NASWUG December 10, 2009 Meeting Notes

Hello fellow SolidWorks users. We had our annual year end meeting on Thursday December 10. The attendance was a little light for a year end meeting with only 26 attending. The meeting was held at the beautiful Dynetics HQ building with Ricky Jordan our president presiding. For those who could not make it you missed out on some great food. We had roast beef, garlic mash potatoes and green beans..hmmmmm…Gotcha, just kidding. We had pizza and coke products provided by Papa Johns.
Ricky opened the meeting talking briefly about SolidWorks World and recently released service pack 1 for SolidWorks 2010. He also talked about Presentation Studio and Treehouse 2 in SolidWorks Labs. Then Ricky turned the meeting over to Matt Rece from SoildWorks and Tom Young from Modern Tech.
They did a presentation on “What’s New In SolidWorks 2010” Some of the functions they covered were sheet metal, mates, visualization, mouse jesters, weldments, drawings, toolbox, and virtual parts.
After the presentation Ricky gave the closing comments, talking about Solidworks education in the local area and asking for volunteers to help in some training classes. Ricky also asked for feedback and suggestions for future meetings.
At the end of the meeting we drew for prizes. Lloyd Philpott won the grand prize of a Logitech Nano cordless laser mouse donated by 3D Connection. MLC Cad Systems also donated 3 gifts cards.
Thanks to Matt and Tom for outstanding presentations. And just a note to all members. Anyone interested in presenting on a topic should contact Ricky Jordan. We always get outstanding presenters from the SolidWorks community and sometimes don’t realize the wealth of experience within our own group.
P.S. Thanks to Jim Clyburn for filling in for me and compiling the above meeting notes.

NASWUG Jun, Aug & Oct 2009 Meeting Notes

Sorry folks about the long delay on the last three meeting notes … but I do have some good reasons. My wife and I were in Australia for our youngest daughter’s wedding when Gary Hall held the June 10th NASWUG-RSA meeting. We then hosted guests from Australia through July 4th weekend. At the June 10th meeting there were 13 in attendance and there were no special presentations just basic Q&A meeting. That being the middle of summer a lot of folks were probably on vacation. Then a power saw incident had my typing ability significantly reduced while a finger healed. I was very lucky to say the least in that I did not lose any digits and the finger is healing very nicely although still sensitive to being bumped.
The August 27th NASWUG meeting was held at our usual location at Dynetics HQ We had about 40 people in attendance (misplaced the attendance) and Mike Puckett was our guest presenter. Ricky Jordan announced the October meeting would be an in-house presentation on What’s New 2010, mentioning that there are over 200 enhancements in SW2010. The CSWP exam covers the basic core modeling specialist. Also available are the Advanced Sheet Metal module, Advance Surfacing module and FEA (simulation). Mike Puckett heads up the SolidWorks certification activities. The online certification testing requires any version of SolidWorks 2008, SP3 or later. Mike Puckett mentioned the online CSWP exam and any SWUGN User Group member in attendance would be eligible for a FREE code to take the test. Now the fun stuff. Mike’s presentation, titled Tips & Tricks (Mish-Mash), was very interesting and as always educational. A big thanks to Mike for sharing his knowledge with us.
This brings us up to the last meeting, NASWUG-RSA on October 1st at the RSA Bowling Alley meeting room. With about 25 in attendance (this attendance list must have taken off with the previous one as well), Gary Hall conducted a general Q&A and demo session. Some of the more interesting points covered were use of fillet expert, use of pattern of points to equally divide a curve and then use of a hole table to extract the coordinate points. The ModernTech Mechanical What’s New in SolidWorks 2010 rollout will be in Huntsville on Oct. 20th from 8-12. All active subscribers should have an email on this but if not you can get the details from the their website. Ricky Jordan then presented a mini What’s New 2010 touching on the highlights of what to expect. The main areas to expect include, mouse gestures, reference planes, multi-body sheet metal, multi-body materials assignment, diplay states in parts and drawings, assembly visualization, drawings dimensioning, mirror components, virtual componenets and display states in parts. Ricky mentioned there had been a delay in the CSWP exam codes for last months and this months attendees but he would follow up with an email to everyone soon. As of this writing everyone eligible should have received an email from Ricky to which a response is required to get the codes. Everyone agreed that the meeting room location at the bowling alley worked out very well.

