Join Your Fellow CAD Monkeys at SolidWorks World 2017

SolidWorks World attendees over the past few years have probably heard rumblings about something called the CAD Monkey Dinner. This community-organized event brings together bloggers, users, employees and user group leaders to eat, drink, mingle, and take in the city’s sights and tastes before the main event gets underway. If you’re eager to spend an evening with the most passionate SolidWorks users and employees I’ve come to admire (or tolerate) over the years, this is your chance.

Ever since I started meeting the friendly SolidWorks community at my first SolidWorks World in 2011, I wanted to put together an event where we could all get together to check in, catch up, and celebrate another year at SolidWorks World. Since the first event in 2012 – during which a dozen SolidWorks gurus kicked off the tradition at the Hard Rock Café in San Diego – this “little” gathering has exploded in popularity. Dozens of CAD Monkeys have consistently taken over local hotspots – from Alice Cooperstown in Phoenix to the Y.O. Steakhouse in Dallas – with attendance rising every year. I’ve tried to make sure this event capture the spirit of the host city, including the best food, locations, and views each city has to offer.

-106Days -19Hours -40Minutes -4Seconds

 

This year, we expect upwards of 50 people to join in on the fun. Therefore, instead of a standard sit-down dinner as we’ve done in years past, we’ll be buying out a restaurant (TBA) and hosting this as a private event. Therefore, we’ll be selling tickets and collecting contributions from attendees in advance, which will allow us to rent out a nice venue in the heart of LA, near the Convention Center. It’s very important to buy tickets as early as possible, so that we can get an idea of headcount and budget, and put down a deposit.

Event Details

When: Saturday, February 4th 2017 @ 7:00pm PST (exact time to be confirmed).

Where: One of the many upscale restaurants in the LA Live area around the Convention Center. The exact location will depend on our budget, so buy your tickets now!

Cost: $40 per person, which is about the cost of a fancy dinner in downtown LA anyway. However, the Tilt system allows you to contribute risk-free, as you’ll only be charged after we meet our $2000 goal. This admission fee will cover food, some drinks and the event venue.

Tickets:
http://til.tt/No7qu?s=wb&u=dherzberg46

Contributing at least $40 will automatically add you to the guest list. (If you’re paying for multiple people, please add their names in the comments.)

This event could be one of the largest community-sponsored SolidWorks events ever, and the networking opportunities are invaluable. If you’re planning to arrive in LA by Saturday night, you won’t want to miss this gathering; and if you can’t be there, please help to spread the word, we need as many contributions as we can get!

See you in LA, monkeys!

Sharing 3D Data with Non-CAD Users… for Free!

If you’re spending your precious time reading CAD blogs, it’s very likely that you’re the resident CAD Monkey at your company. And with that esteemed title comes every CAD-related question your co-workers can throw at you…

“Can you open this and take some screenshots?”

    “I just need to know this one dimension.”

        “Can you just make a quick drawing to send to our vendor?”

            “It just needs one small change. I’d do it but you’re the CAD guy”

The tips below are aimed at helping you – as they’ve helped me – educate your colleagues that they too can get the information they need from 3D models, without pushing everything through the overburdened CAD team. This post is broken into two parts: First, teaching your colleagues how to view, measure, and sometimes even edit incoming CAD models; and second, how to send 3D data to vendors or clients who may not have access to CAD software. And the best part is, if you’re already using SolidWorks, these solutions are all free.

Viewing and Measuring 3D CAD Data Provided by Clients / Vendors

External parties will often provide your engineers with 3D models in a variety of formats, which you’ll need to subsequently measure and analyze for inclusion in your designs. Depending on the type of file sent by the client, there are several free programs and tools that can be used to view, measure, and edit the files.

eDrawings Viewer

http://www.edrawingsviewer.com/

OS:
Mac / PC

Apps:
Android / iOS

The free version of eDrawings can view and measure certain 2D and 3D files. Many of us already have this program installed, but it’s limited in the types of files it can read. Install the correct version using the links above, and drag any of the following file types into the window:

With this tool, anyone can then measure, cross-section, and mark up a 2D and 3D file, but can’t edit existing geometry or drawings.

