Before discussing what is new in SOLIDWORKS Inspection 2018, let’s first look at what it is and the basics of using this application. SOLIDWORKS Inspection is a first article inspection (FAI) and in-process inspection application that automates the creation of inspection drawings and reports while adhering to standards such as AS9102 and production part approval process(PPAP).
SOLIDWORKS Inspection is available as a stand-alone application, as well as a SOLIDWORKS add-in. It can use optical character recognition (OCR) to identify dimensions and geometric dimensioning tolerancing (GD&T) in PDFs, TIFFs and scanned drawings created in other CAD packages. The SOLIDWORKS Inspection add-in can work with existing SOLIDWORKS drawings.
First let’s look at the SOLIDWORKS add-in. The add-in and standalone are both installed from the SOLIDWORKS Installation Manager.
The SOLIDWORKS Inspection add-in is enabled from the Tools pull-down by clicking on Add-ins.
Once added in, Inspection will add a menu item to the Tools pull-down
and a tab to the Command Manager.
By working with SOLIDWORKS Inspection, within the SOLIDWORKS environment, the information already contained within a SOLIDWORKS drawing can be extracted to create inspection drawings and reports.
When beginning to use SOLIDWORKS Inspection, first create an inspection project. Each inspection project uses a project template that contains the default extraction settings, characteristic information, balloons shape and default tolerances.
SOLIDWORKS Inspections ships with templates for ANSI B4.1 and ISO 2768 standards. Additional custom templates can be created. New templates are based on existing templates that can be modified and saved.
Inspection tools, such as creating a new project, are available from the SOLIDWORKS Tools pull-down under SOLIDWORKS Inspection
These tools also are available from the Inspection tab of the SOLIDWORKS Command Manager. For the remainder of this article, we will use the SOLDIWORKS Command Manager whenever possible.
When starting a new inspection project, first identify the template to use. This could be one of the templates that ship with SOLIDWORKS Inspection or a custom one that has been saved.
On the first page of the Create New Project menu, the user is asked to provide project properties, characteristic info and sampling information.
Project properties can be linked to the SOLIDWORKS document properties by the required property button under General Settings, Properties.
This requires that the properties exist within the drawing or referenced part. The inspection project property can be linked to a SOLIDWORKS drawing property, model property or a configuration specific model property. Properties also can be manually entered.
In some cases, the user can predefine lists that will be used in the project, such as vendors. With vendors, entering a value manually will add the vendor to the list of vendors.
The Characteristic Info section of the Create Inspection Project menu allows the user to specify ballooning characteristics and whether extraction will be manual or automatic
In the Sampling section, define the default information for the statistical sampling of parts.
On the next page of the Create Inspection Project page menu, the user can define what is to be extracted from the SOLIDWORKS drawing.
The third and final page allows for specification of tolerances to use for dimensions. The options are by precision or range.
Specifying tolerances and units
After project perimeters are defined, click on OK to start the project. This will create the project and characteristic tree, which can be accessed from the SOLIDWORKS Inspection tab of the SOLIDWORKS Feature Manager.
Once that is completed, any changes made in the project settings, such as a template, can be saved. This allows use of these settings for future projects.
The project and characteristic tree allow the user to review the characteristics extracted from the SOLIDWORKS drawing, as well as the characteristic properties.
Selecting a characteristic from the characteristic tree will display its properties. Users also can modify these properties from the Characteristic Properties dialogue box.
Selecting a characteristic from the inspection drawing will display the characteristic’s properties.
As part of the project template, users can specify whether to add balloons automatically. They can then add/edit and remove balloons as required. Balloons also can be added manually. Select Balloons will select all balloons in the inspection drawing.
Similar characteristics can be merged, and merged characteristics can be exploded. An example would be a hole callout for holes of the same size. Each hole can have its own callout
or a single hole calloutcan used for multiple holes of the same size.
The SOLIDWORKS Inspection standalone does not require SOLIDWORKS and supports document types that are not SOLIDWORKS drawings.
