Shanghai, China SOLIDWORKS Beta rollout event

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Beta rollout Shanghai, ChinaI travelled to both Osaka, Japan and Shanghai, China last month to attend SOLIDWORKS 2016 Beta rollout events.   After the Japan event, was I ready to tackle another week in yet another country?  Well, yes.  I was already adjusted to the local timezone in Japan, so the one hour difference between Japan and China didn’t phase me.

Since I was in town a day early, I was able to meet up with the SOLIDWORKS China team and visit a customer to talk about how we can improve SOLIDWORKS to better meet their needs.  The Product Definition team conducts over a hundred of these vists each year.  It was great being able to visit one of our valued Chinese customers.

Each day of the Beta rollout in China was a complete event for its attendees.  In the morning, SOLIDWORKS China team presented the What’s New and explained the SOLIDWORKS Beta testing.  For the rest of the day, attendees eagerly tried out SOLIDWORKS 2016 on their own models and designs in our lab.

SOLIDWORKS Beta rollout event in Shanghai, China
Day one of the event focused on customers interested in SOLIDWORKS core, including assemblies, parts and drawings. Understandably, this was the largest group of the event.  The SOLIDWORKS team visiting from Waltham had a great opportunity to connect with our customers in China.  We got a lot of great feedback about SOLIDWORKS 2016.

Days two and three of the event focused on customers interested in such topics as SOLIDWORKS Electric and SOLIDWORKS PDM.

SOLIDWORKS Beta event winners

Each day of the event, SOLIDWORKS China recognized the most prolific bug finders of the day.

Shanghai iconic skyline

In the evenings, those of us from out of town explored the iconic areas of Shanghai on foot.

The Shanghai SOLIDWORKS 2016 Beta rollout event was great.  Interacting with our customers as they are using SOLIDWORKS 2016 for the first time provided a lot of valuable feedback.  A big thank you to our SOLIDWORKS China team for hosting this event!

Sometimes it’s the little new things (~part II) in SolidWorks 2013: Watermarking

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series New in SolidWorks 2013

There’s been a long trail of discussions on the topic of adding watermarks to SolidWorks drawings.   For one reason or another, watermarks are seen by some as necessary in drawings.  The starting point of the conversion can be roughly traced back to the SolidWorks Forum in 2006.   In December 2007, I did one article that incompletely addressed the need.  If you just needed text to show up on your sheet format, you can review the first article.

Then, a question was asked at the first Stump the Chumps presentation at SolidWorks World 2008 about how to add watermarks to drawings.  No answer was given at that presentation (the chumps where stumped).

Soon after SolidWorks World 2008, Ben Eadie (one of the stumped chumps) found an About SolidWorks article that discussed various aspects of this topic.  (The article appears to have been maintained/updated since then.)     Around that time, I also wrote a detailed article about how to link your custom properties to your watermark and provided a trick  to get the watermark note to appear underneath elements on the drawing sheet.  Linking custom properties to the watermark allows the watermark value to be controlled by Enterprise PDM workflows.

OK, so what was the trick to getting notes to appear underneath drawing elements? If you created a block of an annotation note on your sheet format, that note block will appear under your drawing (without obscuring drawing content).

In Solidworks 2013, you no longer need to use that trick to get your sheet format note to appear underneath drawing elements.  There is now a command that resides in the right-click menu for each annotation note on the sheet format called “Display Note Behind Sheet”.  When checked, the  note is placed underneath drawing view elements on the drawing sheet, including other annotations, dimensions and model geometry in both HLR/HLV and shaded modes.

Display Note Behind Sheet is a checkmarked command in the
right-click menu for any annotation note on the sheet format.

With the checkmark set on the note in sheet format, the
note appears under all drawing view elements.
Uncheckmarking the option will apply standard ordering
of drawing elements, with geometry obsured by
the note.

My SolidWorks World 2011 presentation

I’ve first attended SolidWorks World in 2008 in San Diego, CA as a customer.  At SolidWorks World 2009 and 2010, I attended as a member of the Press.  In 2010, I participated on the panel in the Stump the Chumps II breakout session.  My short debut as a co-presenter was less than glorious but not terribly horrible.

At SolidWorks World 2011 in San Antonio, TX, I will be presenting my first breakout session, Establishing CAD standards within SolidWorks environment.  The session will be on Monday 24 at 2:45PM (local time), scheduled in room 202 of the convention center.  (All sessions may be viewed at the SolidWorks World 2011 website.)  My breakout session is one hour long and will discuss the general areas that require documentation which are essential for establishing company CAD standards within an engineering environment that utilizes SolidWorks.

Establish CAD Standards within SolidWorks environment

This session will cover as much as I can in one hour.  There will be a discussion on procedure writing techniques, important considerations when establishing standards, and the types of documents that should be written.  I will offer some specific advice, but the breakout session will focus on the big picture by providing a general road map for creating and maintaining your own CAD standards.

Monday is a busy day for many attendees.  Even still, I’m hopefully that many will join me for my breakout session.

New menu in Enterprise PDM 2011

SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2011 menu row

The user interface in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2011 is getting some much needed, though incremental, improvement.