Pros: Free; Mac version available; Views 2D and 3D files; Measure and markup tools; Retains component tree
Cons: Limited file type compatibility; No editing tools; Requires installation; Newer eDrawings files cannot be opened in old versions

DraftSight

http://www.3ds.com/products-services/draftsight-cad-software/

OS:
Mac (x64 only) / PC / Linux (x64 only)

DraftSight is an entirely free 2D drawing editor, which supports the most common drawing formats, .dwg and .dxf (the same formats used by AutoCAD). Like SolidWorks, DraftSight rolls out major enhancements in yearly releases. DraftSight allows users to edit text and geometry, or even create drawings from scratch. After installing and activating, use DraftSight to open and edit 2D drawings using the ribbon UI, or the familiar Command Line.

Pros: Free; Mac version; Full 2D measuring and editing capabilities; Command Line familiar to AutoCAD users;
Cons: Limited to 2D formats; Requires installation

Onshape

https://cad.onshape.com/

Browsers: Safari / Firefox / Chrome / Opera

Apps:
iOS / Android

Onshape is a Cloud-based CAD system that runs in your browser. It can import dozens of 2D and 3D file types. Once imported, files can be measured, sectioned, and modified. However, all files uploaded to a free account are visible to the general public. Onshape features free and paid add-ons to extend its functionality, as well as FeatureScript, a coding environment which lets you write and publish your own features.

Part files

Parasolid B-rep (.x_t or .x_b) from v10 to v29

Parasolid mesh (.xmm_txt or .xmm_bin) from v28 to v29

ACIS (.sat) up to R21, 2016 1.0

STEP (.stp or .step) AP203 and AP214 (geometry only)

IGES (.igs or .iges) up to 5.3

CATIA v4 from 4.15 to 4.24

CATIA v5 from R7 to R25 (v5-6R2015)

CATIA v6 R2010x to R2013x, R2015x

SolidWorks (.sldprt) 1999 to 2016

Inventor (.prt) 9 up to 2015

Pro/ENGINEER, Creo from Pro/E 2000i to Creo Parametric 3.0

JT (.jt) up to 10

Rhino (.3dm)

STL (.stl)

OBJ (.obj)

Assembly files

Parasolid B-rep (.x_t or .x_b) from v10 to v29

ACIS (.sat) up to R21, 2016 1.0

STEP (.stp or .step) AP203 and AP214 (geometry only)

SolidWorks as Pack & Go .zip files from 1999 to 2016

Pro/ENGINEER, Creo from Pro/E 2000i to Creo Parametric 3.0 as .zip files

JT (.jt) up to 10

Rhino (.3dm)

Drawing files

AutoCAD (.dwg) up to 2013

DXF (.dxf) up to 2013

Pros: Free; No install needed; Full 2D & 3D measuring and editing capabilities; OS-independent; Parametric modeling system familiar to SolidWorks users; No file version conflicts.
Cons: All documents created by a free account are public and searchable.


Sending 3D Data to Clients for Review

It’s even more common to work with clients who rarely touch 3D data, and assume they have no way to review your designs without 2D drawings. In fact, there are several ways to share 3D models with your clients for preliminary review. This practice allows interferences and other issues to be caught and corrected before time and resources are spent detailing drawings.

eDrawings

http://www.edrawingsviewer.com/

OS:
Mac / PC

Apps:
Android / iOS

In addition to reading CAD data, as mentioned above, eDrawings can create compressed packages of parts, assemblies, and drawings, which are small enough to be sent via email and opened with any other version of eDrawings. Simply open any CAD file in eDrawings (as explained above) and save it as an eDrawings file (.eprt, .easm, .edrw, etc.) before sending. A client, having installed eDrawings on their own computer, can then open, measure, and markup the 3D file, and return it to us. All these features are also available on the mobile apps.

eDrawings also allows the export of Executable (*.exe) files, which include the entire eDrawings program, and therefore does not require a separate installation. Hoever, these files are difficult to send via email and are routinely blocked by spam filters and anti-virus programs.

Pros: Free; Views 2D and 3D files; Allows markup; Password protection (Pro only?); retains component tree; Attach simulation results;
Cons: Requires installation; Newer eDrawings files cannot be opened in old versions.

3D PDF

SolidWorks allows 3D files to be saved as a PDF, complete with measuring and viewing tools. In SolidWorks, save the model as a PDF, then check the ‘Save as 3D PDF’ box:

The resulting file includes the assembly tree, as well as tools for rotation, lighting, cross-section, measurement, markup and more. This file can be opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader and other modern PDF readers. Additionally, other files – such as 2D drawings or documents – can be attached directly to the PDF, or the 3D PDF can be appended to a PDF report (requires Acrobat Pro). This is by far the best technique for sharing data with clients who are restricted from installing programs or using cloud-based tools.

Pros: Free; Lightweight, universally accessible format; Retains component and body tree; No download required; Password protection available; Can be merged with other files or reports.
Cons: No geometry editing features; Created through SolidWorks;

Onshape

https://cad.onshape.com/

Browsers: Safari / Firefox / Chrome / Opera

Apps:
iOS / Android

Any model uploaded to Onshape can be shared with anyone via a link, even if the recipient does not have an Onshape Account. Additional features, such as export and re-share, are available if the recipient signs in, but simple tasks like measuring, sectioning, and manipulating are available instantly. Permissions can be set by the sharer, and revoked at any time.

Pros: Free; Retains feature tree and assembly tree; No install or login necessary; revoke access any time; Full measuring and editing capabilities; OS-independent; No file version conflicts;
Cons: All documents created by a free account are public and searchable.

A360 Online Viewer

https://a360.autodesk.com/viewer/#

Apps:
iOS / Android

Similar to Onshape, the A360 viewer lives in the cloud and is linked to an online account. After creating an account and uploading a model, you can do two things:

  1. Create a regular sharing link, which allows recipients to rotate, measure, section, etc. without creating an account or signing in.
  2. Start a Live Review session, which allows multiple people to simultaneously review the model via screen share and chat. Any participant can manipulate the model, and the driver’s cursor position is shown to all. Again, recipients are not forced to sign in or provide any information to take part in Live Review. The Live Review can take place even while others are viewing the part individually.

Uploads automatically expire after 30 days, but can be extended by the uploader.

Pros: Free; No install required; Files are private; OS-independent; retains component and body tree; Live Review; Supports most 2D and 3D model types;
Cons: Requires free account creation (for sender only); No editing tools; Limited comment tools

SolidWorks World 2017 Top Ten List Submission Ends Soon

For anyone interested in making an impact on the future of SolidWorks, it’s not too late to head over to the Ideas section of the SolidWorks Forums to submit your enhancement requests. Idea submission is open to all – you can participate even if you’re not attending SolidWorks World in person.

The end for new submissions ends on December 15, and voting starts on December 16, 2016!

As you may know, I’ve been compiling data on the Top Ten List going all the way back to its inception in 2000. This data tracks all previous idea submissions, implementation time, popularity, and other patterns. Check out some previous ideas on the SolidWorks World Top Ten List Data page, and you may get some good ideas for submissions to this year’s list.

According to SolidWorks Product Definition Manager Matt Lorono, “Over 600 idea submissions are now available on SOLIDWORKS World 2017 Top Ten list! 

“If you wish, you can also choose to view ideas based on categories (such as Assemblies, Drawings, Simulation, etc.), which are available to the left of Ideas page. You may up or down vote as many ideas as you like.  To vote for an idea, simply click that idea’s title and click the up or down button.

“This year, we had a Top Ten rule change regarding ideas about bugs and stability. Focus more on fixing  bugs is available for those interested in asking SOLIDWORKS to focus more on bug fixes.

“The other is asking for more stability (reduce crashes): Substantially increase stability in SOLIDWORKS.  According to this year’s rules, if anyone wishes to call more attention to bug and stability, they are asked to bookmark or comment on these ideas (instead of creating individual ideas for particular bugs and crash fixes), then vote for them once voting
begins.

“Voting will close on Friday, January 20, 2017.

“The ten ideas with the most votes will become this year’s Top Ten List, and will be presented at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 in Los Angeles, CA on February 8, 2017.  Voting is an easy way to tell us how to improve SOLIDWORKS products to meet your needs.”

SolidWorks Visualize Integration will Cause Activation Headaches

Now that SolidWorks 2017 is in Pre-Release, there’s some confusion about how SolidWorks subscription customers should claim and activate their free seat of SolidWorks Visualize Standard. When Visualize (formerly BunkSpeed) was released alongside SolidWorks 2016 last year, any SolidWorks subscription serial number could be used to download and activate the new rendering tool. Now, in SolidWorks 2017, the Visualize download is integrated into the SolidWorks Installation Manager, but requires a separate serial number. (No, your SolidWorks serial doesn’t work here.)

