William Radigan

December 10th, 2014 Meeting Minutes

Blog Post created by William Radigan on Sep 10, 2015
The December meeting was a fantastic success!  Many thanks to Rick Holets (Ideal Vacuum Products) and Dennis Barnes (MCAD) for their fantastic presentations.


The February meeting will be held slightly off-schedule in order to accommodate SOLIDWORKS World 2015 as well as our invited speaker, the legendary Rob Rodriguez!  We will move the meeting back one day to THURSDAY February 12th, same time, same place.   Rob is the president of Axis CAD Solutions and a nationally recognized expert in the area of Surfacing and Rendering.

December 10th Meeting Minutes:

(Once again, the meeting minutes are courtesy of Randy Lynn, [Lynn Technical Services].  Thanks Randy!)

William Radigan, NMSUG President, Coordinated and ran the meeting.

FOOD: Jason's Deli, Sandwiches, Chips, Salad and Pickles. Drinks in a cooler.
Prior to the meeting date, NMSUG President William Radigan submitted a survey link via email to the membership. He recapped the survey results/answers in a short PowerPoint presentation. In summary, the membership prefers the Wednesday meeting time and the 2 month (5-6 meetings yearly) frequency.

At the meeting, a couple of tables in the back had Job Search/Networking signs on them, suggesting that folks who wanted to network could sit at these tables. During the meeting, William posed the question, should NMSUG be a network and job search vehicle. It didn’t seem like many folks had an opinion one way or another. William mentioned that some groups have had issues if a recruiter or user is over eager to display their skills in hope of landing a job. Again, it didn’t seem like anyone in the group had a strong opinion one way or another except that if it becomes a problem, a policy may need to be established. Late in the meeting, one member offered up business cards in anticipation of “SolidWorks for hire.”
{I think} there may have been a question or two related to if the group was interested in mentoring technical efforts in the community or students where SolidWorks expertise might be useful. Most folks seemed to nod in agreement that this would be a good thing.

The scheduled February 2015 meeting date coincides with the last day of SolidWorks World. (Wednesday, Feb. 11). The group has an opportunity to have noted speaker Rob Rodriguez give his talk on surfaces, rendering, and Photoview 360 IF we agreed to have our meeting on Thursday, February 12. The members voted to move the meeting to Thursday and host Rob Rodriguez.

William Radigan demonstrated the Polygon tool. It’s great for bolt circles. You can use the rt-click>Edit Polygon command to add/remove segments. Increasing the number of segments adds a new ID for the new segment only. Relationships to points on the original polygon remain intact. Removing a line only breaks relationships that were attached to the endpoint of the removed segment.

One user asked how to get accurate threads on a 3D printed part. She was having trouble modeling the threads in SolidWorks. Another user suggested downloading a McMaster-Carr part with the correct threads then add/subtract that model to get the desired threads for printing.

Rick works for Ideal Vacuum Products. Prior to going to work for IVP, he had never used the SolidWorks API (Application Programming Interface). Now he has been at it for about a year. Rick started by demonstrating how to record a macro that would save the SolidWorks model on the screen as a jpg.  It worked except that running it a second time would create the unintended result of replacing the original jpg with the newest one. He then opened up the macro code and demonstrated how to modify the code to accept user input for a dynamic name while the macro is running.

Rick demonstrated how to assign a macro to a command manager button or a keyboard equivalent.  Lastly, Rick shared a real-world scenario that have at IVP. They have 63 items for which they need to offer downloads  on their website. For each item they need three isometric rendered jpeg views, a portrait one-sheet drawing (probably a jpeg or pdf), a five or six file formats. Rick showed the API code that will pull up a file, orient it properly and render and save it three times, then load the next file and repeat. He maintains that this has save the company many hours vs. creating 189 renderings manually. The macro also opens and saves each part in all the different file formats taking into account that the path and file extension need to update accordingly. He also iterated that with some pixel mapping they have a macro that reads drawing view bounding box sizes and evenly distributes the required views on the drawing sheet.
Rick said that lots of SolidWorks macro code and ready to use macros are available online. There is a ready-made macro called Config Ripper that saves out configurations as separate parts. The SolidWorks API Online Help is very useful . He will also share code if users request it. If you have a tough question or problem, send your macro code to the API support folks at SWX and let them geek out on it.