NASWUG April 14 Meeting Notes

Our April 14th meeting has come and also has April 15th  We had 29 in attendance at the Dynetics HQ building with Ricky Jordan our president presiding.  And thanks to Richard Hall for trying out a new food choice (pizza does get a little old doesn’t it!)  Ricky talked briefly about the upcoming  SWUGN Summit event near us, this time taking place in Doraville GA(NE side of Atlanta) at the Holiday Inn NE Atlanta on Tuesday, May 19th.  For those unfamiliar, this is a great event hosted by SolidWorks and led by Richard Doyle.  Registration is only $40 and includes  breakfast and lunch plus a full day of technical training.  It is very much like a full day of breakout sessions at a SolidWorks World event.  Follow the links on the SWUGN website ( to register online.
ModernTechMechanical ( created an “Engineering Stimulus Package” in conjunction with the SolidWorks Engineering Stimulus Package that is available to help currently unemployed engineers.  This basically provides displaced engineers and designers with FREE SolidWorks 3D CAD software, training, Certified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA) certification opportunities, and job placement services. 
Richard Hall talked briefly about the new look at 3D Content Central and how useful this great CAD source is.  If you haven’t visited this site before it is well worth a look see.
Brian McElyea then presented on SolidWorks Workgroup PDM.  Basically don’t think of this as something for more than one computer/engineer.  It is a fantastic tool for file management, and product data management even on a single computer.  The sytem keys on meta data and using notes you can build design history tracking that makes it very simple to retrieve previous versions.  So you can think of it as a versioning system (i.e. unlimited configuration system) that allows you to go back to any previous design stage.  PDM is not restricted to just CAD file/design.  You can use it with any type file that you want to manage and control versions and version history.  By using the PDM system you don’t have to manually create and store multiple folders and multiple models.  The PDM system manages this for you.  SolidWorks Workgroup PDM is included in SolidWorks Professional and Premium.  If you have a need for PDM for a large group or for multiple site locations and want the ability to control all aspects of your file/design managment then the separate Enterprise PDM version is what you need.
Next up was our NASWUG RSA president Gary Hall presenting on DimXpert.  Gary did a warm up of this at the previous RSA meeting so he was fine tuned for this one.  Just to reitierate from that meeting, DimXpert differs from Autodimension in that it recognizes patterns and countersink holes and it produces predictable results.  For example with Autodimension you typically get unwanted dimensions that have to be selectively deleted.  Whereas with DimXpert when you select an edge only the feature represented by the edge is dimensioned.  A word of caution with patterns: if a hole pattern was not created as a pattern of Hole Wizard holes then any changes made to the model do not update the hole callout.  DimXpert is not just for native SolidWorks parts.  Gary walked through this example using an imported model, selecting specific datums and then applying DimXpert.  This is a great tool for those that have a need to produce manufacturing drawings.
  Thanks to Brian and Gary for outstanding presentations.  And just a note to all members.  Anyone interested in presenting on a topic should contact Ricky Jordan.  We always get outstanding presenters from the SolidWorks community and sometimes don’t realize the wealth of experience within our own group.

NASWUG-RSA February 26 Meeting Notes

What a great location for SolidWorks World 2009.  Orlando weather was fantastic and as always too much to do in too little time.  It really is hard to decide between what presentations and what events to attend.  Unfortunately we are all back to the daily grind I expect but at least with renewed enthusiasm.  We held our 2nd  meeting of the year with our NASWUG-RSA group at Redstone Arsenal with 28 in attendance.  Ricky Jordan began the meeting with announcements then covered Twitter and who in the group is using it followed by a detailed “Sneak Peak” at SolidWorks 2010.  Here is a link to Ricky’s blog and the 2010 quicklist  For those that have attended the SWUGN Technical Summit in Nashville the past two years, it will be held in Atlanta this year.  Watch Ricky’s blog and the NASWUG website for upcoming details.
Gary Gall, president of NASWUG-RSA took over with a presentation on DimXpert and GD&T with respect to manufacturing drawings.  DimXpert differs from Autodimension in that it recognizes patterns and countersink holes and it produces predictable results.  For example with Autodimension you typically get unwanted dimensions that have to be selectively deleted.  Whereas with DimXpert when you select an edge only the feature represented by the edge is dimensioned.  A word of caution with patterns: if a hole pattern was not created as a pattern of Hole Wizard holes then any changes made to the model do not update the hole callout.  DimXpert is not just for native SolidWorks parts.  Gary walked through his example using an imported model, selecting specific datums and then applying DimXpert.  This is a great tool for those that have a need to produce manufacturing drawings.  Thanks Gary for a great presentation.

