SolidWorks Tutorial: Import Diagnostics (1) – “Face Piercing Through Solid” Error [VIDEO]

Article by Alin Vargatu, CSWE updated December 2, 2013


 This week, we will post a series of articles focused on troubleshooting and healing topological errors from geometry imported in SolidWorks.

Two designers of different nationalities can communicate using a lingua franca, a language that is not native to either of them, but which is known (to a certain degree) by both. It is also called a bridge language.

Let’s consider a Dutch talking to a Chinese in English. The Dutch will think in his/hers mother tongue and translate those thoughts in English. The Chinese will hear the English words and will translate them in Mandarin or Cantonese in order to process the information in a language that is familiar.

How accurate will this communication be? That depends on a lot of factors:

  • How well the Dutch speaks English
  • How well the Chinese understands English
  • If there is a direct translation of the Dutch words and expressions in English
    • If not, then could the concept be explained clearly in English using different words or expressions?
  • If there is a direct translation of those English words and expressions in Mandarin or Cantonese
    • If not, then could the concept be explained clearly in Mandarin or Cantonese using different words or expressions?

As you can see, there are a lot of variables that might cause information to be lost or misinterpreted.

The same logic applies to the flow of information between different CAD programs. Some of them speak languages that are from the same family, e.g. Italian, Spanish and Romanian are Latin languages, or SolidWorks and SolidEdge are built on Parasolid kernels. In this case the chances of getting topological errors when opening files created with the other CAD software are reduced.

Other CAD programs are based on different kernels. For example CATIA or CREO use their own proprietary kernels. Because of that, choosing the right lingua franca for exchanging information between these programs and SolidWorks is very important. We call these bridge languages – neutral formats.

In my past experience as a Tool and Die designer, I had various degrees of success using various neutral formats. When asked in what format I would like to receive files from my customer my answer would have been:

  1. Parasolid (unless the originating software was CATIA)
  2. STEP
  3. IGES
  4. … but please Mr. Customer, send me all these formats if possible, so I can choose the best result myself.

My success rate in importing such files in SolidWorks without any topological error was around 50%. Fortunately SolidWorks has troubleshooting and healing tools for imported geometry which in 95% of the cases would solve the errors automatically.

Topological Error - Three Faces Share an Edge

Topological Error – Three Faces Share an Edge

I solved the remaining 5% of the errors by finding out what caused the problems and eliminating them manually. In order to do that, a user should understand the topology of SolidWorks bodies (solid or surfaces) and know how to use the direct modeling and the surfacing tools inside SolidWorks. The fastest way to achieve these skills is by attending the Surface Modeling and Mold Design Tools courses at Javelin,

In the first video of these series of articles, I am presenting a simple case of using two of the SolidWorks tools for troubleshooting and healing a very common topological error: “Face Piercing Through Solid”. These tools are Import Diagnostics and Check.

This error appears if one face is intersecting another face without having a common edge with it, or if three or more faces are sharing a common edge (which will invalidate Euler-Poincare’s law). In a solid body, an edge is always the boundary between exactly 2 faces; no more, no less.

Please watch the first video of the series dedicated to troubleshooting and healing topological errors of bodies imported in SolidWorks:

Please visit our blog tomorrow for the second article of this series.

Note: The model shown in the video has been posted on the SolidWorks Forum by Mukesh Prasad.

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Alin Vargatu, CSWE

Alin is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and an avid contributor to the SOLIDWORKS Community. Alin has presented multiple times at SOLIDWORKS World, Technical Summits, and User Group Meetings, while being very active on the SOLIDWORKS Forum.