What I Learned at SolidWorks World 2018

Fresh off my return from SolidWorks World 2018 in LA last week, here are the most interesting tips, tricks, tools, and tidbits I picked up, which may help my fellow CAD users out there.

Section Views Kill Drawing Performance

Thanks to Alin Vargatu of Javelin Tech and Grant Mattis of Feature Walters, I learned that section views in drawings significantly increase drawing open, rebuild, and response times. Apparently SolidWorks creates a whole new copy of your model in memory, performs a physical cut, and then displays the edges of that model. Having multiple configurations in a drawing similarly increases required resources, but that at least makes sense.

High Quality Views are Actually Better for Performance

While draft quality views can be generated faster initially, they take a moment to update every time you zoom or pan the drawing, because they’re pulling their information from the model data. On the other hand, high-quality views take longer to generate up front, but then don’t need to be redrawn every time the view shifts. High quality drawing views also result in smaller drawing file sizes.

#Task (“SharpTask”)

This batch task manager is infinitely more functional than the build in SolidWorks Task Scheduler. It includes an online library of tasks to choose from, and multiple tasks can be run at a time. Plus, it’s free! There are several tasks I can already see benefiting from:

  • Freeze Feature Tree – Reduce rebuild time to zero for mature models
  • Change image quality – Reduce image quality of model files to increase graphics performance
  • Custom Properties Manager – Add, remove, and change custom properties (client, project description, date, etc.) for several files all at once
  • Rename bodies (such as structural steel members) from custom properties (cut list names)
  • Generate Tube Cut lists – Converts hollow cylindrical geometry to weldment parts, with cut lists and properties like ID, OD, thickness, and length. Then you can create cut tables in drawings
  • Renumber drawing sheets
  • Merge drawings
  • Save PDFs

Check it out here: https://cloud.centralinnovation.com.au/WebSharpSwTask

Lenovo Performance Tuner

Whether you’re using a Lenovo or not, you can download this free applet that lets you control how many CPU cores are used for which processes. From their site:

“For example, when running a single-threaded application, such as Dassault® SOLIDWORKS®, on systems that have a Quad-Core processor, Processor Affinity allows you to designate which core is used for that application, helping to better allocate resources for certain applications while others can function freely on the other cores. This also is beneficial for multi-core applications, like ANSYS®, which can be isolated to prevent it from consuming all of the system resources, allowing other applications to concurrently and smoothly execute on the same system.”

https://www.thinkworkstations.com/products/lenovo-performance-tuner/

 

2019 Enhancements

There seemed to be fewer enhancements announced this year than previously, ostensibly due to a huge push to increase stability and performance in “StabilityFest 2019,” SolidWorks’ response to last years “One and Two” kerfuffle. (At SolidWorks World 2017, the two most requested enhancements of the year were “focus more on fixing bugs” and “Improve program stability” even at the expense of new features.)

    Of the few announced, these are the features I think will have the greatest impact:

  • Interference detection in multibody parts
  • Add 3D textures to part using texture mapping

  • Lots of “Newser Interface” enhancements (pen, touch, Microsoft Surface Dial, VR)
  • Group mates by status (overdefined, underdefined, warning, suppressed, inactive, etc.)

  • Assembly defeature

SolidWorks 3DExperience Online Tools

SolidWorks is building an online pillar of product offerings to compete with other cloud-based CAD services. As usual, they stress that this is not a replacement for the current desktop tool, but we’ll see which way the dollar signs blow. The pillar consists of 5 tools so far, some of which are available today:

  1. 3DExperience Social Collaboration Services – A tool specifically for collaborating on rapid design iterations in the earliest stages of concept design. Not meant to be a full-featured 3D modeler.
  2. 3DExperience PLM Services – Basically PDM in the cloud, plus more project management tools.
  3. SolidWorks Product Designer – I can’t tell if Industrial Designer and Mechanical Designer combined to become Product designer, or if this is a third product. According to SW, it “brings a complete set of design capabilities including Parts, Assemblies, Sheet Metal, Motion Simulation, and Drawings.”
  4. SolidWorks Xdesign – The SolidWorks-class modeling tool in a browser or an app. It (supposedly) does everything SolidWorks can do (including open SolidWorks native files), plus some brand new features and tools that the old Parasolid kernel just couldn’t support.
  5. 3DExperience Marketplace – SolidWorks has created a network of dozens or hundreds of fabricators and part vendors to help you get your model made. In Marketplace Make, you can search fabricators based on price, tolerance, turn-around time, capacity and more, and submit 3D files for quote and manufacture right through the UI. However, either it’s being buggy, or the ability to submit RFQs hasn’t gone live yet. PartSupply is a catalog of over 500 component suppliers with easily half a million searchable components. I really like this service, because you can configure each component, view it in 3D, and perform side-by side comparisons. My favorite feature, though, is the ability to search by similar geometry. This give you the option to search for the right part, even if you don’t know what it’s called or who makes it. Just search for a vaguely similar component, and use the geometry search engine to hone in on the perfect part.

Last of all, it was announced that SolidWorks World 2019 will be held back in Dallas, February 10-13!

SOLIDWORKS World 2018 Demo Files

The demo files from my SOLIDWORKS World 2018 presentation “This is Not a Toy – A Dozen Assembly Tools Taught with LEGO” are now available free in my model store!

If you’re interested in creating even more SOLIDWORKs LEGO models, check out my collection of over 300 LEGO part files, and share images of your creations here!

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.

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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!

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 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!

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?

2016-02-03 09.05.28

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.

Testing the eDrawings Virtual Reality Prototype with Google Cardboard

In the Partner Pavilion at SolidWorks World 2016, the mobile products team demonstrated a prototype of the eDrawings mobile app, with support for Virtual Reality via Google Cardboard.

Cardboard is an inexpensive, open source virtual reality viewer, meant to be used with apps on your phone. An alternative to expensive VR rigs like the Occulus, Cardboard uses the high-quality graphics, accelerometers, and processing power already in your pocket. Inexpensive Cardboard headsets are available available from many outlets, such as this one from Amazon.

The eDrawings team has worked quickly to integrate this technology into their product, and were able to demonstrate a functional prototype at SolidWorks World 2016. The prototype was hosted on an iPhone 6 Plus, but the team assured me that iOS and Android versions are being developed in parallel.

Viewing a model in eDrawings virtual reality allows you to add an extra layer of immersive realism to your design, using the movement of your head, rather than your finger, to manipulate the model.

Similar to other Cardboard apps, the VR function of eDrawings mobile generates two images of the object being viewed, with a slight offset to account for stereo vision, making the object appear three-dimensional. Convex lenses in the Cardboard headset resolve the two images into one, and make it appear farther than a few inches in front of your eyes. The accelerometers in the phone also track movement, so the object moves and rotates, changing your perspective as you move your head.

 

As a prototype, the new eDrawings VR mode I tested was certainly unpolished, but the basic functions – stereo imaging, head tracking, etc. – were implemented well. However, more functions will need to be added to make VR viable, rather than foregoing the goofy-looking box and simply using your finger.

If all goes well, the team hopes to release the VR feature update sometime this year (possibly alongside the release of SolidWorks 2017). Be sure to stop by the SolidWorks area in the center of the Partner Pavilion at SolidWorks World 2016, to try out the Cardboard prototype, along with a bunch of other great projects now under development.

The incomparable Michael Lord modeling the Cardboard headset

Google Cardboard Kit