Solidworks 2005 ,
Can you make do with
an early version ?


Solidworks 2005, Can you make do working with an earlier version of SolidWorks ?

Vendors would have you believe you need to renew your subscription every year but there are limits to how much money that can be spent on renewing software licenses.

Weldments

In my line of work I find myself having to put together many weldments. Whether it's a dust collector casing, or a motor mount fabricated from channels or angle, I need to be able to reuse previous designs by stretching them or beefing them up in some way. Solidworks 2005 uses a specialized part file called a weldment to accommodate these types of construction. I find that the chief advantage of using weldment part files is the ease with which I can pick up an old design and modify it for some other purpose.

Prior to using solidworks 2005 weldments, I would often make assemblies of individual parts. Sometimes I would the "top down" methodology and relate all the parts to a common sketch. Other times the only relationship would be the mates between the components. In either case, it is still difficult to know where you started on a previous assembly if you come back to it six months later to revise it.

This is especially problematic in a "top down" assembly because if you start modifying parts in the wrong location you can crash the model. Using solidworks 2005 weldments the problem of knowing where you started is eliminated. You just drag the rollback bar to the beginning of the weldment. You can see every step you took in the creation of your welded assembly.

Another benefit to using weldments is the ability to build an entire assembly up using single sketched lines to represent flat bars, plates and stiffeners. The sketched lines can be turned into solid bodies using the extrude-thin command. This simplifies the creation of the entire weldment model. Combine this with the ability to extrude angles, beams and other structural members from surface to surface, and apply mitered or flush end treatments and you can quickly build the models you need with a minimum of fuss and less need to resort to complicated equations.

You can also use design tables with solidworks weldments. I use them often to keep one part file with all the different sizes of cartridge dust collector casing weldments. This really helps keep the design intent consistent between varying sizes of weldment. The weldment part file format can also be used to keep separate models of "as welded" and "as machined" components.

There are some drawbacks to weldments that may limit some applications. You cant explode the components of a weldment like you can in an assembly. But you can easily turn the weldment into an assembly if you want to make an exploded view. Also the weldment part file makes use of library part files for things like beams, angles and columns. It does not use the standard solidworks tool box which has much more items to choose from.

If the two could be tied together so that toolbox profiles could share their profiles with library files, we could save a lot of work having to enter profiles for beams, channels and odd sized angles. Enhancements have been made in solidworks 2006 to weldment part files. You can now use mates within multibody part files. So far I have not seen a requirement where this enhancement would save me any time. It is possible that this could be useful for others in their applications.

Sheet Metal


My use of sheet metal features relates to my use of solidworks weldments. After I have modeled a sheet metal metal part in the bent state within a solidworks weldment part file, I then right click in the cut list to save the body as a separate file, still linked to the weldment. This allows me to use sheet metal features such as bends which in turn allows the part to be flattened. I save the bent and unbent states as separate configurations and make my flat pattern drawings.

Because the flat pattern configuration is still linked to the original weldment, any revisions I make will be reflected in the flat pattern. A new feature in solidworks 2006 is the placement of bend notes on flat pattern parts. This saves a lot of time adding tn the notes manually, and it also eliminates error in transcribing bend angles to the notes.

Drawings

In detailing my casing weldments I like to group all my flat patterns and bent parts on one "D" size sheet if possible. Using the solidworks 2005 insert view relative to model allows me to generate the majority of the views. For some odd shaped parts I sometimes need to save out the bodies as a separate part file still linked to the weldment. In this way I can generate views using the standard insert view from model using the part file I just created.

Since my customers have huge amounts of legacy drawings in autocad format I frequently have to save my solidworks files in autocad 2000 format. Solidworks 2005 allows me to set up coloured layers and dimension fonts identical to those used in the autocad drawings. I set my export preferences to 1:1 scale and have not too much difficulty creating drawings that look like they came from autocad.

One drawback is that hidden lines and object lines remain on the same layer and cannot be separated. This means when I import the drawing into autocad I have to use express tools layer isolate and a little manual transferring of enities from layer to layer to get the hidden lines and object lines separated.



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