What’s New? for SolidWorks 2012 (a most tasty & complete list from SWW11 )

2012Some say the world will end in 2012.  There are a lot of books being rushed to market right now that make some amazing claims about what’s going to happen just 22 months from now (Dec 21, 2012).  SolidWorks Corp seems gleefully oblivious to all of this hoopla, as they have put a lot of effort to bring new capabilities to SolidWorks 2012.  Here  are some highlights.

There’s a few generic user interface capabilities to be added:

  • A pushpin function will be added to allow users to put choice drawings, models or assemblies in a quick access flyout menu.
  • Users can now switch between units of measure via a selection tool added to the status bar.
  • A new command filter search will be added to allow users to search for SolidWorks commands on-the-fly (has opposed to stumbling around the Help file).
  • Selecting an item in the graphics view will highlight it and zoom to it within the feature tree (finally!).

Sheet metal will see several improvements:

  • Users will be able to choose faces to ignore in flat patterns.
  • Swept flange feature will be available.  They will be flattenable.
  • Tangent Flange position function.
  • Users will be able to set flanges parallel to a sketch.

Improved equations dialog boxBig news about equations:

  • Improved equation editor, with solve order and sort.
  • Global variables are now editable via the equation editor window.
  • Auto-rebuild for immediate implementation of changes.

On drawings:

  • BOMs will be insertable without having a pre-selected view.
  • Exploded views will be an option in the View Pallet.
  • Balloon order sequencing will be available, with the ability to number around a view from any start location.
  • Magnet Lines!!! (someone at SolidWorks Corp. was listening)
  • Unused View Label letters will be automatically reused.
  • Ability to add center marks to entire view.

Assembly will have a new Design Review mode that allows users to open and explore large assemblies without all the overhead lag.  This function will include the ability to conduct walk-throughs.

In an apparent extension of functionality added with SustainabilityXpress, SolidWorks 2012 will give users the ability to conduct manufacturer part costing.

New motion sensors will be added for actuator forces, baring loads and travel limits.

And now, the much hyped changes to be made in SolidWorks 2012:

  • Feature Freeze (they are going to try implement it again).
  • Complete Uninstall, with new options that allows for more control.  Also, uninstall function will be available from Admin Image.
  • Files will be cleared from memory when they are closed.
  • Dual monitor support will allow SolidWorks to span across two displays in a logical manner.

SolidWorks World 2011 update

SolidWorks World 2011 breakout and hands-on sessions are now available for those registered to attend.  Even though this announcement was just made earlier this week by SolidWorks Corp, many hands-on sessions are already full.  This usually happens very quickly each year, as seating is very limited in those presentations.

Monday SolidWorks World 2011 schedule

This year, I’m presenting a breakout session entitled Establishing CAD Standards within the SolidWorks Environment.  The session will cover general areas that require documentation that are essential for establishing company CAD standards within an engineering environment that utilizes SolidWorks.  It’s going to be on Monday afternoon. Press events usually make Mondays very busy for me at SolidWorks World.  Now that I’m presenting on that Monday in 2011, it is likely going to be all the more busy.  If you attend my session, don’t be suprized if I’m out of breath from all the running that I’m going to have to do.  Hmm, maybe I should start working out again to be ready?

If you are interested in attending SolidWorks World 2011 and not yet registered, please see the SolidWorks World 2011 website for more details.  2011’s special event for SolidWorks World attendees promises to be…well, you decide.

Stump the Chumps submission form

See if you can stump the chumps with your SolidWorks questions at our session in SolidWorks World 2010:

Stump the Chumps question submission form

Also, if you have files to submit as part of your question, please email your question and files to stumpthechumps@gmail.com.

Methodology in making solid models (a discussion)

According to some of my sources (who shall remain nameless), there was a time when SolidWorks Corp thought about making a something like a best modelling practices guide for SolidWorks users.  The idea of best practices is something of which I’ve been critical.  The main reason is that every situation, environment, company and industry is different, with different needs.  Even the same tools in SolidWorks are be used in completely different ways to achieve desired results.

An example of this can be sheet metal functionality.  Sheet metal models may be created in one way for a company that makes cabinet chassis and be used completely differently at a company that makes furniture.  Heck, even within just one industry, different methods may be employed for different scenarios.

Each company should develop their own standard or set of standards.  Depending on the environment and type of modelling, these may be rigid, they may be very general, or somewhere in-between.  Set rules can apply to the models and assemblies.  Rules may even vary from project to project, depending on business needs.  Even non-design considerations come in to play when setting up standards.  Network setup, computing power, PDM/PLM/ERP programs, etc can impact methodology.

All of these variables make it impossible to establish best practices for all of SolidWorks users.  This is likely why SolidWorks Corp has seemingly dropped the idea of providing set best practices advice.

