Archive for October, 2012

SolidWorks Simulation 2013 – Two Neat Additions

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

SolidWorks Simulation 2013, like in previous releases, has been loaded with enhancements. Two things I particularly like in this release include Sub-Modeling, a huge time savings in solving large scale problems, and Parametric Optimization inside Flow, a DOE scheme for fluid flow optimization. Let’s talk about them one at a time.

Sub-Modeling –

Most users of Simulation are concerned about one or two components in an assembly. However, the load transfer occurs through a bunch of other nearby components. Thus, the user is left with no choice but to run simulations on the entire assembly – until 2013.

In Simulation 2013, the user can now start off with a simple coarse analysis on the entire assembly. This sets up a baseline estimate of the deflections that happen on each component. Deflections converge fast, and so a coarse mesh should generally be sufficient. The user can then launch a sub-model study where they are prompted to select only the components they care about. All the deflections up to the component of interest are then transferred as boundary conditions onto the new study, thus mapping the behavior at the assembly level down to the component level analysis. From here on, the user can easily perform many iterations – design changes, material changes etc. on the component in a fraction of the time that it would have taken if the work were to be done at the assembly level. Great tool, and will come in handy to the majority of Simulation users. Note that this functionality is available only from Simulation Professional onward.

Parametric Optimization in Flow -

For those who have used Flow, you might be familiar with a hidden gem called Parametric Study. This tool allows for a single dimension/parameter optimization based on specifying a certain goal. For instance, the user can ask Flow to determine the optimal bore diameter to achieve a certain pressure drop. Because it is integrated within SolidWorks, Flow Simulation can vary the dimension until goal convergence is reached. However, it was limited only to vary one dimension or parameter at a time.

In 2013, the user can now start a parametric study mode to run multiple variables, which could be a combination of flow parameters and dimensions. This, in effect, is Design Study for Flow. With this power, Flow reaches new heights in terms of optimization. The user can start with a baseline run (I would recommend a coarse mesh, just enough to satisfy global flow convergence) and then set up multiple variables to determine the best configuration. One downside – at least my initial impressions are that it is going to run each and every combination of parameters and dimensions, rather than cherry picking the critical ones using intelligent DOE (like Design Study in FEA does). It remains to be seen if that would be an enhancement downstream, or a hidden option that one can leverage. However, there are too many positives, such as easy workflow, great post-processing when coupled with Compare Configuration Mode (another nice enhancement in 2013) and so forth.

All in all, another good release of SolidWorks Simulation. There are other tools that have received an uplift. Please check out our Wha’ts New Events page to sign up for a rollout/webinar where we showcase the top enhancements of this release in front of live audiences.

Vikram Vedantham

Simulation Product Manager 3DVision Technologies

EPDM’s Content Search with OCR

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Solidworks Enterprise PDM’s Content Search gives you the ability to search for files based on the content of a document, not just its properties or datacard values. It uses IFilters and Microsoft’s file indexing, so it is a great way to find Office or PDF documents knowing nothing more than a few keywords within the document.

Yesterday I noticed, built into Windows, is a TIFF IFilter that uses OCR (optical character recognition) to index documents! This means that when you install the TIFF IFilter, you can search the content of TIFF images.

How good is the OCR in this IFilter? Here are the results of my testing:

  • Text documents: Fantastic and fast. I scanned in five pages from five different books. They were indexed within a few seconds and I was able to find the documents by picking out any word on the page.
  • Handwritten documents: Terrible. On a clean white sheet of paper I wrote words and numbers, printing and script. Not a single thing was indexed. Perhaps Great Aunt Eleanore is correct, maybe I do have bad handwriting?
  • Scanned drawings: I had mixed results. Words out away from the parts [notes or text on leaders] seemed to do okay but text near the part or within the titleblock were not indexed.

The documentation on this IFilter does say it does not do well with documents that have a lot of graphics on them.

I was really hoping for good results of reading the data inside of a titleblock, it would be very helpful when scanning in old paper drawings. I wonder if there is a good commercial TIFF OCR IFilter out there that would do a better job?

Regardless, the text documents did so well, quality documents, order acknowledgements, etc. May give good results if you scanned them into your EPDM vault.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Thermoplastics: A Solid Choice for 3D Printing

Friday, October 19th, 2012

You’re personally invited to attend a free webinar Thursday, October 25th at 9:00am or Friday, October 26th at 2:00pm on: Thermoplastics: A Solid Choice for 3D Printing.

