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
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.
The bounding box is an indispensable piece of reference geometry in SOLIDWORKS, representing the smallest area or volume in which a design can fit. While available in weldment and sheet metal models for many years, creating a bounding box for a standard part has required convoluted workarounds – until now. New in SOLIDWORKS 2018, bounding boxes can be created for standard parts with just a few clicks, enabling you to quickly find the maximum dimensions of your design and use the automatically-generated file properties as needed. To emphasize the utility of the bounding box, an organic shape will be used.
Figure 1 – Standard SOLIDWORKS Part with Organic Geometry
Finding the maximum extents of the design shown above would be an exceptionally difficult task without the use of a bounding box. To create one, simply navigate to Insert -> Reference Geometry -> Bounding Box in the dropdown menus. In the PropertyManager, you’ll find two methods for creating a bounding box. While both methods result in the creation of a 3D sketch and file properties, Best Fit will generate the absolute smallest box in which the design can fit, regardless of orientation, while the Custom Plane option allows for the selection of a planar element to define one of the directions of the box. Additional options allow for a preview of the bounding box, and inclusion of hidden bodies and/or surfaces.
Once created, the bounding box exists as a feature in the Design Tree, and can be edited, suppressed, or hidden like any traditional feature. As changes are made to the model, the bounding box will update parametrically while preserving the original settings, but beware when using the Custom Plane option, as model changes may result in a missing reference.
Creating a bounding box for a part also generates a number of file properties automatically, which can be linked to drawings, or otherwise used just like manually-added properties. Click File Properties in the standard toolbar, then the Configuration Specific tab to view these new properties, which include the length, width, height, and even volume of the bounding box.
It should be noted that for multibody parts, creating a bounding box using this method will include all bodies (unless hidden). As such, it’s not currently possible to create separate bounding boxes for each body individually using the new Bounding Box command. However, there are multiple workarounds available to accomplish this, including saving the bodies to discrete part files, leveraging configurations/display states to show a single body at a time, or following the established workaround for creating bounding boxes prior to 2018. Please see our video on this workaround for more information.
As seen here, SOLIDWORKS 2018 allows for the creation of a bounding box and file properties for standard parts in just a few clicks, and this capability is just one of many exciting new enhancements this year. 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!
Hello (again if this isn’t the first blog you’re reading from me), and welcome to my article on some key enhancements with flattening routes in SOLIDWORKS 2018. In case you aren’t familiar with it, routing is a module that lets you create 3D models of pipe, tube, and electrical routes and is available in SOLIDWORKS Premium. Flattening is the way to represent electrical routes in a 2D fashion for drawings. It’s not this kind of flattening.
I have the routing add-in turned on and I’m working on an electrical harness with a few branches and connectors.
I’ve already used the Flatten Route command and have 2 different styles of flattened routes in the Feature Manager Tree. These are saved as configurations that you can switch to once they are created.
I’m going to start with an annotation flattened view that shows all of the connectors and wires but isn’t to scale. The first enhancement I want to show off is the ability to right-click on a connector or segment and view the connected segment or connector respectively.
This can help you easily identify what goes to where and to make sure things are connected the way you want.
The second enhancement that I’m going to cover is that you can now move around the entire route in its flattened state. To show this, I’ll switch over to the manufacture view in which the harness is to scale and there is a form board outline.
From Figure 8, you can see that the harness isn’t fitting into the outline of the form board. Prior to SOLIDWORKS 2018, to change this you would need to right-click and select Edit Flattened Route to change the X and Y positions. Now, when you right-click you can select the command Move Connected Route Segments.
Once you are in this mode, an XY indicator shows up in the graphics area allowing you to drag the harness to where you want. Alternatively, key in values in the Property Manager.
If you choose to drag it, a ruler shows up that helps you move things a set distance. This is a nice shortcut to help you get things positioned perfectly.