Different ways to Mate with a SLOT -1

Now we have finished and learned the techniques of making a SLOT, the second question comes up in the mind is “How to Mate with a SLOT”. Again there can be several ways to achieve this and one may adopt the method which he/she finds easy and quick to use. In this chapter let’s discuss about various simple ways of mating with a SLOT.

To use these methods you need a simple plate with a Slot of any size, a cylindrical, rectangular or square part with diameter/width equal to or less than slot width. In this chapter I’m going to use the cylindrical part (pin). I will be covering another discussion on same topic with a square part too.

Start you assembly with the plate inserted as the base part and fixed. You can also use mating techniques to position your plate. Now insert you pin which you want to mate with the slot.


Method 1: With your assembly opened and both the part inserted, select the back face of the plate and bottom face of the pin. Add a coincident mate between them. You can select front and top faces too. This is to set the initial position. Now show on the temporary axis (View > Temporary axis) to display the temporary axis of the pin. Select the side face of the plate and the temporary axis of the pin and give a distance mate. Repeat this with the bottom face. Your pin is now in to the required position.


Method 2: Using the same technique as described in method 1, use the planes instead of the temporary axis of pin to give distance mates with the side and bottom faces of the plate. Your planes may vary from the one shown in the picture.

The difference in the above two methods is that in Method 1 the part is not fully define and its free to revolve on its axis whereas in Method 2, the part gets fully defined.

Method 3: This is a combination of above 2 methods. Add a distance mate using the side face of the plate with the corresponding plane of the pin. Now show up the temporary axis if they are not on. Select either of the temporary axes of the slot and corresponding plane of the pin. Add a coincident mate.

Method 4: If your slot width and diameter of the pin and equal then you can use this method. Add a tangent mate between the side face of the slot and the cylindrical face of the second part. Then add a distance mate with the bottom/side face depending upon the location of your slot with the corresponding plane/temporary axis of the pin.


Method 5: In this method, RMB on the edge of the plate and select “Midpoint”. Then select the corresponding plane of the pin and add a coincident mate. Then add a distance mate with the bottom/side face depending upon the location of your slot with the corresponding plane of the pin.

Method 6: This is tricky method and I prefer to use this method most of the time. Open the plate and edit the slot sketch. Add these two construction lines to your slot sketch. Now in assembly, select to show the slot sketch. Use the planes of the pin and mate them with the corresponding construction line



These are few of the methods which I use for mating with a slot. I would be interesting to hear if you more methods or any other method that you use for mating with the slot.

3DConnexion SpacePilot PRO (Tinkering with buttons and views)

I’ve been tinkering with the SpacePilot PRO.  I love customization.  The SpacePilot PRO offers a high level of customization.  I will discuss different facets of the device in future articles.  This time I am writing about the programmable buttons.

SpacePilot PROThe SpacePilot PRO has 21 programmable buttons.  Additionally, 10 of those buttons have dual mappings for a total of 31 mapped commands.  That is a lot!  On top of that, each of the buttons are mapped differently for each program or mode supported by the device.  Within SolidWorks itself, there are three different mappings: Drawing, Part and Assembly modes.  (There is no mapping just for sketches, but there should be.)

Many of the buttons are directly related to functionality of the device or specific commands that are defined by intuitive icons.  Ultimately, I only recommend changing the mapping for the five buttons.  These are the dual mapped buttons labelled 1/6, 2/7, 3/8, 4/9, and 5/10.  When holding the left hand over the navigation knob, these buttons fall under the pinky finger. Giving the dual mapped button a single quick press initiates the first command.  To choose the second command instead, press and hold the button down for a second.  These buttons are a little awkward at first (being under the pinky), but I got used to it pretty quickly.

The 5 dual mapped buttons to the right of the knob (accessed with the thumb or index finger) provide quick access to standard model views.  For example, one button jumps to the front or back views of the model.  Most of the standard model views are covered by this set of buttons.  However, one thing that is missing is the ability to save a named view and to return to it at any time.  Given the level of detail that has gone into the SpacePilot PRO, it surprizes me that this ability is missing.  I think this is one of the points I mentioned to 3Dconnexion back in February.

So, you know what I did?  I made up for this missing functionality by writing a pair of macros that do just that.  One saves the current model view as a named view.  The other returns to that named view.  I then programmed these two functions to button 1/6.  (I’ve already uploaded these to my resources site here: Quick View Save and Restore.  These macros can actually be used with any device with programmable functions, or even just as icons on a toolbar.) Let’s hope that 3Dconnexion covers this basic function in future iterations of their 3D mice.

Hint: for users of SolidWorks 2008 and 2009, I would recommend programming one of the buttons to the letter “S” for the shortcut toolbar.  This would practically eliminate the need to touch the keyboard except for typing notes and numbers.

Overall, I have found that the plentiful number of buttons is a big plus for the SpacePilot PRO.  These buttons extend the functionality of the device beyond just being a 3D mouse.