Marketing suggested that this month’s blog topic be related to summer in some fashion. Being the good soldier that I am, I am happy to oblige. This month, I’m going to talk beach balls!
Ok, I’m not going to talk about the blow-up kind we use on the beach; instead, I’m going to talk about the “beach ball’ icons that pop up when you select a face on a SOLIDWORKS model.
The first “beach ball” icon is the Appearances icon. When you select a face, then select Appearances, SOLIDWORKS reveals a hierarchy of appearances for the selected item. On a solid, the face belongs to itself, a feature, a body, and the part. All parts have a default appearance, so you will always see that appearance as a swatch of color on the “part” line. If you want to override that appearance, select the level you want to affect. In the illustration below, we are going to change a fillet from being gray (the part color) to red.
We can take this a bit further as well. Selecting a face, then selecting Appearances, and finally selecting the face “line item” allows us to override again, this time making the face yellow, as below:
So, the hierarchy for Appearance is as follows: Part is overridden by Body which is overridden by Feature which is overridden by Face.
You can also use more “beach ball” icons to copy and paste an appearance.
When you paste, a pop-up will appear letting you choose the target, including Body, Feature, and Face.
To remove an appearance at any level, bring up the Appearances list by selecting a face and clicking the red “X”. If you want to remove all appearances and set back to just part appearance, click that item at the bottom, as highlighted below:
Finally, while I am using color for my examples, there are other aspects to appearance, such as transparency, which can be revealed on the Advanced tab of the Appearances PropertyManager.
Now we know all about the beach ball pop-up in SOLIDWORKS! Let’s hit that beach!
By: John Setzer, Training Coordinator
With summer in full swing, many of us enjoy spending our time out on the links hitting that little white ball around...myself included! On the rare occasion when I'm not shanking my shots into the woods, I sometimes stop and think about the engineering behind the equipment that I’m using. Take the golf ball for example...constantly companies are advertising that their ball flies farther, feels softer, etc., etc. Is there really that much to these little white balls, or are these companies trying to sell something? The answer to this question is YES....of course companies want you to buy their product, but there is some pretty neat engineering that goes into your golf ball as well. The answer behind what makes a golf ball is found on the inside and outside of the ball. Let's take a look at the aspects of a golf ball and see what we can find out!
This all started when a colleague of mine made the innocent suggestion that I create the dimples on a golf ball for my next blog. Well me not having the forethought to think through the consequences of this, I agreed! After hours of contemplating how I was going to do this, I finally came up with an idea that seemed to work. Many of the golf balls out there use an octahedral dimple design. This meant that I could break the ball up into 8th's and only create the dimples on a small section and then mirror the rest. The main challenge I found was dealing with the change in orientation of every dimple. It was easy enough to create one dimple with a cut revolve but when you tried to pattern that cut, it would not change the orientation to be normal to the outside surface. To get around this, I used a base revolve that intersected the golf ball by the amount needed to create the dimple. In order for this approach to work for all the dimples, I needed a construction surface that split the center of each revolve.
One of the other aspects to the octahedral dimple design is the pattern of the dimples on the small section. The pattern is a set of nested triangles similar to the way that you would rack pool balls. By offsetting a series of planes from the sides and bottom of my golf ball segment, I could use the Split Line command to split my construction surface into these triangular sections. Once I split my construction surface, I could use the edges along with a Curve Driven Pattern to pattern the bodies of my revolve feature. The patterned bodies could then be “subtracted” out of the main golf ball using Combine. This method could then be used for every subsequent “triangle” within the segment.
Once all the dimples have been patterned, a series of Mirror commands can be used to create the entire golf ball. I’m sure there are many ways of going about this, but this is just one that I came up with. If you are interested in seeing the actual file, feel free to download it here: Download Golf Ball.
By: Chris Olson, Applications Engineer
Why doesn’t SOLIDWORKS…
…make things JUST work?
…improve their user interface?
I’m sure everyone could finish that question with something different. Many people are frustrated by SOLIDWORKS for not implementing changes that matter to them. The secret to getting SOLIDWORKS to do that? Tell them.
… how things should work.
… how the user interface should behave.
… where and when your crashing happens.
