SWW09: Focus Groups (Drawings and Sheet Metal)

As previously mentioned, I attended two focus groups (also called roundtable discussions) this year.  These are generally held on Sunday before all the major SolidWorks World activities begin on Monday.

Sheet Metal

The first group I attended was for sheet metal functionality.  Though attendence was very light, the number of different methodologies and opinions was high.  My own interest in the topic is the problem with being forced to use assemblies to fully document sheet metail parts with inserts.  This is an issue because if you start a drawing of a part, you cannot later replace that part with an assembly.  So, if you create a sheet metal part with no inserts and then you need to add inserts on some later revision, you are forced to recreate the drawing practically from scratch.  This is a horid time and resource sink.

Others in the group talked about using K-factors to determine the material used by the sheet metal part (for flat patterning), while others disregarded K-factors in favor of bend reduction techniques.

One request that seemed to get common acceptance is the idea of creating a table of all the bends of a part with their full characteristics, with the ability to highlight each bend by clicking on it within the table.  When this table is on a drawing, it was suggested that details be added to a specific layer.

The session  also revealed that some used work arounds to use the SolidWorks model to instruct sheet metal tooling to perform certain actions (either via direct or translated input).  Some use alternative features which do not match the final design in order to instruct a tool to produce the feature desired in the final design.

One work around solution did come out of this session.  Right now, the material mass number changes from bent state to flattened state.  Although this difference is minor, over a large quality of parts, the error multiples and can create issues in part handling.  Use a non-configuration custom property to link to the the material property (of a specific configuration?).  Use this custom property as the source for the mass regardless of the configuration or part state.

Drawings

A large portion of the drawings discussion revolved around printing and saving issues with Drawings.  It seems many people are experiencing similar problems.  When saving as a PDF, views randomly disappear.  When printing as a PDF, text locations get shifted.  Also, changes to parts at lower levels of an assembly may cause errors and view changes in higher level assembly drawings; meaning the the company has to open up all levels of a product’s assemblies to make sure that any change did not affect the drawings in unexpected ways.  It seems more people are having these kind of issues that I originally thought.  Many of the problems are magnified by use of PDM’s.

The meeting also focused on DimXpert and how to handle its dimensions.  One comment is that it should place dimensions per current standards within the model.  Another comment noted that datums and feature frames should drive the model.

I voiced my other major concern as well.  Symbols from the Gtol.sym library file should be stored within a drawing.  Right now, I cannot give native drawings to others outside of my organization because they will not be able to see symbols that we employ.  When a symbol is used within a drawing, it should be included in that drawing’s file and not require editing of any other user’s Gtol.sym file.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

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