SolidWorks 2011: Defeature Feature

There’s a new tool in SolidWorks called Defeature. Although the Defeature feature has a seemingly counter-intuitive and oxymoronic name, this new tool garnered the most excitement from the Press at this year’s SolidWorks 2011 Launch Event.  Defeature creates simplified versions of models or assemblies that are easier to share, use, and also protect design details which may represent intellectual property.

Defeature for parts

In a part, Defeature allows the user to replace details (such as features and surfaces) with dumb solids (solids without feature definition or history).  With a model open, goto Tools pulldown>Defeature.

Defeature part

Defeatured model - before and after

The Defeature tool workflow may be straightforward for simple parts.  However, the selection/deselection process can be laborious for complex parts.  Once the user has selected the preserved features, they may save the results to a new file or upload the model directly to 3D Content Central.  The new file will not be linked to the original file.  It will only contain one feature called Imported1.

Defeature for assemblies

If Defeature only simplified individual models, it wouldn’t be all that impressive.  Defeature also works with assemblies!  It has several options that facilitate the selection/deselection process.  With an assembly open, goto Tools pulldown>Defeature.


Defeatured assembly - before and after

The assembly Defeature workflow allows the user to select/deselect whole components based on certain criteria, including the removal of all internal components or components that are less than a certain percentage of the overall assembly.  There’s more!

Defeature allows the user to preserve motion within the assembly, even with a significant number of details removed from the assembly.  For example, an assembly model of motor may be heavily simplified while still allowing its parts to move in the same fashion as they do in the original fully detailed assembly.  This well help suppliers provide fully functional assembly models while protecting their designs from competitors or other copycats.  The Defeatured assembly may be saved in the same manner as parts.  Components will be saved as virtual parts within the assembly file.

What others are saying about Defeature

  • Josh Mings on his blog awarded his Best New Feature Award to Defeature tool for parts and separately for assemblies.  He also stated on SolidWorks Heard! that the Defeature tool “prolly has the most buzz out of all the new stuff that’s being added” in SolidWorks 2011.
  • Brad Holtz noted in his tweet, “SolidWorks 2011 defeaturing does not lose mates, rotation, and other operational data,” and separately speculated, “looked like it came from 3Dvia composer.”
  • Ricky Jordon declares, “this tool allows you to convert an assembly to automatically create a ‘dumbed down’ model” on this blog, and also tweeted, “Defeature might just end up being the most under appreciated feature of the SolidWorks 2011 Release. Lots of capability!”
  • Kevin de Smet off-handedly commented on, “…I can see Defeature as a useful addition to the software…”.
  • Alex Ruiz lamented in his tweet, “I think the defeature tool would be really cool with a slider that goes from more or less features and you see the change dynamically.”
  • Jon Larrea celebrated Defeature in a tweet, “La opción ‘Defeature’ es asombrosa… y necesaria.” This roughly translates as, “The tool ‘Defeature’ is amazing… and necessary.”
  • Brian McElyea briefly mentioned the tool in this first blog post about the SolidWorks 2011 launch.
  • Guilherme Kastner states, “…a SolidWorks muito está se preocupando em ajudar quem está interessado em publicar arquivos para biblioteca Web.”  This very roughly translates as, “SolidWorks is concerned with helping those who wish to publish their models to libraries on the Web.”

Book Review: SolidWorks 2010 No Experience Required


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SolidWorks 2010 No Experience Required (“SW2010-NER”) is a new book by Alex R. Ruiz that takes a detailed approach to teaching SolidWorks to new users.  Though the book is structured as a tutorial, it is also a reliable reference guide to fundamental aspects of SolidWorks.  Ruiz provided me with one copy of his book for the purpose of this review.  This review is my own content without input of others.

For experienced 3D CAD users, much of SolidWorks user interface and functionality is intuitive, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be covered in a book designed for new users.  SW2010-NER takes a detailed approach to learning SolidWorks.  It is so detailed that even some experienced users may learn something by browsing its pages.

Where the SolidWorks Help file tends to take a spartan approach to describing SolidWorks functions, SW2010-NER gives more detail that provides context.  It does a good job of linking related ideas together in a logical manner.  For example, the FeatureManager (one of the primary user interface areas) is frequently discussed in the context of its use within each particular area.  This helps the reader gain real understanding of its value as they perform certain tasks.

