A Few of My Favorite Things from SOLIDWORKS 2016 (Part 2)

You’ve heard about the new interface and some of the new tools and enhancements, but SOLIDWORKS 2016 has a huge amount of tweaks and changes, and many of them are in response to user requests. There will be a lot to cover and I’m sure there will be a tidal wave of SOLIDWORKS user feedback in the coming weeks. I’ll review some more new goodies, go over where they apply in different workflows and show you exactly how to use them in your edition of SOLIDWORKS 2016.

What We Had Here Is a Failure to Communicate — with Manufacturing

SOLIDWORKS 2016 getting closer to reducing the need for drawings. See manufacturing information, such as GD&T and captured views, in the 3D model

Manufacturers are always looking to refine their supply chain and optimize their connected workflows with suppliers. The newest version of SOLIDWORKS model based definition (MBD) has some additional features that will improve communication between product design teams and manufacturing operations.

Select Parts That Are Identical

You can now fully annotate assemblies and create all the necessary notes, symbols, tables and hole callouts. Full annotation of the assembly will be especially helpful in communicating how you’ve defined hole callouts, whether it be by cut features, geometry or if you are just adding tolerances and precision. One interesting new tool and an enhancement to another tool will come in handy if you are using Assembly Visualization to grab a huge amount of components. You can now use the new Select Identical Components tool to save time and grab a whole bunch of the same component at once. The Select Components by Size tool now gives you the ability to preview each selection and keep count of them in the dialog box that appears.

SOLIDWORKS MBD 2016 lets you create a 3D PDF with multiple pages, viewports and tables, so why would you spend hours creating drawings?

In SOLIDWORKS MBD, an interesting new feature that will help in communications with manufacturers is that the 3D PDFs are now able to include decals and textures, but you can’t have both on the same face. You can re-use SOLIDWORKS tables. To do this, open a template in the 3D PDF Template Editor, click Generic Table. In the Open dialog box, select a table and click Open. You can move the table around and resize it to your satisfaction. You can also now add multiple bill of materials tables from the 3D PDF Template Editor by clicking BOM Table. Move it, reposition it and just click BOM to add another one. You can add and remove PDF sheets from the 3D PDF Template Editor by going to the Tab area at the bottom of your screen and clicking Plus or clicking Remove Tab then clicking yes in the pop-up dialog box. In previous versions of SOLIDWORKS, the 3D Views tab was only visible to MBD users. The good news is now anyone can view and activate the 3D views. Of course, in order to publish, capture or edit 3D views you still have to have an MBD license.

This will allow product designers and engineers to create a denser multi-sheet and multi-viewport PDFs with more detailed, accessible and relevant information for suppliers, manufacturers, your own team and anyone else you are collaborating with.

A Clean Sweep

Sweeps much easier in SOLIDWORKS 2016 because you can just specify a path and a diameter.

The Sweep command now allows you to make swept circular profiles automatically and in sections with bi-directional sweeps in one or both directions. Sweeps are pretty easy to do on planar edges, but this just allows you to have more control during the process in case you want to change it. If you find yourself needing to sweep a freshly sketched profile along a non-planar edge in both directions after centering it or offsetting it, the new feature allows you to have greater control and do more with fewer clicks. For a mid-path profile, you can create a sweep using Direction 1, Direction 2. Or, you can create a bidirectional sweep and manipulate the twist value of the path differently for each direction of the sweep. However, unlike a sweep in one direction, you cannot use guide curves or set the start and end tangency for a bidirectional sweep. The bidirectional option is available for swept boss/base, swept cut (minus the solid sweep option), swept surface parts and swept cut assemblies.

A time saver for surface modeling tasks like creating smoother curvature between adjacent surfaces and creating blends is an improved Curvature Continuous Edge Fillets function. Included now is the ability to create smooth fillets faster and for all fillet types, not just face fillets. This includes asymmetric and variable size fillets.

SOLIDWORKS 2016 includes a sample part tutorial, but it translates to this if you want to try it on one of your .slprt files.

• Open your .sldprt file
• Select the edge you want to use
• Click Fillet (Features toolbar) or Insert > Features > Fillet/Round
• In the Property Manager, under Fillet Type, click Constant Size Fillet
• Under Items to Fillet, select Tangent Propagation and Full preview
• Under Fillet Parameters, select Symmetric in the drop-down list
• Set your radius
• In Profile, select Curvature Continuous, click the checkmark and you’re done

Create and View Animations with New Mate Controller, Mate!

New Mate Controller in SOLIDWORKS 2016.

The new Mate Controller makes it much easier to control assemblies with moving components no matter how many degrees of freedom they have. The new Mate Controller is somewhat similar to a game controller in the way it allows you wield specific mates that control degrees of freedom for a design. You can walk people through a design issue you may be having by recalling saved positions and mate values and creating .avi file animations from saved positions.

To open the Mate Controller, click on it from the Assembly toolbar or hit Insert and click Mate Controller.

You can view animations of your components by going to the Property Manager, hover over Animation, and click Calculate Animation. The components will then move through the positions you created. Click the little check mark and a Mate Controller feature will appear in the Feature Manager design tree. From the design tree, select Mate Controller. In the list above the context toolbar, select Position 1 and then click the checkmark. Presto, watch the components return to Position 1.

This will allow to communicate complex motions of an assembly clearly and easily, one step at a time. No hassle necessary to repeat steps and make sure everyone understands the mechanics of how your assembly works. You can create as many positions as you want, temporarily unlock mates and put them in the graphics are for repositioning or isolated explanation.

It’ll Cost You, Big Time

SOLIDWORKS 2016 will estimate the price of an assembly.

SOLIDWORKS Costing is a designer’s best friend, because you can make or justify design decisions based on cost. It adds another element to engineering a successful design. Costing for assemblies is only available on the SOLIDWORKS Premium release, but everything other than assemblies costing is available on SOLIDWORKS Professional as well. Costing for assemblies is great because it allows you to know the total cost of an assembly and tack on other hardware, purchased component costs and custom costs of which you can define. If you don’t know the cost of an item, or have to change a part with a saved cost or purchased cost status back to “costs to be calculated” status, the cost will be automatically recalculated.

Another cool costing feature is the high degree of customization available on the Rules-Based Costing feature which allows you to create your own rules on machining templates for how your manufacturing process works and how much it costs. The machining templates in this feature include tweakable rules for handling stock selection and drilling or cutting large holes.

In SOLIDWORKS 2016, there really are a huge amount of user-driven enhancements and new features that were clearly intended to boost user productivity. We’ll keep combing through SOLIDWORKS 2016, but please let me know if there’s anything you would like further explanations of or would like me to present in a follow up article.

About the Author


Andrew Wheeler is an optimistic skeptic whose lifelong passion for computer hardware has led him to 3D printing and his latest technological passion, Reality Computing.

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