CSWP - Sketching

B-2. Sketching

Sketching is the primary function and basis of nearly all Solidworks files. When creating a model from side views it is also one of the most intuitive ways to begin a model. Best practices for where to begin sketching (Top Plane, Right side view etc) will vary from modeler to modeler and company to company but a good rule of thumb is to start with the largest sketch with an eye for the most static elements (those that will not change). How to define and dimension a sketch is also important.

Solidworks is good at having features automatically snap to relations. Horizontal and vertical lines, edges and points snap to coincident. This can be both misleading and wrong given the inaccuracy of the pictures in the CSWP. Sides that look to be co-planar in the exam question figure may be just that, but they may change in future questions. Having a grid available helps lay things out with proper relations while still making sure the realtions do not overdefine or improperly define certain edges. Remember that for most CSWP questions the placement of the origin is critical in determining the center of mass so locating the part correctly about the origin in sketches also becomes a critical concern.

To turn on the grid check the box at(Tools>Options>Document Properties&gt>Grid/Snap> Display Grid)
To enable snap to grid check the box at (Tools>Options>System options>Sketch Relations/Snaps> Grid).

S key and RMB in-context menus: The single biggest time saver in newer version of Solidworks is the addition of in context menus. The RMB (right mouse button) brings up an in context menu that can be customized from a limited list. This is very helpful in flying through a quick sketch and eliminates the need to get the mouse back up to the tool bars. Even more powerful is the S key which brings up a shortcut menu of actions typically used in the current state and it can be customized with anything. Not only can the S key access all the sketch features needed it can also be customized to add such items as Extrude and Cut, the two most commonly used features following the sketch tool. Although the movement of the mouse to the top of the screen might seem like a small thing to eliminate over time this lightning quick access to any needed feature can significantly reduce the time spent looking for items. Setting up hot keys is useful not only for the CSWP exam but is a good practice in everyday use

Fully define all sketches. Making sure a sketch is fully defined is simply good practice. Under defined sketches cause major problems when changes must be made, arcs over extend, lines cross, dimensions loose defining edges, and features fail. It is much easier to go back and remove definition that it is to painstakingly correct each error caused by an under defined sketch. For visual purposes a fully defined sketch or sketch entity will appear black while under defined entities will appear blue. Once a sketch is complete click the RMB and get the in context menu. This will include an option for "Fully define sketch". A property manager appears and allows the user to select the entities and relations to be defined. Sketches are known to be fully defined when they appear in the feature manager without a (-) in the sketch name. When updating values to manage multiple questions for the CSWP exam having a sketch fully defined will eliminate the need to trouble shoot problems and save a lot of time.

CSWP Prep: Look Over the Entire Test

A-7. Look over the entire test

For anyone who has ever taken a test prep course, or taken other exams this tip is probably nothing new. Look through the test and check to see what specific values change. Recently the CSWP exam has added a balloon feature to drawings to show what values have changed or will change in future questions. If possible placing these features near the end of the feature tree will eliminate a few potential rebuild errors. Going through the ENTIRE test will also present a final screen that shows the full list of questions and their point value. A passing grade is 75% and although no single question is worth 25% the weighting of questions does vary, if time is a concern answering some questions may not be as critical. This is only for extreme cases, typically question that are worth less are also quicker and easier to answer as they are based on only a few minor changes to other more critical questions.

CSWP Prep: Setup files and equations

A-6. Setup Layout, Files, and Equations to Save Time

Before actually beginning the CSWP exam there are a few things that can be done to help save time and avoid problems during the test. The first step should be to setup a working layout to take the exam. As mentioned in earlier sections the testing client can take up some space, and if possible locating it on a dual monitor allows for viewing of the questions while still viewing the Solidworks software. Sometimes this means it will be easiest to take the exam on a new workstation, if this is the case it is important to maintain the normal settings and menu layout. Settings can be saved or imported using the "Copy Settings Wizard" which can be found in through the Start Menu>Solidworks>Solidworks Tools. Make sure to try out a few simple tasks, or even run through a sample test question on the setup prior to beginning the exam.

A tip that will be mentioned more than once in this review is to SAVE MODELS FOR EACH QUESTION. Doing so allows for post-test trouble shooting and study and provides a backup in case of a crash. Saving each question separately to a CSWP Exam folder is easiest. Create a folder, on the desktop or elsewhere, and name it CSWP Exam. While working through the test do a File>Save As and name each question. Remember to check the "Save as Copy" for questions that utilize the same model, but may contain dimensional changes. If there is a dispute over a question after testing, providing the saved models may help to clear up confusion and facilitate a retake.