As SW2010-NER addresses each topic, it thoroughly covers every detail of the choices presented to the reader.  This gives the reader a clear understanding as to why they choose one option over the other within the tutorial tasks.  This adds significant value to this book as an actual reference guide.  The reader learns more than just how to go through a simple step-by-step process for one exercise.  They learn how to use SolidWorks for any design project.


SW2010-NER is 17 chapters.  It starts out by covering every detail of the user interface in chapter 1, including customization techniques.

Chapter 2 covers many practical aspects of how to interact with SolidWorks.

Chapters 3 through 6 cover the fundamentals to create parts, drawings and assemblies.  This provides a solid foundation for the use of SolidWorks in the real world.  This is were this books shines.  The reader learns how to create different types of documents and how those documents interact.  In the SolidWorks Help file, functions are described as separate entries.  In SW2010-NER, the tutorial brings all the functionality together in a way that provides context to the reader.  This gives the reader a stronger understanding of what they are doing.  This should allow the reader to use that knowledge for any other projects.

Chapters 7 through 10 cover the advanced interaction.  It goes into creating assembly drawings, more complex modelling techniques and editing documents once they are complete.

Chapters 11 and 12 are entitled “Putting It All Together”.  These chapters go into advanced functions such as Design Library, advanced mates, flexible assemblies, BOMs within assemblies, and exploded assembly views.

Chapter 13 then carries on by taking the reader through the process of creating a top level assembly drawing.

Chapter 14 covers an area that is often forgotten about in other training sources.  It is entitled “Sharing Your Documents with Others”; it discusses how to provide your drawings and models to others who may not have SolidWorks or may require your information in a separate form.

Chapters 15 and 16 cover the often confusing topic of document templates and sheet formats, their definitions and how to create them.  These chapters also provide tips to improve efficiency with highly automated templates.

Chapter 17 covers how to make your product look good on the computer with PhotoView 360 (included with SolidWorks).

Purchasing options

SW2010-NER is a widely published book that is available from any book store that covers CAD topics.  It is available on, currently for under US$30.  The files for the book’s tutorials are available from Sybex.


This book does an excellent job of covering necessary elements to use SolidWorks to create 3D models, drawing and assemblies.  It takes such a detailed approach in describing each area, some experienced users may even be able to use this book as a general reference guide.  However, sometimes the detail may be too much in the context of a tutorial.  For example, chapter 1 teaches the reader about the SolidWorks user interface, but it also provides information on how to customize that interface.  Perhaps a chapter on editing the user interface might be better at some later point in the book (or even in another book)?

Even still, this book is a great source to learn SolidWorks for new users.  Academia might find this book very useful in their 3D CAD courses.  It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have this book available in any company that often hires people that may not be completely familiar with SolidWorks.

This book is not for advanced or expert SolidWorks users.  CAD managers should not buy this book thinking they will learn something new.  It is an education tool for new users, and a reference guide for others.

SWUGN Summit – San Jose in success

SWUGN Summit San Jose came to a close with many satisfied attendees.  In the past, San Jose area attendance to SWUGN Summits has been a bit up and down.  For whatever reason, attendance picked back up this year.  I haven’t checked to see the actual numbers yet, but I believe it is one of the best so far for this area.  Another bonus, I’m happy to report that both major VARs from this area contributed by giving some of the presentations!

Our star presenter was Gabi Jack.  Over the past week, she was stating much consternation over twitter about her impending presentation.  It turns out, she did a great job with her Surfacing presentation.  It was not obvious that this was her first live and public presentation ever since finishing college.  She’s a natural pro!

Another seasoned pro is Phil Sluder.  His SolidWorks tips and tricks session is always a crowd pleaser.  In fact, the session description simply said, “Phil’s tips and tricks…enough said.”  His presentation is good for all comers, from beginners and experienced users alike.

Elisa Moss had a heavily attended session that covered how to use derived configurations and display states for drawings.  She was also a very supportive attendee during other sessions.

Another star presenter was Alex R. Ruiz, who just recently released his new book, SolidWorks 2010: No Experience Required.  His session was partially based on the new book, which earned some well deserved attention.  I’ll be reviewing the book on SolidWorks Legion soon.

