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SolidWorks Admin “Stuff”: The Things SolidWorks doesn’t tell you to do!

Here is a basic outline for the Presentation that I did at the SWUGN meeting in Detroit on August 9 – http://www.swugn.org/swugn/events/6675_ENG_HTML.htm

If you want the Power Point that I used, feel free to email me and I will sent/post it, which ever is your preference.

Questions – For my own knowledge and information

1)      How many SW users in your organization?

  1. 1-5
  2. 6-20
  3. 20 +

2)      Who has a PDM system?

  1. PDM Enterprise?
  2. Smarteam?
  3. ????

3)      Biggest Admin Challenge?

  1. Distributing?
  2. Communication?
  3. Consistency in doing the simple, tasks like naming or materials or?

4)      How many are administrators currently?

5)      Of the admin’s who are here, who is a user as well?

Know your users… You must be part councilor, part mentor and be ready to give guidance and most importantly receive guidance.

1)      Be sure to “Dr. Phil” your user, just because he/she says “this sucks” doesn’t mean it actually does. Dig into what they are trying to do. Perhaps they are using the wrong tool to accomplish the goal.

2)      Spend time talking to your user community, especially the key users, they have the most influence over the other users can also give the most constructive input

3)      Use tools to gather information. Users will generally be more sharing if they think they are anonymous, use www.surveymonkey.com to ask questions, get priorities, etc.

Use the tools that SW provides

  1. They are awesome. Check out the “Complete Uninstall”  new with 2012
  2. Supported by your VAR

Be creative with some custom programming

  1. Don’t need to know VB or .net or anything other than basic cmd line stuff
    1. Although VB, .net or C is VERY powerful, 95% of the basics can be done with “simple” command line programming. See www.ss64.com or google, lots of info available
    2. Take this opportunity to “push out” anything that you believe to be a benefit to your users
      1. Macro’s
      2. Templates
      3. PDM Client stuff
      4. CAM?
      5. ???? Use your imagination

Be sure to use the Custom Property creation tool.

  1. Easy to distribute
  2. Easy to “encourage” the engineers to do things the right way
  3. Very customizable

Document, Document, Document

  1. Pick a tool to make documentation on your network.
    1. <3-4 users, a simple running Word document is very powerful
    2. >3-4 users, consider a “wiki” or some other free tool.

i.      Drupal – http://www.drupal.org

ii.      Word Press –www.wordpress.com –  It’s free, or if you want to go crazy and register a domain name, it is 12.00 whole dollars a year.

iii.      Google Documents – Set up a gmail account for your group, then post your documents there. It works great to create something quick

iv.      Sharepoint for bigger organizations

v.      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wiki_software

  1. If all else fails, use ANYTHING SEARCHABLE!!!

i.      Even the simplest notes can save your rear in a pinch. Expand this to a job by job or customer based tool as well. CNC maintenance?

ii.      Don’t be intimidated, no matter what you do, it will be better than nothing and will never be “wrong”.

iii.      How you do your documentation WILL evolve over time, don’t be afraid to try new things, there are an endless number of options!


Designing a structure using 80/20 type extrusion with the SolidWorks Weldment Tool

NOTE/DISCLAIMER: This article was written to aid the engineers at my current employer, Gentex Corporation. There are some references to Gentex, the information in that reference may or may not be available to you!!

Starting in SW2009, the weldment tool has become very capable of doing 80/20 type frames and work stations typically used here at Gentex. This Genwiki story and the included Power Point are set up to demonstrate a procedure that will give a good result. This demonstration uses SolidWorks 2010, if your version is different, some of the steps and screen shot may vary somewhat, but the process should still be sound. The process for making the structure is pretty straight forward and consistent, regardless of the structure being engineered.

Main Sketch –

Extrude and Trim –

Create Drawing and Cut list –

Insert into an Assembly and create a BOM –

Main Sketch

Think of the Main Sketch as a skeleton for the structure. This Main Sketch can be, if fact probably should be multiple sketches in the Feature tree. This will make it easier to modify for future changes.

Extrude the profiles

Once the Main Sketch is completed, the next major step is to extrude the profile that you are interested in using on your structure. In order to do this, follow these steps:

  • Insert> Weldment> Stuctural Member

  • Select the profile that you are interested in extruding. You should have a library of profile as a part of the standard Gentex install. Your dialog should look like this

  • Each profile has a Simplfied version of it along with a “normal” profile. The simplfied version has many of the radii removed and is drawn in a way to be easier for SolidWorks to rebuild and manage. Generally speaking, the simplfied version is the most commonly used version.

  • Next, you will be prompted to start a new group. Do that and start selecting lines that should be grouped together. Some of the things to consider as to what could or should be part of a group.
    • Items that are in the same group can have the ends mitered together using the corner treatment tool
    • Use the locate profile tool to get the profile to follow the Main Sketch by a specified point on the weldment profile.
    • Add Members to another group, within the same Feature when you need to use the same profile with slightly different conditions. Examples are when they will not be using any common corners, need to be located by different sketch points to get desired result or be rotated differently from each other.
  • When you need an additional profile type, it will be time to use a 2nd instance of a Structural Member in the tree

  • Once you have made all of the necessary members, you will likely need to trim some, if not all, of them. There is a good chance your model looks like this –

  • Go to Insert> Weldments> Trim/Extend

  • Walk thru the dialog, be sure to select Face/Plane for the trimming boundry
  • It is possible and recommended that you Trim/Extend multiple locations with the same Feature. This will reduce rebuild times and file size
  • Be sure to do an Update to the Cutlist. To do this, RMB on the cutlist and hit the Update
  • Be sure to fill out the Custom Properties on this part, in order to drive the drawing and the BOM infomation. Remember, this is treated as a SINGLE item in the BOM, even though in reality it is multiple items. This will allow a cutlist to mananged properly.

Save the Part, create a drawing and a cutlist

Creating a drawing of our Structure is pretty simple and, other than the cutlist, just like any other drawing you may do. It would probably look something like this – go here

In order to insert a cut list follow these steps –

Insert> Tables> Weldment Cut List

  • Once cut_list is the template of choice, click OK and a cut list should appear, drag it to the desired location.
  • If the table is blank, you missed the Cut List> Update step. You will need to delete the cutlist from the Feature Tree in the drawing, then reinsert the cut list.
  • To insert balloons to you drawing, go to Insert> Annotations> Balloons
  • Click on at least one member of each type and length and the balloons will corespond with the callout in the cutlist table – go here

Add other Parts

As mentioned earlier in this article, we are planning to treat the 80/20 structure as a single componant in the BOM and at the drawing level. It stands to reason that you will want to add things like corner braces, joining plates and perhaps castors. To do these things, follow these steps –

  • Start a new Assembly
  • Insert you 80/20 structure into the Assembly and position it as you would any other componant. You should also be able to go to the Feature Library to see all the 80/20 based componants that are included in your library.
  • Simply drag the desired componant into the assembly and mate it as you would any other part in an assembly.

Save the Assembly, create a Bill of Materials

Next thing would be to make an Assembly Drawing that would include a BOM. To do this:

  • Insert you Assembly into a new drawing
  • Create the necessary views
  • Once your views and any reference dimesions are added, insert the BOM
  • Insert> Tables> Bill of Materials and select a view to drive the BOM

I will be speaking at the SWUGN Meeting!!

There will be tons of information available at the SWUGN meeting in Detroit August 9 for the SolidWorks users in the area. Come on by and check it out, think of it as a mini-SolidWorks World!! Go here to learn more – http://www.swugn.org/swugn/events/6675_ENG_HTML.htm