When designing a new product, engineers can best predict its end performance by prototyping with a material as similar to it as possible. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) thermoplastics use the same types of raw materials found in injection molding – and that’s why 3D printing is a wise choice.

Join us for this webinar where we will introduce nine FDM materials and the characteristics that make them ideal for everything from rapid prototyping to low-volume manufacturing. You’ll learn the unique properties of each thermoplastic and find out how these aspects can help you choose the right material.


  • What thermoplastic is the best choice for your application
  • How additive manufacturing technology works
  • What makes each FDM thermoplastic unique


  • Design Engineers
  • Product Designers
  • Manufacturing Engineers
  • Inventors/Entrepreneurs
  • Technology Educators
  • Learn more about Stratasys technology

So don’t miss this educational webinar Thursday, October 25th at 9:00am or Friday, October 26th at 2:00pm.

To register for the webinar on October 25th click the following link:
To register for the webinar on October 26th click the following link:

Carrie Patrick

Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

Use Luxology Appearance Files When Rendering in SolidWorks 2013

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

As far as favorite new features go for SolidWorks 2013, using Luxology appearances to render my SolidWorks models is one of my favorites. Luxology provides the rendering engine behind PhotoView 360 and up until now you were not able to use native Luxology appearances in SolidWorks. They have removed that barrier and now you have access to hundreds of new rendering appearances.

To download these new appearances, you have to have a current subscription contract with SolidWorks (you can also access them if you have an account with Luxology directly). Simply log in to the SolidWorks Customer Portal and look for the ‘PhotoView 360 Appearances’ link located under the Download section of the Home page.

The link will redirect you to Luxology’s website where you will need to access the ‘Share’ section/page. At this point you should see a sampling of the appearances available for download. Once downloaded, unzip the file and place in a folder that you will access via your Appearances tab of the Task Pane. To apply your newly downloaded appearance to your model, simply drag and drop from the new Custom Appearance folder you specified.

The reason I like this upgrade is I like cool looking renderings, but I don’t have the time to generate my own custom appearances. True to their mission, SolidWorks has provided a tool that an engineer can use to generate very good looking renderings with very little input.

Chris Snider

Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Comparing versions of Word files within EPDM

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Okay EPDM, you tell me these files are different. How are they different?

It is well documented how to compare two different documents or versions of SolidWorks files within SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. However the documentation to compare non-SolidWorks files is a bit weaker.

I am going to show you how to compare text or Microsoft Word documents using EPDM and Microsoft Word. It takes a bit of setup, but if you ever need compare documents or versions, you’ll love how fast this gives you results.

  • Download the attached EPDMCustomMacro
  • Extract the “EPDMCustomMacro.bas” file to your desktop
  • Open Word
  • Press Alt-F11 to bring up your macro editor. You should see your projects listed. One of them should be “Normal”.

(If you don’t see any projects listed, you have the project browser turned off, press Ctrl-R)

  • Drag and drop the “EPDMCustomMacro.bas” file from your desktop onto the “Normal” project.
  • Close Word. You don’t have to save anything, the macro is now stored in your default Word template.
  • Inside of EPDM go to the user(s) setting and set the “File Compare” section like so:

In the image above, (click on it to see it larger) the full path should read:

%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Microsoft Office\Office12\WINWORD.EXE  "%1%"  "%2%" /mCompareFiles

(If your Word application is installed in a different location than mine, you may need to change the path to your Word version, but do not modify the text after Word’s path, the format is important, copy and paste the entire line.)

That is all you need to do for the setup.

Now when you right mouse click on two different files (with a .docx, .doc or .txt extension), you’ll see the “Compare Files” option. Additionally you can highlight two different versions of a Word or text file within the History and use the “Compare” function there.

Word will open both documents in “Compare” mode so you can easily see the difference between both documents.

[Disclaimer: "EPDMCustomMacro.bas" provided as-is. 3DVision Technologies is not responsible for any loss that may occur from its usage. Always save often and backup your work.]

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Why does my EPDM calculated BOM change?

Friday, October 12th, 2012

In SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, if you look at a computed BOM of a particular version of a file, you would expect that if you looked at that same BOM a year from now it would be exactly the same.

Likely you would be wrong.

