MCADCafe Weekly Review October 24th, 2017

SOLIDWORKS 2018 brings a number of enhancements to working with graphics bodies in SOLIDWORKS, which are documented in this blog and companion video. Graphics bodies result from importing a mesh file type into SOLIDWORKS. Mesh file types such as .OBJ or .STL are most commonly associated with 3D printing and 3D scanning, but may also come from other modelling software.

As graphics bodies represent tessellated geometry (a simplified representation made up of a mesh of triangles), historically they could only be used for limited visual reference. If even basic reverse engineering from the graphics body was desired, it typically required the use of an add-in such as ScanTo3D.

Now in SOLIDWORKS 2018 sketch entities can reference the mesh directly, allowing the ability to “sketch over” the mesh for manual remodeling or taking key measurements.

Additionally, the all-new Surface from Mesh feature (available under Insert -> Surface -> Surface from Mesh) allows extracting planar, cylindrical, spherical, or conical surfaces from the graphics body. This is a great feature for extracting surfaces directly from prismatic parts.

If you’re intent on extracting surfaces from organic shapes or more complex geometry, it’s still worth considering the ScanTo3D add-in available in SOLIDWORKS Professional which allows automatic or guided surface creation. For even more power, the Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS add-in (available as a separate purchase) is capable of automatically extracting a solid body from most geometry.

Other enhancements to graphics bodies are more usability related, such as the ability to reorient the graphics body using the Move/Copy Body feature (available under Insert -> Features -> Move/Copy).

Appearances can now be applied to graphics bodies, and PhotoView 360 now supports them for rendering purposes. It’s worth noting that the SOLIDWORKS Visualize renderer also natively supports mesh file types such as .STL or .OBJ.

The Section View tool has been enhanced such that sectioning closed graphics bodies behaves similarly to a section view of a solid body. Note that the “Graphics only section” option is required when sectioning a graphics body.

As 3D printing and 3D scanning continue to increase in popularity, it becomes increasingly likely that the average SOLIDWORKS user will need to interact with these mesh file types. The enhancements to graphics bodies in 2018 allow for basic reverse engineering and many other usability improvements.

It’s also worth noting that if it’s desired to modify or otherwise work with a mesh file in its native mesh format (perhaps for preparation for 3D printing) SOLIDWORKS 2018 enables a new “Mesh modeling” workflow, detailed in a separate blog and video, that can be very useful.

For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. And don’t forget to sign up for one of our SOLIDWORKS 2018 Launch events! Thanks for reading!


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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.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018:  Layers and Colors for Hatches

Figure 1 – Hawk Ridge Shuriken Fidget Spinner Assembly

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.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018:  Layers and Colors for Hatches

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.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018:  Layers and Colors for Hatches

Figure 3 – Layers Dialog with 5 Added Layers (Colors Adjusted)

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.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018:  Layers and Colors for Hatches

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.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018:  Layers and Colors for Hatches

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. And don’t forget to sign up for one of our SOLIDWORKS 2018 Launch events! Thanks for reading!


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What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Tab and Slot Feature
October 19, 2017  by Terence Woo

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.

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Tab and Slot Feature

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.

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Tab and Slot Feature

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.

For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. And don’t forget to sign up for one of our SOLIDWORKS 2018 Launch Events! Thanks for reading!


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NVIDIA’s AI Computer Drives AVs
October 19, 2017  by Jeff Rowe

This week NVIDIA unveiled what it claims to be the world’s first artificial intelligence computer designed specifically to “drive” fully autonomous vehicles.

The new system, codenamed Pegasus, brings the NVIDIA® DRIVE™ PX AI computing platform for handling Level 5 driverless vehicles (Level 5 is ”steering wheel optional.” In other words, no human intervention is required, for example, a robotic taxi). NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus can perform over 320 trillion operations per second — more than 10x the performance of its predecessor, NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2.

NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus is intended to help make a new class of vehicles possible that can operate without a driver — fully autonomous vehicles without steering wheels, pedals, or mirrors, and interiors that feel more like a living room or office than a vehicle. They will arrive on demand to safely take passengers to their destinations, bringing mobility to everyone, including the elderly and disabled.

One of the driving forces behind autonomous vehicles is to recapture millions of hours of lost time that could be used by “drivers” (really passengers) to work, play, eat or sleep on their daily commutes. Theoretically, countless lives could be saved by vehicles that are never fatigued, impaired, or distracted — increasing road safety, reducing congestion, and possibly freeing up land currently used for parking lots.

Of the 225 partners developing on the NVIDIA DRIVE PX platform, more than 25 are developing fully autonomous robotaxis using NVIDIA CUDA GPUs. Today, their trunks resemble small data centers, loaded with racks of computers with server-class NVIDIA GPUs running deep learning, computer vision and parallel computing algorithms. Their size, power demands and cost make them impractical for production vehicles.

NVIDIA AI Vehicle Demonstration

The computational requirements of robotaxis are enormous — perceiving the world through high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras and lidars, localizing the vehicle within centimeter accuracy, tracking vehicles and people around the car, and planning a safe and comfortable path to the destination. All this processing must be done with multiple levels of redundancy to ensure the highest level of safety. The computing demands of driverless vehicles are easily 50 to 100 times more intensive than the most advanced cars today with human drivers.

Ahoy matey! Hop on board and take a look at one of the new mate enhancements this year.

Adding mates in SOLIDWORKS has always been, dare I say it, fun! And now with one of the new SOLIDWORKS 2018 enhancements, adding mates has become easier than ever. With this enhancement, we are now capable of hiding faces while adding mates.

There are different ways for us to take advantage of this feature:

  1. While using the Insert Mates tool
  2. While editing our mates
  3. While using the Copy with Mates tool
  4. While using the Replace Mate Entities tool

For this example, I’m going to use the ALT key while using the Insert Mates tool to show this new feature. While adding mates, simply move your cursor over the face you want to temporarily hide and press the ALT key to hide it. This allows you to select obscured faces without having to rotate your model around or manually hiding components before using your mate tool. As seen in the images below, we were able to hide different faces of our model in order to select faces behind them. This allows us to create mates such as the Width mate quickly and easily.

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Temporarily Hiding Faces When Selecting MatesWhat's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Temporarily Hiding Faces When Selecting MatesWith this new functionality, your productivity will increase and save you time from moving components around. Previously, you would have to rotate or move components around in order to select obscured faces. Or use the Select Other tool, but there was no way to toggle those hidden faces to show. If you accidentally hide a face you didn’t want to hide, you can unhide it by pressing the Shift+ALT keys. And to restore all the hidden faces back onto your model, you simply press the ESC key. This functionality works the same whenever you go back and edit a mate, use the Copy with Mates command, and use the Replace Mated Entities tool.

With the ALT key, it makes it very fast and easy to temporarily hide and show faces while adding mates in your assembly. So the next time you’re creating an assembly, play around with the ALT key while adding mates to see how much more control you have.

For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. And don’t forget to sign up for one of our SOLIDWORKS 2018 Launch Events! Thanks for reading!


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