William Radigan

April 13, 2016 NMSUG Meeting Minutes

Discussion created by William Radigan on Apr 18, 2016

These meeting minutes are courtesy of Randy Lynn, Lynn Technical Services: SOLIDWORKS, Technical Writing, Technical Documentation.




The meeting was held at the Albuquerque BioScience Center, Main Conference Room (2nd Floor), 5901 Indian School Road NE, 87110. It should be noted that some of our members work at the BioScience Center and make themselves available after work with setup help and logistics (projectors). Thanks to James Hannon from the BioScience Center for being on hand this time around. Food was from Flying Star. Drinks and beverages were supplied by MCAD Thank you to all our sponsors.




It should come as no surprise that the 2015 User Group of the Year may be outgrowing its meeting space. We are averaging 40 plus members at each meeting. All the chairs at tables are taken. We have attendees in chairs along the back wall. Invariably, we have a few latecomers who end up standing. Our current meeting space, the BioScience Center, has all these great features (but sadly, we may still need a space with more tables and chairs).


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SOLIDWORKS Users on site

No charge to use the space

               Guest internet access which we need to stream presenters and access content

               Modern projection equipment and a screen

               Centrally located

               Allows food and drink

               No curfew

               Foosball table


Ideas? Three possible future meeting spaces


FatPipe ABQ-This is the old Albuquerque High Library and is centrally located in the Albuquerque Innovation district. Check out their website http://fatpipeabq.com/


The Epicenter @ Innovate ABQ - Near Broadway and Central


801 Bradbury - Is part of the UNM Science & Technology Park.


We had over 44 attendees! We had a dozen FSAEs from UNM and several attendees (a professor and students) who drove up from New Mexico State in Las Cruces.




The next meeting will be either June 8 or June 15. We are not sure yet.


Tony Cimabue from Tech-Knowledgy for Design & Manufacturing has been invited to give a presentation on Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing.  As always, expect a brief 15-20 minute SOLIDWORKS vignette from one of our members.




It’s no secret by now, at SOLIDWORKS World 2015, out of over 270 SOLIDWORKS User Groups worldwide, our user group was presented with the 2015 SOLIDWORKS User Group of the Year Award. President and SOLIDWORKS Activist William Radigan showed off our glass plaque/trophy at the February 2016 meeting. He announced that it would travel throughout the city and be on display between meetings at sponsor and member locations.


February 10 Meeting forward – Albuquerque BioScience Center

April 13 Meeting forward – SOLIDWORKS user Deanna Jaramillo will arrange to display the award at Sandia National Labs until our June meeting




At our December 9, 2015 meeting, Stephanie Stack, from Plural Sight gave a brief presentation. Plural Sight is an online learning library. They have several online SOLIDWORKS courses. At our meeting, Stephanie was asking if any of our group might be interested in creating SOLIDWORKS content. If you would like to know more, visit their website, www.pluralsight.com and if interested, follow up with Stefanie directly (stefanie-stack@pluralsight.com).


Announced at our April 13th meeting, if you have an Albuquerque Library card and PIN number you may have free access to Lynda.com, another web based learning platform. Like PluralSight, Lynda.com has a vast library of online courses that cover numerous topics including SOLIDWORKS. Ordinarily, Lynda.com is a tiered subscription service. Different tiers allow for course downloads vs. online viewing and access to example files. If you visit the Albuquerque Bernalillo County website, http://abclibrary.org/home, you can see the Lynda.com icon on the right margin of the home screen. Clicking on that link takes you to a page asking for your library card number and PIN for access to the Lynda.com learning library. If anyone in the group tries this, please report back and tell us how it went.




What started at the February meeting with taped sheets on the back wall and handwritten headings such as 3D Printing, Plating, CNC Machining etc. has morphed into the NMSUG Super Mega Happy Vendor List. This time around all the previously named vendors were displayed in tabulated form along with some guidelines to keep this valuable resource going. If you need to find local vendors for: Waterjet, 3D Printing Prototyping, Plating, Machining, Manual Machining, or Injection Molding…start here. If you know a vendor not on the list, feel free to add them. This list will be posted online at the NMSUG Forum.  Stay tuned for additional details.





