SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 12: SolidWorks Electrical

Once again, reading every chapter of the SolidWorks 2014 What’s New Document has showed me truly how few of the SolidWorks offerings I’ve used. I’ve never had the opportunity to use SolidWorks Electrical, but hopefully these enhancements will help those of you that do.

Integration with Enterprise PDM

SolidWorks Electrical is integrated with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. You can select an instance, manage the export and import of a project with Enterprise PDM, and view the Enterprise PDM status in the Project Manager.

Replace Microsoft Access with SQLite

The underlying database management system has been upgraded from Microsoft Access to SQLite. This change significantly improves file archival methods. SQLite is fully compatible with 64-bit operating systems and runs on any version of Microsoft Office that is installed on the computer.

Filters in the Project Manager

You can use new criteria in the Project Manager to reduce the list of projects, and find your project quickly.

Advanced Component Search

Find instances of components in your drawings by Part Number, Marker, Description, etc.

New Symbols and Labels

Passive symbol are now available in 2D schematics. These symbols can reference non-electrical components (such as ground shields), without defining a new symbol from scratch. Wire and equipotential labels are also available, allowing users to easily apply wire labels.

SolidWorks has provided several videos to demonstrate the many enhancements to the Electrical package.

SolidWorks Electrical Schematic:

SolidWorks Electrical 3D:

SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 11: eDrawings

The list of enhancements to eDrawings is about as short as it can get. There’s additional content available on the iPad app, and the ability to view SolidWorks 2014’s enhanced explode steps. Additionally, there’s an important step towards full Model-Based Definition.

Honorable Mentions

3DContentCentral on iPad

According to the What’s New document:

You can use eDrawings to view 3D ContentCentral on iPad. 3D ContentCentral is a free service for locating, configuring, downloading, and requesting 2D and 3D parts and assemblies… Start eDrawings on your iPad and click

I assume this feature is still forthcoming, because I haven’t seen it on my version of eDrawings yet.

Update: I’ve discovered that the What’s New document is (again) worded very poorly. What they mean to say is, 3DContentCentral is now available on the mobile Safari browser, and components can be opened in eDrawings directly from the mobile site. All standard eDrawings tools (section, measure, configure, etc.) are available to parts opened via 3DCC.

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Viewing Rotational Explode Steps

Now that rotational explode steps are available in Solidworks 2014, it only makes sense that the eDrawings viewer should be able to view them.


Viewing DimXpert Dimensions From SolidWorks Part Files

You can now view DimXpert dimensions from files are saved in SolidWorks 2014 or later. It’s a small enhancement, but what this means is that all geometric information is now available in the eDrawings format. This is the next big step necessary for making 2D drawings obsolete.


Check out the video below for even more eDrawings 2014 enhancements:

SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 10: Drawings and Detailing

Hi All, sorry for the delay. I hope you’re all having a wonderful Holiday season – I know I am. This year, SolidWorks’ biggest gift to its community may be the enhancements made to drawings. There are dozens of great new enhancements this year, so if you want to learn about them all, check out the SolidWorks 2014 What’s New Document or the video below.

Honorable Mentions

Reattachable Balloons

If you’ve ever accidentally attached a stacked balloon to the wrong component, you know the only remedy was to recreate the entire stack. Not so anymore. Now you can simply right-click on the offending balloon, and select reattach. Now click any other component in that drawing view, and the balloon updates to reference it!

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Soft  Snaps for Angular Dimensions

This always used to bug me. When an angular dimension is placed next to a linear one, it would look weird if they weren’t aligned perfectly, but there was no way to do this. In 2014, however, the angular dimension snaps perfectly to the end of the linear dimension, forming a continuous line.

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Section Views of Surface Bodies

Previously, surfaces bodies could not be sectioned in drawings, and the surface bodies of mixed-body models did not appear at all. This limitation has been fixed in SolidWorks 2014.