Let’s start with the basics for getting your idea heard by SOLIDWORKS, the steps for getting to the form necessary to do this can be found here. Filling out this Enhancement Request form as clearly as possible is the important part for SOLIDWORKS. It lets them know that there are things that can be better. They receive thousands of these a year, so let’s talk about methods to drastically improve chances of an idea, YOUR IDEA, being implemented:
Let’s break each one of these down.
Write clearly and concisely. Make it easy to understand your problem and in as few words as possible. The more concise, the better. Due to the volume of requests, huge readings are likely to be skimmed over. Bullets over paragraphs in this case.
Make a business case. Quantify, Quantify, Quantify.
Quantify time savings
occurrences per week*number of weeks*users*time savings per occurrence = time savings
Quantify monetary savings
time savings x hourly cost+material and manufacturing savings = dollars saved
Quantify number of users effected
number of our users x companies like ours = users effected
Quantify as much as you can. The goal is to explain to SOLIDWORKS their Return On Investment (ROI) for investing the development resources in your problem. Explaining how the ROI for other customers increases is the key. If it’s a boost to the ROI for many customers (try to ballpark how many for them), the change will make it in a future version.
Let SOLIDWORKS know the assumptions you used in your quantifications. They may do further research and if you’ve told them what numbers they need, that research becomes easier.
Make it easy to implement. An idea is a long way from an implementation. Developing software doesn’t just take a programmer. It takes user interface designers, managers, and other specialized resources. If you are taking on one of these roles you can reduce the resources needed to make your idea happen making the ROI for SOLIDWORKS larger by shrinking the investment portion. The image below shows an example of providing the interface design. It takes the guess work out and makes it easy to see the benefits. The result is a smaller development team needed. With clear instructions, only a programmer is necessary and the change will be exactly what you want. Other items that could be provided are a workflow diagram, images of other software that does what you want, and successive screen drawings if multiple interfaces are necessary.
Make it popular. Enhancement requests are based on a voting system. Less popular requests still get looked at, but the more people that vote for something the more weight it carries. To get a request implemented, get everyone in your company to vote for it. Get the SOLIDWORKS users in your LinkedIn network to vote for it. Go to a SOLIDWORKS User Group and get them to vote for it. SHOUT IT TO THE WORLD…
Ok maybe not, but make an effort where you can.
The louder you make the voice behind it the more likely it will be heard. Clear Description+Business Case+Ease+Popularity=Enhancement by SOLIDWORKS
Fifteen minutes of making a clear case for an enhancement can save you hours of productivity in the future. If your enhancement is too niche for SOLIDWORKS, but it has a lot of value, you can always use the SOLIDWORKS API to program your own enhancements. If that’s not familiar, there are classes to take such as the one here.
By: Brandon Donnelly, Simulation Applications Engineer
How long do you spend working in SOLIDWORKS® each day? One hour? Four? Eight? How many times have you benefited from its ever-increasing features and capabilities? How many times have you wished you had a voice in those features and capabilities?
It's that time of year! The first beta version of SOLIDWORKS 2015 is available for all beta program participants to download. This is your chance to see what's in the next version of our favorite mechanical design software, try out the new features, and test it for fun and prizes. It's free for all current SOLIDWORKS Subscription Customers. Check it out!
If you’re wondering how to sign up for the beta program, how you can become an effective tester, or how to gain knowledge of advanced product development, then check out the FAQ page created for this very purpose.
As a participant in this process, be sure to submit a service request to report any bugs that you may find. Since the software is still in the testing phase, any issues or suggestions reported will ensure that the final release will be better than ever!
You know that saying "You learn something new every day"?...I think it definitely holds true! I've been with Graphics Systems just over three years. In that time, I'd say I’ve gotten to know the SOLIDWORKS software pretty well. It's funny though, as much time as I’ve spent using the software there are times when I come across a feature that I never knew existed. A couple months ago this happened to me while working on a sheet metal part for a customer of ours. I was playing around with their flat pattern and ended up for some reason editing the flat pattern feature itself. I've been inside this dialog I don't know how many times. For some reason though this time I noticed a little box at the very bottom called "Faces to Exclude". Come to find out, this feature allows you to pick faces in the model that you don't want calculated as part of the flat pattern. This comes in very handy when you want to add gussets or other supporting geometry to your sheet metal parts. Before I stumbled upon this feature, I would always tell customers to create a separate configuration with those features and use another configuration for flattening the sheet metal part...Faces to Exclude however solves this problem quite nicely! Let's take a look and see how this is done...
