Archive for November, 2011

Northern Indiana SolidWorks Usergroup (NISWUG) December Meeting

Monday, November 28th, 2011

3DVision will be presenting in the December NISWUG meeting along with other local resellers. Kris Klika will be giving a presentation on Surface Modeling Techniques in SolidWorks. If you are in the Northern Indiana area be sure to stop by and see us!

Annual VAR Presentations

Date: December 6, 2011
Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST
Swan Lake Resort
5203 Plymouth Laporte TRL (Turn West on Academy Drive)
Plymouth, IN 46563

Put it together with Weldments–Ketul Patel — CATI
Rx for Sick SolidWorks–Greg Dawes — Fisher/Unitech
The Art of Mating–Jim Byrne — Dasi Solutions
Simply Surfacing–Kris Klika — 3DVision
Christmas Prizes–Peggy Frantz – Flakt Woods

Please sign up by clicking HERE so they know you are coming. See you there on the 6th!

Scott High

Technical Services Manager 3DVision Technologies

Backing up a revision

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

When you are the Data Specialist Man, the world is your stage.

Here is a little excerpt from a screen play I am writing for an upcoming movie, tentatively titled: “SolidWorks Enterprise PDM – The Movie”

The scene opens with our hero [me] teaching an EPDM administrator training class.

[Me] Now that the file is in your “Released” workflow state, it is read only for everyone, the only way it can be changed is to push the file through the workflow again, making a new revision.

[Future Admin] But what if I want to change the file without bumping the revision?

[Me] You can’t. That revision has been approved, it shouldn’t be changed.

[Future Admin] But I want to.

[Me] No, that would be like changing history. What’s the big deal? Revision letters are cheap, bump the revision and go on with your life.

[Future Admin] But I want to.

[Me] No! You just just bought EPDM to protect your documents and now, on the very first day, you want to override it?!

[Future Admin] Yes.

[Me] Fine. However, I insist we still make everything traceable so we still have record of the actual version that was originally approved.

[Future Admin] Deal.

[Me] First, we’ll make what I like to call a relief valve in our workflow:


The “Released” state will stay read only for everyone. We’ll only give permission for the administrator to use the “Override Revision” transition. We’ll only give checkout rights in the “Revision Override” workflow state to a very few trust worthy people. They can modify the file, then re-release it.

[Future Admin] But now won’t there be additional versions after the revision?

[Me] Say! I didn’t think you were paying attention while you were playing with your cell phone! Yes, there will be an additional version. However with EPDM’s API, we can actually roll back the revision number component to any value we want. Then reapply the revision.


By looking at the file’s history we can see that version two was approved as revision “A”, then version three was created, which was also approved as revision “A”. This second approval was done by a little API application that rolled the counter back one place.

Now the entire process was recorded in the file’s history and you still get to have your changed file at revision “A”.

[Future Admin] Thank you Engineering Data Specialist Man! How can we ever repay you?!

[Me] <Laughs> All in a day’s work my friend, all in a day’s work.



Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

How to search for every file owned by any user in Workgroup

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Recently a customer asked me to write a routine to release ownership of every file in his SolidWorks Workgroup PDM vault.

I thought finding the files would be rather simple until I realized Workgroup’s PDMWSearchOptions (Workgroup’s API search function) does not support wildcard characters. While contemplating harakiri, I finally came up with this search criteria idea:

objSearch.IgnoreCase = True
objSearch.SearchCriteria.AddCriteria pdmwOr, pdmwOwner, "", pdmwContains, "a"
objSearch.SearchCriteria.AddCriteria pdmwOr, pdmwOwner, "", pdmwContains, "e"
objSearch.SearchCriteria.AddCriteria pdmwOr, pdmwOwner, "", pdmwContains, "i"
objSearch.SearchCriteria.AddCriteria pdmwOr, pdmwOwner, "", pdmwContains, "o"
objSearch.SearchCriteria.AddCriteria pdmwOr, pdmwOwner, "", pdmwContains, "u"
objSearch.SearchCriteria.AddCriteria pdmwOr, pdmwOwner, "", pdmwContains, "y"

As long as I don’t have any Workgroup users from one of those countries that do not have any vowels in their names, this search gave me every file in the Workgroup vault that was owned by a user. It isn’t a lightening fast search, but did a nice job.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

CAD as SaaS

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

There are five us in my house. We have four, nice computers. Until this week we were a happy family living the dream.

This week the youngest had homework and we found ourselves short one computer. The fighting began. So I went to the basement, threw some parts together, installed Ubuntu (Linux) and within an hour had everyone in the house on their own computer.


(This is what the computer looked like when I set it on his desk.)

This homemade machine didn’t have a part on it less than four years old, most parts were significantly older, yet he went to my Google Docs account and put together a rather nice looking report complete with pictures and even a little graph. The performance was pretty good perhaps even as good as your top of the line CAD station works with office documents.

So I got to thinking, in the last few years the need for increasingly faster computers has tapered off. Aside from Great Aunt Eleanor’s PC games, hardware seems to have caught up with software. Except for CAD.

Companies are still buying hardware every few years to get the most out of their CAD systems.

**Special note before I go any further – I don’t have any more of a look into the future of SolidWorks than you do. This is just one guy sitting in his little cubical under the big florescent light wondering and scratching his chin…**

Back two years ago at SolidWorks World, they showed us what SolidWorks may look like on the cloud. (From now on let’s use the correct term “Software as a Service” – SaaS. Please!?) People ran into the streets, screaming the sky was falling. SolidWorks, it seemed, had finally jumped the shark. Hey I was one of them. At the time it was big and scary.

