Alignex Blog

My Favorite Tools to Upgrade Your CAD Skills

Jackie Yip on September 16, 2015 at 2:12 PM


At Alignex, we strive to help our customers to learn how SOLIDWORKS can give them a different perspective on designing content to fit their needs. My opportunity presented itself when I was recently teaching the SOLIDWORKS Essentials course.

Spending a few days in the classroom is always a rewarding experience especially when you are instructing the basic fundamentals. It’s all about giving learners an opportunity to experience more of what SOLIDWORKS has to offer.

Here are some of my favorite skills students get to experience in the class:

Creating a Revolve

Students will experience how to turn 2D outlines into 3D models. The revolve centers around rotating around an axis which can be used in a variety of complex design situations. Examples include tire rims, bottles and many more. Students will learn how revolves can be created with relative ease and speed.

Creating a Revolve in SOLIDWORKS Essentials Class

Using ‘S’ for Shortcuts

Access to your commands can all be customized by a single hotkey. This selection makes it easier to activate your favorite choices in a few clicks. Not only will students learn what commands are available, they will be able to learn the importance of searching for the more popular ones as efficiently as possible. This feature can be reconfigured so each user has access to their favorites giving everyone freedom to choose which commands they want to appear.

Using the S Shortcut in SOLIDWORKS Essentials

Contour Selections & the Idler Arm

My favorite exercise is to challenge students with creating a part with the minimum amount of effort. The ability to manipulate sketch regions and create solid bodies can all be accomplished with as little sketching as possible. Students see how to reuse sketches in previous features to control how to add/remove material quickly. While there are many methods to creating a part, the contour selection usually takes less effort.

Contour Selections and the Idler Arm in SOLIDWORKS Essentials

Patterning and Mirroring

Adding more than one hole on a single surface is a very common task. With patterning, this can all be done with ease by multiplying the number of instances along a path. Patterns can also be manipulated to follow along a linear, circular or your own custom path. Also to save the design process some trouble, designs that focus on symmetry can be created with half the effort. By simply mirroring the process, designs can be controlled more easily without having to setup additional parameters.

Patterns and Mirroring in SOLIDWORKS Essentials


Finally, the skill as an instructor I find to be most intriguing is interacting with everyone. It’s the best opportunity to learn what level students are with the software and to help them figure out the possibilities in using the tools in 3D. As an instructor, we work diligently to give every student an opportunity to learn at their own pace.

In all, whether you’re a first time SOLIDWORKS user or looking for more experience, we teach SOLIDWORKS Essentials to present a new perspective in modeling your designs. I enjoy helping students use SOLIDWORKS but with every class, it raises the bar to making it more fun and enjoyable for the growing number of users. Now, it’s your turn to start mastering your creativity by learning the essentials of SOLIDWORKS.

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