Opening a file and setting it up in anticipation for the exam is also a good idea. This ensures that there is no time lost loading the program or recreating some settings. For Section 1 of the CSWP, when all models are user created rather than suppleid through the Tangix client, another time saver is to create equations. Typically questions contain a single component that is fully defined but has a few variable dimensions (denoted as A, B, C, D etc). Creating equations A="1", B="2" can save a few moments, but more importantly provides a framework for the exam and can help to structure the first few steps is a good reminder to utilize the equation or linked dimension options.

CSWP Prep: Tangix Tester

The testing client is a stand alone software that must be downloaded to the testing computer. It is available online and is a small application, total download time is usually less than a minute. Initially a user must setup an account, or login to an existing account. Users who have taken other exams (such as the CSWA) or who have already taken the CSWP should login using the same account. Each account will be linked to an individual and can contain all future certifications (Mold Tools, Surfacing, CSWE, etc.).

Once logged in the exam selection screen will show test for which a user is eligible along with a green arrow for "Start Exam" for those tests which have been paid for and a voucher entered. Also available is the Event ID/Voucher field. Remember that for every seat on subscription a voucher is provided for a test, this is where the voucher code should be entered.
Fig. 1- Tangix Testing Client Layout
Tangix will be used to display the questions and download the associated models. Models views and images displayed in the testing client can be zoomed in by simply clicking the image. To activate additional images click the thumbnail in the small filmstrip. The window will appear behind Solidworks if inactive and it is suggested, if possible, to utilize dual monitors to allow for concurrent viewing of Solidworks and the Tangix client. If windows must be stacked, and even if using dual monitors, realize the the Tangix client is SINGLE CLICK ACTIVATED. When clicking to activate the client it is thus very easy to accidentally change an answer on a multiple choice question.

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CSWP Prep: User Groups

A growing network of Solidworks users and Administrators can be found all across the United States, and the world. User group meet on a varying schedule, presenting topics, product rollouts, and providing a forum for networking. The group meetings are free and tend to have free food for all attendees. To find a local user group check the SWUGN website, http://www.swugn.org/.

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CSWP Prep: Other Resources

A-3. Other Resources: VARs, Forums, Google, Youtube, Blogs

In addition to the material included with the Solidworks Software there are countless other resources available for training purposes. This is just a short list of the options:

VARs (Value Added Resellers): Most resellers offer training courses for new customers as well as regular events and training session. To get the most out of these it is important to contact your VAR and inquire about the options available. If you are consdiering changing resellers most will also offer a free session or event to show their worth. In some places resellers are even offering discount training programs to unemployed and under employed workers as part of government programs. To locate a nearby resller or Solidworks office check the Solidworks Site (http://www.solidworks.com/sw/SolidWorksOfficeWorldwide.htm).
Forums: The Solidworks Forums are an online community that are available to all subscription customers (and anyone else who manages to get an account). The Forums are filled with knowledgeable users as well as Solidworks employees that are overly helpful. Many enhancement requests and bugs have been found through forum posts. Users can upload .zip files or screen shots of models along with a question and typically receive an answer within a few hours. Questions range from basic feature functions to deep rooted coding and API issues. For basic learning there are better resources than the forums but when trouble shooting a specific problem the Forums are unparalleled in the ability and speed in providing a workable solution. (https://forum.solidworks.com/)
Google/Yahoo/Bing: Solidworks is no different a than any other computer software. If there is a tip, tutorial, solution or problem documented somewhere on the web it can likely be found with the right set of keywords. Keywords may point to the help files (hosted online) or other resources listed here but a few minutes of searching can easily provide the equivalent of hundreds of dollars and hours of training.

Youtube: Type in "Solidworks" and any other keyword and watch as HOURS of videos pour out onto the screen. Plenty of users have organized videos into play lists that can easily supplement VAR training. Additionally some of the training sites have released content to youtube videos to help grow business. Video quality ranges from poor screen captures of modeling tasks to high definition professional productions and training sessions. It may take some time to wade through but these videos are some of the most helpful resources for learning ANY software.

Blogs: Many power users of Solidworks have dedicated there knowledge to the community, including those listed above, but even more material can be found at the personal blogs of these users. Published authors, Solidworks employees, VAR employees and even casual users all can be found posting information on the CAD world, tips, tricks, tutorials, interviews and exposes on a wide variety of topics. This guide was first established as a series of less comprehensive posts at www.3dEngr.com. To help find these blogs, check the "blogroll" in the sidebar of www.3dEngr.com and continue checking the blogroll of each linked blog.

