SolidWorks 2010 More speed tests (Tune-up III)

So, I set out to make really bad use of Delete Face and Surface-Fill features.  This would be a completely outside the box type of screwing around that might not be expected, just to see if I can maximize the contrast between speed improvements from SolidWorks 2009 to SolidWorks 2010.

The motor-casing model that comes in the Samples folder of SolidWorks 2009 seems to tax SolidWorks a bit as is, all without any fancy features.  In SW 2009, I used the Delete Face feature to remove all of the internal walls in the main casing.  This was followed up with horrible Surface-Fill to patch the hole.  (Please take note of the rather unnecessarily wavy Surface-Fill results.)  After saving and Rebuilding twice, I checked the model’s Statistics.  The image below represents one of the better Rebuild (CTRL-Q) results I was able to achieve in SW 2009.  No surprizes.  Surface-Fill is on top and Delete Face is near the top.

Next, in SolidWorks 2010, I opened that very same file.  After saving in SW 2010 format, I closed the file and reopened it, then checked the Rebuild results there.  Strange….  I didn’t notice much of a difference.  This was starting to look a bit like my previous round of tests on another model (See the previous article in this series).  To check this further, another test needed to be done.

I deleted the Delete Face and Surface-Fill features and recreated them from scratch in within SW 2010.  Three things happened.  First, I was able to more quickly access both the Surface-Fill and Delete Face commands.  Second, SolidWorks made a much more logical choice in how to form the Surface-Fill feature.  Note how smooth it is versus the same feature created in the same fashion within SW 2009 (predictable results when creating features is another area where SW 2010 has improved). Third, look at what happened to the Delete Face Rebuild times!

Surface-Fill time reduced from 5.13s to 3.16s.  Delete Face time reduced from 0.63s to 0.09s!  It may be that the Surface-Fill time is more a factor of the simpler form than improvements in the underlying code.  However, since the software did make a more logical choice in the formation of the Surface-Fill, this still kinda counts.  Either way, the big news is the time savings on Delete Face!

Who really cares?!

OK,  OK, now the question from many comes up, “I’ve never use Delete Face; who cares about it!?”  In fact, in my test here, the difference in Rebuild times is entirely traced back to the Surface-Fill and Delete Face features.  No other Rebuild improvements are witnessed in any of the more common features.  So where does this leave individuals whose focus is on machine or sheet metal parts, where Delete Face would generally be very bad practice?  Well, as mentioned in the previous article, other areas have also been improved.

Improvements to multibody parts and related commands, Weldment cutlist updates, and equation performance have been reported by SolidWorks Corp.  Other areas may have also been improved, but I have yet to get confirmation of those.  The funny thing is that performance improvements aren’t really covered in the SolidWorks 2010 What’s New file!

In the What’s New file, I only found information about selecting a large number of entities within a sketch to create blocks as being “much faster”, and that Copy and Paste within Sketch mode is faster.  Nothing else readily comes up!  So, why does it seem that SolidWorks Corp is letting one of the more significant improvements in SolidWorks 2010 go under-reported (practically by word of mouth)?  I only found out about these improvements because the faster times for Delete Face was briefly demonstrated at the recent Blogger Event at SolidWorks HQ in Concord, MA.

The cynical side of me might say they’ve made no big announcement because they don’t want to make a big deal about how slow SolidWorks has been in the past.  However, the devil’s advocate might say that they’ve made so many improvements, they may not have a collected list of those items even now (as the case may actually be), and certainly didn’t have that list when the What’s New file was released.  Either way, it is almost fun trying to find the speed improvements, like an Easter Egg hunt (pun intended…and if you understand why that is a pun, you are truly a geek).

SWW09: CAD Management Bootcamp

At four hours, Greg Jonkowski’s CAD Management Bootcamp is a major presentation that is too large (long) to fit into the regular SolidWorks World days.  It is full of information about computers (server and workstation), data security and safety, graphics cards, OS’s, and what some would consider controversial advice. 

Greg discussed the benefits of properly managing the workplace CAD environment.  When it comes to establishing or improving the CAD environment, he suggests it is good to always critical. 

  • There is always room for improvement. 
  • Focus on allowing engineering to actually engineer. 
  • Simplify processes to improve efficiency. 
  • If some “improvement” makes the task harder, the project will fail. 
  • He also suggests that CAD management means that stakeholders are involve in the processes.

At most organizations, there is usually one or two SolidWorks power users.  Greg makes it clear that these individuals should be recognized and utilitized for there skill set.  These individuals can also be leveraged to implement mentoring programs to help others become stronger SolidWorks users. 

Many other points were comprehensivesy covered to provide a good level of detail regarding issues that a CAD Manager may encounter.

“Urban legends” 

He covered many topics.  However, of note is his two more controversial recommendations regarding computers and installation. 

He made it clear that anti-virus software should be used and that it should not be deactivated when installing SolidWorks or its add-ons.  I know many sources contradict this.  However, this appears to be the company-line from SolidWorks Corp now.  It should be noted that he made this statement very clearly and authoritatively, yet caveatted his comments with unelaborated “I don’t knows” and “problem with one anti-virus”.  I found this to be frustrating.

The other comment that might turn some heads is his stern statement to not use the /3GB switch to give applications access to more of the computer’s RAM.  There are risks associated with using the /3GB switch.  As he puts it, using this switch is “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.   Instead of using this switch, Greg recommends simply upgrading to Vista and 64-bit computer systems.  I say “simply” with sarcasm.  In the current economic environment, advice like this is a bit unrealistic for many.  There is a balance that must be reached, where the risks have to be weighted against the advantages. 

Ok, I still haven’t eaten.  I seriously am going to get some lunch now.