Archive for May, 2011

Design Changes To A Popular Bath Toy Using Simulation Premium

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Recently for his 1st birthday my son received an interesting bath toy.  The toy has an electric pump that flows water from the bathtub out the spout through a suspended set of cups.  One of the cups funnels the water to a spinning wheel.  The other disperses the water through small holes, and the last has a floating center that rises as the water collects in the outer cup.

Bath Toy

What I noticed is that the plastic arm that suspends the cups under the water flow may require a design change.  The issue arises due to repeated addition of force in the arm from my son. Although the arm is plenty sufficient to hold the plastic cups as designed it is not equally as designed for a 1 year old to repeatedly pull down on the end of the arm to remove the cups.  Repeated addition of this force has caused plasticity in the arm at the connection to the base.

Let’s examine the geometry to better understand the issue.

The larger ring accepts the cups.  The arm runs between the large ring and the small ring that mounts to the inlet shaft.  A small fillet is used to blend the interface between the arm and the small ring.  In my opinion this fillet is too small.  Here’s why.  Stress = Force / Area.  The smaller the area (fillet size) the higher the stress.

  • The arm was modeled reconstructing the dimensions using caliper and a scale.  Note the dimensions are approximate.
  • The first model has the original fillet size.

Modified Geometry

  • As a design change the second model has a larger fillet added to distribute the stress.

Original Geometry

  • The model material was assumed to be ABS standard with the SolidWorks Library. A more accurate material definition is needed for any real design changes to be recommended.

The problem statement is as follows:

My son takes a bath every night. On average the arm is bent 4-5 times during the course of the bath.  Based on the one month the toy has been in use 30 X 4.5 = 135 applications of force applied so far.  I will analyze the existing and the proposed  geometry for stress based on a specific displacement.  Next perform fatigue analysis on the existing and proposed design for the arm.

The arm is fixed at the recessed ledge where the collar meets the inlet shaft.  A specified downward displacement of 1.75″ based on my sons actions is applied to the outer most portion of the large ring.

Due to large displacement in the model and the nonlinearity of the material Simulation Premium was used to analyze the geometry. Note the material specifications are not exact and a generalized S-N curve was used for the fatigue analysis. A zero based loading was used for fatigue.


Original Design Showed 20000 PSI of stress at the fillet area.

A fatigue life of 890 cycles for the same area.

Stress Large Fillet





Original Design Fatigue

The modified larger fillet showed much improvment Stress of 10000 PSI and a fatigue life of 4000 cycles.

Stress Original Design

Fatigue Modified Design

If the geometry is modified with a larger fillet the toy will be enjoyed a great deal longer.  From the design change a life of 4000 cycles, my son will be 4.  Before then, I am sure it will be passed on to a little brother or sister.

Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Autologin for task servers

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

As SolidWorks Enterprise PDM’s tasks are being utilized more and more, I see companies dedicating a machine (or virtual machine) to act as a “task server”. This allows users to continue working while another machine does the task processes. (Typically batch printing, batch file conversions or design checking.)

The problem is, EPDM will not do any task work if the dedicated computer is not logged into the vault. How do you set your machine to automatically log into the vault?

First, on your task-server-to-be, in the administration tool, go to settings.LocalSettingsSet the Automatic login as the account you would want to automatically login to the vault as: [my vault's name is "Production']


(Please don’t use the same password I use. Everyone seems to use “**********” as their password.)

Now we’ve told EPDM what account to use when logging in. Next we need to make the system log in.

Simply opening an explorer window navigated to your vault view is all you need to do. To automate this: Go to your machine’s startup directory (something like: “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup” -though this varies from operating system to operating system.)

In this directory add a shortcut


For the location, enter “explorer” then a space, then in quotes type the full path to the root of the vault view.


You can then name the shortcut anything you wish.

Now the computer will login to EPDM as soon as you log in.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Application Engineer Positions Available at 3DVision Technologies

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

3DVision Technologies is currently looking to fill two Application Engineer positions, Application Support Engineer and Engineering Data Specialist.

Application Support Engineer (ASE)

Description: 3DVision Application Support Engineers are experts in SolidWorks products providing comprehensive technical support, training, and implementation.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Manage technical support issues taken via phone, email, or web portal
  • Conduct training classes
  • Make on-site customer visits

Minimum Required Skills and Experience:

  • Minimum Experience: 2 to 5 years 3D Mechanical Design, Manufacturing, or MCAD industry experience.
  • Education: BS in Mechanical Engineering

For more information download the ASE Job Posting

Engineering Data Specialist (EDS)

Description: 3DVision Engineering Data Specialists are experts in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and DriveWorks providing comprehensive technical support, training, and implementation.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Provide comprehensive technical pre-sales support for SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and DriveWorks including product positioning, demonstrations, and competitive analysis
  • Assess and scope project requirements
  • Develop and manage detailed customer implementation project plans
  • Perform post-sales services as needed including training, implementation, configuration, and technical support