I know SolidWorks as an SaaS application wouldn’t work for everyone. Some people aren’t going to be able to have their files stored off site. (Though these exact same people don’t seem to hesitate to put their files in a public DropBox folder.) However take a minute, and step back and wonder about not having to get a new machine every other year, not downloading new video drivers or searching for hardware compatibility.

What if this crazy hardware race that we have been living with for the past twenty years is finally slowing down?

I hope it happens.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Fatigue Check Plot

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Should you be concerned about fatigue? Not the kind of fatigue that affects Air Traffic Controllers, but the kind that causes a product to fail after repeated use. If you have the luxury of designing products that are only used once, you can stop reading now! For the rest of us, we need to be aware of the expected service life of our designs. If you knew your product would last “forever”, would you run around the office high-fiving your co-workers? In Simulation Professional and Simulation Premium, we have a simple tool to quickly evaluate if your product can have an ‘infinite’ life. The tool is the ‘Fatigue Check Plot’.

Fatigue is the localized structural damage that occurs due to cyclic loading conditions. Fatigue also has cumulative effect on a structure – once damaged, always damaged. If the loads applied to the structure are high enough, microscopic cracks will appear on the surface of the part, eventually leading to a failure. Knowing the loading conditions (and, thus, the stresses that occur in the structure) and the number of expected cycles the product will see during its lifetime allows us to determine if our product is safe for the expected life of the product. If the stresses are high, the number of loading cycles the product can withstand are reduced. If the stresses are low enough, the product will have ‘infinite’ life. This stress level is usually referred to as the fatigue limit or endurance limit – a stress level that can act on the material without causing failure due to cyclic loading.

After conducting a static analysis study on the design, right-click on the Results Folder and select “Define Fatigue Check Plot”. The Fatigue Check Plot will be available if the static analysis used solid elements, shell elements or a mixed mesh with solid and shell elements. The calculations for a Fatigue Check Plot are based on an infinite number of constant amplitude cycles (loading events) acting on the product. Let’s take a look at the typical Fatigue Check Plot setup.

2011-1114a FatigueCheckPlot ON-OFF Loading

When creating this plot, there are several options. Under ‘Modifying factors’ the first is the loading type. You specify ‘ON/OFF’ loading, where the loads are applied and completely removed or ‘Fully reversed’ loading, where the full load is applied in nominal and reversed polarities. The second option is the Surface Finish Factor – surface finished can positively affect fatigue life (shot peening) or negatively affect fatigue life (electroplating). The third option is Loading Factor where you are specifying the loading type the material is experiencing; axial, bending, torsion, etc. The ‘Material’ section of the Fatigue Check Plot property manager allows for additional control of the results. You can enter values from 1 to 100 for ‘Scale this value’ and values from 1 to 10 for ‘Minimum safety factor’. ‘Scale this value’ multiplies the fatigue strength of the material by the scaling factor entered. ‘Minimum safety factor’ divides the fatigue strength of the material by the factor entered. Finally, what’s really nice is the preview of the results during the setup – for the (finished) plot above, we see the green check mark for the selected options and the caveat that you probably do not need to be concerned about fatigue in this design.

2011-1114b FatigueCheckPlot REVERSED Loading

In this second plot, I have modified the loading conditions from ‘ON/OFF’ to ‘Fully reversed’ and obtain a warning that the design may possibly fail due to fatigue. I also receive the suggestion to run a complete Fatigue Analysis study on the design. Areas of concern on the part are shown in red on the finished plot.

So the next time you are wondering if your product will last forever, create a Fatigue Check Plot as a first step in analyzing the fatigue life of your design. If your initial results for a Fully Reversed, As Forged, Torsional Loading with a Minimum Safety Factor of 5 is in the green, take that victory lap and high-five your co-workers! Now go make your products better with SolidWorks Simulation!

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Adding the vault to your favorites

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Windows 7 Tip: Certainly one of your favorite places to be is inside your SolidWorks Enterprise PDM vault. Would you like to prove your love and add the vault to your list of favorites?


Drag your blueberry into your favorites list. Make sure the cursor says “Create link in Favorites” and that you are not dropping the blueberry into an existing folder.


That’s it!


Much faster vault access!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Optimize Volume Of Your Component Using Simulation Professional And Design Studies?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Have you ever needed to optimize a volume based on a set of varying dimensions?  Simulation Professional and Design Studies can help.

Here is what you need to do.

To create a design study:

1. Do one of the following:

  • Click Design StudyDS2 (Tools toolbar).
  • Click Insert > Design Study > Add.
  • Right-click an existing Design Study tab and click Create New Design Study.

A Design Study tab appears at the bottom of the graphics area.


2. To set properties such as study quality and results folder, click Design Study OptionsDS3 .

3. Define variables using parameters.

Here your variables will be the dimensions needed to change your volume.

4. Define constraints using sensors.

You constraint would be mass properties for volume.  Set to monitor only.  Thsi gives you an output of how the volume changes.

5. For Optimization studies, define goals using sensors.

Set you goal to be the same as your constraint, a volume sensor.

Select Optimization, and allow SW to take over.  Optimization is like engineering cruise control.

6. Click Run.

The results of the study appear on the Results View tab.

Select a scenario or iteration on the Results View tab. In the graphics area, the model updates with the values for that scenario or iteration.

Click on the Optimization Link below to watch the full process.


Note Simulation Professional is needed for the optimization option.

Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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