SolidWorks 2013

SolidWorks 2013

SolidWorks 2014

SolidWorks 2014

Force Notes Into UPPERCASE (With Exclusions)

This enhancement is a very close runner up, based simply on the amount of time I’ll save because of it. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve had to retype an entire note block because I forgot to turn on Caps Lock. Or, even worse, I’ve had to go through a convoluted EPDM workflow to change a custom property to uppercase.

In 2014, that’s a thing of the past. Now I can select any note block – even those on the sheet format layer – and check a box in the PropertyManager to force all the text to uppercase. Even custom properties from referenced documents are affected. 

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What’s more, SolidWorks added a global override so all new notes are uppercase, no matter what. You can, however, add exceptions to this rule. The most common exclusions – units of measure – are pre-populated by SolidWorks. You can find this override, and the exclusion list, under Document Properties >> Drafting Standard.

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Angular Running Dimensions

Angular running dimensions are a natural extension of Ordinate Dimensions. You start by defining a zero-degree dimension, and measure any number of angles from that dimension. The dimensions can run on one direction, up to 360 degrees, or bidirectionally, up to 180 each.  12-16-2013 12-02-13 PM

You’ll find most of the options available for Angular Running Dimensions (chain, jog, text position, etc.) to be similar to those of Ordinate Dimensions. Find angular running dimensions under the Smart Dimension command.

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Find Virtual Sharps

This enhancement can be very useful for dimensioning a variety of irregular shapes, finding overall sizes, and determining volume envelopes. To dimension to a virtual sharp, start by selecting a dimension tool. Then, right-click the edge or line you’re interested, and select Find Intersection. Click the intersecting entity, and the dimension is automatically snapped to the virtual sharp. Finish placing your dimension as normal, and you’re done.

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Fixed Shaded With Edges Bleed-Through Issue

By setting the quality of a Shaded With Edges drawing view to High Quality, thin-walled parts no longer show ghosted edges from the back side.

Center Marks and Callouts for Hole Wizard Slots

Continuing the pattern of slot enhancements, any slot created with the new Hole Wizard functionality can now have center marks and callouts automatically applied to them when inserted into a drawing. The same functionality is already available for holes.

Second Sheet Format

The Drawing Sheets document property lets you specify a default sheet format for when you add new sheets to drawing documents. This property lets you automatically have one sheet format for the first sheet and a separate sheet format for all additional sheets.
To specify a different sheet format for a new sheet, click Tools > Options > Document Properties > Drawing Sheets, select Use different sheet format, and browse to select a sheet format file (file ending in .slddrt).

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Improved Symbol Library

The Symbol Library selection window has been completely redone, and is ow easier to use. When inserting a symbol, the drop-down shows the last category of symbols used. To access additional symbols, click the More Symbols button to access the full library.

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Replace Model View

The Replace Model View command allows users to quickly change the file referenced in their drawing. This is most useful when creating drawings of nearly identical parts or assemblies. For example, let’s say you’ve just completed a drawing of a complex sheet metal part. But uh-oh! You were supposed to be working on the sheet metal assembly that included PEM nuts and hardware! Now, instead of doing the whole drawing over again, you can just replace the model view. And, because the assembly contains the part that you’ve already worked so hard dimensioning, all those dimensions, annotations, GD&T symbols, etc. aren’t lost.

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You can even replace a part with a part or an assembly with an assembly. However, if the replacement file is completely different, the dimensions will dangle, and must be reattached.

Check out this video from DS SolidWorks about all the new drawing functionality in 2014:

SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 9: SolidWorks Costing

Having never had the opportunity to use the costing tool, I’m probably not the best judge of what makes a good enhancement. What originally put me off about the Costing tool was the enormous effort it would take to set up a proper template. In SolidWorks 2014 however, it seems that most of the enhancements are aimed at allowing users to start using Costing immediately. For example, the costs of machining operations can be defined by a basic “cost-per-volume” calculation, while the cost of sheet metal can be defined per bend.

What you’ll find below are those improvements that SolidWorks though deserved a gold star. Check out the full SolidWorks 2014 What’s New Document for the full list, and the video below.

