Hi everyone! In this blog, I’m going to showcase a brand-new feature available in SOLIDWORKS 2018 to help you design faster! Have you ever had an idea and either not had a mouse or wanted to sketch it freely rather than using a mouse? With this new release and your Windows 10 touch-enabled device, now you can live out those wants with Touch Based sketching.
I’m working on the gas cap for my RC car and I’ve decided that I want to really make it unique by adding a design to the front of it. I’m going to put a cloud to symbolize a gas cloud (and because there’s a reason I became an engineer instead of an artist.) I also found a picture that I want to use as a sketch picture and that’s in a sketch that I’ll unhide.
Figure 1: Gas Cap Isometric View
The first thing I want to point out is the new Sketch Ink Command Manager tab, which where all of my touch sketch commands will be. This can be turned on like any other command manager tab, right-click on an existing tab and select it from the list.
Figure 3: Sketch Ink Command Manager.
I’ll start my cloud sketch by selecting the gas cap face and hitting Sketch. There’s a pulldown to allow me to select a 2D or 3D sketch, touch sketching works with both. Next, you can customize your pen color and thickness. Use the slider to adjust the latter.
Next to that is an eraser tool if you need to delete any errant strokes, and the select tool to select geometry. The eraser works similarly to Power Trim, where swiping over existing geometry with it turned on erases it. The select tool turns your stylus or finger into a mouse pointer.
Figure 5: Remaining Sketch Ink Commands
The Touch button is next to that. I’m using a stylus, but you can use this mode with your finger. Without that button pressed, swiping on my screen causes the model to move around. Therefore, to start sketching I’m going to click that button. Next, there are 2 ways to sketch entities: Auto Shape and Auto Sketch Entities. I’ll use Auto Shape to sketch the cloud, converting my pen strokes to smooth geometry. These are just conceptual, but I can use Select and hit Update to Entities which will change them to sketch entities.
Figure 6: Cloud drawn using Auto Shape. Figure 7: Update to Entities command. Figure 8: Updated Entities.
If you prefer to go straight to sketch entities, use the Auto Sketch Entities button. I’ll switch over to that and sketch a lightning bolt. This will also imply sketch relations. Now I have a sketch that I can use to create a feature like a boss or cut, or a split line.
New enhancements to 3D Interconnect in SOLIDWORKS 2018 allow for the import of custom properties and materials of third-party CAD Files. For those that don’t know, 3D Interconnect is an awesome tool added in SOLIDWORKS 2017 which makes it possible to work directly with third-party CAD files, rather than using the standard import and translation methods. 3D Interconnect allows SOLIDWORKS to directly read these parts and assemblies without translation, removing the possibility of translation errors that Import Diagnostics would need to fix. It also creates a parametric link to the original part or assembly file, allowing it to update if the file is changed in its third-party CAD software. Finally, 3D Interconnect maintains face and edge IDs so that when the file is updated, any mates or additional features added inside of SOLIDWORKS are preserved. File types that currently work with 3D Interconnect are:
Autodesk® Inventor: .ipt for V6 – V2016, .iam for V11 – V2016
CATIA® V5: .CATPart, .CATProduct for V5R8 – 5–6R2016
SOLIDWORKS 2018 introduces a number of enhancements for working with imported mesh designs such as .STL and .OBJ files. These files are most commonly imported into SOLIDWORKS as Graphics bodies, which have seen a variety of new enhancements this year as well – please see our existing blog article and video for a detailed look into these new capabilities.
This article and companion video focuses on a new workflow for working with mesh files in SOLIDWORKS 2018, which is the ability to natively modify mesh models. This is accomplished via a new body type called a “Mesh body”.
Graphics bodies, as well as native Solid and Surface bodies, can be converted to this new Mesh body type. To convert a body, simply select it from the appropriate Bodies folder and choose the Convert to Mesh Body command.
