SOLIDWORKS X-ray Vision with transparency

SOLIDWORKS that allows you to quickly view your entire model as transparent mode, like an X-ray of your assembly.

Top Level Transparency is an option within SOLIDWORKS that allows you to quickly view your entire model in a transparent mode. It’s like a quick-access x-ray of your model. You may need this to peer deep into the heart of your assembly. Perhaps you are trying to visually find an obscured part which is buried within your assembly. Even within an individual part, you may just want to see a particular set of features without a section view.

You don’t have to change the transparency of each and every component within your assembly or create special display state. Just turn this setting on, and then turn if off.

How to turn Top Level Transparency on

To turn it on, right mouse button click on the top line of your Feature Tree. Select the Top Level Transparency option from the shortcut bar or within the list of options of the right mouse button menu. Repeat to turn the mode off.

Although Top Level Transparency is a mode, it does directly affect the transparency of the assembly and components while active. This means the setting is persistent. If you turn this setting on for a component, when you open the associated assembly, that component will be transparent within the assembly. A component or assembly can also be saved with this mode active.

Besides Transparency, explore changes to Exploded Views

Another assembly tool that you may wish to explore in SOLIDWORKS might be Exploded View, which has seen a number of enhancements over the years. SOLIDWORKS 2015 introduced Radial Explode. Back in SOLIDWORKS 2013, you gained the ability to copy exploded views. More recently, you have the ability to autospace exploded components.

Each release of SOLIDOWORKS sees many enhancements for assemblies. Be sure to always review each year’s What’s New document.

Return of Ctopher’s Custom Material Database

ctopher custom materials for SOLIDWORKSCustom materials in SOLIDWORKS are important if you are using materials not included in the default set.  Around a decade ago, Chris Saller compiled a bunch of such custom materials from varies sources based on requests and submissions from many different people.  This list is informally known as Ctopher’s Custom Material Database, “ctopher” being Chris’ handle.

Various versions of this file have been available on now long-gone websites over the years.  Well, the material database is finally back and bigger (better) than ever!  Chris has complied a new version in SOLIDWORKS 2016.  This new version has many new materials.  The new database is now available directly on SolidWorks Legion in the File Downloads tab as Ctopher’s Custom Material Database.

There are two methods to point SOLIDWORKS to use a custom material database.  The easiest method is described on Ctopher’s Custom Material Database download page.  Below is a slightly more advanced method which should also work on networks.

To point SOLIDWORKS to make the materials in this database available:

1.To use, place custom_matls_091516_sw2016.sldmat file into an easily accessible folder, such as S:\SOLIDWORKS Shared File\Custom Materials.  The folder is your choice, based on your network and operational set up.


3.Goto Tools>Options…>System Options>File Locations.  In the Show folders for dropdown, select Material Databases.

4.Select Add button.  Navigate to your chosen folder, such as S:\SOLIDWORKS Shared File\Custom Materials.

5.Select OK button.

6.Repeat for all instances of SOLIDWORKS within the network that need to access this database.

To use the custom materials:

1.Open any part file.

2.In the Feature Tree, right click on Materials and then select Edit Materials.  “Custom_matls_091516” folder will be on your material list.

4.Click on desired subfolder, such as Copper Alloys.

5.Click on desired material to view properties.

6.Click on Apply to apply that material to your part.

7.Click on Close to return to your part.

Ctopher’s Custom Material Database

Classic drawing interpretation problem

There’s a classic problem with drawings:  interpretation.   Without enough information, there is always some sort of ambiguity.  Let’s take at a classic interpretation problem for example.

What is the shape of the part being described by this drawing (below)?  Note that Hidden Line Visible is turned on for both the Front and Top views.

Classic drawing interpretation problem

Because HLV is on, this cannot be a sheet metal bracket, since you’d be able to see the sheet metal wall as hidden lines in both views.


Not the solution

So, can you model this part?  Well, I’m not going to make you wait for the solution.  If you want to cheat to see the solution modelled in SOLIDWORKS, feel free to download it herewoodblockproblem (SW2015).

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2015: Asymmetric Fillet

What’s so different between Bend Tables and Gage Tables?

SolidNotes blog has a very good article about the differences between Bend Tables and Gage Tables in SolidWorks.

 Bend tables were the original table used by SolidWorks to pull Bend Deduction, Bend Allowance, or K-Factor values for use in calculating the flat pattern. Before the introduction of gauge tables, you would need a separate table for each thickness of material. Since gauge tables were introduced, data for multiple thicknesses of one material can be used in a single table; this makes life much easier!