NASWUG January 27 Meeting Notes

We started the new year with 34 in attendance at our January meeting at the Dynetics HQ building.  As I write this, I am making last minute preparations to attend SolidWorks World 2009 in Orlando.  We welcomed 6 new members in attendance.  Ricky Jordan, NASWUG president, began the meeting with announcements and comments about the upcoming SWW2009 and also about SolidWorks Labs new additions.  Some of the new additions include Tagger, Treehouse, Collada Export, and Presentation Studio.  For more details visit the SolidWorks Labs site, 

Ricky presented on Custom PCB Design.  This was a warm-up for his upcoming presentation at SWW.  The presentation highlighted concepts and processes, and specific SolidWorks features useful in PCB Design and collaboration as well as some “gotchas” of which to be aware..  And that folks is the key …“collaboration”  You have to closely collaborate with the electrical design folks in a back and forth iterative process.  For the mechanical aspects it is important to specify only those requirements to make the interfaces work, leaving as much leeway as possible for the electrical design and layout.  For those with SolidWorks Premium, you know you have CircuitWorks and other subscribers have CircuitWorks Lite. At the conclusion, Ricky asked for feedback positive and negative.  Good job, Ricky!

Gary Hall mentioned that the NASWUG RSA group is looking forward to starting up their meetings again at RSA, probably near the end of February. That’s all folks … see you in Orlando and if not there at the next NASWUG meeting.

NASWUG December 2 Meeting Notes

Another successful NASWUG year wrapped up in style.  Our year end meeting benefited from two very interesting and informative presentations.  Jim Wilkinson, Director of User Experience for SolidWorks, provided an insight into the development process for  SolidWorks usability and SolidWorks User Interface Customization.  The stated goal of Jim’s team is the User Experience mission.  So just what is the “User Experience mission”?  In a nutshell, it is everything that goes into providing a SolidWorks experience that continuously improves upon Ease of Use, Ease of Learning, and Product Consistency.  Where does SolidWorks get its customer input?  Glad you asked … each and everyone of us, the users, have direct input into the process with such things as enhancement requests, bug reports, phone calls with the VARs, customer visits, surveys, user forums,  etc.  Many factors come into play as to what is included in the final decision to make changes to the User Interface.  For those of us involved in rapid prototyping, the process seems familiar.  Prototypes begin with paper layouts that can be reviewed quickly and easily, followed by a flash simulation, and then a prototype release that gets the scrutiny of a focus group of users.  This focus group is representative of all SolidWorks users and from a user viewpoint probably the most important.  After Jim educated us on the interest and effort that SolidWorks puts into providing us with a good CAD user experience, he then walked through several examples.  Many thanks to Jim for a most rewarding presentation.

Next up was Bruce Holway, the Manager of Product Definition for SolidWorks.  Bruce brings 17 years of experience in the CAD industry to the table.  The Product Definition team he manages is responsible for developing new functionality specifications in SolidWorks.  Bruce presented on Using Blocks and Layout Sketches for Mechanism Design.  Now some of us may already use sketch blocks to produce quick concept layouts or at least have completed the block exercise in the SolidWorks tutorial.  But Bruce takes this idea to a new level.  He showed us how sketch blocks can be used to quickly produce parameters for mechanical mechanisms to achieve a desired physical motion.  Next was probably a very little used method of Layout Based Assembly Design.  This method begins with a new assembly.  On creation, click on the “Create Layout” button on the Begin Assembly Property Manager.  This opens a 3D sketch from which you can create various blocks of the intended mechanical mechanism.  This method allows you to switch back and forth between top down and bottoms up design.  You can create, edit and delete parts and blocks at any point in the design cycle without any history-based restrictions.  A great presentation, Bruce.

