Top 5 Resources to Learn SOLIDWORKS at Home—And for Free
So, you want to learn SOLIDWORKS.
SOLIDWORKS is made up of millions of lines of code and countless unique features; it’s easy to understand that learning a tool this complex and powerful could prove challenging. Luckily, for as broad as the software is, the training resources are equally as broad. There are countless resources available to help learn SOLIDWORKS or improve your skills. If you want to learn how to be a SOLIDWORKS power user, this is your guide.
Here are the top 5 resources out there to help you learn SOLIDWORKS for free.
1. YouTube – Model Mania: The Best Kept Secret on YouTube
It’s no secret that YouTube is the go-to resource for learning just about anything. Personally, it’s my first step for nearly everything. You can learn anything from how to build a shed to rocket surgery. But the best kept SOLIDWORKS secret on YouTube is the Model Mania tutorials. First, let’s start with what is “Model Mania?”
Model Mania is a 20-minute modeling challenge. The competition is held at the annual worldwide SOLIDWORKS conference now known as 3DEXPERIENCE World (formerly SOLIDWORKS World). During the conference, there is a competition to see who can create a 3D model from scratch the fastest. It’s a great way to show off your skills. The first phase is just modeling off a 2D print – nothing too challenging there. The real challenge comes from phase two, where you are given design changes you don’t know ahead of time. Most people can’t even complete this in the allotted 20 minutes. The winners can do it in around 10 minutes sometimes less!
SOLIDWORKS has posted an archive of the solution videos for the 21 times this competition has been held. You can access an archive of the prints from this link and here you can go directly to the playlist of all 21 solution videos on YouTube.
This is the best kept secret on YouTube, not only because it’s challenging but also because it’s hosted by one of the best in the industry: Mark Schneider of the product introduction team at SOLIDWORKS. He walks you through, step by step, how to create the model and sprinkles in countless time-saving tips along the way. If you go through all 21 of these challenges and follow along with Mark’s videos, you’re guaranteed to improve your modeling skills.
2. 3DExperiene World Recordings – A Thousand Hours of SOLIDWORKS Content
3DEXPERIENCE World is a great place to elevate not just your SOLIDWORKS skills but also your connection with the community. The event is so much more than just a user conference – it’s the foremost gathering of the SOLIDWORKS Community including users, industry partners, resellers and employees. As you can imagine, when you get 6,000 of these like-minded people together there’s a lot of great conversations and content available. If you attend the conference, you can realistically attend about a dozen or so of the break-out sessions out of the hundreds that are available.
Luckily, all the sessions are recorded and posted online. All you need is a username and you can have access to the presentation materials (as PowerPoints or PDFs) as well as the recording of the presentation—all for free. Go to 3DExperienceworld.com to register.
Now you can go through the nearly 400 presentations at your convenience. You are guaranteed to find some of the best content anywhere.
You can search for a topic or presenter, as well as filter for specific categories and products, so it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Then just sit back and watch the recorded presentation. You can learn about anything from drawing templates to surface modeling and even large assembly tips and tricks. In my opinion, if you were going to use just one resource on this list, it should be the 3DEXPERIENCE World recordings.
3. Reseller Webinars (Recorded Webinars)
Your reseller is another great resource for training and content. You may have a great working relationship with your local Application Engineer. However, there’s more to the resellers than just the AEs – there are product specialists, tech support engineers and instructors. Some AEs wear all those hats, while others focus on certain things. The point here is there’s a lot of expertise on staff at any reseller, and that makes them a great resource for learning SOLIDWORKS.
The best place to go for free content is their recorded webinars. Most resellers make the content available in a library on their websites. For example, TriMech has made available countless recorded webinars on their website. Check with your reseller, or even SOLIDWORKS, for their recorded webinars. [Full disclosure, author is an AE at TriMech. —Ed.]
On March 30th SOLIDWORKS started a series of webinars called LIVE Design. These are hosted on the SOLIDWORKS YouTube Channel and the recorded ones are available on this YouTube playlist. This is informative content delivered by SOLIDWORKS employees. If you can’t count on them to know SOLIDWORKS, then who?
4. MySOLIDWORKS eLearning
MySOLIDWORKS is your one stop shop for all things SOLIDWORKS. It’s a great place to go to learn SOLIDWORKS because it’s not just a library of random videos; rather, the content forms learning paths to help guide you through the journey.
MySOLIDWORKS is available at no cost to SOLIDWORKS subscription customers, as well as to students with an active Student Engineering Kit (SEK) and Student Edition (SWSE) Licenses. Included with your license is access to 600+ SOLIDWORKS training videos as well as a Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) prep course. The image below shows an example of a learning path for large assembly modeling.
The MySOLIDWORKS Training portal even has example files available so you can follow along. There are more than 600 training lessons available. Additionally, you can get a subscription to MySOLIDWORKS Professional to access SOLIDWORKS eCourses. Get in touch with your reseller for more information on how to access MySOLIDWORKS Professional.
Certifications are a great way to improve your skills because they involve some prep work required beforehand. The exams aren’t easy; you can’t be rusty and pass a SOLIDWORKS Certification Exam. You must be at the top of your game so you can model quickly and accurately.
Preparing for certifications offers a very direct and obvious learning path to help round out or improve your skills with a tangible, highly coveted reward at the end – the certification! We are seeing a lot of people taking time to go through the exam process. If you’ve been on LinkedIn or Reddit this month, you may have seen more people posting their certification results. With fewer distractions at the office and more people working from home, there is more time to devote to preparation and the exam.
How to Get Certified for Free
You can probably take the SOLIDWORKS Certification at no cost. There are 17 available certification exams over three different levels—associate, professional and expert—and there are two ways you can take these exams for free:
- Commercial Licenses: If you’re an active subscription customer you can take up to three exams every six months. That’s included with your subscription.
- Students: If you’re a student taking a SOLIDWORKS class at your school, you can take exams for free if your school is an Academic Certification Provider. Ask your professor or teacher for the necessary information.
If you can’t get the exams for 100-percent off, there is also a special opportunity available at the time of this writing. During the month of April 2020, SOLIDWORKS announced that all exams are being offered at 50 percent of the cost using the code SWCERTAPR20. For more information on this offer, check out this blog post written by Mike Puckett, senior manager for the SOLIDWORKS Certification Program. That article contains links for all the relevant information about getting access to take the exams and to access the certification portal.
Before you take an exam, make sure you are fresh and at the top of your game. To prepare, I recommend you take advantage of the other resources outlined in this article.
- Model Mania will help you model quickly and accurately. Watch the videos to learn some great time-saving tips.
- The recorded 3DEXPERIENCE World Presentations can help you learn some specialty topics, as well as some skills that will be needed to pass the certification exams.
- Reseller webinars are a great place to learn how to model quicker with tips and tricks as well as some in-depth content about specialty topics such as simulation, weldments, sheet metal or surfacing.
- MySOLIDWORKS eLearning has great training courses, some of which were developed specifically to help you pass certification exams.
When you take advantage of all these great resources, you’ll be the best SOLIDWORKS user you can possibly be—and you’ll have certification to prove it.