Working pens were only the tip of the iceberg as the booth had on display all sorts of fun prints. From architechtural models and non functional voltmeters, to disturbing skulls and Star Wars memoribila the 3d prints of Zcorp are just fun. Below is Jeff Mirisola and his friend "Jane", I'll let you guess which one is made of plastic.
Another neat part of the conference are the free certification exams. With two sessions on Sunday allowing everyone registered to try their hand at passing an exam I'm excited to see the numbers on new CSWPs. Those who did pass are of course invited to the CSWP event held tomorrow (Monday) night.
The exam sessions are mainly to get people up to the CSWA and CSWP level but there was also an option to try one of the advanced exams. Again, I'm still unsure on the numbers for who took and passed each section but an unscientific survey of glancing at badges looking for the CSWP tag it seems that there are more certified users here than in the past.
I know I'm all over the place in this post, but that is what Sunday is. Without breakout sessions and the general session to draw the crowd, Sunday is more low key. Round tables, one on one meetings, the start to the partner pavilion and kickoff parties for the User group and Tweetup occupied the rest of my day. One of the more interesting booths right off was Solido. I was turned onto Solido thanks to a post by Josh Mings (Solidsmack) and then by the John Dixon who runs the Solido twitter account (@SolidoUSA). John was excited to show me the new pricing for their system which is just starting to get to the point where it is a viable option for hobbyists looking for 3d Prints of their own.
As a sign off for Sunday I want to try pushing Twitter on those of you who haven't crossed over yet. The overwhelming consensus from Tweeps at this conference has been that Twitter as a service is great for this industry. Information, instant help, links to knowledge, and good old networking are the most obvious reasons to get on Twitter, but if you're truly into it a customized shirt will really showoff your geek status, below is @RickyJordan sporting his. If you're new to it, try searching for the #Sww10 hashtag or following me at @CbMcandrew.Things will really get going in the morning with Jeff Ray's keynote (Hey Jeff, give me a shoutout!). Thanks again to everyone I got to meet today and I'm sorry if I forget your name/face in the coming days, and if I haven't yet met you don't be afraid to say hello.
Enjoy the World.
First up on the schedule at Soldiworks World is a Roundtable discussion titled “Magic Drawings”. These round tables were just recently described to me by Jeff Mirisola (of Jeff ‘s Toolshed) as “A bunch of power users sitting around bashing the product”. Now this may be the case but when I heard that I just couldn’t help but think, squeaky wheel. The sessions are held in one of the ballrooms at the Marriott and are setup to accommodate about 20-25 folks and we’ve got about a quarter of the seats filled.
Put on by two Solidworks employees Marc Leizza and Melissa Appel the session is used to gather information on what users need and where industry is going. Mark led off with the question “ If you had a magic wand, what would be the ultimate way to create a drawing. Would you even create a drawing. Solidworks aside, what is your ideal case?” Nothing like being open ended to drive innovation.
One attendee wants to eliminate the time spent making a drawing, adhering to standards and generally wasting time doing repetitive tasks. “Let me just design the product. I want it to automatically create drawings, I hate detailing, drawings are required but it’s a waste of my time.” An hour later in the roundtable the same user also commented that when doing these tedious tasks he routinely catches mistakes or issues that require further clarification. It is this dichotomy that allows me to give the benefit of the doubt to software providers when things inevitably do not work the way I expect or wish.
The discuss was lively with Marc driving by adding a few questions. Can you go paperless, WOULD you go paperless. What can be done to make drawing creation easier. The attendees generally seem knowledgeable and all clearly have used the software for some time. Of course a few comments were greeted with chuckles and admissions of using outdated (read 2008) software but generally referred to big picture items rather than nit picky bugs and errors in the current builds.
The consensus here is that drawings are outdated but required. They are required for certain situations where QA is required or a computer can not go. I’m 24, my solution to everything is put it on a computer screen. This is why I am *almost* for the iPad, I think it will make a tablet more ubiquitous. It is a marriage of the old school, which still dominates much of the manufacturing world, and the new school (my group that says “Just give them a screen”). With CNC, rapid prototyping and 3D going everywhere I no longer buy into the paper as king. Paper is too static. Paper is a fire, one temperature hope it is the right temperature and I’ll guess at the time. Screens, be it tablet or not, are ovens or maybe even microwaves. Sure the learning curve is a little bit steeper but the result is a better product. Now with this analogy of course there are still things that are better over an open flame and it is not going away. A tablet allows a way to give paper power. Forget a section view, let whoever is holding the paper create it. Production floor confused about final geometry, let them spin the drawing iso view around and zoom in.