My own presentation was about advanced SolidWorks customization techniques.  Although labelled “advanced”, I did cover some easy topics as well to give something for all levels of experience.  My presentation went pretty well, except for a couple of times where SolidWorks did not momentarily cooperate.  Part of the challenge of presenting is working through the surprizes when they come up.  I was glad that the audience participated frequently and showed a lot of interest in the topics that were covered.

As usual, I’m going to have to thank Richard Doyle for putting on yet another great summit!

In other related news, Arthur Kwun of KLA Tencor earned his free CSWP test by uttering the words “SolidWorks Legion is awesome, dude!”  He did this during the lunch hour, so I wasn’t quite expecting it.  It took me a minute to realize he said the winning phrase.  Anyway, congrats!!

SWUGN Summit San Jose coming up quick!

If you are in the Northern California area, you’ve may have already seen an email from one of the SolidWorks User Groups about the upcoming SWUGN Technical Summit at the Embassy Suites in Milpitas.  SWUGN Technical Summits are day-long SolidWorks based conferences scheduled about once a month at different locations throughout North America.  Each summit generally offers the choice of 10 sessions within 5 time slots.  Each session offers a detailed look at particular SolidWorks related topics which are geared towards all levels of experience.  The San Jose summit is on March 23, 2010 and will feature presentations by SolidWorks Product Managers, local independent SolidWorks and VAR experts.  Among the presenters are a couple of first-timers, Gabi Jack (Bay Area) and Alex Ruiz (driving up from SoCal).  I’ll be presenting a session on advanced customization techniques.  If you’d like to see a particular customization topic covered in my session, leave a comment here.  Right now, I plan to talk about customization of hole callouts, Hole Wizard holes, Shortcut Tool, Mouse Gestures, and Sheet Metal Gage Tables.  (I’m also thinking about the Custom Properties Tab Builder, but that is a topic all to its own, so I may save that for another time.)

The cost to attend the SWUGN Technical Summit is only $40.  This is a bargain by almost any measure.  Similar types of conferences can cost $800 or more.  Check out the SWUGN Technical Summit website for session details and registration.

OK, and now for some fun.  At the San Jose summit on March 23, 2010, the first person to come up to me and says “SolidWorks Legion is awesome, dude” will earn a free CSWP test of their choice (does not include the new CSWE test).  The second person who says that line to me will earn a free SolidWorks hot-cold insulated mug.  Don’t try to be the first person and repeating the line twice. 🙂  Also, SolidWorks employees, VAR employees and other presenters are not eligable to earn these items.

SolidWorks World 2010 short photo log

Photos really don’t do SolidWorks World justice.  As James Cameron said last week, “I believe in the physical present of the observer”.  Well, that doesn’t stop us “observers” from providing photos of our experiences.

Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks leaders
These are Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks leaders having their moment and taking some heat at the press conference following Wednesday's General Session announcements about the company's new cloud computing approach.
Alex and his new friend
Alex and his new friend
Some late evening good times
Some late evening good times
ESPN Disneyland Downtown
ESPN Disneyland Downtown
Infinite Z showing off their new toy
Infinite Z showing off their new toy
Dr. Mike North, Alex and I at the CSWP event
Dr. Mike North, Alex and I at the CSWP event
Solido proud of their new 3D plotter rapid prototyping device
Solido proud of their new 3D plotter rapid prototyping device

Stump the Chumps II (update)

There is a sizable group of suckers who volunteered to be your humble servants in the second Stump the Chumps session.  At Stump the Chumps, you are given a chance to ask just about any SolidWorks questions you want.  Preferably your questions will be about some issue you are currently addressing, which we can help solve.

The first Stump the Chumps session at SolidWorks World 2008 got bogged down with very complex model specific questions that were asked during the session.  This time around at SolidWorks World 2010, we will not likely address those types of questions in session UNLESS you submit them via email to us prior to the session (with models or at least provide substantial detail).  I would recommend submitting such questions by the end of the first week of January 2010.

That said, questions will be taken live at the session as well.  But for best results, I highly recommend that your questions be submitted before hand.   The more obscure your questions, the better for everyone!  In the words of Jeff Mirisola, go ahead and make our day!  Our goal is to fit as many answers as possible into the 90 minutes we’ve been allotted.

Please attempt to stump the chumps by emailing your SolidWorks questions to

Just so you know that we are real people, here’s the faces of your chumps:

Matthew Lorono

UPDATE: We now have a submission website set up where questions can be asked and voted upon!

*Submit here*