This enables an exciting new workflow. Converting Solid bodies to Mesh bodies allows traditional SOLIDWORKS features to be used to modify mesh files. This can be seen in the image below, where SOLIDWORKS features are used to make the threads for the imported bottle scan. The thread body is then converted to a Mesh body, so that it can be merged together with a Combine feature.
Previously, any modifications to a mesh file would have required a time-consuming process to convert it to a solid or surface body first. The new Mesh body type and supported features allows direct manipulation of the mesh files, and they can be re-exported in the native mesh format such as .STL or .OBJ.
Aside from basic Boolean style operations like Combine/Subtract, there are a number of additional commands supported. The full list of features currently available for use with Mesh bodies is visible below:
Using these features allowed me to take an imported 3D Scan .STL, such as the bottle scan below, and add manufacturing details to prepare a functional 3D printed prototype without ever having to convert the mesh file! This example was printed on one of Hawk Ridge Systems’ HP 3D printers, and had enough strength and flexibility to be dropped or squeezed without fear of damage.
If you are using 3D scanning or 3D printing technology, this new Mesh body type and workflow should be an exciting new functionality.
It’s worth noting, however, that Mesh bodies are not exportable as neutral CAD file formats such as .STEP or .IGES – so if that is the end goal, a conversion process will be necessary. Tools like the ScanTo3D add-in or the partner product Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS can greatly speed up the conversion process of imported mesh data, if this is required.
With each annual release, SOLIDWORKS looks to streamline their tools to make the designer more productive. One of the most commonly used tools is the Measure Tool! We can use it to measure the lengths of edges, determine the distance between planes and surfaces, and even calculate the surface area, among many other applications. In 2018, SOLIDWORKS made it even better. Now in SOLIDWORKS 2018, the Measure Tool has been enhanced to include a larger selection window, the ability to quickly copy and paste measurements, adjust the font size for easier reading, and allows the Measure Tool to be pinned!
Larger Selection Window
When selecting items to measure, we’ve never had a limit on how many items we could select. We did, however, have a limit on how many selected entities appear in the selection window. For example, in the image of SOLIDWORKS 2017 below, we can see there are 8 edges selected, but only 3 items are visible in the selection window.
Now, in 2018, the selection window has been enlarged so we can see up to 6 items at a time! This makes it much easier to see what we’ve already selected and de-select anything we didn’t mean to include in the measurement.
Have you ever wanted to post your 3D models on a website for your customers to view? Or better yet – have an interactive 3D model where your customers can fully grasp your design? SOLIDWORKS allows this capability through 3DContentCentral via eDrawings.
First thing needed is to create an account on 3DContentCentral or log in to an existing account (3D ContentCentral)
Within the 3DContentCentral website, click on the Upload tab and accept the EULA to being the upload process
Once your model is uploaded, you will be able to see it on your profile by clicking on the MY 3DCC tab and scrolling down to the Portfolio section
If you click on your model, there will be a section labeled “Embed this 3D model in your Blog”
Select and copy the iframe code from the box below the eDrawings viewer to embed the model on your website
Paste this code onto your website and you’re all set!
The size of the viewer can be controlled using the width and height values within the code. Your model can now be viewed through the interactive eDrawings viewer, which also allows features like exploded and section views.
We’ve had the ability to add folders to the FeatureManager Design Tree for quite some time now. If you’re not familiar with this practice, folders can be added to your FeatureManager Design Tree to help you organize features or components in part and assembly documents. In a part, you can create folders to group a set of sequential features that are used for a specific part of your design. For example, creating a folder to group machined features. In an assembly, you can group components, hardware, mates, etc.
Since these features or components are nested in the folders, you would have to expand the folder to access its contents. If you just wanted to see the state of features or components (i.e. hidden, suppressed, resolved), the added steps of expanding these folders can be annoying and time-consuming. Luckily, this is not the case thanks to the new enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2018.