Example macros from Rick's presentation, as well as "SaveAsSTL" and "SaveAsSTEP" macros can be downloaded here: http://radiganengineering.com/download/832

Does he use a macro to set up the cameras for the rendering? No but you could.
Can you use a macro to do moves? Probably not. Motion studies are better suited for this.

Dennis maintains that you should rarely or never need to move your mouse to the menu to retrieve commands, rather, 90 percent of your commands should and can be accessible within 2” on-screen inches of the mouse pointer. To achieve this he uses

  • In-context mouse gestures
  • In-context Shortcut bar-pop ups (S-Key)
  • In-context pop-ups (left-click on certain entities)
  • Right-click menus (right-click on most entities)
  • Short-cut keys

Dennis demonstrated and gave examples of each of these strategies.
NOTE: In-context means in the workspace somewhere on an entity or near a model  or assembly image on the screen or on or near a drawing view or entity.  Sometimes in-context is referred to as on-the-fly. It is usually quicker to access a command in-context rather than dragging the mouse up to a menu and selecting the same command.


In-context Mouse Gestures: Depressing the right mouse button then nudging the mouse brings up a donut-shaped in-context palette menu that is divided into four or eight slices depending on the user settings. Each slice has a default command but all are customizable. Dennis recommends customizing the S-key (see below) to a mouse gesture. After a while you get accustomed to the command location in the mouse gesture donut and accessing them becomes second nature.


In-Context Shortcut bar (S-key): This is the S-Key. If you are not using the S-Key already, start. Depressing the S-key in context brings up a palette of commonly used commands that are suitable for the current workspace (part, assembly, drawing, sketching). The S-key works out-of-the box and is great for new users. Try-it. Adding additional commands to the S-key is simple. Tools>Customize>Mouse Gestures Tab and scroll all the way down the command list and you will see how the gestures are assigned.


In-context pop-ups (left-click on certain entities): If you left click in empty screen space nothing happens. Left clicking on a model entity however brings up an icon palette OR an icon palette with a list of commands below it. Again, they are suitable for the current workspace (part, assembly, drawing, sketching). To customize the palette, right click in the palette space but not on an icon and click on the customize flag that comes up. This will invoke the customize window. It is intuitive from there…drag and drop. To customize the menu when it appears, access the Customize Menu command at the bottom of the menu and select or deselect the checkboxes next to the menu commands in the list.


Right-click menus-Right clicking anywhere brings up a menu. Right clicking on the FMT brings up a menu. The commands are workspace applicable. As with the in-context pop-ups, the last command in the menu is always Customize Menu. Note the Recent Commands item in nearly every right-click menu.


Short Cut Keys- There are a whole bunch of SolidWorks shortcut keys. To see them and customize them go to the Tools>Customize (not Customize Menu at the bottom of the Tools menu, but Customize which is about three lines UP from the bottom) and select the Keyboard Tab. From there it is intuitive. The CTRL, SHIFT, and ALT keys also have many uses. A useful link to discover those is at http://www.javelin-tech.com/blog/2014/03/shift-ctrl-solidworks-user/


Create Custom Workspaces-Recall the Copy/Settings Wizard? It would only run when SolidWorks was closed and was a utility for migrating settings when upgrading to a new version of SolidWorks. Now the Copy/Settings Wizard works while SolidWorks is running. As an example, you can establish your preferred weldment modeling environment, shortcuts, menus and so forth, then save that using the Copy Settings Wizard. Whenever you want to model a weldment, first load this environment then proceed.


The SolidWorks search box drop-down has four options. Use the command search option and start typing to find a command. You can invoke the command from the results.


Lastly, Dennis discussed some items that are new in SolidWorks 2015. He demonstrated the Isolate command. Now you can save it as a display state. The may be a good alternative to Dissolve SubAssembly Here. Within the Isolate command use Tab and Shift Tab to hide and show items. Also in 2015 you can save selection sets.


Contact Dennis at MCAD if you would like a copy of his PowerPoint Presentation.



The meeting ended with a whole bunch of great giveaways. Thanks to all our sponsors and check out Rapid Sheet Metal online. The have a RapidQuote add-in that is great for sheet metal parts. They are working on a Rapid Quote add-in for machined parts as well.  Download SolidQuote at www.ThatWasRapid.com