I focus my SOLIDWORKS design process with a concept at the top of my mind: make it so anyone can open them, understand my approach to the design and make changes easily. There are many times this isn't just a good practice, but a necessity for your business to keep moving forward. For example, you get promoted and working on older projects isn't the best use of your time or you are on vacation and one of your files needs to be changed or you have been tasked with a more critical project. There are countless other scenarios where you may need to step away from a project, so making models easier to work with for anyone opening your previous designs is a must. Keep reading for three of my favorite engineering design process tips.
1. Make Sketch Relations More Visible
How can you accomplish this? By utilizing construction lines. Experienced users often add sketch relations between points of lines that are not always apparent to novice users. Construction lines can add an extra layer of communication for anyone looking at the sketch for the first time. Often, I will connect the centers of holes with a construction line or if I need to make two lines colinear I will add a construction line between them.
2. Organize Your Feature Tree
This will make all of your sketches and features easy to find. Rename the files, make them more descriptive and put them into folders that make sense. For example, one folder can contain features that are grouped close together, are part of a similar overall geometry or are in the same type of operation.
To rename a feature, slow double-click on the existing name and type a new one. To add features to a folder, first highlight the features you want in the folder then right click and select "Add to New Folder." To add additional features to an existing folder you can just drag and drop the feature into the desired folder.
3. Rename Dimensions
There are two easy ways to do this. But before you can start, it's important to understand how their original names are generated. Dimensions will create default names in the order they are created: D1, D2, D3, etc. This is followed by an “@,” and then followed by the location of the dimension. When renaming it, only select the text prior to the “@.” For example, a file could be named D2@Sketch1, the only part we want to change is the D2.
The first way to rename the dimension is in the modify box. You can do this when it first appears after creating the dimension or by double-clicking on an existing dimension, highlighting the dimension name and then typing the new one.
The second way is by changing the name in the property manager of a dimension where it says, “Primary Value.” You can access the property manager by clicking on the dimension. By default, it appears on the left of the screen. This adds clarity to the intent of the dimension and makes configuration tables much easier to interpret.
SOLIDWORKS is continuously adding new features to aid in communication. By making models speak for themselves, you're freeing up time to tackle new challenges and maybe get that promotion or at the very least not be bothered whilst on vacation.
Want to learn more SOLIDWORKS skills? Check out our training classes to find one that is right for you!