Alignex Blog

More Efficient Product Development with Rules-Based Design Automation

In today’s competitive landscape our customers are faced with many challenges that affect the organization's profit margin. Some of those challenges include increased engineering and manufacturing costs, pressures to offer customization of standard products and bottlenecks in engineering. The old adage of "throwing more bodies" at a project is just not feasible anymore.

We often talk about how to get your products to market faster than your competition. At Alignex, we have many tools to help with your product development process for new product development. A topic I want to introduce to you today is design automation. In a past SOLIDWORKS poll, 65% of responders said that a majority of their designs are based on previous designs.

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Attending a SOLIDWORKS User Group Meeting

The power of a user group is evident once you attend. With a room full of engineers and designers who all use the same program, there’s a great chance of discovering a new technique, feature or process that elevate a design. A few of us from Alignex attended the Sioux Falls meeting to join the discussion which ranged from new features of SOLIDWORKS 2015 to facts about the larger SOLIDWORKS community.

User groups are a great place to learn more about SOLIDWORKS and engineering in general. There are also lots of video resources as well as offerings in schools and colleges. Here are a few interesting stats about the community of SOLIDWORKS learners:

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Kooima Engineer Wins SOLIDWORKS Model Mania Contest

Would the fastest designer in the room please stand?

For 16 years, the fastest designers have been standing up to accept prizes at the SOLIDWORKS World convention. Every year there is a competition called Model Mania. In this contest designers are given a drawing of a part never before seen. They then have to create a model of this part, run through a redesign of the part and finally perform a simulation analyzing the forces applied. The rules are laid out, but the technique is not.

We recently talked with Nick Vande Waerdt, the contest winner this year from Kooima, a company we are quite familiar with. Nick is a design engineer and started down the design path right out of college. He has a natural draw toward engineering and modeling and also has experience with this competition.

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Product Data Management (PDM): What, Who, Why, When?

I meet with at least one or two customers a week in regard to Product Data Management. Each customer has unique goals or challenges important to them, but some of the recurring topics I hear on a weekly basis include:

  • Control - Engineering information is time consuming to manage (interrelationships, large data sets, etc.)
  • Productivity - Finding the right information quickly.
  • Error Elimination - Reducing manufacturing waste, working on the latest revision.
  • Enterprise Connectivity - Sharing information with other business systems (ERP/MRP).
  • Collaboration - Communicating information to suppliers/customers.
  • Certification - Assisting with standardizing processes (FDA/ISO/FAA/TQM).
  • Compliance - Helping ensure data security (ITAR, etc.).

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Saving and Exporting in SOLIDWORKS 2015

While some saving and exporting options in SOLIDWORKS are pretty straightforward, others can be confusing at first. In this post, we take a look at the different options in SOLIDWORKS 2015 including Saving, Exporting, and Pack and Go and how they affect our workflow.

Save Options

There are five different options for saving in SOLIDWORKS, including the Pack and Go option. It may seem like a lot, but they can actually save you time once you learn which option is most suitable for your needs.

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Optimize Your Hardware for SOLIDWORKS 2015

Since the release of SOLIDWORKS 2015, there have been a lot of questions surrounding hardware requirements, optimal RAM, video cards and more. To ensure you are always working with a SOLIDWORKS supported and optimized system use these tips from the Alignex technical staff. Though these recommendations are a good starting point for spec’ing out a SOLIDWORKS machine, it is always a good idea to conduct your own hardware/software tests before purchasing any workstation, computer hardware, or video card for SOLIDWORKS.

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From Start to Finish: Creating An Assembly Document

The applications of SOLIDWORKS Composer range from assembly and manufacturing instructions to product marketing and the space in-between. Attendees at a recent Alignex Discovery Training event explored the product’s capabilities in a “test drive” environment that combined learning and experience. The event took us from start to finish of an assembly document in Composer.

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Virtually Testing a Jumping Drone Part with Linear Static Analysis

SOLIDWORKS Simulation provides easy-to-use design validation tools that allow you to test your product and make important decisions to improve quality and performance early in the product development process. Full integration with the SOLIDWORKS environment means that you won’t waste time with redundant data transfer tasks. There is no need to export your SOLIDWORKS model when you want to run a study in SOLIDWORKS Simulation! With this CAD-embedded technology, design engineers can quickly and easily perform virtual testing before ever building the first prototype. 

SOLIDWORKS Simulation comes in 3 different packages: Standard, Professional, and Premium. Additionally, there are basic simulation capabilities included in SOLIDWORKS Premium. In this article, we will focus on linear static analysis which is available in all of the packages listed above. Linear static analysis allows us to apply static loads to a part or assembly and calculate the resulting stress, strain, displacement, reaction forces, and other parameters that will allow us to improve the quality and performance of our design. The model we will be analyzing is the wheel assembly for the Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo.

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How to Find and Back up Custom Data in SOLIDWORKS

Backing up design files can save many hours in the event of a change. In the case of a SOLIDWORKS version update for instance, these files can be overwritten and with them hours of design time. For companies with network drives and servers, some of this may already be taken care of. But more likely to be over-looked are the file document customizations. These are the files like our drawing and part templates or sheet formats and bend tables. Where are these stored and how do we back them up?

Common customized files include sheet formats, templates, design library items and of course toolbox data. Some of these may be stored on a shared drive or PDM system like SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM (EPDM) but if not, the following listed locations should be checked. Watch the video below on our YouTube Channel or follow these steps. 

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Simulating the Injection Mold Stages of a Jumping Drone Part

SOLIDWORKS Plastics is the missing link for a truly collaborative product development strategy. You don‘t have to be an expert to use SOLIDWORKS Plastics, it is used in the product development process by Design Engineers, Mold Makers and Plastics Injection Manufacturers. 

The analysis tools of SOLIDWORKS Plastics allow you to simulate the Fill, Pack, Warp and Cooling stages on manufacturing a part. Let's take a look at these tools in action on a wheel spokes hub from a Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo.

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