Minimum Required Skills and Experience:

  • Education: BS in Mechanical Engineering
  • Minimum experience: 2 to 5 years MCAD/PDM industry experience
  • Strong working knowledge of the MCAD/PDM industry
  • A good understanding of relational databases, particularly Microsoft SQL
  • A solid understanding of TCP/IP networks, virtual PC’s, servers, and configuring hardware requirements
  • Must have experience and a solid understanding of the engineering document release process (ECO/ECN)

For more information download the EDS Job Posting

Scott High

Technical Services Manager 3DVision Technologies

Unsuppress Large Imported Assembly

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

If you have ever opened an assembly that was saved as a neutral CAD format, this tip might help you.  When you open a large assembly from a neutral CAD format, SolidWorks is going to tell you, “Large assembly imported.  Components have been suppressed.  Use “Unsuppress” to show desired parts and sub-assemblies.”

So now you have to go over each file and unsuppress it.   Don’t start yelling and getting mad about how long this process is going to take.  All you need to do is left click on the top level assembly and then navigate to Edit>Unsuppress with Dependents>This Configuration.


Now everything is unsuppressed with about 3 mouse clicks.  Now that’s pretty easy.

You should be careful about doing this.  If the assembly has a lot of components and your computer does not have enough RAM, you could have some performance issues.  This is because when you unsuppress all the components, they get loaded into RAM.  So you have been warned.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Game Show: Why won’t these references update? – The Solution

Friday, May 20th, 2011

In Wednesday’s competition we learned neither our champion nor challenger’s method of updating references worked. Did you figure out why?

The problem they ran into was caused by how SolidWorks finds referenced files when assemblies are opened.

SolidWorks has a set of rules to go by when trying to find components of an assembly. It is important to know and understand SolidWorks’ method.

  1. Try to use an already loaded file
  2. Look in the paths listed in the “Referenced Documents” list in the options area
  3. Look in the same directory as the assembly
  4. Look in the directories where it has already found other components
  5. Look where the file was the last time the assembly was saved (excluding the drive letter)
  6. Look where the file was the last time the assembly was saved (including the drive letter)
  7. Ask you where the file is

Both contestants correctly told SolidWorks to look in the new location, but SolidWorks would rather find the file within the same directory as the assembly was found. (Priority #3) It only appeared the references were not updated.

If either of our contestants would have deleted the motor from the assembly’s directory they would have won the autographed coloring book because SolidWorks would have gotten to priority #5 and the correct motor file would have been opened.

What is the moral of the story?

  1. Spend some time learning how SolidWorks resolves referenced documents. This is a very important skill, that I promise can save you many headaches when files are acting funny
  2. Never duplicate file names for SolidWorks files. If these two files would not have had the same name, at worst our contestants would have been notified that SolidWorks could not find the file (gotten to priority #7) and they could have known to fix the issue.


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

3DVIA Composer and the Water Goat

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Ever used any of the text translation tools on the web? Just when you think the internet is nothing but a big time waster, they go and put something really useful out there. Hours of real business productivity just waiting for you so that you can translate all your product manuals into other languages and expand your business into the far reaches of the globe.

But woe to those without the knowledge of the internet and all its usefulness! Attempting to translate instructions on how to mount a hydraulic ram, for instance, they may end up writing about a water goat instead! Looking for something like this, they instead may be directing people to this or even worse, something like this.

My esteemed colleague and blog-writing addict, Jeff Sweeney, offered up this true story of chimera from a customer and I just couldn’t resist. It’s not often that you get to use the words ‘water’ and ‘goat’ next to each other in a sentence, let alone broadcast it to the public. Keep the good blog ideas coming Sweeney.

Before I let you squirm in your chair any longer from imagining the embarrassment of a translation gone terribly wrong, let me provide you with the solution to your translation problems – pictures!  That’s right, do away with those pesky words altogether and re-use your 3D CAD data to provide content-rich and interactive images and animations that describe your assembly process, cleaning manuals, work instructions, repair guides and many other technical publications. Words are optional in this world and not a chance a water goat will arrive without you knowing about it.

Sign up today for an evaluation of 3DVIA Composer and see how it can transform your documentation needs:

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Game Show: Why won’t these references update?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Welcome everyone to America’s favorite game show: “Why won’t these references update?!” I’m your favorite game show host Guy Smiley.

Today we have two challengers. Our first challenger enjoys hopscotch and talking to her gold fish, say hello to Penelope Pendelton!

Our second player enjoys working in his store, Mr. Hooper.