In SOLIDWORKS 2018, the folder icons in the FeatureManager Design Tree are color coded to indicate whether they contain features or components that are hidden or suppressed, resolved/lightweight, or any combination of the three. The image below is a screenshot of the same assembly folders shown above. Some components have been suppressed/hidden to showcase the new color-coded icons. The folders have also been renamed to describe the icon.
The color scheme for the folder icons is shown in the table below as well.
The new color-coded folder icons in SOLIDWORKS 2018 gives you a quick visual indicator so you can know the status of your features/components in your designs at a glance. For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!
Today we will be looking at a great new enhancement that has been rolled out with the new release of SOLIDWORKS 2018; the ability to mirror 3D Sketch entities. While mirroring 2D sketch entities has been possible for well over a decade, it can be invaluable in the way a designer goes about creating a model. 3D sketch entities, on the other hand, have remained impossible to mirror – until now. New in SOLIDWORKS 2018, 3D sketch entities can be mirrored, drastically improving the way parts are created using 3D sketches.
To show this feature, a set of handlebars will be designed for this chopper. Utilizing the mirror entities tool in a 3D sketch will assist in accomplishing this task with far fewer steps than before.
Layers have been available for many years in SOLIDWORKS, allowing users to assign drawings entities to them and control many visual aspects including visibility as well as line color, thickness, and style. New in SOLIDWORKS 2018, hatches can be added to layers, providing even greater flexibility when working with cross sections or adding hatches manually. In this article, we’ll cover how to create layers, assign hatches to them, and control hatch color. For added flair, we’ll be working with the deadly, motorized fidget spinner shown below.
Hatches are only available in drawings, and can be manually applied to closed contours/regions or automatically generated by cross section views. A quick cross section of the model shown in Figure 1 results in the drawing view shown below.
Figure 2 – Cross Section of Fidget Spinner Assembly
Before assigning the hatches to layers, the layers must first be created. Click Layer Properties to access the Layers dialog (as this command is not available in the menus or CommandManager by default, use the Search Commands option or enable the Layer toolbar in order to access it). If using a default template, a single FORMAT layer will be shown. Click New to add a new layer, optionally changing the name or adding a description. The remaining column icons can be used to toggle the layer visibility, printing, color, line style, and line thickness, respectively. In this example, 5 additional layers have been created with adjusted colors.
At this point, the hatches can be assigned to the created layers, and will inherit their visibility, print, and color properties (line style/thickness settings do not apply to hatches). Click a hatched region to reveal the Area Hatch/Fill PropertyManager, then (if necessary) click the Apply To dropdown to specify which portion of the view will be assigned to the new layer. Selections include the whole component, the selected region, the entire view, or a single body. Finally, click the Layer dropdown to select a new layer for the hatch. A checkbox under the Options group box can be selected to apply the changes immediately, or cleared to defer the changes until the Apply button is clicked.
Figure 4 – Area Hatch/Fill PropertyManager
If desired, the Material Crosshatch checkbox can be cleared to override the default material hatch pattern and make adjustments as needed. Simply click OK to save all changes. At this point, any further changes to layer properties will be reflected by the hatches assigned to them. If all hatches are added to a single layer, their visibility, print status, or color can be adjusted simultaneously in just a couple clicks.
Figure 5 – Cross Section of Assembly with Colored Layers Applied to Hatches
Layers and colors for hatches are just one of many improvements this year, so be sure to check out our What’s New series for additional blogs and videos on all the new features included in SOLIDWORKS 2018. For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!
Tabs and slots are commonly used to align interlocking sheet metal components, and the new Tab and Slot feature in SOLIDWORKS 2018 allows for corresponding tabs and slots to be created in one operation. This is definitely easier than using a complicated design library feature or separate extrude, cut, and pattern features.
