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“Did You Know…” Tips and Tricks I Learned at SolidWorks World 2015 – part 1


SolidWorks World is all about learning. Before all the parties, special events, and free beer, 5500 engineers came to Phoenix this week to learn about the tools they use every day. I’m certainly no exception. Not being much of a journalist’s journalist, I opted to attend more technical sessions than press events. Between Monday and Wednesday, I was able to attend 8 technical breakout sessions on topics ranging from drawing views to the new Industrial Design tool, and I learned something new at every last one.

In this series of posts, I’ll share some of the gems I picked up from these training sessions, for those who didn’t have the opportunity to attend this great learning festival

On Monday, I attended:

  • “Design Products That Are Easier and Less Costly to Manufacture: DFM/DFC” presented by Craig Therrien of SolidWorks.
  • “Deliver Interactive, 3D, Step-by-Step Instruction Sets with Composer” presented by Chris Snyder of 3D Vision Technologies.
  • I also gave my own presentation called “What You Didn’t Know About Assemblies and Mating.”


Did you know…

  • Every seat of SolidWorks includes the DFMXpress module, which runs several manufacturability checks on milled, turned, injection molded, and sheet metal parts. You can find DFMXpress on the evaluate tab.
  • DFMXpress even works with imported parts (aka “Dumb Solids”), because it checks the geometry of the part directly, not the features.
  • Always run DFMXpress before sending a part to a vendor for manufacturing.
  • A DFMPro module is also available for purchase for those who want more stringent manufacturing and design checks.
  • Additional advanced design checks are available on the Evaluate tab for injection molded parts: Thickness analysis, undercut analysis, and draft analysis.
  • The Geometry Check function finds entities that have a tendency to corrupt CNC tool paths: Small faces, short edges, knife edges/ vertices, discontinuous faces/edges.
  • In assemblies, you can use Interference Detection and Clearance Verification to check for assembleability.
  • The Hole Alignment check determines whether holes between multiple parts are aligned properly, and automatically corrects any misalignment.
  • The costing tool in SolidWorks 2015 supports sheet metal, machining, weldments, 3D printing, casting, and injection molding, for single- and multi-body parts.
  • You can set a sensor to alert you if the cost of your component rises above a certain value, as you model.
  • The costing tool splits your total cost into material cost and operation cost. A high material cost percentage may mean your single large part would be cheaper as two separate parts.
  • You can use “as-cast” and “as machined” configurations to cost casting and post-machining operations separately.


Did you know…

  • There’s a SolidWorks Composer exam.
  • You can auto-pause assembly instructions created in Composer, giving the assembler time to complete the step in real life. Clicking on a button or part will advance the assembly to the next step.
  • When creating assembly instructions, it’s easiest to start with an assembled model, then disassemble it, capturing views for each step along the way. Then, simply drag these views into the animation bar in reverse order.
  • You can use a primitive rectangle shape to represent a benchtop, where all the parts rest before they’re assembled.
  • In Animation mode, you can create and filter keyframes for the position, visibility, and properties of actors, labels, Digger, etc.
  • You have to create camera position and Digger keys manually, but actor keys are created automatically from your views. They can still be edited at any time.
  • The Camera Play Mode button lets you play your animation without moving the camera. This lets you see the behavior of all your actors from any angle.
  • You can make a part flash, indicating that it’s the next step in the assembly process. Then when a user clicks on the flashing part, the animation will play the next step. Just turn on the pule property, and link it to the play://currentposition action.
  • You can toggle Design Mode on and off to disable editing tools, and see what your animation would look likein Composer Player
  • The fade in/fade out commands are great from showing and hiding labels, Diggers, arrows, etc.
  • The AVI files that SolidWorks and composer outputs are huge! Convert them to WMVs using Windows Movie Maker (or similar converter) to greatly reduce file size.




4 Replies to ““Did You Know…” Tips and Tricks I Learned at SolidWorks World 2015 – part 1”

  1. smitty says:

    On Composer video- It’s much better to output to single frame pictures and combine them later. Higher res and no 4gb limit on avi to worry about.

    And nice seeing you again at SWW!

    1. MegaHertz604 says:

      Nice tip! I really wish I could do more with Composer, it looks like fun.

      See you next year!

  2. Jason says:

    Excellent tips. I did not know about the composer exam. I am registering as I write this. Thanks!

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