So what is in store for drawings? Will Solidworks one day include a do my job button. Maybe some AI will allow it to see what is happening day in and day out and learn how to do it alone. Roll into work in the morning and have all the drawings for that day on the screen. Dimensioning out of the way, GD&T standards all followed, coffee piping hot.
After listening to input on what the ideal software would be like Marc and Melissa wrapped up by giving out some contact info and requesting everyone to let them know directly if they had other issues. Then I got a chance to sit down with Marc for a few moments and ask him about the session and his time. For a man who spent all day Saturday helping alpha testers, is running 3 round tables today, and has a host of meetings on his schedule he seemed generally happy to give me a minute of his time.
To start out a sketch needs to be created. This can be done on any plane but will be used as the actual splitting line so choosing a plane that is perpendicular to the direction of pull seems most feasible. In the image below the dashed line is a single sketch manually created from midpoint to midpoint of each segment (including arcs instead of lines on filleted faces) which creates essentially the parting line needed. Then the Insert>Cuvres>Split line command allows for face selection as to which faces will be split.
After selecting all of the faces around the edge of the part the parting line tool can be run. Here I selected a single entity and then the handy propagate tool and it automatically created a closed loop around the part.
This previous step is similar to the original Parting line creation in another post however there is now no need for the "Split Faces" check box in the feature as the faces have already been split. In cases where things can be done more than one way I usually take a look at the statistics of a rebuilt to figure out if, all else being equal, the shorter feature tree will improve performance.
Above are the statistics for a manually created split face, that done using the steps in this post. Below are the steps laid out in the earlier pating line post. Oddly, the rebuild time of OTHER features is affected here. Even without the increase in the fillet time the manual Sketch2/Split Line3/Parting Line1 combo above is still a more resource intensive route than the Parting Line2 automated option.
This is just a sample of a quick way to manually split a face. The Insert>Curve>Split face tool however comes into play in applications other than mold tools though. The ability to split out a face provides an option for changing displays of faces, creating text, altering surfaces (CSWP Surface Exam is next after weldments for me).
To look more into working with mold tools check the CSWP Mold Tools review.
To take a look at the Cavity tool I downloaded a mold from the DME catalog. They helpfully provide models in many formats of there molds. As a side note, opening one of their files is rather neat. All of the parts import, build and save to their own files and the GUI for this reminds me of one of those overally animated interfaces they put in movies. The kind where the hero creates some crazy complex animation with only 2 keystrokes allowing them to see the entire master plan mapped out in seconds.
So with the mold assembly created how to go about creating the cavity for the part. First insert the part into the assembly, I like doing this by having both the part file and mold open then just dragging and dropping. On the left is my part, in it I have already created a plane that I suspect will be used as the parting line.
Once inserted the molded part should be mated to put it in place. Using the plane already created (named Parting Line plane) and the flat surface of the B-Plate of the mold the part is placed on the surface I need. Also of note when working with large assemblies it is worth while to create a display state that only contains the parts needed. For example the display state "A-Plate Modeling" may only contain the molded part in a semi transparent view and the A plate to get all of the pins, sprue components, and other plates out of the way.
Once the component is in place it is time to use the cavity tool. In-context edit one of the plates
that requires the cavity (Right click on it>Edit Part) and select the cavity tool. Now select the molded part. In the feature manager an option is given to scale the part. This is to account for shrinkage of a part after molding. As the hot material cools the part will shrink slightly according to the shrink rate for the material. Except in the case of MIM (metal injection molding) which shrinks uniformly, this shrink will also be dependent upon the flow of a part. NOTE: Using the shrink feature in a cavity is not always the best route. Applying a "Scale" feature to the part itself prior to importing also works. Utilizing configurations the scale feature can be suppressed and unsuppressed to create "As molded" and "Actual" configurations.
One the cavity feature is created take a look at the plate by itself. Without any complicated features the exact cavity of the component was extracted from the plate.
The cavity tool is a powerful feature and of all the Mold tools seems to be the one that is used most widely in industry. Working from an existing mold base it is simply unnecessary to create parting lines and shutoff surfaces, rather they will be created organically by extracting a cavity from an existing base.
Once the part that is used for a cavity is inserted and positioned (covered in the CSWP core) there isn't much more to the cavity feature. As with most other CSWP questions be prepared to grab a mass and center of Mass of the resultant part and it should be good to go.
Here the "core" feature can be used. Instead of cutting away material and reading it, linking geometry, or creating thin cuts, it is possible to simply outline the portion of the mold that needs to be broken out and let the software create another body. This can eliminate frustrating in mating, sizing, and generally getting complicated with something that is easy to define in lay-mans terms. "I want this section to be separated".