Honorable Mentions

Costing Options

You can define or override system-level costing options in the Costing Options dialog box, such as changing template types. This is also where you can apply fixed custom costs to sheet metal features and removed material (volume) features (See “Simplifying Cost Estimates” below).

Continue reading

SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 8: SolidWorks Composer

Since I started using SolidWorks Composer less than a year ago, I’ve completely fallen in love with it. I’ll never use plain old screenshots and boring static exploded views again. There aren’t many real enhancements to speak of in 2014, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking out what Composer has to offer.

Honorable Mentions

 New Composer API Commands

Some new commands have been added to the API which let the user control views.

  • CreateView( )
  • CreateCameraView( )
  • DeleteView( )
  • UpdateView( )

 Coordinate Labels

The write-up of this enhancement in the SolidWorks 2014 What’s New Document is utterly confusing and should be completely re-written, but here’s what I think it’s talking about: You can create a label that calls out the position in 3D space of the Actor it points to. Or maybe just the position of the endpoint? Who knows.

Here’s the text of the write-up for you curious ones:

Coordinates have properties that let you customize the label’s text with the properties of the actor.

In the Properties dialog box, under Text, use the Text property to specify which property or meta-property appears as the coordinate label’s text. Use the Parent (level) property to specify the actor whose Text value appears as the coordinate label’s text. These properties help you avoid creating multiple labels to display simple information.

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 Wrap Annotation Text

Adds the ability to wrap text in annotation labels and callouts. Activate wrapping in the Properties dialog, and specify your wrap width either through Properties or by dragging the annotation handles in the graphics area.



Automatically Hiding Annotations

Pretty cool, this enhancement eliminates a little redundant effort by automatically hiding annotations when the object that annotation is attached to gets hidden. This feature can be enabled and disabled as desired in the Properties window.

<< 2014 What’s New – Chapter 7: Configurations


2014 What’s New – Chapter 7: Configurations

The few enhancements covered in the Configurations chapter of the SolidWorks 2014 What’s New document are listed here, although most have already found a home in other chapters.

Honorable Mentions

Additional Properties for Toolbox Components

Three new properties – Part Name, Standard, and Specification – have been populated into many Toolbox components. These properties are read-only, and can not be changed by the user. Any of these properties can be added to a drawing or assembly BOM to add information and clarity.


Applying Configurations to Equations

“The ability to apply configurations to equations and global variables is enhanced. You can configure equations and global variables in the same way as you configure dimensions.”

This means that you can either suppress and unsuppress equations in various configurations, or choose which configurations that equation is applied to. You can also apply variations to a scale factor, a Global Variable, or even the unit of measure.


 Selecting Configurations from the Context Toolbar

Yes, we’ve seen this before in the assemblies chapter, but it makes sense that it’s also listed under configurations. To recap, when you select a component or subassembly in the graphics area of an assembly, the context toolbar will display a drop-down menu of all the available configurations. Selecting an entry from this drop-down will instantly change the configuration. No more digging into the properties menu!

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 << Chapter 6: CircuitWorks  |  Chapter 8: SolidWorks Composer >>

2014 What’s New – Chapter 6: CircuitWorks

If you work with Electrical engineers, you know CircuitWorks. It’s the best application for translating Mechanical CAD files (MCAD) to Electrical CAD (ECAD), and back again. In 2014, CircuitWorks became Hogwarts, because it’s full of Wizards.

Honorable Mentions

Associate CircuitWorks Components with SolidWorks Models

Before SolidWorks 2014, components on a CircuitWorks board were vaguely associated with some database somewhere, in a roundabout and confusing way. Or they were automatically generated as dumb blocks based on footprint shapes and component height. To change the shapes or appearances of components when they were brought into SolidWorks involved diving into the database and renaming or replacing components.


Now in 2014, associating a CircuitWorks component with SolidWorks geometry is much easier. Simply right-click on a component in the CircuitWorks tree, and select Associate Model. Then browse to the SolidWorks Part or Assembly file, and you’re done.

