D model.


But the reduction of errors comes with the ability to check all the faces for a dimension and tolerance by changing the face color.

SOLIDWORKS MBD’s main job is to organize all of the PMI data.  It does this by creating custom views to represent specific dimensions.  With 2D drawings you have multiple views with specific dimensions.  You do the same process with MBD by creating custom 3D views.  The helps deliver the intended information to production with less confusion.


How is the information delivered to production?  You have 2 options which are industry standards.  You can save the information to eDrawings or a 3D PDF.  The 3D PDF is fully customizable to match your requirements.


I feel MBD is a great way to save time, reduce errors, and communicate easier with manufacturing.  If you would like more information or would like to see a demo, please contact 3DVision @ 1-800-745-3136 or click here.

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


Friday, January 30th, 2015

The SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation team has added powerful new functionality to their arsenal,  Rotating Mesh Regions.  Rotating mesh regions or “sliding mesh regions” allow the user to rotate geometry in the model and drive the fluid of the system.  If you are designing any device that utilizes, impellers, propellers, or other rotational apparatus Flow Simulation can provide results such as flow rate, pressure drop, velocity, and many more, all based on the rotation of the geometry.  A transient or time based study is required to use the Rotating Mesh Region.

Application of Rotating Mesh

Application of Rotating Mesh


Rotating Mesh Region

Rotating Mesh Region


If you have SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation 2015 already loaded you can find the rotating mesh region under the rotation type “Local regions(s) (Sliding mesh).  Utilize the rotating region boundary condition as usual in the Flow Simulation Design Tree.

Analysis Settings

Analysis Settings


For a look at the Rotating Mesh Region please see the following link.


Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

2015 Flow Simulation Compare Tool Improvements

Monday, 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

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