Ricky Jordan briefly reminded everyone about SolidWorks World 2009 coming up in February.  To save time and avoid duplication here, meeting announcements are published on the NASWUG website.  Thanks especially to Ricky for being the driving force for what this writer feels has been our most successful year yet.  And our group would not survive if it were not for the valued support of our VARs, ModernTech Mechanical, MLC CAD, Concepts in Production and particularly the financial support of SolidWorks for the free food each meeting.  As before we had some great year end prizes including our grand prize a Harmony Universal Remote Control from 3D Connexion who sponsored our year end event.

Here’s hoping each and every one of you have a great Christmas and holidays and we will see you back in January.  Ricky will be presenting on circuit board design and circuitworks which is a warm-up for his presentation at SolidWorks World 2009 in February.

NASWUG September 30 Meeting Notes

If you missed our September meeting you really missed out. We met in the old Dynetics HQ building and had 42 in attendance. Last minute scheduling permitted Matt Lombard (author of SolidWorks 2007 Bible, SolidWorks Surfacing and Complex Shape Modeling, and soon to hit the bookshelves, SolidWorks 2009 Bible) to join us and share in the SW2009 What’s New presentation with Ricky Jordan. But to digress, the meeting began shortly after everyone filled up on pizza and soft drinks. Among the usual announcements, Ricky pointed out that SW2009 has been officially released. It is available for download now at the SolidWorks Customer Portal for those on subscription service. Word of caution, don’t try this on dialup or even DSL. Ricky pointed out that the installation from download worked perfectly and one advantage to installing from the download … you won’t need the DVD to install later service pack releases.

Next, a show of hands for those planning on attending SolidWorks World 2009 International User Conference and Exposition in Orlando, FL at the Swan & Dolphin Hotel Feb 8-11, 2009. Anyone needing help with justification give Ricky a shout. If you have never been to a SolidWorks World it is truly an adventure with more training presentations in a short 4 days on subjects from everything SolidWorks and then some.

Now to try and give a Reader’s digest summary of the rest of the meeting. Ricky first presented on the new Photoview 360 which is included in all flavors of SolidWorks except SolidWorks standard. As with any new release of SolidWorks there is plenty of material for a What’s New presentation. Ricky and Matt did an outstanding job of cramming as much into the remaining two hours ( after the eating) of our meeting. Actually Matt was kind enough to extend the presentation an extra 30 minutes for those that could stick around. With all the new enhancements in SW2009, there have been some significant terminology changes. Once you get past that it is nice to see that emphasis has really been placed on improving performance, speed and stability. Now just to mention the main highlights. User Interface enhancements includes a movable Command Manager, a Property Tab builder, hyperlink capability with BOM and custom properties, dual dimension display, triad functionality to quickly change model orientation and a magnify tool. Sketching enhancements includes new slot tool (oooh, ahhh!!), numeric sketch input, Instant 3D Resize, stretch entities and move/copy/scale in 3D sketch. Sheet Metal enhancements include convert to sheet metal from solid. cross break, and a combined gauge – bend table. Weldment enhancements include groups, weld gaps within groups and between groups, improved end caps and gussets, trim extend tool. Assembly enhancements include large assembly performance improvement, assembly features propagating to the parts, a new BOM in assembly and speed pack, and Drawing enhancements. Speed pack basically allows you to take an assembly/subassembly and identify faces/features for mating and then use the assembly/subassembly in another assembly with huge performance gain.

Matt took over with his take on Visualization enhancements, the new plastic features, surfacing and spline enhancements and free form As expected, Matt presented his likes and dislikes of the new release but the general consensus is that the new SW2009 is a very impressive release and should prove to be much more stable with better performance.

Thanks again to Ricky and Matt for an outstanding What’s New presentation. We should see the VAR rollout presentations of SW2009 sometime in October.

