SolidWorks 2006 Quick Tips (Solid Thinking SolidWorks Tutorial)

11 Apr, 2006 By: Richard Doyle

A look at some tools you might have missed.

SolidWorks 2007 is on the horizon, but it's never too late to look back at some things you might have missed in 2006. New features and functionality may be updated in new releases, but core technology lasts forever.

Appearance Callouts
Appearance callouts provide a shortcut to editing colors and textures. Enable appearance callouts by selecting View/Appearance Callouts. When this tools is activated, a frame is displayed where you select a face, feature or body in the graphics area showing the object's features (figure 1). To edit the color or texture, select the display square in the frame.

Figure 1. When the Appearance Callout feature is activated, you can easily see an object's features called out into a dialog box.

View Tools
A new toolbar makes it easier to toggle the display of items such as origins, planes, points and sketches. Instead of using the View pull-down menu, add some (or all) of these buttons to a toolbar for instant access (figure 2).

Figure 2. You can easily update your toolbar with any of these buttons by using the View pull-down menu.

Invert Selection
Select a small number of items then click the Invert Selection icon and all other adjacent items are selected and the original selection set is released. You can select items from the graphics area or from the feature tree.

Figure 3. To change what items you have selected to adjacent features, click the Invert Selection icon.

Fill Patterns
Fill patterns generate a pattern of features in a defined region. They are very useful for creating ventilation holes in sheet-metal parts (figure 4). You can generate fill patterns from existing features or from a set of pre-defined features in SolidWorks (round holes, square cuts, diamonds and polygons). You set parameters that determine the layout of fill patterns which can be circular, laid out in a square or concentrically placed.

Figure 4. Use fill patterns to easily generate patterns of features in a defined region.

Width Mates
One of SolidWorks' best new features is width mates. Instead of calculating distances or using reference geometry, width mates let you automatically center tabs to slots, or even round pegs to square holes. Width mates work with tabs and slots, or cylindrical faces and axis. Components align automatically between the selected faces and update dynamically with geometry or model changes.

Figure 5. When using width mates, you don't have to calculate distances. Align components and they automatically update to fit.

General Tables
Holes tables and bill of materials tables have been around for a while. General tables are new to SolidWorks 2006 and provide a great way to place general information in a drawing. General tables provide similar functionality to other tables, including the ability to split, merge, sort and add equations. You can also create your own general table template.

Sheet Metal Forming Tools
It's easier than ever to create your own sheet-metal forming tools. Create a part with the features for your forming tool, and click Insert/Sheet Metal/Forming Tool. Select the Stopping Face and the Faces to Remove (they may be the same as in this example), and the program automatically adds orientation sketch and colors for you. Save the part to <install_dir>\data\design library\forming tools.

Figure 6. Create your own sheet-metal forming tools.

Discover New Gems
SolidWorks introduces many new features and functions with each new release. While it can be easy to overlook some new features, be sure to read the What's New manual cover to cover with each new release and you'll discover new gems that can make you more productive.

About the Author: Richard Doyle

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