CSWP Certificate for new 3 part CSWP Exam

Thanks to the guys at myIgetit.com and Solidworks ESP program. Getting to know how to model and design things in 3 Dimensions is fun. Even better that someone hands out certifications for that sort of thing.CSWP Certification

CSWP Part III: Assemblies, Mates, Collision Detection

For the first two sections of the CSWP check out

The last portion of the CSWP shows that a user is capable of working with more than a single component. This section focuses mainly on assemblies, adding components, positioning them and replacing them. Again for most users of Solidworks this is a day to day occurrence. Mold and tooling folks use these features to build up large assemblies, mechanical engineers build machines, and even modelers do this as a real life way of breaking things down. It's important that any user tasked with adding and placing a piece, such as a fastener, be able to locate it so that rebuilds will be quick and easy and aviod wasting time reselecting mating faces.

So how is this section laid out?That's the screen the testing agent gives you, although the 13 is misleading. It's really only 12 questions as question 1 is simply instructions.

The test begins with a quick modeling exercise. A few drawing views are given and a part must be created. This component was fairly basic as the feature tree was a whopping 8 features for me. Grab the mass of the component and that's question one down.

Next you are asked to add a series of components and position them as needed. Special care should be taken to get each mate right and more so the coordinate system. Most question ask for a Center of Gravity (Center of Mass) in relation to a specific coordinate system. To get this it may be helpful to take a look at Setting a Coordinate System in Solidworks. Really that takes up the next chunk of questions. Add a part, add some mates, grab a mass.

The mates used were mostly basic with some need for advanced mates such as "width" but again any user adept at building small assemblies should have no problems with this. One thing that did pop up I was unfamiliar with was the flexible assembly. This is used for sub assemblies, rather than being able to move each component individually the default is to import the sub assembly as a fixed feature that moves as a one. Luckily I've had experience answering lots of random questions for people and realized the help menus would tell me what to do. Even mid test THE HELP MENU HELPS! It's part of the program so even while testing I see no issues with refering there. Here's a shot of the question next to a help file letting me know what to do.

For the final few questions another part must be created from scratch but again if you have passed the first 2 sections this should be a breeze. Lastly a part needed to be replaced. A new file is provided for download. Quickly select the old component in the feature tree, right click and select replace component and that's about it. Then simply reselect the required mating faces and voila, the CSWP is done.

Best of luck on the test.

CAD Packages

There are lots of CAD software available these days. Some are available for designers and engineers who are creating a broad variety of items. Others serve niche markets, like those available for bike frame design, jewelry, and home layouts. Below is a growing list of tools 3dEngr has direct experience with.

Solidworks is designed for high end engineering and production. The suite of add-ins and add-ons cover FEA, animations, photo realistic renderings as well as a host of niche market applications. SW was my first experience with 3D design and still the primary package I work in professionally. Solidworks offers certification to users and 3dEngr has covered many of the exams.

Solid Edge Logo

Try out Solid Edge for a bit. Especially if you are coming from other designs systems, getting up to speed does not take all that long and the  differences in Solid Edge that come from Synchronous Technology can be beneficial for both novice and experienced users. If you are constantly working with imported data and making edits to models created by others, Solid Edge ST 5 may be able to reduce the time spent fixing errors and instead let you focus on engineering and design.

 3dVia Shape is a free tool available at the 3dVia website. It is not meant to be a full functioning CAD tool but rather a easy, lightweight application that allows even a novice to quickly transform an idea into a concept.

3dEngr did a review of Shape along with an interview of the face of 3dVia, Cliff Medling. 3dVia also provides the free plug-in used on this site that allows viewing of 3d models directly in the browser. A great library of parts produced in shape and many other packages can be found.

Sweet Home 3D is a free open source tool. The user interface on it leaves something to be desired but it fully delivers on function. It is available as a download or can be tried out in the browser via JAVA.

Due to the number of applications available and it's limited functionality Sweet Home 3D is unlikely to be useful to seasoned CAD designers. However, the same limited functionality and the simplicity of the tool make it a great option for users looking to quickly sketch out a floor plan and virtually move furniture around without worrying about a pulled back.