NASWUG July 31 Meeting Notes

Summer vacation is almost over and school is just around the corner, actually since these notes are a little late, school has actually started. Our July 31, 2008 NASWUG meeting showed a slight increase with 33 in attendance at Dynetics HQ. Ricky Jordan began the meeting with the usual announcements. SW009 Beta is in full swing and Ricky mentioned that the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) would be removed soon, so watch Ricky’s blog ( for lots of good stuff on the upcoming SW2009 release. Speaking of SW2009, emails have gone out to subscribers announcing SW world 2009 early bird registration. You can save some bucks if you can plan this far ahead and get in on the early registration process. And finally, here is another reminder that SP4 for SW2008 is now out for subscribers.

Ricky Jordan gave a presentation outlining Tips and Tricks in SolidWorks Sketching.  The first part of the presentation outlined some uncommon options in various Sketch tools in SolidWorks that can often be overlooked.  Details for Rectangles, Ellipse, Polygons, and Sketch Text were highlighted along with the Fully Define Sketch command.  The next part of the presentation included a list of recommended sketching methods.  Those items included customizing the CommandManager, working with relations visually, offsetting geometry, trimming geometry, dynamic mirroring and leveraging Sketch Blocks for large 2D data sets.  The last portion of the presentation outlined some Sketch Troubleshooting techniques which included the usage of Display/Delete Relations and SketchXpert.

Richard Hall was next presenting on the topic, Using Design Tables. Design tables can be used to control several different items.  Richard demonstrated a set of models touching on some of items controllable with Design Tables.  For a full set of details pertaining to Design Tables, be sure to check the SW help file under the search heading “design tables”.

A design table can be used to control dimensional changes by configuration in a part file.  A Mil spec bulkhead connector example showed that several dimensions in different features can be controlled by name with a configuration.  This allows each “shell” size of the connector to be controlled by the Mil spec value.  As many or as few variables as needed or required can be controlled.

The Assembly file example showed another use for design tables.  In this example of the connector, the o-ring seal and the attachment nut are added in normal fashion.  The difference is that each configuration by “shell” size is controlled by changing the part configuration in the design table configuration.  This allows you to set up multiple “read that infinite” variations for both connector size and material thickness.

Drawings can also take advantage of models using design tables.  A general table can be created and linked to a variable dimensional variable such as length that is driven by a design table.  This will take some practice to get the syntax correct but it is fun and frustrating to try.  Try your hand at this and let Richard know how it turns out.

For any questions concerning design tables or the models used as examples you can contact Richard at:

Brian McElyea presented on Using Equations.  The presentation focused on how equations can be used in Solidworks, including conveying design intent and creating animations.  Brian covered the different types of variables that could be used in SolidWorks equations and how to use comments to document what the equations do.  The supported operators, constants, and functions were shown, as well as a few undocumented functions to help with more advanced equations and adding logic.  The presentation was wrapped up with a SolidWorks demonstration showing how to enter and edit equations, and some basic functions.  Brian also showed a couple of animations of parts (a spring and a hydraulic cylinder) driven by equations.

Ricky wrapped up the meeting thanking everyone for coming. The next meeting should be the NASWUG RSA meeting some time in August.

NASWUG RSA June 24 Meeting Notes

Our NASWUG RSA meeting took place at the Redstone Arsenal on June 24, 2008 with 17 in attendance. Looks like summer has kicked in fully with schools out now. A few minor hiccups were weathered while waiting for the food to arrive. Pizzas were a little late … something about an oven breaking down, and a cable issue required some scrambling to get Gary Hall’s laptop to display via the projector. Nothing that everyone couldn’t handle though. After the food arrived Ricky Jordan began the meeting with the announcements and general questions. A few people raised their hands in response to “who is participating in the SW2009 Beta test?” SW2009 Beta1 is available to anyone on a current SolidWorks subscription. Someone asked about running SolidWorks on Vista. It turns out that Microsoft has begun to phase out the Windows XP operating system, BUT they have also said they will continue to provide support until 2014. And SW2008 SP4.0 is available at the SolidWorks Customer Portal. Ricky mentioned the newly integrated CircuitWorks which is included for anyone with an Office Premium seat. If you upgrade to SW2008 SP4 (Office Premium seats) you will automatically have CircuitWorks. It is not a separate download. We still need one NASWUG member to complete the NASWUG Advisory Board. AS mentioned at the last meeting, the Advisory board will meet once every two months independently of the NASWUG meetings to discuss meeting topics and ways to improve the User Group.