Here I have already creating mold halves using the tooling split. Now by selecting the core tool I am prompted to choose a plane to sketch on.
I've outline a single section that may be used as a core. Here it is one of the slot cutouts on the sample test "puck" part. Now this mold has no apparent reason to use a core though it works for showing the example. I choose my direction of the core and a few other properties in the feature tree and voila! The software went ahead and created a new component. The picture below I used a "insert>feature>move/copy body" to show what the resultant core looks like if I move it out of the base.
This same process can also be used to create cores that are not in the direction of pull. This allows the ease in creating a side core for undercuts. Side cores can be connected to slides (DME catalog for examples) to create all sorts of crazy geometry.
Most imported part repair will center around creating faces and surfaces that form a true model and have no gaps or overlays. A gap in a surface feature will be seen as something that has to be dealt with by shut-off surfaces, or that could make the core/cavity and other features fail entirely. So how to go about fixing these defects?
The best tip I have for this is to refer to the help files also import diagnostics. I'll admit that I am a bit fuzzy on the best practices to use here, or what the certification guys are getting at (I'll update after the exam with any broad topics) but mostly this is going to be a simple fix if anything. To "study" for this portion I spent some time using the fill surface, knit surfaces and offset surface features as they appear to be the ones that will be used. I hate to leave anything to chance but I am also relying on the fact that the help files can be accessed during the exam. They are a part of the software and if I run into an issue I don't know a few minutes with the help menus should be able to provide a solution or workaround.
For the purposes of the CSWP mold exam and shut-off creation my first review will be simply on the options allowed by the tool. Other concerns, such as those questions stated above I'll go over as part of the mold design review. Neither will be comprehensive but both should garner some insight as to what things should be considered.
First up, the sample exam. Question two on the sample exam asks for the surface area of the shut-off surfaces. Hopefully the real exam is a bit more involved as this can actually be answered geometrically (pi*r^2 of the circle minus measured surface area of top face). But of course using the proper way will eliminate any questions and because the answer is to 4decimal places it is actually necessary.
Open the part and allow the software to import geometry if it can. Then click the "shut-off surfaces button". Now Solidworks does it's magic and looks at the part to see if it can pick out what holes this shut-off will fill. The puck shown below has all surfaces recognized immediately.
So then how to measure the surface area of a face. Again built in tools, this time the measure tool, will take care of that (Tools-Measure or hopefully a toolbar or S-Key)
If the settings are such that the value is not carried to the correct number of digits the button can be clicked to bring up a "Measure units/Precision" window. For most of the exams I find it preferable to set my global settings to read at least 4 decimal places to save the few seconds of doing this on multiple questions.
This all seems so easy though and doesn't give a good grasp on what the shutoff surfaces tool can and should do. What if the hole that is being patched is not on a single plane? Here is a part that has some holes which would require non flat shutoff faces.
Now the software will not recognize them as easily so the edges of each hole must be selected manually. Once selected the display view will have a small call out noting what type of fill feature is being used to patch the surface. These are also in the feature manager section titled Shut off patch types. Another one of those "click and to see what it does" features.Clicking this will cycle through the options (No fill, Contact, All Tangent). All tangent typically is the one to go with if the surrounding surfaces are flat as this will create some nice flat faces which can easily be machined.If for any reason the default options do not work surfaces can always be created manually. First run the shut-off surfaces feature and select the options but choose "No- Fill". This will create the folders required in the feature manager but leave no surfaces.
Using other options from the surfaces menu (yeah, yeah, I'm getting to that test at some point) the holes can be manually patched. Knit the result to get a single surface that functions as a shutoff face. Then create a second IDENTICAL face using the offset surface feature (select 0.0 as distance to offset).
Any surfaces that are manually created will naturally show up in the "Surface Bodies" folder of the feature manager (seen above). These surfaces then can be put into the "Cavity Surface Bodies" and "Core Surface Bodies" sub folders by drag and drop. Above I have already dragged one of them Surface-Knit1 into place.
Of course the details to surface bodies can be more complicated but all of this should provide a good foundation for the exam. It may however be worthwhile to look at a few of the surfacing tools to be certain if things must be done manually that you can still get the correct answer.
More review for the CSWP Mold Tools exam.
More on all of the CSWP Exams and preparation.
Click the parting surfaces tool and the feature manager will pop up and the parting line is pre-selected. There are a few basic features that can be checked on/off for the feature and this is again one where checking the help files and simply clicking each one and watching the "preview" will be the easiest way to understand the options. For the sample exam most of the selections are irrelevant as they do not change the resulting surface.