Her is why. A bill of material column set can contain one of two different entities. Variables and file properties. Variables do as you would expect. They are [and always will be] the variable values of all BOM components at the time the assembly was checked in. However, file properties may change – they are the current values of the file’s properties.

In the example below, any row with the variable inside of the “<>” brackets is a file property. Thus in this example, the file name and state’s value will be the current name and state of the component. The description’s value (a variable) will be the value of the description variable at the moment the assembly was checked in. i.e. The description will be constant for that BOM version.

To avoid confusion to users, I like using “Current” as a prefix for the header names, so users can easily tell the difference.

SPECIAL NOTE: The quantity (reference count) of a part within an assembly is an exception! The quantity of a component will not change for that BOM versions. (As Martha says: “That is a very good thing.”)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Register for the Northeast Ohio SolidWorks User Group (NEOSWUG) Meeting

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

3DVision invites you to attend the upcoming Northeast Ohio SolidWorks User Group (NEOSWUG) Meeting this Monday October, 15th. Food and networking will be provided and begins at around 5:30pm.

The meeting will be held at:

Furnace Run Metro Park
4955 Townsend Rd.
Richfield, OH 44286

For more information or to RSVP for the event, visit their website or email Dan Bertschi at

Carrie Patrick

Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

Southern Kentucky SolidWorks User Group Celebrating Their Birthday with a Bang!

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

3DVision invites you to attend Southern Kentucky SolidWorks User Group (SKYSWUG) first birthday on Thursday October 25th! They will celebrate with food (and birthday cake of course), prizes, and a presentation lineup that is not to be missed!

SKYSWUG was established in October 2011 and is one of the fastest growing SolidWorks User groups in the nation. Their goal is to help each other learn more about SolidWorks, share experiences, and have a lot of fun! To become a member, simply Sign up then make sure to RSVP for the meeting! It’s all free, only takes a minute, and you won’t be spammed with junk mail. Anything you want to know about SKYSWUG can be found in their newsletter.

Carrie Patrick

Marketing Manager 3DVision Technologies

SetVar works with checked in files

Friday, October 5th, 2012

My favorite new function in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2013 -by far, is version free variables. (Special variables that can be updated on a datacard without having to bump the version of the file.) I’ll certainly be talking more about them later, but I just finished a quick test and couldn’t wait to tell you what I learned.

I was initially worried because there is nothing in the API “What’s New” document mentioning any new functionality modifying version free variables. Turns out we don’t need any new commands. SetVar will work even if the file is checked in. Couldn’t be easier.

In EPDM 2013, check in “objFile”, and this code still works!

varEnum = objFile.GetEnumeratorVariable
varEnum.SetVar("VersionFreeVar", "", "Jeff Is Cool")

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

KnowledgeTree Migration

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I just completed a fun assignment. I was asked to migrate an Akron Ohio company’s data from KnowledgeTree (open source document management software) to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

They choose to move all of their KnowledgeTree data into SolidWorks Enterprise PDM for the following reasons:

  1. They were buying EPDM anyway for their CAD data because KnowledgeTree doesn’t support CAD files very well
  2. They felt the EPDM interface was significantly easier to use
  3. They are going through the process of becoming ISO certified, and felt the traceability provided by EPDM would make the certification process go smoother.
  4. Lack of support for the free version (It appears the open source support forum has been discontinued.)

I originally planned to write a routine that would read KnowledgeTree’s MySQL database and import it into Microsoft SQL (the backbone of EPDM). However since the two systems had such different database schemas, I wrote queries in MySQL, and exported the results as a comma delimited file with MySQL Workbench. Then I imported those files into Microsoft SQL.

As a plug for open source, figuring out KnowledgeTree’s database schema was pretty easy – it has great documentation with the structure fully exposed online for anyone who wants to learn from it.

KnowledgeTree’s structure is not Windows based. As a result I did run into two challenges: Some of the directories within KnowledgeTree contained invalid Windows characters and some files were in a directory structure so deep that their paths were longer than 255 characters. These issues were not a problem in KnowledgeTree, but we had to make some adjustments for these issues in the Windows environment.

The migration copied about 1,200 files (5,000+ if you count multiple versions) in less than an hour. It is fun to watch a program like that work. If you sit back and think, a computer is doing in less than an hour what would take a college intern a long summer to complete.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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