March FredSWUG Meeting Recap

The March 2012 FredSWUG meeting was our best ever! We had a great turnout, a very useful presentation, and a special guest who gave away a unique prize. Thank you to everyone who attended!


We started out with a brief recap of SolidWorks World 2012, which was held in San Diego in mid-February. For a more complete recap, check out these General Session videos (MondayTuesdayWednesday), the official SolidWorks Blog recap (MondayTuesday,Wednesday), and my “SolidWorks World According to Twitter” posts (MondayTuesday,Wednesday).


We next learned about the new features of SolidWorks 2013 that were revealed on the last day of the conference. There were a lot of positive reactions from the group to many of these upcoming features, especially the promise of previous release interoperability. View the entire list of new features here, or download it in presentation form here.



Next, Marc Weigand of SpaceController took the floor, and demonstrated their impressive new 3D mouse. After a hands-on demonstration of the device, and its unique new features, Marc raffled off a brand new SpaceController to one very lucky group member. Congratulations James!


The main presentation was on working with dumb solids (or imported geometry) in SolidWorks. The presentation was originally given by Lars Christensen at SolidWorks World 2012, and I was lucky enough to be able to present it to the group. The presentation covered best practices for importing, imported file structures, direct editing tools, and Featureworks. You can download the presentation here, and the demo files here.


The next FredSWUG meeting will be on May 16th. Stay tuned for more details!

Discount Codes from SolidWorks World 2012

Many of the vendors in the Partner Pavillion at SolidWorks World decided against giving out freebies and swag, and instead opted to distribute coupon codes for their products to the attendees.  And since you’re all attendees at heart, I’d like to share the few of the best that I found. (If you know of more, add them in the comments.)

Mill It Now – Rapid CNC prototyping


10% Discount Code:
Valid indefinitely

iGet It – Online SolidWorks Training Courses


30% Discount Code: SWX2012
Valid through March 31, 2012

SolidProfessor – Online SolidWorks Training Courses


Bundle Upgrade Code (reduce the price of your product to the price of the next lowest product): SPUpgrade
Valid indefinitely

SolidWorks World 2012 – Wednesday General Session (According to Twitter)

The Wednesday General Session is always the most exciting. Everyone is waiting for the big reveals of the next release, and any other little piece of new information about their favorite products.

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, the NAObots…


First up, Fielder Hiss takes the stage and welcomes everyone to the last General Session of 2012, and welcomes a representative of Platinum Partner, Dell.


Next, Mark Schnieder revealed the Model Mania contest winners, and walked through the workflow.


Continue reading

SolidWorks World 2012 Top Ten List


What’s Coming in SolidWorks 2013

The SolidWorks World 2012 “What’s New” skit was as cheesy as ever, and the nerds, geeks, and dorks in the crowd ate it up.  This year the skit starred Marty McFly (Justin Burton), Doc Brown (Ian Hogg), Biff (Jeremy Regnerus), and a cameo by Jon Hirschtick in…


Feature Set 1

Mostly drawing enhancements in this set, including the first of many cross-product collaboration tools revealed this year, eDrawings Markup Import. There is also the long-awaited ‘Show Hidden’ command in multi-body parts, and an addition to Assembly Visualization that helps determine which parts are bogging down your graphics card.


Show Hidden Bodies in Parts

Just like ‘Show Hidden Components’ in assemblies


Assembly Performance Offenders

Ordered list of all components and patterns that slow dow graphics display


eDrawings Markup Imports

Copy markups directly from eDrawings file to .slddrw file


Quick Section Views

Create complex section views with on-screen pop-up toolbar


Revision Clouds

Call out drawing changes with eDrawings-like cloud lines


Continue reading

SolidWorks World 2012 – Tuesday General Session (According to Twitter)

Once again, the Awesome NAO bot welcomed us to the General Session:


Monday night was a big event on the USS Midway for all the CSWPs and CSWEs in attendance, so day 2 started with a recap pf that awesome night.  The Certification team also told us that the event will be changing next year.!/kgoosie/status/169460921830346752

Next up, Richard Doyle , SolidWorks Community Somethin-or-other, appeared onstage to talk about the SolidWorks User Group Network, and recognize some outstanding members.