Jim Wilkinson, SOLIDWORKS R&D, Vice President, User Experience Architecture


Jim is a 20 year veteran of DS SOLIDWORKS Corp. and has been working on the software since the first release of SOLIDWORKS 95. He started at SOLIDWORKS as the first technical support engineer and managed that group for over 4 years. He then managed the product definition team before spinning off the usability group (now user experience team) which he has managed for 13 years. The user experience team is a diverse group of individuals who make sure the software is designed to be as efficient as possible to use. Jim gave a peek behind the curtain into how the software is researched, designed, prototyped, developed, and tested with users to meet these goals…or, “how the sausage is made.”

Jim flew out to Albuquerque from his home in Boston to present at our meeting. For those of you who wonder, SOLIDWORKS headquarters are located in Waltham, MA.


Jim was employee number 35 when he started at SOLIDWORKS. Today he is employee number 7.


To start, Jim shared some interesting SOLIDWORKS numbers

3 Million Users

230K Customers

2.5M Students

1.4M registered users on 3DCC

276 User Groups


Dassault System SOLIDWORKS has 1,025 employees, 530 Value-Added Resellers, 300+ Solution Partners


SOLIDWORKS has 15 Product Definition Specialists who are required to each make 16 customer visits per year where they observe SolidWorks in action and invite customer input. That is 240 customer-visits per year.


In the absence of detailed information we all work from assumptions…we tend to design for ourselves, not for other people.

Richard Rubenstein and Harry Hersh, Human Factor: Designing Computer Systems for People


As engineers, when we Imagine It, we use SOLIDWORKS to design, prototype, and eventually build it. Do you ever wonder who designs SOLIDWORKS? The answer: Jim Wilkinson’s User-Experience team.


  • SOLIDWORKS Product Management has a 30,000 ft view of the end product
  • Product Definition Team has a 10 ft view
  • User Experience Design Team has 1 ft view (Jim Wilkinson's Team)
  • Development Team builds SOLIDWORKS
  • Quality Assurance Team tests SOLIDWORKS
  • Documentation Team creates the user documentation and the help files (also one of Wilkinson's teams)
  • Localization team translates SOLIDWORKS screens and menus into foreign languages (also one of Wilkinson's teams)


User Experience Design Team’s Responsibilities

  • To make SOLIDWORKS pleasurable and fun to use
  • They are responsible for Usabiliity Testing through Alpha, Beta, and other testing
  • They actually do prototyping on the user interface, determine what works, and deliver it to the development team for implementation


Jim’s engaging presentation was jam-packed with interesting tidbits and insights about some of the SOLIDWORKS features we use regularly, unique fun bits of trivia, relevant quotations, and interesting challenges faced by the design team.


Jim’s group consists of artsy-engineers, left-brain-right-brain types who are graphically talented and recognize the benefits of a slick SOLIDWORKS user-interface. Jim showed hand sketches of menus and icon art, photographs of walls covered with cards and post-its they sort to create menus. We saw several examples of early interface designs that never quite made it into the final product. Have you ever seen a horizontal docking Property Manager?


The SOLIDWORKS Desktop is written in Microsoft MSC but the User Experience Design Team uses Adobe Flash and other prototyping tools when they experiment with the screen interface. They must understand what grows (and what does not grow) when a window gets resized, how windows stack or panel. An underlying theme is to maximize the graphics area for users and they are experimenting with ways to reduce the need / dependency on the Feature Manager design tree. They design to the pixel. “Little tweaky things are really hard to get right.”


The SOLIDWORKS R&D team divides each effort into a project. Projects get maximum attention during five-week development windows. A small project may take only two days. A large project may take multiple development periods and even several releases to completely roll out.