Say I have this simple sheet metal part with a supporting gusset in it. When I go to try and flatten the part I would get an error because that gusset cannot be flattened.
Using the Faces to Exclude option however, I can simply select the faces that are part of that gusset and exclude them from the flat pattern
Now with those faces excluded, I can flatten the part no problem!
It's the simple things in life that bring the most enjoyment.
By: Chris Olson, Applications Engineer
For another SOLIDWORKS tip, check out Chris Olson's article on Modeling For SOLIDWORKS Simulation.
Sol glanced over at his faithful yet obviously distraught friend. “What’s the matter, Sal?”
“Oh, the computer is, you know, doing stuff to me again!”
“Um, just what kind of stuff do you mean, Sal?”
“You know! Like, dialog boxes, and warning messages that used to be there – now they’re g-g-gone! Gone!”
“Sal, Sal, Sal,” Sol sympathetically sighed as his smoldering sidekick Sal stammered sardonically. “Remember what I’ve told you, like, a hundred times now?”
“This isn’t about emptying the coffee pot at night, again, is it, Sol? Because…” Sal’s voice trailed off.
“No, Sal, not this time. I meant how computers really, really just do what we tell them to do, as hard as it is to believe sometimes.”
“So…your point is?”
“Well, are you ever working in SOLIDWORKS, and have a warning message come up, like for instance, the one that warns you about not finding the files you need?”
“Do you mean like the one you’re about to show me, in Figure 1?”
“Yes, Sal,” Sol surreptitiously sighed as Sal surveyed the screen. “Do you see that little ‘Don’t show again’ checkbox in the corner? Do you ever click those boxes?”
“All the time! Hey…waiddaminute….” Sal suddenly shone with the serene satisfaction of someone sussing seemingly not-so-subtle certainties. Searchingly, he said to Sol, “I’m the one doing it, aren’t I?”
“Si, senor,” said Sol succinctly. “Would you like to know how to fix the problem?”
Sal looked at Sol. “I feel a Figure 2 coming on, immediately below this line. Am I right?”
“Certainly,” said Sol. “It’s easy. Just go into the Options, as above, and check the boxes you’d like to reappear.”
“Hey, that was easy! Man, oh, man, where do you learn all these cool tips and tricks, Sol?”
“Graphics Systems’ SolidNotes blog, Sal. Graphics Systems’ SolidNotes.”
By: Sam Hochberg, Applications Engineer
Do you want more from Sol and Sal? Tune in to this post, a SOLIDWORKS tip about Preventing Rotation in Concentric Assembly Mates.
It was a pleasant surprise, wasn’t it, when you discovered that SolidWorks Composer was even more useful than you imagined? You thought the vector-based graphic output would be a fitting tool for associatively using your SolidWorks models in your catalogs, websites, build instructions, repair manuals, and Bills of Materials. But then you discovered…the photo-quality rendered output. And the great descriptive documentation tools. And the drop-dead easiest animation tool you’ve ever used.
Is there any way it could make even better presentations? With my company logo, perhaps, or drawings of the parts themselves, as the background image, or better yet, the floor under my models? Could SolidWorks Composer really get any better?
We’re glad you asked.
We’ll start with our original output, as seen in Figure 1.
Next, we’ll select the “Ground” actor from the Environment node of the Collaboration pane, as in Figure 2.
Now we are able to see the options available to use in the Properties pane (Figure 3).
It’s the “Ground texture” property you want to change here. Browse for your favorite raster image. As mentioned, some like to use their company logo – I like using things like the 2-D drawing of the part, or a picture of the environment the model would be found in, be it a desktop or factory floor. While here, experiment with some of the other options found here, such as Scale, Mirror, Shadow and Fall off. It’s the best way to learn, especially in such a visual tool as SolidWorks Composer.
Here’s my end result (Figure 4).
Our customers continually tell us they’ve found SolidWorks Composer to be useful in more ways than they originally anticipated. What has been your experience?
