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.
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.”
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:
- 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.
- 3DExperience PLM Services – Basically PDM in the cloud, plus more project management tools.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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!