Fredericksburg SolidWorks User Group

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Meeting Notes

March FredSWUG Meeting Recap

Posted by Fred.SWUG on March 30, 2012 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

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 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), the official SolidWorks Blog recap (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), and my "SolidWorks World According to Twitter" posts (Monday, Tuesday, 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!


SolidWorks 2012, the FredSWUG Way!

Posted by Fred.SWUG on March 2, 2012 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Eman Kim, one of our favorite presenters from TriMech, came by on Thursday the 20th to show FredSWUG the best new enhancements in SolidWorks 2012

User Interface

Ambient Occlusion

Ambient Occlusion is a view style that adds yet another layer of realism to your models. It used to be confined to a single scene, but now Ambient Occlusion is available in every scene from the View Settings dropdown. Compare the images below to see the effect of Ambient Occlusion.



By default, Ambient Occlusion is turned off while rotating or zooming your model. However, You can enable draft quality occlusion during rotation by going to Tools >> Options >> SysOps >> Display/Selection >> Display draft quality ambient occlusion. However, this slows down your session considerably.

Colored Section Cap

The colored section caps that used to be only available in cross section previews can now be maintained by checking the "Keep Cap Color" box.


Command Search

Now you can search for commands from the search bar in the upper-right. This is a great feature for new SolidWorks users, since it can also show you the exact location of the feature in the CommandManager toolbar, or, if it's not already there, you can easily add it from the search results.



You can also assign tags to each feature in case a new user is used to them by a different name (for example, assign the tag 'protrude' to Extruded boss/base).

Change Units in GUI

Quickly and easily change the units of the document you're currently working on, without going deep into the options menu.


Select All (Context Sensitive)

Easily select all of a specific entity without using the Selection Filter. Pressing Ctrl+A still selects everything, but if you first select a specific entity (such as an edge, face, dimension, plane, etc), Ctrl+A will only select that type of entity. This is useful for hiding all existing planes, while new planes will still be shown.

Recent Documents Pane

The recent documents pane (accessed with the 'R' key) has gotten an overhaul, visually and functionally. You can now pin your favorite models to the recent documents pane, so they're always available with one click.



Automatic Double Dimension

After the first doubled dimension (across a centerline), SolidWorks 2012 automatically creates subsequent dimensions as doubled, until you click in an empty area.


Undo Dimension Selection

Pressing the escape key while making dimension selections will undo the last dimension selection, instead of completely exiting the dimension command (unless no entities are currently selected).

Auto-Rotation on Feature/Sketch Creation

With this option (Tools >> Options >> SysOps >> Sketch) enabled, your part will automatically rotate normal to a new sketch, and rotate to Isometric when creating a new feature.


Toggle Sketch Numeric Input from Right-Click

This little-known but extremely useful feature is now easier to get to. Enable Sketch numeric input from the RBMB menu to instantly define dimension values when creating sketch entities.




Exploded Views for Multi-Body Parts

A major limitation in the past has been the inability to explode multi-body parts (such as weldments). This has been resolved in SolidWorks 2012. The same explosion UI you know from assemblies is now available for multi-body parts.


Feature Freeze

This highly anticipated enhancement is, surprisingly, not enabled by default. To enable it, go to Tools >> Options >> SysOps >> General >> Enable Freeze Bar.

This feature allows certain features to be locked, or "frozen," and not loaded into the model when the filed is opened or rebuilt (such as when completing or editing a feature, or changing configurations). This significantly reduces rebuild time, especially in complex parts. However, the features are still available visually. Think of it as a lightweight feature. 


Equation Manager

Use equations with global variables, suppress/unsuppress functions, and every single dimension in your model. You can also rename dimensions in the modify box as soon as you create them. Best of all, you can create equations right in the dimension field, and you can toggle between displaying the equation itself, and the calculated value. This also works with features (such as an extrude), but you have to go back and add the equation to the feature dimension. It's not available directly from the feature PropertyManager.




Open any Layer of Subassembly

By right-clicking on a part, you can open any subassembly it's used in, no matter how many layers deep it is.


Highlight Modified Dimensions on Open

Enable this from Tools >> Options >> SysOps >> Colors. It will highlight any dimensions which have been modified since the drawing was last opened.


Use Unused View Labels

Now, if you delete Detail View A, the next detail, section, or auxiliary view will reuse that deleted letter, instead of starting with B. (Must be enabled from Tools >> Options >> SysOps >> Drawings >> Reuse view letters…;)


Exploded Isometric in View palette and Right-Click Menu

Exploded Isometric is now a default view available from the view pallete in drawings. You can also switch any drawing view to the exploded state from the RMB menu.


Magnetic Lines/Balloon Order

This is a feature taken from 3DVia Composer. When creating a balloon pattern, you can automatically insert magnet lines (or insert them later), which make ordering and spacing balloons much easier. The 'Equal Spacing' option keeps the balloons aligned and spaced, even when the magnetic line is moved, or balloons are reordered.


Balloons can also be ordered sequentially, as opposed to only by assembly order, as was the case in previous SolidWorks versions. Once a BOM has been inserted , the balloons can be ordered sequentially, clockwise or counter-clockwise, and the BOM will update automatically.



Smart Mate Delay

Previously, when trying to smart-mate a part (by holding ALT and dragging), the part would instantly jump to the closest available mating position. Now, in 2012, the part has to be held over the desired mate feature for a few seconds. I'm sure this will cause more than a few headaches.

Large Design Review

This feature replaces QuickView/Selective Open, which was a useful tool for viewing large assemblies, without taking all the time to load all the parts. In 2012, this functionality has been enhanced, to allow limited interaction with the model. In Large Design Review mode, you can rotate your model, as before, but now you can also measure, create section views, hide and show parts, and view walkthroughs (Note, this also works for large drawings).



In Large Design Review, you can also take a snapshot. A snapshot is a combination of view orientation and display state, meaning you can save a shortcut to a specific camera view, with certain parts hidden or shown. This allows you to quickly jump to the various key locations of your design, but still have the freedom to move around and hide/show additional components as needed.

Form New Subassembly From Graphics Area

You can now create a new subassembly by selecting multiple parts from the graphics area, and using the "Form New Subassembly" command from the right-click menu.


Add Non-Sequential Parts to Folder

Any parts can be dragged to a FeatureManager folder, even if they're not sequential.

Hide Components with Tab Key

You can hide a part by hovering over it, and pressing the Tab key. You can hide multiple components by holding the Tab key and moving your cursor over the model. You can show components again by hovering or dragging over the space where a hidden part should be, and pressing Shift+Tab.

No Initial Point For Hole Wizard

Instead of automatically creating a hole wherever you first click, the SolidWorks 2012 Hole Wizard selects only the face on the first click, and creates your holes with subsequent clicks. It also previews the size and position of the entire hole before you place it.


Sheet Metal

Fully Editable Forming Tools

Now you have more control over forming tools when modeling sheet metal parts