Basically here I selected a perpendicular to pull surface. When designing a mold or insert it is important to note that it will be easier to fabricate and machine a tool with flat surfaces. This is rather obvious when considering that mold bases and inserts are sold as rectangular blocks. As a rule of thumb the largest area of flat surface or surfaces flat surface on a part will be perpendicular to the pull of the tool.
The one item that does make a big difference is the "Distance" field, where the value will need to be great enough to accomodate the dimensions of the cavity. Without creating a large parting surface the split tooling feature (which requires a sketch entirely within the confines of the parting surface) will fail to create core blocks. Thankfully a massive over sizing here will not hurt performance to much so I tend to just throw in a huge number and be done with it.Here in the image above I used a distance value of only 5 inches. Just barely enough to allow for the proper creation of the cavity/core blocks. Below however the distance used was 25 inches. Massively oversized and with plenty of room to work. In both the parting line surface feature is the most resource intensive of the few features but the overall difference between the two is minimal.
Parting Surfaces can also be created at odd angles to the pull direction. Again testing out the settings by trial and error (and watching the preview) will show what each does. The main idea of the parting surface though is to create a surface that is used to split core blocks.
The first step in defining a parting line is choosing the direction of pull. This is done by selecting a face that is perpendicular to the direction of pull. For the sample part any one of the flat faces works. Then run the draft analysis.
Check boxes do a few tasks to help ease modeling. Use for Core/Cavity basically just adds a few folders to the feature manager that are associated with the two (one folder for Core surfaces, one for Cavity surfaces). Split Faces is a little more helpful as it goes ahead and creates a split line on straddle faces (more on straddle faces and draft analysis). Since it was required to use this for the sample part I am assuming that most or all parts supplied for the exam will require this item to be checked.
In these images you can see the red straddle faces (in blue) without the Split Faces box checked. Once checked this faces obviously no longer appear as blue.
An interesting note here, when doing the sample test I did have a few issues with these faces. If I selected the pull direction as +Y my draft analysis, question 2, resulted in negative draft faces count of 15 with 2 straddle faces. Flipping my pull direction in my parting line feature somehow eliminated this issue and gave me a nice 17 positive/17negative faces. Not sure yet if this is actually a part of the test as there is an outside chance it is part of the "imported part repair" they mention but I think this is an error. I say this here because I was about to note that checking the split faces box negates the ability to have straddle faces, but I guess that is not the case.
Above is the correct part, where the parting line feature has a direction of pull in the -Y direction.
Below is the result of the draft analysis where all that I have changed is the direction of pull of the parting line feature. This time in the +Y direction.This last image shows which faces are "straddle" faces even after the split line box was checked. This seems especially odd as the parting line in both cases is identical.
Back to parting line creation, once the draft analysis is run and split faces selected all that is needed is the selection of one segment of the parting line. Find a intersection of a green (positive draft) face and a red (negative draft) face and you've got it. Use the auto select feature and the software will find a loop that satisfy a parting line.
That's about it for how to use the parting line tool. More mold tools and mold design tips will follow.
When designing for molding one of the first things that should be considered is how the part will be drafted, so it makes sense draft analysis is at the top. I say this not because of the issues I've seen with parts sticking in molds, but rather due to the hours spent recreating a part from scratch to capture design intent and fit while also providing the needed draft. Even rather simple parts, when draft is not considered intitially, can become a nightmare to recreate. This is especially true if that part is designed in context of an assembly.
I'll have another post on Mold design and drafting in the future but for now I'm looking at the draft analysis tool. This is also important because it comes up on the sample exam so it is perfectly acceptable to assume at least 10-20% of the 80% passing grade can be gathered from mastering this tool.
Clicking the draft tool button brings up the feature manager, this can also be navigated to by selecting a parting line tool and then clicking "Draft Analysis", but using the draft analysis button brings up a different set of options and is the one that should generally be used. The "parting line" draft analysis is more of a last check before creating the parting line. Either way you'll have to pick a face/plane for direction of pull. When adhering to good modeling principles this should be one of the major axis (Front/Right/Top) planes.
The input here is for the minimum draft (2 in this image) of what is considered positive draft. This angle is the angle crated between the direction of pull and a face. Thus for the actual face selected the angle will be 90 (because the direction of pull is perpendicular to the selected face).
Changing the value will change the display in realtime, so you can actually tell how much draft is on a face as you pass it. If the angle is EQUAL to the draft angle it will appear as positive draft. The verbiage of this is more clear in the "needs draft" field. This real time change also comes into play with the "Adjustment triad". When selected a triad appears that denotes the direction of pull. Dragging it around will change face colors and can give a sense of what a better parting line may be.