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Use thermal properties from CircuitWorks components in SolidWorks simulations

New in 2014, if any of the following thermal properties are available in imported CircuitWorks components, they can be used when setting up thermal studies

  • Dielectric and conductor density
  • Specific heat
  • Conductivity for PCBs
  • Conductivity for volumetric heat sources from components


CircuitWorks Component and Setup Wizards

Wizards are now available to walk users through the process of adding SolidWorks parts to the CircuitWorks Component Library, as well as setting important options upon first launch.

On the Component Wizard:

“The wizard guides you to assign the component orientation and to specify how the CircuitWorks software determines the package name and part number…”

On the Setup Wizard:

“The wizard guides you to set up a location for the CircuitWorks Library and specify which ECAD file properties can be used to match to a SolidWorks model.”

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UI improvements: Multi-Select and View Options

You can now edit properties for multiple components at once by Ctrl- or Shift-selecting them. Previously, users would have to edit components one at a time. It’s also easier to navigate a PCB model in a familiar way, as the middle mouse wheel allows users to pan and zoom just like in SolidWorks. Additionally, view options and camera tools (zoom to fit, zoom to area, pan, zoom, top view, and bottom view) can be selected by right-clicking in the graphics area.



 CircuitWorks Export Wizard

Previously, when exporting a PCB design from SolidWorks to CircuitWorks, features were identified based on naming conventions. For example, all features containing plated holes would have to be named PTH_1, _2, _3, etc. The naming wasn’t intuitive, and usually forced the user to go look up the correct naming convention in the help file.

Now, in 2014, that naming scheme has been replaced by – you guessed it – a Wizard. When exporting a model from SolidWorks, the CircuitWorks Export Wizard appears, and asks the user to specify the type of component being exported (PCB, electrical component, or mechanical component).


If the component type is a… The Wizard asks the user to specify…
Printed Circuit Board
  • Top face of the board
  • Features defining the outline of the board
  • Plated holes
  • Non-plated holes
  • Keep-out and keep-in sketches
Mechanical Component
  • Features defining the outline of the mechanical component
Electrical Component
  • Features defining the outline of the electrical component


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The video below has a full roundup of all the CircuitWorks enhancements in SolidWorks 2014.


<< Chapter 5: Assemblies Part II – Mates  |  Chapter 7: Configurations >>

SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 5: Assemblies, pt 2

Mates were a major focus of this year’s SolidWorks release. In fact, there were so many mate enhancements in SolidWorks 2014, they get their very own post, with a bunch of videos to boot. How special.

Honorable Mentions

Spherical Mates

Improvements to the existing concentric and tangent commands now allow SolidWorks users to attach a spherical component to nearly any other shape, including even the most complex edges and surfaces. Previously, spheres could only me mated to regularly shaped surfaces and edges. Now, in 2014, spheres can be mated to nearly any high-degree surface, and sketches as well. The great thing about spherical mates is that the spherical component is locked within the boundary of the mated component. This video below includes a complete demo of the new spherical mate command.

Rotation Lock for Concentric Mates

SolidWorks finally has the option to lock down that last pesky degree of freedom when mating cylindrical parts, such as bolts and screws. When applying a concentric mate – either from the mate PropertyManger or the pop-up toolbar – you now have the option to lock rotation, so the components aren’t allowed to spin freely.  You can also Ctrl + select multiple pre-created concentric mates and lock them all at once.


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Applying Standard Mates from Context Toolbar


We’ve seen this enhancement before, way back in the chapter on User Interface enhancements, but it has to be mentioned again. This little pop-up could be a game-changer. During a presentation from the SolidWorks Product Marketing team, Jeremy Regnerus mentioned that many of this year’s other mate improvements – such as default mate intelligence, SmartMate accessibility, etc. – were rendered obsolete thanks to the context toolbar pop-up. Remember, just Ctrl + select entities from two different parts, and the context tool allows you to instantly select from a list of possible mates.