Gary Hall presented on the subject Templates. The presentation touched on several aspects of Solidworks templates (Dwg, Part, Assy). Templates defaults were covered along with where the files were and could be stored. Answering questions about templates was part of the presentation such as, “Can a design table be stored inside of a SW template”. Doing a multi-sheet drawing template was presented. The difference between a drawing format and a template was covered. Other templates were discussed such as BOM, Hole Table, Rev Table, etc… Lastly, a quick demo of’s Template Wizard was discussed. This is a relatively inexpensive tool (discovered at SolidWorks World 2008) that can make creating templates a less painful process. Thanks for a great presentation, Gary.

Concluding the meeting the names of Bhisham Lall, Ledwin Mercury, Drew Riley, Patrick Nickel and Gerald Tuck were drawn for door prizes (to be picked up at next meeting). Again, due to a minor hiccup, the usual enough door prizes for everyone did not arrive on time. The next meeting topic has not been confirmed yet but there were several expressions of interest in a presentation on CircuitWorks. If you have any ideas or requests for topics be sure and forward them to

NASWUG May 29, 2008 Meeting Notes

Summer is upon us and we had a great meeting on May 29, 2008 with 36 in attendance. I guess summer vacations haven’t kicked in that much yet … or maybe everyone is vacationing closer to home, or maybe it’s just the FREE food (that always brings out the engineers). Actually, we always look forward to the main event and this was no exception with Matt Rece, SolidWorks Territory Technical Manager, presenting on 3DVIA Composer (more on this later). Ricky Jordan made several announcements of interest to us all. The new revised NASWUG website incorporates a BLOG format where anyone can now post comments. Also check out the NASWUG website to get more info on a RSS feed that Ricky mentioned. SolidWorks 2009 Beta program kicks off in early June and anyone that is on a SolidWorks subscription is eligible to participate. Go to the SolidWorks customer portal website. And in case you haven’t heard, SolidWorks purchased CircuitWorks recently and it is now included with your SolidWorks Office Premium subscription. You can download and install it now but it will be fully integrated into Office Premium with the SP4.0 release.

We had a short nominating process, actually self nominating process, to establish the new NASWUG officers. Congratulations to Ricky Jordan, continues as President, Rich Hall – new Vice President, yours truly Michael Langley – continues as First Secretary, Jim Clyburn – new Second Secretary. For our NASWUG-RSA group, Gary Hall continues as President. Also established is a new NASWUG Advisory Board, consisting of the NASWUG officers and two NASWUG members. We still have one member position open, so anyone willing to help out contact Ricky Jordan ( The Advisory board will meet once every two months independently of the NASWUG meetings to discuss meeting topics and ways to improve the User Group.

A little more about the main event. Matt Rece presented on 3DVIA Composer, a new offering from SolidWorks. 3DVIA Composer is a product documentation solution that allows your organization to create 2D and 3D images and animations for technical publications, assembly instructions, marketing presentations, and other customer materials If your company has such documentation requirements, this is a go to package that improves these outputs and is highly dynamic. To make changes in your documentation images and animations you only need to update the CAD from which the images and animations were created. 3DVIA Sync, a separate component, integrates 3DVIA Composer with a full range of CAD systems, so you can automatically synchronize and schedule updates to BOMs and other types of data. There are other 3DVIA Composer add-on products as well as a free 3DVIA Player that allows 3DVIA content creators to distribute 3DVIA Composer content to any end-user. Many thanks to Matt for an excellent presentation.

And finally, thanks to Terry Ray and Tom Young from ModernTech for joining us for this meeting. It is always good to see reps from the VARs. The next meeting will be near the end of June at Redstone Arsenal (watch your email and the NASWUG website for the announcement). It is now easier than ever to RSVP for the meetings and this really helps us out in planning for the free food.