By: Sam Hochberg, Applications Engineer
Are you interested in another SolidWorks Composer Tip? Check out Dale Rice's article on Blank Views in SolidWorks Composer.
The other day a colleague of mine was telling me about a sign that one of his previous managers had in his
office. It said "The purpose of project, blah blah blah, is to MAKE MONEY!" When it comes right down to it, that statement is so true. That's the reason we all get up and go to work each day; we won't get very far in the world if we don't have at least some of that in our pocket...well from a business perspective how do we achieve this? One of the main ways is to take our current operation and make it more efficient and productive. This often involves implementing new technology available in our industry; this is no-less true in the engineering industry. In fact, the term engineering itself implies that our purpose is to design, create, and improve products and processes! A while back I saw an article listing the top 10 engineering advancements of the 21st century. In that top 10 was the introduction of 3D CAD software! Today, you are hard pressed to find any engineering company not utilizing some form of 3D CAD software. Being able to work with a wide variety of the engineering companies has given me the opportunity to see a new trend that is developing. Companies no longer want just 3D CAD at their fingertips, they also want simulation tools at their fingertips. It used to be that these tools were so complex and expensive that only large companies with PhD level employees were able to utilize these tools. In today's world however, this is no longer the case. Many of these tools are now integrated right inside that same 3D CAD package that you have been using for years. It allows the everyday engineers and designers to make informed design decisions without having to resort to physically building and testing the design.
The number one goal of our company is to help our customers succeed in any way they can. One of the ways we can do this is by showing them the value that upfront simulation can bring. In an effort to do this, we recently finished up a series of seminars that went through the benefits of using simulation to virtually test designs in the early stages of the design process. The title of these seminars was Predicting Real World Product Performance. One of the main points in these seminars was how virtual testing can take into account multiple types of physics. Today’s products are often so complex that is it tough to understand how they truly react to the environment they are used in without building and testing many expensive prototypes. Take an air cooled engine for example. One important aspect is the cooling mechanism. The flow of air over the engine effects the temperature. Changes in the materials temperature impacts the efficiency, material properties, structural integrity and durability of the engine components. Thermal stresses can lead to failure of the components and vibrations in the system. In this case and cases where multiple physics are involved, the only practical way to fully understand what is going on is through virtual testing.
These seminars also talked about how hard it is to make design changes the closer you are to production. The emphasis here is that when using integrated simulation you can get an idea of how your design is going to perform early in the design and catch any changes that need to be made when the cost is relatively low.
The last highlight of these seminars that I'd like to give is the real companies that came and shared how they have adopted this process and what they've been able to achieve as a result. Here are a few examples of the presenting companies and their success with simulation:
With today's industries being as competitive as they are, it is so important to keep on top of the latest technologies available to improve the efficiency and productivity of your company. 3D CAD has revolutionized the way we run our engineering businesses and I believe we will see a similar trend with integrated simulation solutions as well.
By: Chris Olson, Simulation Applications Engineer
To learn more about SOLIDWORKS Simulation, please visit our website.
“Save Early and Save Often.” When reminding people of the frequency with which they should save their computer work. I like to paraphrase a certain less-than-flattering colloquialism often attributed to a large Midwestern US city that I happen to live near. SolidWorks users attending our Update Training courses (you have spoken to your sales consultant about your eligibility for our annual free Update Training classes…haven’t you?) are taught about a new-for-2014 feature that they might have otherwise not noticed: A new “Save As Copy” function which, unlike previous versions, not only saves a copy of the current document under a new name, but opens it immediately for editing. See Fig. 1.
Where does this fit into the scheme of things? Let’s review: We know that “Save As” saves the current document to another name, and replaces that document in any others that reference it that are currently open. Historically, “Save As Copy” saved to another name, did not open that document immediately, nor did it affect referencing documents. That is the option we now see listed as “Save as Copy and Continue.” Therefore, our new “Save as Copy and Open” option does just that – opens that document for editing, while honoring the traditional “Save as Copy” behavior.
By the way…it’s not too late to ask about our Update Training classes! Contact us to find out more about our in-person or online classes today.
By: Sam Hochberg, Applications Engineer