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

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 »


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

Free training and Free CSWA Exam Through April 30th

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For anyone wanting to build and prove their SolidWorks knowledge, the Certified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA) exam is the best place to start. The exam is aimed at college students, new engineers, and experienced CAD users transitioning over from a different CAD platform. Over 88,000 people have already successfully earned this certification, and you can too.

Even so, any certification can be daunting. Between studying, preparing, and paying for the exam, there are plenty of ways to get sidetracked or overwhelmed.

Well, not anymore.

Now, SolidWorks is offering a FREE online CSWA prep course through the my.SolidWorks.com platform. If you don’t already have a my.SolidWorks account, simply create one for free. It’s a great resource to have access to, even if you already have your CSWA certification. You’ll have access to lots of additional training, as well as exclusive features like the SolidWorks Manufacturing Network, SolidWorks cloud storage, and quick, centralized access to support materials, forum posts, and other helpful tips.

Once you’ve created an account, simply search for the CSWA Exam Prep Course learning path under training, and add it to your lesson plan…

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Then view each lesson and take the short quiz at the end of each one. The status of all the modules must update to “Completed” and you must score an 80% or higher on each review quiz.

Anyone who can complete this course by the end of April 30th will be issued a free voucher, good for one CSWA exam!

A more complete list of instructions on taking the course and redeeming the voucher can be found here.

Once you’re certified, you’ll join an elite group of SolidWorks users who stand out among their peers, and look especially good to employers. You’ll (optionally) be listed on a searchable database of certified users, which allows employers and companies to find talented individuals. You’ll even get a neat littpe pachage of CSWA logos to add to your resume, business cards, etc.

Good luck!

Welcome to SolidWorks World 2015!

You’ve arrived! Welcome to beautiful Phoenix, Arizona, home of cacti, rattlesnakes, and SolidWorks World 2015.

What’s next? Registration of course. Head over to the top floor of the stunning Phoenix Convention Center to register, and pick up your first collection of swag. This year’s backpack transforms into a messenger bag, the T-shirt carries on the hexagonal theme of all the media we’ve seen leading up to the event, and even the badges have gotten a modern makeover.

Everyone has access to wifi in the convention center this year! The back of your badge provides the password, along with some other very helpful tips (like “Drink free beer daily”).

While you’re in the registration area, you can even get your picture taken with this year’s animated mascots, or get some one-on-one help installing the new mobile app.

The wifi isn’t the only thing that makes the Phoenix Convention Center great. The gorgeous architecture and art installations make the few days you’ll spend here even more memorable.

Now that you’re settled in, what can you expect for the rest of the week?

Monday, immediately after breakfast, you’ll want to be first in line for the General Session. Do as the badge says and run, don’t walk. This is when they’ll likely make the official announcement that GianPaolo Bassi is replacing Bertrand Sicot as CEO of SolidWorks, as Bertrand moves up to a position in Dassault. We’ll also learn more about the release of the new Industrial Conceptual product (which was teased last year), and Rick Chin will chat with SolidWorks customer Thalmic about their incredible products.

After the keynote address by Bre Pettis of Makerbot, there are dozens of technical training sessions during the day, but only really matters. I expect to see you all at my presentation, “What You Didn’t Know About Assemblies and Mating” at 4:30 in room North 120D. Be there or be 2D.

Monday night is “Find a Party” night. Hook up with your VAR or your favorite vendor, or hang out with your fellow CSWEs and Twitterers at “the most interesting restaurant in America.” There’s no shortage of nightlife tonight, but you may have to go searching for it. Take a risk, make some friends, and get out there.

No time for recovery, because you’re back at it again bright and early Tuesday morning. Today’s General Session will feature presentations from the User Group, Education, and Certification teams, as well as announcements about major upgrades to my.SolidWorks. You’ll also hear from another incredible SolidWorks customer, Astrobiotic.

Robots… IN SPAAAAAAAAAACE!

Continuing the space theme, the keynote address will be delivered by futurist, theoretical physicist, author and professor Dr. Michio Kaku. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Nova, or some Discovery Channel special on the universe, you’ll probably recognize Dr. Kaku.

After choosing from today’s dozens of stimulating technical training sessions, Tuesday night ends with a bang. And a YEE-HAWW probably. The thousands of SolidWorks World attendees will be treated to an unforgettable night of Mexican Rodeo thrills, live music, and authentic food at Corona Ranch.

Another day, another General Session, but this is the big one. So packed with information on new features and products, you can’t afford to miss it, no matter how hardy you partied the night before. They’ll review the Model Mania contest (which you should try out while you’re checking out the Partner Pavilion), and announce the winners. They’ll present the final keynote speaker of the conference – designer and perpetual TED Talker Jinsop Lee. Bruce Holway and the Product Definition team will announce this year’s Top Ten enhancement list with the entire SolidWorks community has been voting on through the forums for months (and I’ll update my data). This section always a lot of applause from the crowd, as they hear that their favorite features will likely be implemented soon.

Most importantly, the Product Marketing team will present their ever-entertaining What’s New skit, giving us our first sneak peek into what to expect in SolidWorks 2016. Just to give you an idea of the quality of these gems, recent skits have included CADman and Rib-in, and Back to the Feature.

Finally, the executives will bid us a final farewell, and announce the location of SolidWorks World 2016 (NO SPOILERS PLEASE!)

Before you pack it in and head back to reality, remember there are still three Technical Training sessions on Wednesday after the General Session, so don’t waste a second! It’s easy to lose momentum at this point, but remember, World is an endurance test. You’ll feel so accomplished after you power through to the end.

Good luck!

SolidWorks World 2015 Top Ten List now open!

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Every year, a few months before SolidWorks World, the Product Definition team opens up a special section of the SolidWorks Forums, where users like you and me can submit our best ideas on how to improve the product to meet our needs. Starting today, and for the next two months, you can submit as many ideas as you want to the Top Ten List discussion forum, where the SolidWorks community can discuss them all. On December 12th, submission will be closed, and a few days later, on the 15th, voting begins. Between December 15th and January 23rd, 10 ideas will rise to the top of the list, and will ultimately be presented during the General Session on the final day of SolidWorks World 2015. These enhancement ideas will then get special attention from the Product Definition team, in an effort to make them a reality. Nearly every Top Ten idea has been implemented in later releases of SolidWorks, go get your ides into the forums, and make history!

Important Dates

December 12, 2014 is the end for new idea submissions

December 15, 2014 voting on all ideas begins

January 23, 2015 voting ends

Click here for the announcement from SolidWorks.

 

SolidWorks World 2015 Registration Now Open!

Get excited! Registration for SolidWorks World 2015 opened today, and you can head here to sign up for four glorious days of CAD, networking, new toys, and an Arizona winter. You won’t want to miss out on the dozens of exhibiting partners, hundreds of individual training sessions, and thousands of like-minded CAD users, plus three days of news on your favorite CAD tool. Another great reason to attend is the ability to take almost any of the SolidWorks Certification exams at no charge, in a helpful testing environment. It makes the conference all the more valuable!

And don’t forget, several discounts are available if you plan ahead. Early birds get $200 off registration until October 23rd, or $100 until January 9th. Plus, if a few people from your company are attending, get together and take advantage of the great 3-for-2 deal. And if that’s not enough to convince the boss, check out these justification letters that will help you secure that pesky travel budget. You can even email usergroups@solidworks.com or @SWUGN to get help with your pitch.

Hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, follow @MegaHertz604, #SWW15, and @SolidWorks as we get closer to the event.

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 www.3dcontentcentral.com/.

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.

Winner

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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Winner

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:

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.

Winner

 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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