Designing for Today: Manufacturing Definition Creator

By Sawyer Gara on February 21, 2022

If you have been following along with this series so far, you’ve seen some of the powerful design tools included with SOLIDWORKS Cloud. Additionally, if you read through the last post in this series, you would have seen me creating a model on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform using tools to create structural members from standard or custom profiles.

Today, we’re going to use the same set of tools from SOLIDWORKS Cloud except for this time we’ll see how we can add our Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) directly to a 3D model.

This Article Covers

  • Opening our model in xDefine
  • Creating 3D Views
  • Creating Dimensions and other Manufacturing Annotations
  • Creating a 2D Drawing from 3D Views
  • Exporting Views to 2D
  • Video of this Entire Process

Similar to my previous post, I see that I have a task assigned to me to add the PMI to a Mill Part needing to be manufactured. I can move this to "In Work" maturity state to notify the assignee and look at what work is expected of me for the task.

Creating a task in xDefine

After moving to the "In Work" state, I can look at the description of the task and see the exact file the assignee wants me to add the PMI to. Rather than opening the file in xDesign first before switching to my xDefine app so I can add the annotations, I am able to open this file directly.

xDefine: open with

Learn more about xDesign in this article >>

Creating 3D Views

Like many of the tools in SOLIDWORKS Cloud, the tools to create our 3D Product Manufacturing Information are very easy to use. All the necessary tools are located in our command manager, and we are able to work from the left to the right and go tab to tab.

command manager

When creating our 3D Views for our annotations, we’re given the option for Orthogonal, Axonometric, or individual face selection. When creating the views, there are options for standard selections (front, right, top, etc.) and to specify the color for the annotations. This is very helpful in sorting through annotations or if you want to call out something specific.

Orthogonal views

Creating Dimensions and other Manufacturing Annotations

Creating dimensions in 3D is an identical process as in a 2D Sketch or a 2D Drawing. All we need to do is use our Dimension tool and select the entities on the model that I want to put a dimension between. When creating dimensions, I want to specify what view they go on first. This means activating the view, creating the dimensions and repeating this process until all views are filled with the desired dimensions.

When the model is fully populated with 3D dimensions, it can be tough to keep track of what dimension belongs to what view. Fortunately, you can toggle all annotations so you only see what’s in the active view.


Adding Manufacturing Annotations

While adding in dimensions is a great tool and provides great information to the manufacturing floor about the size and shape of the model in 3D Space, sometimes they need a little bit more information. Datum Planes, Geometric Tolerances, and even simple notes can provide valuable information for the shop floor so both teams can ensure the physical product matches the digital product as closely as possible. The manufacturing information is applied to the model in the same way the dimensions are applied by selecting the view, specifying the type of annotation, and adding the appropriate information for datums or location.

Geometric tolerance edit

Often, the nominal value given to a feature in our model during the design phase is either not design critical or impossible to machine spot-on every single time. Because of this, dimensions are often given tolerances in the model information so the manufacturing team, or quality team, knows what values are in or out of tolerance. Using the tools in SOLIDWORKS Cloud, you’re able to specify different types of tolerances for each dimension on the model or add a note to give a default tolerance.


Creating 2D Drawing from 3D Views

When it comes to adding a relevant product or manufacturing information to a model, sometimes it's easiest to create a 2D drawing with all the created views and dimensions. Fortunately, xDefine allows for the creation of 2D Drawings right from the 3D Views! You can easily create a new drawing sheet, specify the format and orientation, and be presented with an empty drawing page to bring your 3D Views into. It is as easy as a drag and drop function from the tree into the blank space in the drawing. From here you’ll be able to scale the views up or down and rearrange them to make everything neat and organized.

2D drawings

Exporting Views to 2D 

If I wanted to share the information in this document with another user on the 3DEXPEREINCE platform who also uses SOLIDWORKS Cloud, they’d be able to navigate to the file in our shared 3D Space and open it directly. However, I wouldn’t be able to do that with a user who doesn’t have the role. In that case, we can export our 3D PMI to a 2D PDF. Using the 2D Output command I can specify whether I want to output with Model-Based Definition information in the form of the 3D Views. I can create, or export, the Drawing with the 2D Views I had dropped onto my drawing sheet. These can be saved directly to 3D Drive or to a local disc to be shared as a PDF.

2d output

Want to know the differences between SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS? This on-demand webinar covers the key differences in each version’s ecosystem and how they benefit your team. The time may be just right for switching to cloud connectivity and taking advantage of these cloud-based tools!