Alignex Blog

Keeping Up with the Lingo: A Quick Guide to SOLIDWORKS (and other) Abbreviations

Travis Quick on January 3, 2019 at 11:30 AM


Responding with LOL, lots of love, to a friend’s recent text that their dog passed away is tragically embarrassing. As I get older, I need to work harder to keep up with today’s latest trends and vernacular. To spare you some of my struggles, here is a quick list of some SOLIDWORKS lingo as well as some others I have found in the workplace!

Let’s start with some simple ones!

CAD: Stands for computer-aided design.

SWX: This might just be me, I use this to abbreviate SOLIDWORKS.

VAR: This is your Value Added Reseller. Alignex is a VAR for the Rockies and Midwest region. We assist our customers with their SOLIDWORKS needs, whether it is acquiring a new license for Simulation, assisting with a design question or providing training on any number of courses. You can find us in our offices and training classrooms in Appleton, Davenport, Des Moines, Denver, Eau Claire, EdinaFargoMilwaukeeMinneapolisOmaha, and Sioux Falls.

AE: That’s me! Along with the rest of our support staff. We call ourselves Application Engineers or AEs for short. We range in experience and education but we are all here to support your SOLIDWORKS and/or PDM endeavors.

General and SOLIDWORKS use:


RMB: Right mouse button. Differentiates from just “click” or select when you need to left (LMB). Also known as right-click.

Top Level Assembly

TLA: Top Level Assembly. The top most assembly in an assembly structure, there can be only one.

(f): Precedes components in the SOLIDWORKS design tree and indicates that your part is fixed. To remove the “fixed” constraint, RMB (see what I did there?) then click “float.”

(-): Component, feature or sketch is under-defined.

(+): Component, feature or sketch is over-defined.

Rx: This is a term used when troubleshooting SOLIDWORKS. The application SOLIDWORKS Rx is a great resource to find information about our system as well as create a package of information to send into customer support.


SNL: SolidNetwork License Manager. When a network license is in use at a company, the SNL is the host that provides the licenses to the users.

SolidNetwork License Manager

SR & SPR: Service Request & Software Performance Report.

Selection of SOLIDWORKS file extensions:

Sldprt: Part


Prtdot: Part template


Sldasm: Assembly

Asmdot: Assembly template


Slddrw: Drawing

Drawing Template

Drwdot: Drawing template

Slddrt: Sheet format

For more information on setting up drawing templates and sheet formats, be sure to check out the SOLIDWORKS Help page.

Selection of other file extensions:

DWG or DXF: Generic 2D drawing format


STP: Stone Temple Pilots…also a generic 3D CAD file pronounced STEP.

Stone Temple Pilots

IGES: Pronounced eye-jess. Another generic 3D CAD file.

X_T: Or parasolid, is based off the same modeling kernel that SOLIDWORKS uses and is the preferred generic file format versus IGES and STP.


ANSI: American National Standards Institute. US organization for developing technological standards. ANSI is standard for most all drawings used in the USA.

ISO: International Organization for Standardization. Develop and publish international standards.

FAI: First Article Inspection, a design verification process/document that is used in manufacturing processes as well as the SOLIDWORKS Inspection software.

First Article Inspection

OCR: Optical Character Recognition, SOLIDWORKS Inspection uses this technology to translate drawing and PDF information into usable text and numbers.

CAM: Computer-Aided Manufacturing, used to reference turning or machining of parts and generating toolpaths for this process from 3D models.  SOLIDWORKS CAM is a tool that can be used for this functionality. Various products like CAMWorks are available to support additional CAM endeavors including multi-axis and HSM (high-speed machining).

CNC: Computer Numerical Control, is a process in machining that uses computers to control machine tools. A CAM package can export the code necessary to run the CNC machine.

Computer Numerical Control

SIM: Short for simulation. This is a SOLIDWORKS product available to perform any number of simulation analyses such as static, fatigue, motion, linear, non-linear, flow, thermal and more.

FEA: Finite Element Analysis is typically a computer program that performs analyses based off stresses and how they affect the material and object.

Finite Element Analysis

MBD: Model Based Definition. This is a term for communicating model information and PMI through the 3D CAD model. There is also a MBD add-in for SOLIDWORKS that helps mainstream a lot of the standard processes. For more information on MBD, check out this blog post as well as some of our other blog topics!

GD&T: Geometric Dimensions and Tolerances. This is a system for defining and communicating engineering tolerances using symbols and values. When used correctly, this can provide a more accurate model than traditional tolerance methods.

Geometric Dimensions and Tolerances

PMI: Product Manufacturing Information, communicates non-geometric attributes in the model. This may include GD&T, notes, surface finish and more.

Product Manufacturing Information

PDM: Product Data Management. Referring to how our product data or really any file is stored. Windows Explorer, SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional are a couple examples of data management tools. While Windows Explorer can store data, this is where its benefits end. Dedicated PDM tools can greatly improve your performance, file storage and workflow. The ability to easily revise, release and control data are just a couple advantages to these tools. For more information check out our blog or reach out to our team!

Product Data Management

Product Data Management

PLM: Product Lifecycle Management. A term used for managing the lifecycle of your products. I’m never a fan of using the word to describe the word you are describing but there you are. There are products out there that are dedicated to PLM, including the upcoming SOLIDWORKS PLM Services product.

ERP: Enterprise Resource Planning. This is a process where a company manages things like planning, purchasing, inventory, sales, etc.

MRP:Material requirements planning (MRP) is a production planning, scheduling and inventory control system used to manage manufacturing processes. Most MRP systems are software-based, but it is possible to conduct MRP by hand as well.” Thanks, Wikipedia.

Other acronyms seen in the wild:

TL;DR: I may be guilty of this one…too long; didn’t read. This is a typical response to a long post or email. It is better used to summarize a long topic or post for those of us that are unable to devote our attention to any one thing for more than a couple minutes.

IMO: In my opinion.

FTW: IMO this treads dangerously close to its inverse. Anyone else? This ACTUALLY means for the win!

WYSIWYG: Pronounced wiz-ee-wig. What you see is what you get. I first saw this while working for a government contractor…that’s your tax dollars at work!

This is all I have for now. Hopefully this information has been helpful in communicating with your coworkers, SOLIDWORKS support and teenagers.

What have been some other commonly used acronyms you have run into in life and the workplace? Any other fun stories or misunderstandings?

Thanks for reading! Make sure to subscribe to the Alignex Blog below to get more SOLIDWORKS content like this delivered straight to your inbox. 

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