Here is the challenge: Today we received a set of files from an outside contractor. Our producers have copied the files from our ftp site and have added them to our network as shown here:



The challenge we have for the two of you today is that the “182T.SLDPRT” file is a standard product of our company and we wish for you to change the assembly’s reference to no longer load the file from this downloaded directory, but to use the file in our standard parts library instead:


The winner of today’s challenge receives a coloring book autographed by me, Guy Smiley.

On your mark, get set, go!

Our challenger, Penelope wastes no time opening SolidWorks and changing the reference through the “Reference” button in SolidWorks’ Open dialog box.


She quickly opens and saves the assembly and clicks her buzzer. 37 seconds, an unbelievable time.

Now it is our champion, Mr. Looper’s turn.


Mr. Hooper notices the assembly is stored in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, so he uses EPDM’s “Update Reference” tool to change the reference in only twenty seconds!

It looks like Mr. Snooper has easily won this challenge, but let’s wait for the judge’s final decision.

Our judges go to each challenger’s computer, open each assembly and find the assemblies are still referencing the original motor! Neither method worked! Are we doomed to never have this assembly reference the file from the library like we want?

Both assemblies were checked out, the assembly files have a new time date stamp …what happened?

Tune in tomorrow to learn: “Why won’t these references update?!”

(Hint: This is not an EPDM issue.)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Mesh Failure Diagnostics, Part 2

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Last month, I wrote about Mesh Control and described a process using the Simulation Advisor to fix mesh errors.  If you prefer to operate without the proverbial ‘phone-a-friend’ option, you can always turn the Simulation Advisor off by un-checking the box in your Simulation Options, as shown.  When you uncheck this box, you still have the option of accessing the Simulation Advisor from the Command Manager by selecting the appropriate Advisor in the pull-down menu.

2011-0512a Sim Advisor Off

When an assembly failed to mesh in Simulation 2010, you had to know your assembly components well to determine which part(s) failed to mesh.  Recall that the Simulation Feature Tree looked like this:

2011-0512b 2010 Mesh Failure

With SolidWorks Simulation 2011, however, we now have a visual indication for which parts failed to mesh in the Simulation Feature Manager Design Tree.  Notice all of the component icons that are colored red?  Simulation 2011 provides this visual feedback to let you know where the mesh failures occurred.  If you right-click on any of those parts and select ‘Create Mesh’, this will start the Mesh Control dialog for the selected part.  Apply a mesh control and click ‘OK’ to mesh the part.  Using this method, you have to apply mesh controls to a single part at a time.  If you control-select several of the red (failed) parts from the Simulation Feature Manager Design Tree, you need to right click on the Mesh folder and select ‘Apply Mesh Control’.  Note that when you choose this method, you will need to recreate the mesh for the entire assembly.

2011-0512d RMB Create Mesh

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Being Green with Javelin Technologies

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Back when I was just a little Engineering Data Specialist Man, I was always looking for ways to save a nickel. I found that using less or reusing something I already had saved me some money, but the teasing I got from my friends….I must admit was rather tough. [You have no idea how many words rhyme with cheapskate.]

But — look who’s laughing now?! Now, doing pretty much the same thing, I’m now “Green”. Turns out that saving money was oftentimes also good for the environment.

I wish Javelin Technologies was blogging back then. Their blog has tons of great green ideas. If I had been reading back then I could have proved to my friends how cool I was.

Stop in often, it is a very active blog.


(Why is it so difficult to use Window 7′s Snipping Tool highlighter?)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Pack and Go vs. EPDM’s Copy Tree – Who Wins?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Pack and Go vs. EPDM’s Copy Tree – Who Wins?

When working with files outside of the vault, you have no choice -Pack and Go is the only tool you have, and it is a good tool -all the cool kids are using it.

However, for copying files within SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, both tools are an option, which one should you use?

Easy. Copy Tree. No question, no contest. I don’t want to hear your argument for Pack and Go…your argument is bad. Copy Tree gives you:

  • Speed
  • Less Mistakes
  • More Options


Speed - What happens when you click “Include Drawings” with Pack and Go? Pack and Go goes through all of your referenced paths looking at each and every drawing trying to decide if it is a parent of one of the chosen parts. That can take time. If you have lots of paths, that can take a loooong time. Click “Include Drawings” in EPDM, since there is a database – all drawings are found almost immediately.

Less Mistakes – See those two radio buttons “Use latest version of references” and “Use attached version of references”? Pack and Go doesn’t have those options. This means that Pack and Go is going to simply copy the version of the file that is in your local cache. Is it the right version? You better hope so! These two options in Copy Tree help ensure you are copying the version you want.

More Options:

  • Rename with Serial Number – If you are using EPDM’s serial numbers, Copy Tree will look those numbers up for you and rename the new files on the fly
  • Check in files with comment – Checks in the new files after the copy.
  • Name drawings after their models – Very handy if you are renaming the models, you can get the drawings to have the same name automatically

Every tool has its place, ensure you are using the right one at the right time.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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