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CSWP Help Menus

A-2. Help Menus

The help files and documentation provided with Solidworks are useful for determining theory and capabilities that are not covered in tutorials. While preparing for the exam any uncertainties on proper use of a tool should be reconciled with the documentation. There are portions of the documentation that are incomplete and portions that are overly verbose, but on the whole the Help Files provide a through explanation of software features and capabilities. It is also important to note that the Help files are a part of the software and therefore it is acceptable to reference the help files during the exam!

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CSWP Beginning Prep

A. Beginning Prep

A-1. Built in Tutorials

One of the most useful tools in learning Solidworks are the built in tutorials. These can be accessed through the "Help" Menu. If the files are were not included on the initial install of the software they can be downloaded from the Solidworks website (http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/training-learning-resources-materials.htm). Each of these 29 tutorials covers a different aspect of the software. For the purposes of the CSWP a user should be familiar with all of the "Getting Started", "Building Models" and "Working with Models". Advanced tutorials such as "Weldments" and "Routings" go beyond the scope of the CSWP Core but will be useful none the less for professionals looking to understand the various ways a model can be created.

CSWP Overview

The CSWP is designed to show a users "ability to design and analyze parametric parts and movable assemblies using a variety of complex features". The context of the exam is limited to Solidworks software and a users ability to navigate the program for drafting and design tasks. Certification can be used to leverage a promotion or raise, boost a resume, or measure the results of ongoing training.

This book is intended to serve as a guide when studying for the Certified Solidworks Professional Exam (CSWP). It is assumed that the reader will have basic knowledge of the software, including how to open or create new files, add new sketches and basic features, access or find tools. This guide will point out exam structure, common mistakes, and tips while highlighting critical areas. A focus is placed on proper setup and modeling approach to ensure accurate results and the ability to easily edit parts and troubleshoot problem areas. For the basics of some topics the review will occasionally refer to other resources including the standard tutorials included with Solidworks. If for some reason a reader does not have the referenced tutorials they are available from the Solidworks training website (http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/807_ENU_HTML.htm).

The exam is structured in three distinct sections. Each section has a time limit that varies between 40 minutes and 90 minutes and costs $30. Sections can be taken and passed separately and retakes can also be done in a segmented fashion. Full certification is only granted after a passing grade of 75% is reached on each of the three sections.

Once a user completes the exam a certificate and completion package is available for download at the online testing center. The package contains an exam certification and a variety of logos for use on business cards, resumes, or websites. Carrying the CSWP logo shows an advanced competency in the software. There are over 10,000 Certified Solidworks Professionals worldwide, and although this is a large number it correlates to about 1% of the total seats of Solidworks that have been sold (Over 1 Million). A complete listing of CSWP's can be found at the online directory (https://www.virtualtester.com/solidworks/user.php). In addition to the official listing CSWP's are free to join in professional groups, including the CSWP group on LinkedIn.com, and events, such as the CSWP Special Event hosted every year at Solidworks World.

In addition to the CSWP Core exam Solidworks offers a selection of advanced certification exams; Sheet Metal, Weldments, Mold Tools, Sufracing, FEA and Expert. Although the CSWP is only a prerequisite for one of the advanced exams (CSWE-Expert) it is suggested as the starting point for all. Users who are not yet ready for the CSWP are also offered the CSWA-Associate which is intended for new users and students. Exact details for all of the certification advanced exams can be found at the http://www.solidworks.com/cswp.


I recently had the chance to experience an interesting piece of art by a renowned artist. That work now is gone, it lasted less than a fortnight. It was unsigned, untitled, and even the artist it is credited to is unknown except by a nickname.

"Banksy" added the primary piece of vandalism in this image. The commentary was a different vandal and it appears the colorful flowers and green were yet another. It is hard to tell exactly who created what, as again there are no signatures and the work has already been painted over. It first appeared a few days before the Oscars (Feb 27 2011) and less than two weeks later I saw the wall again, back to the same bland green back wall of an Urban Outfitters in Westwood village it has always been. Below is a screen grab from Google Street View.

Supposedly "Banksy" was in town for the Oscars. His film was nominated in the Documentary category and while here he managed to tag a number of places with his traditional stencil style graffiti. I find it interesting that such a simple concept can launch an artist to a point where he can sell some works for hundreds of thousands while others are eliminated in a few days by maintenance workers.

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