Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Why don't I have thumbnail previews?

Seeing something other than the expected Icons or Thumbnail Previews in Windows Explorer?

Is it driving you crazy? I'm here to help. There are a couple of things that could contribute to this issue. Let's start easy. Open up SOLIDWORKS and take a look at Tools > Options > System Options > General > Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer.

Is it checked? This option allows a zoomed to fit, isometric preview of the part or assembly to be viewed in Windows Explorer. You may need to restart SOLIDWORKS and Windows Explorer to see the thumbnail icons.

Now, what if you're still not seeing what you expect?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New in 2015: Additive Manufacturing Webinar Series

We will be hosting a monthly webinar series throughout 2015 to better educate the design and manufacturing industry on various ways that 3D printing is helping create better products. These webinars will be hosted by our team of application engineers, who will explore how 3D printing is being employed in a broad range of manufacturing markets to develop better products faster, reduce costs, and create new opportunities for growth. The series will feature a combination of application and industry specific uses for additive manufacturing technology.

These upcoming webinars will cover a wide range of topics that include:
  • 3D printing opening new doors for patient treatment in the medical industry
  • Optimizing automotive part production and time to market through additive manufacturing
  • Understanding 3D printing material options and machine compatibility
  • Changing the injection molding landscape utilizing additive manufacturing technology
  • 3D printing for the development of concept models and functional prototypes

3D printing has changed the way the manufacturing industry brings parts to production. This webinar series will provide participants with useful information that showcases how additive manufacturing can help them create better parts.

For more information on dates, details, and to register for these webinars, please click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Why Conic Fillets Rock!


For SOLIDWORKS 2014, Dassault Systemes introduced a new fillet option called a Conic Fillet. For most people reading this post, that might mean little or nothing, so let me first offer some background on what a Conic is and how SOLIDWORKS creates fillets.

The traditional fillet is based on an arc, and one way to think of a fillet is to imagine it as a sweep of an arc along an edge. There is more to it than that, but it helps us visualize what the program is attempting to do. For Arcs, it is easy to correlate a fillet to a sketched arc, as shown below

  à       Becomes     à            


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Meshing Tips and Tools for Better Results (Part 6)

Since I am always being asked what makes a good mesh, I decided once again to blog about a list I put together a while ago. This was a general list, in no particular order, of things you can do, things you can use, and things you can look for in creating a mesh; knowing you have a good mesh, you can feel better about the results you are getting. This is part 6 in the series and will look at some tools - such as Mesh Details, Aspect Ratio, and the Aspect Ratio Plot - that we can use to help with creating a good mesh.

Mesh Details (Aspect Ratio)
If you right-click on the Mesh icon, you will find some nice information on the mesh in the (Mesh) Details. Here, you will find things like the mesh type, element size, total nodes/elements, and Aspect Ratio information.

Now before I talk about recommendations, let's take a look at what the aspect ratio is. Simply defined, the aspect ratio of an element is defined as a ratio between the longest edge and the shortest normal dropped from a vertex to the opposite face normalized with respect to a perfect tetrahedral. If this number is too large, you will be looking at excessively distorted elements. SOLIDWORKS Simulation performs an edge length check, a radius of inscribed and circumscribed radius check, and a length of normal check.

So what should we look for in an Aspect Ratio? Well in a perfect world, the aspect ratio of a perfect tetrahedral element is 1.0. The percentage of elements with Aspect Ratio < 3 should approach 100, and the percentage of elements with Aspect Ratio > 10 should approach 0. If we could refine our mesh enough, we would like to see our Maximum Aspect Ratio get as close to 1.0 as possible. Now, since this is easier said than done, the value of the Aspect Ratio should, at least, be kept below 50 in the regions where stresses are of crucial importance. It is typically straightforward to rectify the high Aspect Ratio problem by applying local mesh controls in the vicinity of such badly shaped elements.

Aspect Ratio Plot
By right-clicking on the Mesh icon, you can also generate an Aspect Ratio Plot. This plot will graphically display the sliver elements with high Aspect Ratio values. This provides you with a visual of where Mesh Control should be applied.

For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

CAD Jobs: SOLIDWORKS User Contract Position in Ft. Wayne, IN

One of our associates in Indiana is looking for some experienced SOLIDWORKS users. Think you might fit the bill? Take a look at the job description we received below and then contact Arlene!

Your daily responsibilities include initial design, development and maintenance of production prints while communicating with various external and internal customers.

This is approximately a 4 month contract and will potentially go permanent for the right candidate. My client is located approximately 30 minutes south of Ft. Wayne, IN.

