There are a few simple changes you can make to your day to day workflow that will take you one step closer to producing models like a SOLIDWORKS expert. Let’s take a look at four areas of SOLIDWORKS which will make a huge difference to the majority of your CAD models.
1. Positioning your Origin logically
Making sure your Origin is set in a logical location when you start modelling makes a huge difference to your SOLIDWORKS models. It will affect the central point from which designs will update and also ensure your sketch planes appear in the most logical location for future modelling.
For symmetrical designs, try to ensure the Origin stays central. This can be easily achieved by making sure that sketches are drawn with the origin in the middle (use the CenterPoint sketch tools to help with this). With features, use the End Condition Midplane for Extrudes or Revolves to ensure that the geometry is consistent with with the same convention.
For design without symmetry, it may be a little more difficult to identify the most logical location. In this situation, either:
- Position the Origin at the ‘functional’ parts of your design (i.e. where your design attaches to the rest of your assembly), or…
- Plan ahead of time, so the three core planes can be used as much as possible within your design. Every time a new Sketch Plane is inserted within your model, you’re increasing the number of possible updates that have to be made if your design objectives change.
2. Improve your sketching to save design time
When producing sketches, simplify the shapes you are drawing as much as possible. For example, if you have a rounded edge in your sketch; draw the sketch using a sharp edge and put in a fillet later. Sketches will become far easier to draw and define when simplified like this. You’ll also find the process quicker as a whole, as complexity in the sketch takes time.
When Defining your sketches, wherever possible use sketch relations in the place of dimensions. This will improve your design intent (ultimately the speed at which your designs can be updated). It is also important to fully define your sketches.
3. Make your fillets more robust
There are two rules of thumb when inserting fillets:
- Insert fillets from largest to smallest in ascending order. You will generally find that fillets will produce more attractive results if inserted in this manner. This technique will eradicate problematic ‘overlap’ areas, where fillets cross each other – ensuring the most important larger fillets are rebuilt first in your design tree.
- Inserting fillets as late as possible in your design will ensure that a minimal number of references are attached to them. Ideally, sketch relations need to be attached to the edges of your model, rather than fillets.
4. Refine your workflow
You can really speed up your workflow by making use of the shortcut keys in SOLIDWORKS. Here are some of the most useful keys:
- Use the keyboard “S” key to bring up a shortcut menu next to your mouse. It’s context sensitive, so will change in different modelling environments.
- The “S” key will also launch you into the command search, allowing you to quickly search for any command.
- Pressing Enter will relaunch the last command you used.
- Right click and drag on your mouse brings up the mouse gestures menu, another in context menu.
We hope you found that useful!
Have you seen our blog archive where we have posted plenty of helpful articles, such as this one where we show you how to customise the SOLIDWORKS user interface to your advantage? We also have a fantastic video library filled with easy-to-follow videos on a number of topics inspired by other SOLIDWORKS users – take a look.
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