Straddle faces are curved surfaces that include which are both positive AND negative draft. Basically these are faces that will need either a split line or a side pull to create them. A flat surface can NOT be a split plane. Here again having an idea ahead of time as to what the parting line will be can help so that a part can be modeled with mirrors fillets etc that create multiple fillets rather than revolves and sweeps.
Steep faces are faces that are ONLY positive or ONLY negative but have some portions that are below the threshold of draft angle and others that are fine. This can happen a lot on edges of parts near a parting line where a curved face turns curves until tangent to the direction of pull.
Fixes these faces is not always necessary from a draft perspective as the section that does not satisfy the draft angle may not be a significant portion of the face. Sometimes however these portions will be flattened out to satisfy tolerances. Here if there is a tight tolerance on the total diameter any slight mismatch may cause the part to fail inspection, by simply eliminating the completely round edge these issues can be avoided, this fix is also done for other reasons.
When the "steep faces" check box is cleared these faces are noted as either positive or negative. I have been able to get a steep face to appear under "requires draft" but my draft angles were so enormous (85deg) as to not cause too much concern. Although this could cause some minor issues for the test (and I believe it won't because of the finite nature of the answer) there is no real world situation where I can see this little detail becoming and issue. If someone disagrees I would be very interested to hear why.
The last issue to note here is the face count. It appears from the sample exam that the main "test" of draft analysis is the ability to pick the right face and then COUNT the number of faces that are positive or negative or require draft. Counting of course is not necessary as the number of faces that satisfy each category is listed in the feature manger.
Look for even study material on the CSWP Mold Tools exam.
Open a new part and save it as a library feature to the weldments profile tab. File>Saves as then select a library feature part .sldlfp. You may need to back out of the directory and find the data/weldment profile folder. Save the part as a name that will make sense as a "Size" because when selecting a weldment this will be the notation.
Here the weldment data folder is the top level. "Standard" is the first level of sub folders. "Type" are sub folders of the standard. Size is the file name. Unfortunately I've found no way to integrate configurations into weldments. This would be extremely helpful as then design tables could be used to define a variety of sizes without requiring the manual creation of each profile. Guess this will just have to be a feature request.
I like to do all of this prior to starting any sketching because occasionally when saving to the library the software dumps my data while giving a message like this .:
Once the file is saved then I go ahead and create the profile. This is an easy step that involves sketching but a key to weldments is how the weldment is located in your files. To assist down the line it's best to start putting in construction geometry that touches any point that may be used to locate the weldment. This sketch makes it possible to orient the resultant weldment by any of the sketch corners, side midpoints, or center of the weldment.
After creating the profile I also needed to right click on the sketch and select "Add to Library". If this is not done, when adding the weldment to a part this error occurs (Library Feature is empty):
Once the library feature is added some other changes will occur in the part. First the sketch icon in the feature tree will change from this: to this:. Once the sketch is denoted as a library feature its dimensions will be added to the dimension folder of the feature tree. The dimension folder is one of two folders added to any library part, the other is references. Because library parts are used to build other components these dimensions and references are specially noted to make orienting and placing the library feature easier/more intuitive.
Dimensions can be added to the locating or internal dimension folder by dragging and dropping them within the feature manager. To change the name of the dimension you can edit it in the dimension feature manager: Primary Value (edit a sketch, double click a dimension and this box appears)
To review what the parent company has to say regarding the test and what it covers:
I planned on starting my study for this test after passing the Mold Tools exam, but a new design came up that looks easiest using these features so why not go for both.Exam Length: 2 hoursMinimum Passing grade: 75%Note: You must use at least SolidWorks 2009 sp4 for this exam. Any use of a previous version will result in the inability to open some of the testing files.
All candidates receive electronic certificates and a personal listing on the CSWP directory* when they pass.
Exam features hands-on challenges in many of these areas of SolidWorks Weldment functionality:
- Weldment profile creation
- Placing the Weldment profile in the Weldment profile library
- Basic and Advanced Weldment Part creation
- Weldment corner modification
- Placing gaps at corners and segment intersections
- End Caps
- Weldment Part modification
- Trim/Extend Command
- 3D Sketch Creation
- Cut List Folder management in the Weldment Part
- Cut List creation in the Weldment Drawing
Thankfully the new team of certification specialists at solidworks have provided a bit more help in the way of sample tests and things to consider. The sample CSWP weldment test is available through their site.
I've also found a number of tutorials on Youtube (one of my favorite places for Solidworks learning) that I've decided to put into a playlist. This will be updated as I progress.