2016-09-20_9-31-15

 

So what gives? If your SolidWorks serial worked last year, and it’s more integrated this year, why do you need a different serial number, and where do you get it?

As it turns out, that added integration is the source of the problem. According to Visualize Product Manager Brian Hillner, Visualize 2016 was still hosted on Bunkspeed’s old servers (which is why Visualize was a completely separate download and activation). Because the activation servers were separate, you were able to use the same serial number for two different products. Now, in 2017, however, Visualize activation has been moved over to SolidWorks’ servers. This allows installation and activation to take place through the Installation Manager (above), but also requires a unique serial number. Since it’s possible to buy Visualize Standard without owning SolidWorks, the server needs to know which product your serial number entitles you to.

Ok, great, now how do we get this new serial number? A Visualize Standard serial number will be automatically added to the “My Products” section of the Customer Portal for all Subscription customers when SolidWorks 2017 enters SP0.0 on October 10th. This serial number will work perpetually, though it’s not clear whether the same serial number will be valid for future years’ releases.

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Stay tuned for more info on Visualize, and SolidWorks 2017.

SolidWorks World 2017 Early Bird Registration Now Open!

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In an announcement sent to customers this week, SolidWorks officially invited their community to “the premier 3D design event of the year, SOLIDWORKS World 2017! Taking place in Los Angeles, CA, from February 5-8, 2017, SOLIDWORKS World is the one event where like-minded professionals come together to share and explore their passion for all things SOLIDWORKS.” Early Bird Registration, which offers the most enthusiastic members of the SolidWorks community a $200 discount, is available until November 4th.

If you’re already sure you’ll be attending, head on over to the Registration page and make it official! (And tell us in the comments when you’re done.) Don’t forget to check out group discounts (3 for the price of 2!) and other resources at the SolidWorks World main page. Or, if you’re interested in giving a presentation at SolidWorks World, your registration could be free!

See you there!

Fun fact, sometime in the last several years, SolidWorks lowered the minimum attendee age from 21 to 18. Bring the kids!

What’s New in SolidWorks 2017: Chapter 2 – User Interface

The leaves are turning, the air is chilling, and the smell of sweet, sweet CAD is in the air. Welcome to SolidWorks 2017! Take a look below for some of the best new features from the User Interface chapter of the 25th major SolidWorks release. You can learn more at the SolidWorks 2017 launch page: https://www.solidworks.com/launch

I’ll be back every few weeks with more of my favorite new features, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Try SolidWorks 2017 for yourself by logging to your free my.SolidWorks account and requesting a free, cloud-based Product Trial.

 


Honorable Mentions

Enhancements to Dynamic Reference Visualization

The parent/child relationship arrows displayed for Dynamic Reference Visualization have been redesigned to avoid obscuring other important information. What other subtle UI changes can you see in the example comparison image below?


Dedicated Hide All Types Button

The Hide/Show Items flyout in the HUD has been updated to include a dedicated, one-click Hide All Types command. Click the eye symbol (rather than the dropdown arrow) to toggle Hide All Types.

Enhancements to Breadcrumb Mate Information

When hovering over an assembly component, SolidWorks breadcrumbs will now display information about mates with errors, as well as information on the suppression state of mates.



Breadcrumbs also now include access to origins and reference planes of any part or subassembly selected.



Winner

FeatureManager Design Tree Comment Enhancements

The ability to add comments to certain areas of the design tree has been around for a while, but this functionality was so limited and – more importantly – so hidden, that it was nearly useless. While it was easy enough to add comments to part features, other users had no indication that the comment existed without checking each feature manually. Additionally, names and timestamps had to be added manually to each comment.

Comments can be used to explain design intent, guide users through training, or record specific design changes over the life of a product. It’s easy to see, then, why users have been clamoring for this much needed overhaul for years.

In SolidWorks 2017, comments can be added to not only part features, but every FeatureManager item, including mates, folders, materials, blocks, configs, and more. You can also add standalone comments, which are not attached to any one specific item (these comments appear in the Comments folder).

Most importantly, you can turn on Comment Indicators, which highlight any FeatureManager items which have comments. Additionally, usernames and timestamps are automatically added to new comments, and you can even attach images and generate screenshots of your model within the comment.

