We all like Fully-Defined sketches. There’s no room for ambiguity. The sketch and resulting features are more stable. Rebuild times are improved. SolidWorks likes fully-defined sketches as well. And, when you’re editing a sketch, SolidWorks is kind enough to tell you when your sketch is fully defined. However, sometimes it will tell you the sketch is fully defined when it’s “fully defined enough,” meaning there may be under defined bits in it. I am, of course, referring to the endpoints of construction lines. However, I’ve recently learned that there are other instances when a “fully defined” sketch is not so.
Doesn’t matter if you are The Company Owner, a Manager, a SolidWorks Expert or just a SolidWorks Beginner, you will be extremely happy taking advantage of the most important enhancement introduced to SolidWorks this year: the ability to replace sketch entities.
As the owner, CEO or manager you will notice how much faster your design team will be able to change their design intent during all phases of the design process. What before would take them hours can be done now in seconds. Moreover, the number of errors in your drawings and, ultimately, in your products will decrease by an order of magnitude!
If you are a SolidWorks Power User, a large portion of your work time was most likely dedicated troubleshooting and fixing your colleagues models after they changed their design intent. Due to the myriad of possible relationships between sketch entities, edges, faces, features, mates and in-context designed components, any simple change to a sketch up on the tree had the potential to stain completely your feature tree with ketchup and mustard. I know excellent SolidWorks users who wasted the best part of their working day just doing this kind of troubleshooting because this is what was perceived as being the most valuable for their team.
If you are a SolidWorks Beginner, you were most likely dreading changing the design intent of complex parts by modifying sketches at the top of the feature tree. The moment you saw all that red and yellow after the rebuild, you either felt lost or, if you were lucky to have one, you went to your more experienced colleague asking for help.
Good News! SolidWorks 2014 frees you from the tyranny of the feature tree with a very elegant solution: the ability to replace sketch entities. Please watch this video to see this new functionality put through a very intensive batch of tests.
Note: This video was made using SolidWorks 2014 Pre-Release 1 version. I am sure that this functionality will become even better and more powerful in the commercial version and in future service packs.
Auto-Sketch Scaling in SolidWorks 2014 will save the world about 2,500 user-years annually!!!
It is a bit ironic that you will most likely not notice a little SolidWorks 2014 enhancement which will provide the biggest productivity boost to the whole SolidWorks Community. Scaling the entities in the first sketch, based on the first applied dimension, is such a simple concept! A concept that will be used by every SolidWorks user, a concept that works seamlessly and which will save you time and your company money!
How much time, you ask? It depends on how many parts you create from scratch and how complex are the first sketches in each part. Let’s say you need to create 10 new parts per day. You will save about 30 seconds per part, altogether around 5 minutes each day. If your company has 10 designers, the time savings for the whole design team will approach one hour every day.
SolidWorks has a few million users. Let’s be conservative and say that only one million of them create new parts on any given day. In this case the time savings in the SolidWorks Community produced only by this small enhancement will be of 9.5 (nine and a half) user-years every day! That is over 200 user-years monthly and almost 2500 user-years annually!!!
Please watch this Auto-Sketch Scaling Tutorial Video in order to understand why I am so excited about this productivity booster introduced in SolidWorks 2014.
Working in the SolidWorks Universe is very similar to the real life experience. After all, you can “talk” to SolidWorks, you can provide step-by-step instructions (i.e. features), you can tell sketch entities to behave a certain way (vertical, horizontal, perpendicular, etc.) and you can add dimensions that are really smart.
What was missing until now, was the ability to dimension the overall length of a chain of sketch entities. Imagine you have to dimension the length of a wire or of a chain, without knowing its shape. You can do that in real life and now you can do it in SolidWorks. This opens new and exciting possibilities for design automation. For example a path length dimension can drive a full sketch where you have either relations or a combination of driven/driving dimensions linked by equations between the sketch entities.
Please watch this SolidWorks 2014 Path Length Dimension tutorial video to see 3 examples of using the new feature in SolidWorks 2014:
To learn more about the latest features in SolidWorks 2014 attend a live SolidWorks 2014 Launch Event in October.
Create Loop Start
To read the previous article of this series, CLICK HERE.
Many people believe that the shape of the loop should be circular, the problem with a circular loop is that it has an abrupt change in curvature and in the case of a loop causes a significant loss of speed at the top of the loop. The shape that we should use for this loop is a clothoid.
For more information on clothoids see here: http://www.math.hmc.edu/~gu/curves_and_surfaces/curves/clothoid.html
This shape starts with 0 curvature and then spirals, which is the perfect shape for a loop because the marble will not hop, and it will not lose a significant amount of speed. However this shape is very complex to model in SolidWorks, we can generate coordinates and create a curve. But even getting the coordinates is a fairly complex task. As a simple workaround I will demonstrate sketching by tracing a sketch picture. This topic is covered in the surface modeling course.
To read the first part of this series of articles, please CLICK HERE.
The next step is to design the connectors.
The marble is represented by a circle, a typical marble is 5/8” diameter so that is what I am designing for. There is a limitation to my design that reducing the diameter of the marble will have a significant impact on mass and therefore momentum, use a larger marble may be considered later based on simulations. Therefore the design should be flexible to accommodate this.
This is a great example of the benefits you get when you have a subscription contract with SolidWorks. A lot of people believe that service packs are just for fixing bugs in the software, but sometimes they also add new functionality to existing tools.
SolidWorks 2013 SP 2.0 comes with a few of such enhancements. In this video I am demonstrating the new relation which can be added between conics and splines.
Note: This relation works with all the conics sketch entities in SolidWorks: “Partial Ellipse, Parabola and Conic“
My SolidWorks 2013 pick of the day is the new quick dimensioning mode in the sketch environment. Now you can dimension sketch entities as you draw them, while still being able to add inferred relations. Mastering this technique could generate huge time savings for most SolidWorks users.
If you want to have any chance at winning the Model Mania competition at SolidWorks World this winter, you need to watch this video for a comprehensive demonstration of the new functionality: