Articles by: John Lee, CSWP

John Lee is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. A CSWP with over a decade of experience using SOLIDWORKS and a background in mechanical design, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.

Multiple-year versions of SOLIDWORKS Installed? Set File Locations the easy way!

When it becomes necessary to install multiple year versions of SOLIDWORKS, we recommend our best practices guide for the installation.  This article assumes that the aforementioned guide was used, and employs a technique designed to work with the settings we use in that guide. Once the multiple versions have been installed, your system will now have many different data folders belonging to each different year version of SOLIDWORKS, but that doesn’t guarantee that each year version is necessarily pointing to the correct folders intended for that particular year.  Therefore, it is a good idea to ensure that each year version points to the correct year version files in System Options > File Locations by using the Edit All functionality introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2017. This is recommended in order to avoid confusion later, or overwriting of any files from one year version’s onto another’s. Update with Edit All > Find/Replace In…

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Are you using the SOLIDWORKS Mate Pop-up Toolbar?

Mating components together in a SOLIDWORKS assembly?  Frequent use of the SOLIDWORKS mate pop-up toolbar can often save you much time and mousing! The mate pop-up toolbar is not quite as intelligent as the mate manager.  For example, the mate manager will usually predict when a Parallel mate is appropriate instead of a Coincident mate, when clearance is required between the selected entities.  As of the time this article was written, the mate pop-up toolbar is not as intuitive as the mate manager, and may suggest a Coincident mate anyway, even though that may cause an over-constraint in the assembly.  However, that often doesn’t matter if, as the designer, we are aware of the assembly constraints and design intent, and would know to use a Parallel mate instead. How to use the mate pop-up toolbar: Select the entities for which you want to create a mate, from among multiple components….

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Retain PMI and Design Intent when you translate CAD Models into SOLIDWORKS with ELYSIUM

ELYSIUM CAD Translator

Got a lot of CAD models and drawings to translate into SOLIDWORKS format?  Don’t want to lose your design intent in the process?  If so, keep reading! At SOLIDWORKS World 2018, a Dassault Systèmes team [who brought us SOLIDWORKS as we know it] out of Germany presented an impressively powerful CAD translation solution called ELYSIUM!  This is, without a doubt, the Cadillac of CAD translators. From the original Greek “Elysion” (meaning “abode of the blessed”, as in the afterlife), ELYSIUM is aptly named as it uses native API to translate other CAD formats (such as Catia®, PTC Creo®, Autodesk Inventor®, neutral formats, etc.) into SOLIDWORKS (and other formats) while also preserving any original design intent and PMI (product and manufacturing information), such as would be used for MBD (model-based definition), CNC machining, automated inspection, etc. It sounds like ELYSIUM literally rebuilds the original model or drawing, from the ground up,…

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SOLIDWORKS angle dimension between 3 points

What if we need an angle dimension in a sketch, but one of the entities is not a line (perhaps it is a spline or arc instead)?  The answer, we can take the angle between 3 endpoints! In this sketch on the right plane (which bisects the part), the horizontal entity is a line, but what appears to be a vertical line happens to actually be a spline created automatically by an intersection curve (due to how the swept geometry was created, giving it a draft angle which varies everywhere on its face), so it cannot be selected to get the angle dimension. However, if we first select the vertex, and then click the endpoints of the line and the spline, then we get that angle dimension shown in the picture below: Learn more modeling tricks This trick is taught in our Advanced Part Modeling class, where we explore how…

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SOLIDWORKS Design Intent: what is it, and why should I care?

Ever hear of the term “design intent” and wonder what it means, or how it pertains to design? In SOLIDWORKS, we refer to design intent as your plan as to how the model should behave when it is changed. This really begs for a demonstration, so here it is!  Take these four simple parts, for example. They are geometrically identical.  But imagine if they were all resized from the original 50mm length to some new length.  Some of these parts would then no longer be geometrically identical, since the holes would relocate differently for some of the parts.  Now, if this were your design, ask yourself where you really want the new hole locations to be, and then ensure that your dimensioning scheme supports the correct hole locations for both the original 50mm length and the new length.  If it does, then that will be the correct design intent!  Eureka! …

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Save assembly construction time with SOLIDWORKS SmartMates!

SOLIDWORKS SmartMates

Assembling components in SOLIDWORKS?  There are multiple ways to mate components together.  Some methods are faster, while other methods are slower but more intelligent (such as the Mate manager). SOLIDWORKS SmartMates are one of the faster methods, where you can avoid the repetitive mouse travel between the graphics view and the Mate Property Manager just to create a single mate.  Rather, SmartMates can be created while keeping your mouse pointer in the graphics view at all times! To initiate a SmartMate: hold down the Alt key (usually located next to the Space bar) while dragging the vertex, edge, or face of one component onto the appropriate vertex, edge, or face of another. SOLIDWORKS will then offer you some kind of alignment preview and, if you choose to accept it, mate will be automatically created! If, rather than releasing the mouse button, you keep dragging onto different faces or edges, then…

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How to speed up your 2D mirror in SOLIDWORKS sketches!

SOLIDWORKS Mirror sketch

If you’ve mirrored sketch entities in SOLIDWORKS, you are probably familiar with the Mirror command.  In that operation, you specify a centerline of symmetry, and which entities get mirrored.  That’s a fair bit of mousing back and forth between the graphics area and the Mirror manager and carefully picking various sketch entities, and ensuring that the symmetry centerline goes into the correct field. But did you know you can often skip most of that work and still get the mirror to complete, without using the Mirror manager?  Well, you can, and it’s dead simple!  Here’s how: Set up your centerline of symmetry and sketch what you want to mirror. Drag-select everything you want to mirror, including the centerline of symmetry.  Note: include only ONE centerline in the selection, otherwise this trick won’t work.  So if you have more than one centerline in the sketch, be sure to select the appropriate…

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Keyboard Shortcuts (hotkeys) in SOLIDWORKS

SOLIDWORKS Hotkeys

Are you using the same function so often in SOLIDWORKS that you wish you could make it happen faster and more easily?  Well, you can!  SOLIDWORKS Keyboard shortcuts (also known as hotkeys) are just one of several productivity tips available to you, and can be accessed thus: Open or create a SOLIDWORKS document Select Tools > Customize > Keyboard Use the Category or Search fields to find the command you want to hotkey In the Shorcut(s) column, enter a keystroke.  This can be just a single key, or can be a keystroke combination that includes Ctrl, Shift, or Alt.  If that key combination has already been assigned, you will be given the option whether to remap the assignment or choose some other key combination. For example, while working in industry I was using Measure (on the Evaluate tab of the Command Manager, or Tools > Evaluate > Measure) so often…

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