SolidWorks World 2008 Day 1 (Jan 21) Breakouts and Such

Though the breakfasts at SWW8 left a lot to be desired, I have to say the food serviced at the lunches was enjoyable.  One of the things that SWW8 organizers tried to do was set up tables for lunch with particular themes, called Birds of a Feather.  Basically, each day, the cafeteria was laid out with tables in particular areas being labelled with particular interests.  One day the tables were labelled based on SolidWorks software related interests.  Another day, the cafeteria was divided into industry genre.  The last day was divided into regions of the U.S. and the World.  Honestly, it didn’t make a dang bit of difference to me.  Two out of the three days, I sat pretty randomly anyway.  The one day I did sit where I was supposed didn’t turn out all that interesting to me (no offense to the people at the table with me).

 On my first day of SWW8, my breakout sessions where actually not directly SolidWorks related.  The first breakout session I attended covered Advanced Project Management Concepts.  I choose this session originally because other available sessions at the same slot were either topics I already know well enough, or were not related to me at all.  I didn’t expect much from this particular session.  I was surprised.  I’m glad I was in attendance.  The session was kinda an eye opener covering topics in project management including criticisms of and improvement upon the critical path method, the root causes for scheduling issues, bad behavior that I have always thought was good behavior (multi-tasking), Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time available for its completion), 3 Minute Egg Rule (sarcastically: it’s not quality if its finish before time is up), and the CYA factor.  The session then addressed the true nature of projects and discussed methods to use in order to plan projects more effectively.  Out of all my breakout sessions, this is the one where I took the most notes (and that wasn’t because it was the first one I attended).

I then attended the breakout session labelled Clarifying Software Tools and Regulatory Compliance.  I work in a heavily regulated industry, and have been grappling with the question of how to treat SolidWorks within that environment.  Is SolidWorks and related applications subject to validation requirements.  The answer I found here was no!  SolidWorks and its related applications are authoring tools.  Drawings can be document of record in the Device History File, but they can be so in the form of formats like PDF or TIFF.  My company already treats the PDFs of drawings as the controlled document, so this fits well within our processes without the risk of having cumbersome activities limit the use of SolidWorks in some artificial way.

Hybrid Modeling Solids and Surfaces was the next breakout session I attended on Monday.  This session was conducted by Matt Lombard.  This session revolved around the idea of using good practices to create models that employed both surfacing and solid modelling.  He discussed the sequential method where one starts out creating a part as surface model and then becomes a solid model.  This is accomplished by grouping all of the surface features at the start of the Feature Manager, and grouping the solid features at the bottom.  This method produces a well organized tree, but may be difficult to maintain if certain features which blur the boundaries of surface and solid modelling are used.  The alternative is simultaneous hybrid modelling, that has a combined use of solids and surfaces throughout the Feature Manager tree.  He also went into details about many of the surface and solid modelling tools.  Seeing many of the SolidWorks tools demonstrated was enough to make this time well spent.  I briefly met Matt at the end.  We previously have had some correspondences regarding a particular topic du jour: HM, CF, RC1, RC2, & RC3.

I went to my final session of the day on a whim.  I had intended on going to a session that covered the topic of PDMWorks and API or something.  However, it was across the building, and this session was just down the hall.  Welcome to the 9th Annual SolidWorks User Group Network Summit Meeting.  The attendees of these meeting turns out to be a who’s who in the SolidWorks universe.  Many of us Blog Squad members where there, but the focus of the group was the SWUGN and its leadership.  I was first introduced to this level of activity by a personal invite from Richard Doyle to attend a SWUGN Regional Technical Summit in 2007.  Before that, I had been to a couple of SWUG meetings over the years and that’s about it.  The one thing that strikes me as quirky and yet endearing is Richard Doyle’s pronunciation of the letters S-W-U-G-N and how they just roll off his tongue.  It’s not swu-jen, or swoo-jen, or swu-gun, or even swug-in.  He pronounces the g as in begin, not as a j like in giant.  He easily utters swu-gin in a way that may take other English speakers years to master.  

 The session was very informative as to the progress and goals for the SWUGN in 2007 and throughout 2008.  As the day come to a close, I headed off to recoop in preparation for the long day to come.


So, I have been playing with the DimExpert tool to apply annotation dimension and GD&T on models.  I really like this tool to a point.

My concern is that to date there is no real good modeling standard that I have seen that encourages modeling that enables easliy changing models for design changes.  Most of the time when I had to do eco’s most of my time was spent trying to figure out someones mental state when they created the model.  Then I had to make my changes followed up by a model comparison to ensure that I did not inadvertantly screw something up with my changes.  What should have taken minutes and been simple became hours and mundane even frusturating.

With this cool new tool I fear that models will continually become harder to edit when it comes to change or data reuse.  The DimXpert for those who have not played with it yet enables the user to create models in any manner then when the user is ready for detailing they select the DimXpert tool which allows them to added driven dimensions to the model’s annotation view making the detailing process easier and more accurate.

In my mind this tool is a pandoras box that enables SW users to continue modeling without any regard to fututre changes or data reusage.  For this tool to be effective, when this tool is activated the dimesnions that it adds would need to somehow convert the sketched and feature dims to driven and the added dimnsions added by the tool then become the parametric driving dimensions.  Ooh ohh, that would be nice.  Difficult (Quoting Rick Chin and John Hirschtek) this is the Absurdly Ideal DimXpert.

Try this tool out.  Let me know if I am off my rocker or not.  By the way – When using this for GD&T it is soooooo much easier and correct than attempting at the sketch level.

Materials Database Library

Click here for the download page of the updated ctopher SolidWorks material database library.

Have you ever needed a material database that has more than the standard materials that comes with SolidWorks? Over the past eight years I have created solid models for military and commercial designs that required accurate 3D models to send to our customers for weight and FEA analysis.I have weighed the actual against the calculated weight from SolidWorks and the parts were very accurate, 98-100% accurate. Major aerospace companies were pleased.I created my own material database based on the materials used in these industries; it is available on my site for free download: Materials.[Updated 9/2016 ML]

Sometime in the near future, I plan on expanding the material database to include materials requested by other SolidWorks users and friends. [Update 9/2016 is now available at the link above. ML]