Slot mates

It’s rare enough that an entirely new mate type is introduced, but this year we got two! Along with Spherical Mates, we now have access to the powerful Slot Mate. The slot mate is available under the Mechanical Mates subsection.

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Slots can be straight (two straight parallel walls and two equal end arcs), or curved (two concentric arc walls and two equal end arcs). However, a combination of straight and curved sections is not allowed. Slots can be mated to each other, or cylindrical faces or axes. Once mated, components will not move beyond the ends of the slot, which makes adding realistic tolerance features easier than ever. you can even lock the mated component to a certain distance or percentage along the slot. Check out the video below for a full demo of the new Slot Mate feature.

Check out the video below for an overview of all the new mate enhancements coming your way in SolidWorks 2014.

SolidWorks 2014 SP0 Available Today!

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This morning, DS SolidWorks Corp. officially released SolidWorks 2014! You can download the new version by updating your existing SolidWorks installation (including beta versions), or going to the downloads section of your Customer Portal.


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SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 5: Assemblies, part I

Part one of this chapter will be devoted to assembly features and other enhancements, while part two will cover the large number of mate improvements.

Chapter 5: Assemblies, part I (Assembly Features and More)

Honorable Mentions

Rotations in Exploded Views

We’ve been hearing about this enhancement for a few years now, but they SolidWorks team has finally polished it up enough for release. In an exploded view, you’ll now notice rotation rings in addition to the movement triad, which will allow you to move parts in a more realistic way when creating and animation explode steps.

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Message Handling for Large documents

“To facilitate the loading of large documents, some warning, informational, and error messages are automatically dismissed when you open drawings or assembly files. You can set the length of time that the software displays messages before dismissing them or turn off this option to dismiss messages.”

Now you can safely open a large assembly and walk away without fearing that an unnecessary error message will stop the whole process while you’re gone.

Flexible and Mirrored Subassembly Improvements

Flexible subassemblies now behave much more logically, especially when there are multiple instances of the same subassembly, or when the subassembly uses limit mates. There are also more options for controlling the positions of mirrored components. You can choose to mirror parts about the assembly’s center of mass, or the centroid of its bounding box. This is useful for mirroring asymmetric components, and used to require creating a new opposite-hand configuration or part.

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Selecting Components by Size

This simple slider filters components by size, as a percentage of the overall assembly. The tool allows you to select all very small components (such as fasteners) and suppress or hide them. Great for de-cluttering assemblies for export, or just speeding up performance. Access it from the select menu at the top of the SolidWorks window.

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Context Toolbar Enhancements

You can now switch between component or subassembly configurations very easily by selecting the desired configuration from the drop-down menu at the top of the context toolbar, which appears after clicking on a component in the graphics area. You even have the option to specify what assembly configurations the change will affect.

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Additionally, you can change a subassembly from rigid to flexible and back through the pop-up context menu. Simply right-click a component within a subassembly in the graphics area, click Select Subassembly, and change the solve state directly from the context menu that appears.

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Between these two enhancements, you’ll probably never have to delve into the Properties window again.



Pattern Enhancements

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Curve- and Sketch-Driven Patterns in Assemblies: These pattern types are now available in assemblies, where only feature-driven pattern was available before. You’ll be able to drive component patterns using assembly- or part-level sketches (made up of a series of points) or curves (any tangential entities in 2D or 3D space).

Pattern-Driven Pattern: The Feature-Driven Pattern command is no longer limited to features, so it has been renamed to Pattern-Driven Pattern. Pre-existing patterns (at the part level or assembly level), as well as features, can now be used to drive a pattern.

Highlighting Seed Features: When clicking on a pattern in the Tree, the seed feature highlights in a different color than the rest of the pattern instances, making it easier to find.

These pattern enhacements are designed to make assemblies more intelligent, and minimize the time and energy users spend placing unique components.


Check out the video below for an overview of all the new assembly-based enhancements in 2014. And stay tuned for part 2 of this chapter, where I’ll dive into the dozens of mate-related enhancements.