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.

Lunch ‘n’ Learn with CaddEdge at Philips HQ


CSWP/CSWE Event on the USS Midway, SolidWorks World 2012


This year, the last CSWP event (starting next year it will be CSWEs only) was held on the aircraft carrier USS Midway.  It was a great environment for us engineers (especially those of us with an aerospace background), because we got to wander the ship on our own and explore the aircraft and ships’ systems on display.   

Some of the many aircraft on the hangar deck and flight deck 


The carrier’s “Island” structure


The interior hangar deck, and the flight simulators available to the attendees


Some of our new friends 🙂


The view of the city from the Midway’s flight deck


The band. They rocked our socks off.

The awesome axe, designed in SolidWorks, that the band got a chance to play

Fearless Leader, Mike Puckett, and the CSWP banner, signed by all the attendees.

Audio from Mike Rowe Press Briefing

From Evernote:

Audio from Mike Rowe Press Briefing


Best SolidSwag of SolidWorks World 2012

SolidWorks World is full of fun events, new information, and learning opportunities. But we all you why you’re REALLY here. It’s all about the SolidSwag. Here’s my breakdown of the best freebies, goodies, and giveaways at this year’s conference.

1) DriveWorks Dancing Wind-Up Robot – Booth 324

2) SolidWorks Beer Coozie/Gauntlet – Booth 141


3) iGet It Wooden Puzzle – Booth 100


PhotoView360 Focus Group

I just got out of the PhotoView360 focus group with Marlon Banta, Rob Rodriguez, and Todd Turner. A lot of good ideas were brought up, and I wanted to share just a few of them.

1) Add layers for weathering and damage.

Add a list of checkboxes to the property manager for every appearance, that allows you to add layers like rust, dirt, soot, etc.

2) Fix appearance flipping

Sometimes when you apply a dire tonal appearance (such as wood or brick) the appearance will look correct in the graphics window, but will be upside down and sideways when rendered. SolidWorks really needs to fix this.

3) Transparent appearance performance
Rendering transparency is a serious performance killer. We directed SolidWorks to focus on this when improving they next versions of PV360

4) Fix stubborn appearances
Sometimes, you can’t remove an appearance no matter how hard you try. The only way is to delete all the display states in the model (under the config tab, right-click display states, delete all). This is a serious bug we asked them to fix ASAP. 

SolidWorks Releases n!Fuze app for iPhone… Vewwy Vewwy Quietly


Did you know that SolidWorks had released an iPhone app for it’s new cloud-based, collaboration tool, n!Fuze?  Neither did I.  That is, until I searched for “SolidWorks” in the App Store (hoping to find this year’s SolidWorks World app).  What I found instead was a app, just released on January 28th, 2012, called “n!Fuze® for SolidWorks®”

Download it here for free!

From within the app, you have access to current and previous revisions of all your workspaces, as well as a way to communicate with all your collaborators. You can view files and workspaces, along with their properties (such as last modification, permissions, versions), and write comments.  However, it doesn’t look like you can edit the files themselves, and the previews are images, not 3D models  

From the iTunes Description:

n!Fuze® for SolidWorks® is an easy-to-use, secure, online sharing and collaboration solution for the product design process. It enables designers, engineers, sales people, purchasing team members and others to work together on ideas and designs.

n!Fuze understands and manages the design files you post, including part, assembly, and drawing relationships, and can show these relationships graphically with its unique visual product structure tool. When you share files, n!Fuze automatically includes all related files to help prevent broken assemblies or missing parts. Comments are tightly linked to associated files so you can easily track new ideas and changes throughout the product development and review process. The n!Fuze Mobile client allows n!Fuze subscribers to see their files on their mobile devices, as well as view and participate in comments about those files.

With this iPhone app, you can connect to n!Fuze from your iPhone to browse files, view images, and provide comments as part of the collaboration process.


With an advancement like this being made so quitely, and so close to SolidWorks World 2012, should we assume that an even bigger mobile computing announcement will be made in San Diego? 


Happy Birthday to 6.04 Megahertz!

Fun fact: I started this blog 1 year ago today, after attending SolidWorks World 2011, and needing a way to fully describe how awesome it was.  Hope you’ve enjoyed it so far!


SolidWorks World 2012 Keynote Speaker Revealed!

The keynote speaker for SolidWorks World 2012 has been revealed in a blog post from SolidWorks. The “Father of the iPod,” Tony Fadell, will give the keynote address during the Tuesday General Session at SolidWorks World in San Diego.

TonyMr. Fadell is most famous for spearheading the design of the first iPod, while working at Apple as the Senior Vice President of the iPod division, and Steve Jobs’ advisor.  More recently, he founded Nest, which has designed the first home thermostat that can learn and adapt to individual homes and users.  

“To create a game-changing product, function and design must go hand in hand,” said Fadell. “We certainly put that principle to work when developing the Nest Learning Thermostat, and I’m excited to share more about that experience with the thousands of passionate, designers and engineers who will attend this year’s SolidWorks World.”

Read the full blog post here.

Previous keynote speakers have included Richard Branson, Steve Wozniak, Jim Lovell and Gene Krantz, James Cameron, and many others.  

SolidWorks World will also likely feature a secret guest who is homehow connected to Mr. Fadell’s work, as has happened in the past.   For example, when Jim Lovell and Gene Krantz spoke about the Apollo 13 disasterm Kevin Bacon – who co-starred in the movie Apollo 13 – was the secret guest.  Who do you think it will be this year? 

SolidWorks World 2012 Trivia Contest Goes Live