Alibre is an inexpensive alternative to other CAD programs. Their aggressive $97 pricing is there attempt to tap into a new market of budget conscious professionals, enthusiasts, and DIYers. Alibre offers a 30 day trail which has been previously reviewed.

Google Sketchup
There was a time when Google was making acquisitions of major companies (and thus new technologies) at more than one a month. In 2006 they picked up nine companies, the most visible of which was the video behemoth Youtube. Other smaller ventures were also added; in March of that year they snatched up @Last and their flagship product Sketchup. Sketchup was then, and still is, the primary source of 3D models for Google Earth. A month later they rolled out the first free version of Sketchup to encourage even more development for Earth. The Pro version of the software is still available but the cost is significantly north of free. Google has since decided to spin Sketchup off to focus on other items. Still it is a great tool and a review is useful. Google Skethup review

Part Two of CSWP: Configurations, Suppression, Sketch Planes and Design Changes

Except for the slight hiccup on Part one all was well, but what to do about section two. Sure there is some limited information on it but the CSWP exam test only really shows what part one so there is little to work with other than what's posted at the Solidworks blog.

Segment 2: (40 Minutes)

  • Creating configurations from other configurations
  • Changing configurations
  • Mass properties
  • Changing features of an existing SolidWorks part

Nothing too crazy but still, who knows what they'll ask until you take it. Luckily things went well for section to and I got a pretty look at this screen.Pass the CSWP with a Perfect Score

So of course the question now is "What questions are on the CSWP exam". This section consisted of 9 questions (11 total but two are instructional pages only) split into two main sections.

Question 1-6 of CSWP Part II.

After loading the Testing client and reading the instructions, question 1 prompts you to click a link which will download the needed file. Old CSWP exams had been criticized because a user could complete them without actually opening Solidworks (parts could be modeled in other systems and masses and COM's could be found that way). That's not the case anymore.

The first file downloaded had a few configurations, and each question asked for a new one. Add in a few features, suppress a feature and grab a mass. Bam! 6 questions out of the way. It's no wonder this test takes 40 minutes. Granted a novice with command of help files could get a few answers but getting a passing score in time here shows that a user is capable of modifying basic features and getting needed data without wasting two days.

Question 6-9 of CSWP Part II

These other questions were based on a new file. Once loaded the tester is asked to make some various changes to sketches, move a features start conditions, modify some cuts and still maintain the overall design intent. Done incorrectly there is plenty of room for errors and the 40 minutes could easily be used up trouble shooting and rebuilding. With system familiarity though all the questions can be answered without ever seeing one of these obnoxious windows (Thankfully I took this screen shot after the test just to show one).Solidworks rebuilding errors Most answer were needed in free format to two decimal places, although at least 2 of 9 question were multiple choice.

Looking at the test as a whole it's important to remember it is a certification exam. So what really is it certifying. Is this person a pro at product design? Can they reverse engineer anything in minutes? Are they going to slow me down on remedial tasks? This sections helps to answer them.

Instead of making the user build a part from a drawing Solidworks the exam roughly mirrors real world use. Many times a designer is looking for design intent and can small details like the size of ball end mill are not a major concern. It's feasible to call a supplier and ask but they'll need the file at some point down the line, why not let them in on the design now. With PDMworks and co located design teams a lot of times you send a file that you have worked on and I'll tell you a few things to change to make it manufacturable, marketable, or profitable. In my past position with a contract manufacturer and injection molder this meant a lot of "Uhhh, yeah, we are going to want some draft on that 5 inch deep part that you want cosmetic sides on, unless you want to spend a fortune on tooling." Having a person on the other end be a CSWP means you can let them in the design process and know they are capable of making there changes without corrupting too much work.

Also check out other reviews of the CSWP exam
Part I
Part III

Part One of CSWP: Part modeling and dimension updating

I haven't taken a test for a few years, since the EIT (engineer in training) so the 3 hour format of the CSWP was not something I was looking forward to. Thankfully having the new sectional format laid out earlier this week at the Solidworks blog put my mind to ease and let me approach the test differently. In a land of coffee breaks, conference calls, and customers with questions the test is now more along the lines of how most users utilize the software. Short 1 to 1.5 hour sessions to get to a solid stopping point then tackle the next project.