SOLIDWORKS Inspection uses a Quick Access Toolbar, similar to the SOLIDWORKS Command Manager. The default Quick Access Toolbar has four tabs. These are Home, Document, View and Getting Started. There also is File pull-down, which allows a user to start, open and save projects.
As with the SOLIDWORKS add-in, the first step is to create a new project. This is done from the Getting Started tab. Existing projects also can be opened from this tab.
A new project can be started using either an existing project template or importing an existing project template.
After selecting a template, choose the drawing file that will be used in the project. Both 2D and 3D files can be added.
On the Home tab, project options can be defined.
This includes specifing the charateristics of the project …
Export options …
How drawing entities will be extracted by SOLIDWORKS Inspection …
The way balloons are displayed …
And OCR settings. OCR is the mechanism that reads information in a document and converts it to a form usable by SOLIDWORKS Inspection.
The View tab allows the user to filter what annotations are displayed, navigate to drawing sheets, control display and zoom factors, and display specified areas of the drawing (i.e. top left).
The Document tab allows the user to add or remove drawing files, extract inspection elements from a drawing and rotate the drawing. They also can compare drawings or replace an existing drawing with another.
From any tab, access the project properties by moving the mouse over the Properties/Preferences tab. This tab is similar to the characteristic tree in the SOLIDWORKS add-in.
The Capture button, in the Properties/Preferences tab, allows for selecting text in the referenced drawing and associating it with a characteristic or project property.
If the drawing document was saved with searchable text, the text can be associated with a characteristic or project property by selecting the appropriate characteristic or project property button.
The Document tab contains tools to extract Notes, Dimensions, GD&T, Surface Finish and Weld symbols.
With SOLIDWORKS Inspection Professional, coordinate measuring machine results (CMM) can be imported. This add-in is available in both the SOLIDWORKS Inspection add-in and standalone.
Now that we have discussed what SOLIDWORKS Inspection does, let’s look at the enhancements added in SOLIDWORKS Inspection 2018.
For the add-in:
- If a part or assembly contains 3D annotations or product and manufacturing information (PMI), a user can create a new project and extract this information.
- Inspection 2018 can be integrated with SOLIDWORKS PDM.
The standalone has the following improvements.
- Additional file formats can be directly opened in Inspection, including:
- 2D AutoCAD DWG
- CATIA V5 CATDrawing.
- 3D XML files
- PTC and Creo Parametric files
- CATIA V5 CATPart and CATProduct files
- Explode Note can be used to extract multiple characteristics from a drawing note. It can be performed by right clicking on a notein the Table Manager or by using Auto-Explode.
- Export to CAMS XML and Verisurf
- Exporting of project information to QualityXpert. A mobile device can be used to publish inspection plans. QualityXpert requires an active account.
- ExtractionXpert improves OCR by automatically trying different OCR settings to best extract information from drawing documents. ExtractionXpert also accounts for scaling, so manual scaling is no longer required.
- Net-Inspect is used by companies to manage inspection processes. Like QualityXpert, an active account is required.
- The Revision Management tool allows the analysis of changes between two CAD files. The changes can be manually or automatically processed.
- Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL)Sampling can now be defined.
- Smart Extract can extract multiple characteristics for PDF documents that contain searchable text. Smart Extract supports PDFs created in CATIA V5 and Solid Edge.
In this document, I demonstrated how SOLIDWORKS Inspection is a powerful tool for those who create inspection documents. I also looked at some of the more significant improvements in SOLIDWORKS Inspection 2018. If creating inspection documents is a key part of your professional undertakings, this application could significantly increase your efficiency, while also generating better inspection documents.
Joe Medeiros is a senior applications engineer at Javelin Technologies, a SOLIDWORKS reseller servicing customers throughout Canada. Joe has been involved with SOLIDWORKS since 1996. An award-winning blogger, he regularly writes about SOLIDWORKS products.