Better still, you can view ALL the comments that exist within a part, and export them to a single document.

Tune in next week when we discuss improvements to the licensing system.


Chapter 4: Installation »


SOLIDWORKS Visualize Review

  

Greetings readers! After SolidWorks World 2016, I partnered with Develop3D to publish an in-depth review of SolidWorks Visualize, which launched that week.

If you subscribe to the print version of Develop3D Magazine, you may have already seen the review. However, starting today, you can read my article (as well as dozens of other CAD and tech tidbits) on the Develop3D site:

SolidWorks Visualize Review on Develop3D

SolidWars: Episode 2017 – The Phantom Edges (What’s Coming in SolidWorks 2017)

There’s nothing hotter right now than Star Wars. That is, unless you’re a SolidWorks user attending Day 3 of SolidWorks World 2016, where you’ve just learned about some of the new enhancements you can look forward to in SolidWorks 2017. The clever skit, which somehow made it past the Dassault legal department, featured such cringe-inducing characters as Luke Sketchdrawer, Princess Layout, Over-Bend CanSolveIt and Hans Preview (along with his trusty sidekick Queue Backup), who battle the evil Old Empire of CAD, led by Dark Screensaver.

 

The scene opens with that familiar title crawl…

 

Yeah, that’s right. We’re doing this… You’re already thinking how this could go, and all the ways we could possibly tie in SOLIDWORKS 2017 functionality…

It’s a period of unrest in the design universe. Rebel Designers are battling against the evil empire to Make Great Design Happen. Princess Layout, custodian of the secret plans to expose the ineffienencies of the Imperial Design Tools, arrives at the office early to prepare for a gathering of like-minded rebels at a local SWUG Tech Summit…

Soon enough, however, the brave princess finds herself in the clutches of the evil Dark Screensaver, who attempts to extract information from her by subjecting her to the torture of a lengthy cost review meeting. During this meeting, imperial commander General Tolerance makes the grave error of using up the last of the cream cheese. Dark Screensaver rightly punishes the general for this transgression.

Stop hittin’ yourself, stop hittin’ yourself.

Stop hittin’ yourself, stop hittin’ yourself.

Luckily, Princess Layout has already sent her droid (a Sphero BB-8) to find sympathetic rebels, and share her plans to defeat the Old Empire.

The droid find itself in the hands of Luke Sketchdrawer, who – once he finds an appropriate VGA-to-DVI-to-mini USB-to-HDMI adapter – accesses the plans and consults his mentor, Over-Bend CanSolveIt. After vaguely insulting the English and dropping some subtle hints about the true parentage of young Luke, the two set about planning how to use the new features in SolidWorks 2017 to defeat the evil Empire…


Part Modeling Enhancements – 1

Bi-Directional Circular Pattern

This enhancement adds a secondary direction control to circular patterns (similar to the current “Direction 2” control for extrudes), allowing you to pattern about an axis both clockwise and counterclockwise. You can choose different spacing parameters for each direction, or just check the “Symmetric” box to keep spacing constant.

Continue reading

SolidWorks World 2016 Model Mania Solution

See the fastest way to model the part from the SolidWorks World 2016 Model Mania competition, and improve your modeling skills in under 5 minutes.

Mark Schneider presents his solution at SolidWorks World 2016 in Dallas. Can you do better than the winner’s best time of 12:29?

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Solidworks World 2016 Top Ten List

#10 – Revert to eDrawings 2013 Engine and Interface for Desktops

#9 – Automatic Fastener BOM for Large Assemblies

#8 – Ability to Use End Points of Sketch Lines for Hole Wizard Holes

#7 – Automate Explode Line Creation

#6 – Enhance Fillet, Chamfer, and Other Functions for Multi-Body Parts

#5 – Bounding Box Values for any Component

#4 – Move Assembly Sketch to Component

#3 – Use ALT to Temporarily Hide Face Under Cursor when Mating

#2 – Ability to Export BOM Table with Thumbnail Images of Components

And Dark Screen Saver presents number one…

#1 – Create a “Classic” mode GUI option in SolidWorks 2016 that emulates SolidWorks 2015

Be sure to check out my newly-updated SolidWorks Top Ten List Data page for information on all these requests, as well as those from the previous 15 years.