So, with a 90 minute first section on part creation and dimension changing ahead of me, I fired up the Testing software this morning and began the CSWP exam. Before starting I reread my earlier post of testing tips (gleamed from the CSWA, talks with CSWP, and other blogs).

The 5 question setup was just like the new sample test posted by SW(PDF) and below is my take on things.

Questions 1 and 2 of CSWP part 1.
First question was rather basic a simple model that was done in 9 features. Solidworks Feature TreeThe answer was multiple choice for the mass of the part but the answer were all over the place so even a modeler with a few mistakes could get a ballpark close enough to answer correctly. Other than the features this managed to test assigning a material, creating a new part file, and reading a drawing a good start to what the system is used for. The second question involved only dimensional changes and only took an additional 30 seconds to answer thanks to the "Edit All" button in the Equations screen. CSWP Exam Question 1All I had to do was type in the 5 new values, click rebuild, and click update on the mass properties screen and it was off to the next questions. It's worth noting that this answer was NOT multiple choice but rather a text input measured to 2 digits. I've heard that there is some leeway on this for rounding purposes but given the concrete nature of the question it's safe to assume that even a small error (say missing the value of a single radius) could warrant a wrong answer.

Question 3of CSWP part 1
Another multiple choice, but this time the values weren't all over the place. In 10gram intervals it's safe to assume again that even a small answer could get the wrong answer, however if you are off by more than rounding accounts for it's worth checking NOW to see what's wrong.

The only additional feature here was the Hole Wizard, but the question gives you all the properties so this is a matter of knowing the Hole Wizard button and being able to correctly select a center point. Not necessarily difficult, but again important for what it's testing. More so than the features this was testing sketching and design intent. Knowing what will change in the next question also allows you to model this in order to easily remove features that disappear (or suppress them) and avoid having to fix to many dangling sketch entities.

Another key note here is that dimension that change are now announced with a large Circle and major features that will change get their own drawing view with bold AA/BB/CC call outs. Of course it's always important to refer back to a drawing but I've heard complaints int he past about people failing because they didn't see that "that one" radius changed. Now there is even less room for excuses.

Question 4 and 5 of CSWP part 1:
The last two questions function like the first two one multiple choice followed by one free answer. Also similar was that no features were added from 4 to 5. Once 4 was completed it was again a matter of updating the values given, a quick fix if the equations are utilized correctly.

Here I must have missed something. I noticed it in question 4 when I came up with a number that rounded to a value not available. Luckily rounded the other way got me the right answer but I new something was up. I was able to find the problem and confirm that the error was small enough to give me the right value in question 4 but with only 10 minutes left in the test changing it created a host of problems to rebuild. I gave it my best shot to remodel the part from scratch but must have come up short as my results were under 100%. Regardless I knew that just the one error wasn't going to cost me a passing grade so after some effort I decided to spend the remaining 15 minutes double checking the other questions to make sure I did pass.

Low and behold it was enough and the morning 90 minute session paid off with this screen.

Barely Passing the CSWP Section 1
Four out of 5 and a passing grade on section one. It's nice to know that I don't have to spend 20 minutes trouble shooting a small error and can take section 2 with a clear mind.

Anyone else who's taken the new test drop me a line and let me know how it went, or if you have question let me know. Good luck.

Also check out reviews for other sections of the test.
Part II
Part III

Solidworks makes changes to the CSWP

So right after I started truly studying for the CSWP some of the blogs had rumblings about things being changed. The first site I noticed (and I follow many) GabiJack.com, . Gabi is a Solidworks user and has been documenting her studies of the software including her initial certification. Her post regarding a conversation with fellow blogger, and solidworks employee, Mike Puckett. The most intriguing part of her insight was this:
The new test can be taken as a non-segmented test that will now be three hours and forty minutes long, or in three segments of forty to ninety minutes long each. The advantage of the new segmented format is that if you fail any of the segments, you would only need to repeat that one segment. The scores you obtain in any of the segments you do pass are kept for you, and once you pass all three segments you will receive your CSWP certification.
So it appears the SW folk took to heart users complaints about the ambiguity of the test, and in an effort to improve the system have built a way to avoid a single small mistake from ruining a score. Of course this is a bit more forgiving than actual practice of the software where missing a decimal on a scale factor can cause serious issues when prototyping an injection molded part (not doing that again!). Still though it's nice to see a large company listening to it's industry and users, plenty of whom have already passed the CSWP.