SolidWorks, proficient
CSWA Certification, a strong plus
Minimum 2 years drafting/detailing experience
Previous design/detailing within automotive or RV industries, a plus
Sheetmetal design experience
Good written and communication skills

Arlene Johnson
Sr. Sales Manager - Chicago Branch
TechniPower, Inc.
(847) 296-6020 x144 (Inside Illinois)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

3D Printing in the Automotive Industry

In the automotive manufacturing industry, most projects share common goals. The goals include: the ability to reduce cost, the design of quality parts within budget, and the delivery of the parts on time. These factors are critical in determining the success or failure of a project. For these reasons, 3D printing has become an automotive manufacturer's best friend. There has been much written over the past couple of years about unique and innovative 3D printing projects that have captured the automotive industries' attention, but what are the real benefits being seen?

One of the most time-consuming and expensive elements in the creation of a new product is the design phase. Ford Motor Company, for example, is utilizing 3D printing for the new engine cover design on their next-generation Mustang. According to the design team at Ford, when utilizing traditional methods, an engineer would first create a computer model of an intake manifold - the most complicated engine part. There would then be a wait of about four months for one prototype to be produced, at a cost of $500,000. With 3D printing, Ford can print the same part in four days, including multiple iterations and with no tooling limits, at a cost of $3,000.

If the old saying "time is money" is true, then it would be safe to say that it's beneficial to explore utilizing 3D printing in many different aspects of parts development. General Motors employs 3D printing in multiple departments, as their engineers use 3D printed prototypes to reduce tooling costs and aid in understanding designs, while designers use 3D printing for quick design changes identified in concept models. Also, manufacturing teams use the technology to streamline their processes in-house, early in the build.

In addition, the automotive industry uses 3D printing in smaller production- run parts. The 3D printing process is ideal for applications in which part design is complex and a limited number of parts are to be produced. In the case of British Race Team Strakka, being able to move from the concept modeling of parts on their Strakka Dome S103 LMP2 to building and using functional 3D printed parts in the car contributed to giving them a competitive edge on the race track. The race car industry is a very niche market, and what 3D printing allows is the ability to design and create a part that is specific to the needed application. This, versus the traditional tooling of molds, cuts costs and down-time dramatically, while still maintaining high quality and part integrity, further demonstrating the benefits of utilizing the 3D printing process.

There is no question that 3D printing an entire car or something on a grand scale like that is attention-grabbing and potentially the future of the next industrial revolution. The automotive industry, however, doesn't have to wait for the future of 3D printing, as the benefits are being seen today. 

To learn more about 3D printers, check out our site by clicking here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

EPDM TECH TIP: How To Use An Options File For EPDM in 2015

With all the changes that have come about in the license structure for EPDM 2015, you now have all the capabilities with options files that you've had with SOLIDWORKS network seats for a while! This includes setting up timeouts on the licenses and reserving licenses for groups of people.

Begin by opening up a blank text document in Notepad. You must set up a group to assign rules to by entering the syntax below:

GROUP <group_name> <username1> <username2> <username3> (do not include <>)

NOTE: The group_name is arbitrary and is only used in the file. The usernames must match their EPDM login exactly and is case sensitive. There is no limit to the number of users for a group.

Now, you're ready to set the rules. The most common rules are to reserve licenses and also set up a timeout period. First, we will look at reserving a pool of licenses for a group. This is useful if there are certain people you want to make sure will always be able to get a license if they log in to EPDM. Add the following to your options file:

RESERVE <number> <license_type> GROUP <group_name> (do not include the <>)

The license types available for EPDM are as follows:

Editor - swepdm_cadeditorandweb
Contributor - swepdm_contributorandweb
Viewer -  swepdm_viewer

Additionally, you may want to require that EPDM licenses expire after a certain timeout period. In previous versions of EPDM, you could set a 30 minute timeout directly in the license node. This is no longer possible and must be done through an options file. The syntax is located below:

TIMEOUTALL <number_of_seconds> (do not include <>)

NOTE: The range of time is 900-7200 seconds.

When you are done setting up your file, you need to save it as sw_d.opt (set type to All Files instead of txt) in a safe location on the server (it cannot be deleted). Load the license manager on the server and choose Modify > Activate/Reactivate.

In the next screen, check the box for Options File and Browse to the location of your file. Continue through the prompts until it activates again. You can check View Log on the Server Administration Tab to check to see if your options have been read in. If you need to update the options, just change the sw_d.opt and stop/start the server.

For other commands in options files, please use the Flex LM user guide here under the options file section.