Our next surprise guests were Geoff and Mike Howe, twins from Maine who host the Discovery show, Black Ops Brothers.  They talked about their design career, starting at eight years old with a log fort in their backyard, and progressing to today, with the amphibious tanks and all-terrain wheelchairs they design at Howe and Howe Technologies. They also talked about the robotic arm they designed in a single day.  Their main theme, though, was their challenge to overcome the difficulties (financially and logistically) they faced.



Next up, Ben Kaufmann, the CEO of, a website founded on the ideals of collaborative design.  Quirky gives everyone the opportunity to become an inventor, especially those who wouldn’t have the means to develop a product on their own.  Hundreds of people submit product ideas to Quirky, and a few are chosen to be developed.  The entire Quirky community then works together to refine every aspect of the design, from shape to material to name, and everyone is compensated for their input proportionally.  Ben used the example of a high-school student who submitted an idea for a better power strip, and is now well on his way to making $500,000 this year.



And that’s it, stay tuned for all the big reveals on Day 3.

SolidWorks World 2012 – Monday General Session (According to Twitter) – part 2

<< Part 1


After Mike’s great speech, Bertrand talked about how SolidWorks is being used in some the “most epic projects in the universe,” including the Neptune Canada ocean observatory network.  He then brought out Dassault Systemes CEO, Bernard Charles, to interview Maia Hoeberechts, who works on the project. They discussed the open-source and collaborative nature of Neptune Canada.  


Bernard also revealed the unified Dassault Systemes motto and logo.



Finally, the much-anticipated Keynote Speaker, Tony Fadell, took the stage for an interview with Joe Dunne.  They talked about the culture of designing the iPod under Steve Jobs, and the innovative thinging that went into completely rethinking such an easily overlooked household item, like a thermostat. 


And that’s it.  All the attendees left excited about SolidWorks, and all the homeowners left excited about Nest.


SolidWorks World 2012 – Monday General Session (According to Twitter) – part 1

Day one at SolidWorks World 2012. Guest speakers, cool toys, and a story about some weird kid who went all Tony Stark on us.  No time to lose, let’s jump in.


The NAO robot from Aldeberan opened the show each day, and introduced CEO Betrand Sicot on Monday.


Bertrand then welcomes all the attendees, and gives us some amazing statistics on the state of SolidWorks.


He then talked about how design and creation is a central part of all of our lives, and used my heart valve replacement as an example.


Next up, Bertrand segued from the pristine cleanliness of medical devices, to the dirtiest jobs imaginable, and the man who knows all about them: Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs.  He discussed the role of training and skilled workers in the US.


Part 2 >>

ExactFlat Stretches the Fabric of 3D CAD

 We all know that SolidWorks is the best CAD program for designing anything from toy cars to refrigerators to shopping malls. But what about those products which aren’t made of wood or plastic or steel? What about soft fabrics and leathers? How are you supposed to design fabric components in a solid modeling program?

Luckily, Steve McLendon and his new ExactFlat Design Studio feel your pain. The charismatic Atlantan was frustrated with the limitations of solid modellers when it came to industrial fabric design, and wanted to do something about it. 

ExactFlat allows industrial fabric designers to create CNC-ready cutting paths for nested fabric patterns directly in SolidWorks. Here’s how it works:

Start with any surface model in SolidWorks. ExactFlat analyzes the stresses on the fabric due to, say, someone’s 200-pound butt sitting in a seat. It then figures out where the fabric stretches or sags, and resizes the cutting path accordingly, to give you exactly the side you need for a nice smooth piece. 

The program then automatically determines where the fabric should be cut, to make the fewest flat sections, and splits the surfaces for you. It even automatically adds some excess material so the sections can be sewn together. After that, given the details the fabric cutter you’ll be using, and the number of items you hope to make, the software quickly computes the most space-efficient cutting layouts; a process known as “nesting.” Best of all, every step in the process is done inside SolidWorks, and everything is fully parametric, so design updates carry through to ExactFlat. 

The 22 members of the ExactFlat team have been working together in fabrics engineering for eight years out of their office in Sudbury, Canada. But they only recently brought their technology to SolidWorks. They’ve been working on the complex algorithms that flatten out fabrics for the last five years, and now that they’re confident in its power, they’re releasing it to the CAD community.  The product is so new, in fact, that they’ll be taking a loss in software sales until June, just to build up their momentum. During that time, they hope to build a strong reseller network Another way ExactFlat is hoping to build interest is by offering a 30-day free trial! Check it out here


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.