All Enterprise PDM commands are now grouped into four menus that appear just above the file view pane in SolidWorks and Windows Explorer.  The advantage of this change is that the shortcut menu (RMB click) is now somewhat shorter.  The most frequently used commands are still available in the shortcut menu.  Hopefully, this menu reorganization will help clean up the notoriously lengthy shortcut menu of previous Enterprise PDM versions.

SolidWorks Enterprise PDM pulldown menusFor example, Check in and Check out functions are now available within the Actions pulldown menu, yet are still also available in the shortcut menu.  Take your pick!

The new pulldown menus and the shortcut menus are still context sensitive, in that the commands which are available still depend on user selection.

SolidWorks 2011 official launch

SolidWorks 2011 launch is now official.  The funny thing about launches is that this doesn’t necessarily mean the product will ship right away.  That comes later.  For this launch, SolidWorks Corp invited a panel of bloggers and journalist to their headquarters in Concord, MA yesterday and today to get a first hand look at SolidWorks 2011.  As a matter of disclosure, my accommodations, travel and most meals for this event are covered by SolidWorks Corp.  No one has made any requests regarding article creation nor content in connection with this event.  Some material (such as images and basic information) was derived from the SolidWorks 2011 What’s New (beta) file.  The content of this article is solely of my discretion.

As with each year, there are a number of enhancements in SolidWorks 2011.  Here are a few, briefly covered.  More detailed articles will follow over the coming month.


Chamfer and weldOne area of note is that SolidWorks now supports fillet and chamfer features within an assembly.  Though these new features can be useful by themselves, their is another feature enhancement that helps set a theme.  Fillet welds will no longer be necessary as components within an assembly.  Instead, simplified weld beads is a new feature that is a simple representation of a weld contained within the assembly itself.  These additions and changes will give users more abilities in adding welds and weld specifications to assemblies and drawings.

Design Checker

Design Checker is one of those functions that has a more stealthy existence in SolidWorks.  Well, maybe not stealthy, but under-utilized.  It is a function that sees incremental improvement each year, but without much fanfare.  In the past, I’ve been a little critical of this function’s lack of functionality.  SolidWorks 2011 has eight enhancements for Design Checker.  The enhancement that I feel is most important is the ability to create standard files (.swstd) from existing SolidWorks file formats.  This is step beyond the Learn Checks Wizard currently available.  This allows the user to create a new set of check rules based on an existing file.


Scale on viewFor some reason, SolidWorks never had an automatic way to add a scale label to orthogonal views.  There is a macro (that I helped create) which gives the user a non-dynamic method to add scale.  The limitation of this macro is that if the scale of the view changes, the macro must be re-run.  SolidWorks 2011 now gives the user the ability to add a true scale label to orthogonal views.

The macro may still be of use if there is a need to add pre-established labels to drawing views.  For example, if view is pictorial or isometric, the macro provides a quick way to add that label.

ASME drawing standard

ASME Y14.5 2009I’m not really sure why SolidWorks still calls ASME by the other name ANSI.  The switchover to ASME happened like 20 years ago.  Either way, SolidWorks 2011 claims that it now “supports some of the requirements of ASME Y14.5-2009”.

One of the important areas of support is geometric tolerance symbols.  ASME Y14.5-2009 expanded the role of the ALL OVER modifier to a Profile feature control frame.  With this expansion comes a new symbol (the double circle leader).  Also included are the new Independency symbol (encircled I, which declares an except to Rule #1) and the Continuous Feature symbol (oddly boxed CF, which applies Rule #1 more broadly).

Parts and Features

More end conditions are now available with the Revolve feature: Up to Vertex, Up to Surface, and Offset from Surface.  These can be specified separately in each direction (clockwise and counter-clockwise) of the revolve.  These new end conditions are available in Revolved Boss/Base, Revolved Cut and Revolved Surface.  This allows for better control and more flexibility in the use of Revolve features.

New Revolve end conditions

More enhancements available

These are just a few of the enhancements available in SolidWorks 2011.  The What’s New file for SolidWorks 2011 has a fairly impressive list.  However, none of the improvements this year seem monumental.  I am impressed to see minor improvements continue on the Workgroup PDM product.  There are improvements to Sheet Metal functionality, Motion Studies, and a new Walk-through function to expore or create a video of 3D geometry in large scale designs.  More details will be discussed on later dates.

The launch of SolidWorks 2011 is only days away

SolidWorks 2011 launchThe launch of SolidWorks 2011 is only days away.  SolidWorks Corp even made this countdown website to celebrate the impending release.  It isn’t obvious what will happen when the countdown is done.  An unwrapping of some sort?

As per the new tradition (starting last year), SolidWorks Corp will launch the new version of SolidWorks from their headquarters in Concord, MA.  The official release date was a little confused last year.  However, this year it’s quite obvious (just count up from the countdown).

One enhancement that didn’t make it into SolidWorks 2011 is discussed on the SolidWorks Forum.  That enhancement would have been a Feature/Model Lock or Freeze.  According to Mark Gibson of SolidWorks,

Unfortunately, we have determined that even with the limitations discussed earlier, we’re not going to be able to deliver the Freeze functionality for SolidWorks 2011 due to quality concerns.

That sucks! However, it is wise to avoid adding functionality before it is ready for use.

I cannot discuss enhancements actually included in the 2011 version yet.  However, expect plenty of articles after the release date for both SolidWorks and Enterprise PDM.