For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SOLIDWORKS family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SOLIDWORKS Training and Certification courses.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIP: Meshing Tips and Tools for Better Results (Part 5)

Since I am always being asked what makes a good mesh, I decided once again to blog about a list I put together a while ago. This was a general list, in no particular order, of things you can do, things you can use, and things you can look for in creating a mesh; knowing you have a good mesh, you can feel better about the results you are getting. This is part 5 in the series and will discuss what to do when results DO NOT converge (Part 4 covered Convergence processes).

Typically, high stresses in a sharp corner or on a sharp edge will DIVERGE (i.e. the values will continue to go up as we continue to refine the mesh).  I will also use this segment to talk about Mesh Control.

Divergence (Stress Singularities)
In some cases, our stresses continue to go up as we continue to refine the mesh. However, we find that the results do not converge, but rather diverge, to increasingly large values. This is typically due to sharp corners or sharp edges.  The reason for divergent stress results isn't that the finite element model is incorrect; it's just that, according to the theory of elasticity, the stress in a sharp re-entrant corner is infinite. A mathematician would say that the stress there is 'singular.' The stress results in the vicinity of that re-entrant corner are, therefore, completely dependent on mesh size.

Using our L-Bracket with an internal sharp corner, notice how each subsequent mesh refinement increases the stress results.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New ULTEM 1010 Material Expands 3D Printing Applications

One of the benefits of 3D printing parts using FDM technology is that designers and manufactures can print in common industry standard materials like ABS or Polycarbonate. FDM materials are generally strong and versatile plastics used in a wide range of industries and applications. 

Recently, Stratasys announced a full line of brand-new products designed to expand on their already wide range of 3D printing capabilities. One of the most exciting announcements in this product launch was the release of the ULTEM 1010 resin material, which can now be used in the Fortus 900mc 3D printer.

ULTEM 1010 is a high-performance thermoplastic. What that means is that it gives users an outstanding combination of strength and thermal stability. Along with having food-contact and bio-compatibility certifications, ULTEM 1010 can also withstand steam autoclaving. These material characteristics give users a world of new options when developing 3D printed parts, particularly in the automotive, medical, and food processing

The range of new applications ULTEM 1010 creates is extremely broad. Automotive part designers can create better under-the-hood automotive functional prototypes that need to be strong, lightweight, and have a high heat resistance. Medical parts that have required steam autoclaving, such as surgical guides, can now be made quickly and in a more cost effective manner. The speed and detail of a 3D printer can now also be applied to the patterns and fixtures in the food production industry.

With the same soluble support structures as other FDM printer materials, ULTEM 1010 is a great option for those looking to print application-specific parts that need to meet specific application standards.

To learn more about 3D printers, check out our site by clicking here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Don’t Expect Sales of 3D Printers to Slow Down any Time Soon

In the design and manufacturing industry, there is no question that one of the fastest growing sectors is additive manufacturing. According to the analysis team at Gartner, Inc. "Worldwide shipments of 3D printers will reach 217,350 units in 2015, up from 108,151 in 2014." Many analyses project that the
growth of the 3D printer market has the potential to make substantial gains until at least 2018. So what is fueling this rapid market growth? 

Additive Manufacturing Technology, or 3D printing as most refer to it, has been available and in use for almost 30 years. It has only been in recent years that a combination of factors such as price reduction, usability, application diversity, and improved performance have made these printers a useful tool for manufacturers and designers. With the improvements that have been made in recent years, companies such as Stratasys have been able to not only service large billion dollar companies, but also provide entry level printers access to the consumer market. 

The wide range of benefits 3D printing brings to the manufacturing industry even received praise from President Obama, as he stated in his 2013 State of the Union Address, "A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make most everything."  

Future growth of the industry will be determined by the effort demonstrated by 3D companies to constantly improve on their current technologies. In early November 2014, Stratasys launched a new product line that featured a mix of 11 new machines and materials. Stratasys has also hinted at possible applications in the near future in their FDM machines that utilize ceramic materials. Another indicator that the industries' future is bright is the announcement by HP that they plan on entering the 3D printing market sometime in early 2016. HP plans on utilizing their current technologies in 2D printers to increase speed in 3D printers. When asked how Stratasys plans on
handling new competition, Stratasys CEO, David Reis, gave customers something to look forward to when stating "Two years from now, our own machines could be 6 or perhaps 12 times faster than today."

Additive manufacturing companies are doing everything they can to keep up with the demand for this developing technology. With the efforts and resources that are being made to push the limits of all 3D printing is capable of, it is safe to say that the future of the 3D printing industry is very bright.

To learn more about 3D printers, check out our site by clicking here.