The required selections for the Tab and Slot feature are the edge to add tabs to and the face for the slots. The tabs can be offset from either end of the edge. The spacing can either be set with an equally spaced quantity or spacing length. The length of the tabs needs to be specified and the height of the tabs can be defined with different end conditions. Fillets or chamfers can be added if needed. And the clearance between the tabs and slots can be specified.
Some other notes about the Tab and Slot feature:
Two linked features are created in the FeatureManager Design Tree (one for the tab and one for the slot).
It can be inserted at any position along the slot body.
Groups can be used to manage multiple edges.
It works with planar and cylindrical geometry.
The bodies do not need to be in contact.
It works on regular, non-sheet-metal solid bodies as well.
SOLIDWORKS does not synchronize property values between models and drawings on its own. For example, if a drawing note or field uses the $PRPSHEET method to link to a model property, the value present at the time the drawing is saved is cached inside the drawing. This is viewable in eDrawings. If the linked model property is changed while the drawing is closed, the new value will not be viewable in eDrawings. The eDrawings viewer can only access the properties of the immediate document it is viewing. To get these model properties to stick in the drawings we either need to make sure we always have the model and drawing open and editable at the same time, or employ an outside method of synchronization.
Properties in PDM
SOLIDWORKS PDM uses variable attributes to map data card variable values to the Custom Properties of our SOLIDWORKS files. This is a bidirectional link that will write to the file if the card value changes. You will observe in PDM that edits to card variables with these attribute mappings established require the file be checked out and will increment the version of the file on check in, since those edits are in fact changing the file. These attribute mappings are where we can establish a link between the model properties and the drawing properties. Examine our example variable and its attributes.
You will note that a CustomProperty attribute for all SOLIDWORKS extensions is accompanied by a $PRPSHEET attribute for drawings. Under very specific conditions these settings will copy the model variable value to the drawing variable, writing it into the drawing’s Custom Property. This link is global to the variable for your entire vault. If you require that some drawings do not carry the values of their models this link will not work, and you may need to look at other methods of synchronization, or use another variable.
The specific conditions enabling this synchronization are:
The drawing must contain a note linking to the model properties
The data card for the model and the drawing must both contain the variable to be linked
The drawing must be saved in the proper context
These are some possible contexts for saving or check in your drawing:
Save the drawing from SOLIDWORKS in a vault folder with the PDM add-in enabled
Save the drawing from SOLIDWORKS in a vault folder with the PDM add-in disabled
Save the drawing from SOLIDWORKS outside the vault
Check in the drawing from Explorer
Context #1 is the only one that synchronizes these variable values. When using the one model to many drawings option where each drawing represents one model configuration scenario #1 will still always synchronize. This is due to the drawing data card only populating the @ tab with one model configuration’s properties.
If one model produces many configurations where a single drawing file uses multiple sheets to show a single configuration per sheet the trick to maintaining proper links is to set each sheet’s properties to look at a specific view. See the screen capture below.
The variable mappings inside SOLIDWORKS PDM will not assist in this type of configuration-per-sheet link. You will notice the drawing data card has a tab for each sheet, but the referenced model’s configuration properties will not appear there.
Scenarios #2 and #3 will not perform the synchronization. No amount of rebuilding or saving will match the drawing’s custom property with the model’s custom property. The drawing may appear correct, since the notes are pulling from the model’s properties directly. But the eDrawings preview may be incorrect if the drawing has not been opened and saved with the new model property value.
Forcing the Issue Outside PDM
CUSTOMTOOLS Professional is a SOLIDWORKS add-in that provides the synchronization in either direction, from model to drawing, and from drawing to model. This works independently from your PDM environment, so users will need to follow standard vault editing procedures to ensure write access is available, and enabled.
Synchronizing these properties through the data cards in PDM can have some advantages, especially when it comes to searching for those values. Since the drawing sheet tabs typically contain no data specific to them apart from manual entry a special add-in must be employed to carry out this operation. The HAWKWARE team created just such a tool, called Sync Card Variables.