Not knowing what to prep for I began doing any old thing in the software I felt might help. I figured it best to get more comfortable with all the tutorials as the general material on the test seemed to be staying the same. More news came out a few days later saying the CSWP certification would be changing their logo. For those who do pass the exam this logo can be used on business cards, email signatures, and blogs (see one here soon!), and the new styles can be seen at the Solidworks Blog site.

Knowing there was a new logo was nice, but as I kept studying I wasn't sure what test I was studying for. Sure nothing major had changed but it's nice to know when an exam will start to look different. Then this morning I was flipping through tweets and saws @MikePuckett talking about all the updates he's doing today and the exam being down for a few hours for maintenance.

Solidworks files will need to be downloaded specific to the test and changes made to the existing file, requiring a tester to use the actual software (something that could be circumvented in the past due to the question structure). A 2008 version of SW is also required, although luckily only the standard package is needed as all professional version add ins are covered in more specific tests.

With my license expiring soon I'll be taking the test in the next few days. Hopefully all goes well and the next post will be an introduction of a cool new logo for the side bar. If anyone finds other details about the new test, or is taking it in the next few days please leave a note on what you thought of it.


Seems like a good enough title for a place to post some models.

This is the sheet metal part created by following the built-in Solidworks tutorial. The file was saved as a .3dxml file and uploaded to 3DVia so that it could be embedded here. You'll need the plug in to view everything properly.

The staple remover found in "Practice with Solidworks: Modeling random items"

Below are a few items created while researching 3dVia Shape. 3dVia is also the plugin required to view these.

A quick and attempt at an iPhone

A Pencil

A generic pressure vessel

My office desk with computer tower (and more to come)

A quick concept of a deck chair. The designed was inspired by a similar design at a yoga studio I frequent. The one at the studio is comfortable by has no back (more of a stool) and every time I sit in it I want to lie down but can not. This one would be perfect for lounging.

These models are just a sampling, many more are locked away for IP reasons. If you have something you would like to see though let me know in the comments as I am always looking for a fun project or problem to work through.


Want to get in contact for any reason? Just leave me a comment below. All of the comments get directly to my email (unless your message seems a little spammy). If you would like a response please include your contact info and I will get back to you. Comments are moderated and nothing personal will be posted.

Setting the Origin in Solidworks: Correct a mistake on the CSWP

So one of the keys to the CSWP test is how the part is modeled about the origin. Because the center of mass is given in relation to this point it is clear that an incorrectly oriented part will result in a wrong answer. The first key to checking this is to view the origin. If it's not already visible all part origins can be turned on through View>Origins.

Let's say for example you build question 1 and get the mass of the part. This doesn't need the origin to be exact (although getting the material right is important) so it's no big deal. Then question 2 pops up and OH NO! you've modeled this part from the wrong origin and it asks for the Center of Mass. Luckily you've doubled checked so the answer won't be wrong, but it took 20 minutes to build and there is remodeling the part will eat up too much time. No problem, try this.

First, add a coordinate system.
(Insert>Reference Geometry>Coordinate System)

The property manager will pop up and now just select the Origin, X, Y, and Z axis that corresponds to the correct origin.Next you need the Center of Mass. Click the Mass Properties button or (Tools>Mass Properties). At the top of the window there is a drop down box for "Output Coordinate System". Click it and select your new coordinate system and watch the results change. Below you can see the changes from my "Default" coordinate system which is placed around the part origin, and the "Oops new 'Origin'" coordinate system.

It takes all of 30 seconds to place a new origin saving you plenty of time for the rest of the test.
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