“When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.” Steve Jobs


  • SOLIDWORKS released the Command Manager before Microsoft designed the ribbon interface .
  • The User Experience Team designed the Magnifying Glass
  • Sometimes SOLIDWORKS uses Parasolid [1] functions directly, but sometimes needs to develop their own functions on top of them for more capability.  For instance, Lofting is written by SOLIDWORKS on top of the Parasolid kernal [1] surfacing functionality.
  • When we get a zero-thickness geometry error, it is a limitation of the Parasolid Kernal, not SolidWorks.
  • If you are doing a file conversion to/from another software based on the Parasolid Kernal, use the Parasolid file translation option.
  • They got the idea for mouse gestures while using a Microsoft Surface they had at SOLIDWORKS headquarters. During testing of the initial mouse gesture implementation, they observed that users had a hard time moving the mouse to the right “pie slice” in the mouse-gesture wheel. The changed slices from 45 degrees to 66 degrees which improved the users changes of hitting the intended command. This design-angle smartness learned through usability testing is patented.
  • SOLIDWORKS also has a patent on the Feature-Manager-Tree
  • Selection Breadcrumbs, introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2016, were first introduced into some 3DEXPEREIENCE products. Because the 3DEXPEREIENCE products are new, they have a smaller user base and work well for testing. This is common strategy. If something works well in the 3DEXPEREIENCE platform, it will likely work well in SOLIDWORKS Desktop. Jim showed a remarkable image of a time/mouse travel study with and without Breadcrumb functionality. Side-by-side images showed the mouse paths used to complete the same task. Without Breadcrumb functionality, the task took longer (more than twice as long) and you could see where the mouse returned several times to the FeatureManager tree. With Breadcrumbs, the mouse remained in the graphics area of the screen.
  • In 2015 SOLIDWORKS introduced a feature we may not realize we are using: feature-dynamic mouse movement sensitivity. SOLIDWORKS senses when the user may be “hunting” for a small face. This hunting movement will trigger background algorithms which work to make the small face more selectable.
  • Some people really don’t like the new icons in 2016—and SOLIDWORKS took notice! Jim indicated that they needed to do something when some individuals were having problems with eye strain and headaches.  This is why “Classic” mode was rolled out in SOLIDWORKS 2016 service pack 3.0. As a side note, the icons are vector but the screen images are raster. The icons need to work at all resolutions. SolidWorks has to update and maintain the icons and menus so they will still look usable and attractive on the new 4K and 8K monitors.
  • Do you opt into Product Feedback when you install SOLIDWORKS ? If you do, they look at the feedback information—all of it. They look at commands, frequency, and order to try to find patterns that might lead to crashes. From this, they know ESC is the number one used key command followed by Selection commands and View Manipulation.
  • SOLIDWORKS has attempted to make the ESC key kill anything. This is harder than it sounds. Most time consuming paths are taken up by Parasolid and killing all processes usually corrupts files.
  • Ten percent of men are colorblind. The design team tests interface color combinations to be absolutely sure that ALL users can discern the difference between colored selection options in a command or function.
  • The Property Manager is fighting for screen real-estate with the Feature-Manager Tree. The user experience team has explored alternatives which resulted in the ability to undock the Property Manager and dock it in other locations.
  • They have played with a keyboard that changes key images depending on the current SOLIDWORKS command or mode
  • They have played with eye-tracking but the hardware is very expensive.
  • They have played with voice commands but there is not enough demand. There is an add-on product, Xspresso-Soft that enables voice commands for SOLIDWORKS .




Enhancement requests are NOT a black hole and they are all reviewed and added to the SPR database. Enter them at the customer portal. You will first be required to do a search to verify that your enhancement request is unique. If it is, you will have an opportunity to enter it, if not, you can vote for an existing one and add more information to it. Popular enhancements with many votes are the ones that are looked at for implementation, but they also look for enhancements that are found to be closely related to other projects being implemented each release. SOLIDWORKS will contact you when the enhancement is implemented, but may also contact you when researching enhancements that they are implementing for a specific release.


If you want to be a beta usability tester, www.solidworks.com/usability


Documentation Feedback is handled differently. If you want to point out errors or recommend improvements to the HELP files you need to first be accessing SOLIDWORKS Web Help (as opposed to local help files on your computer). Access SOLIDWORKS Web Help by using help commands in SOLIDWORKS ("Use SOLIDWORKS Web Help" is turned on by default under the Help menu) or directly at http://help.solidworks.com. On all the screens there is a “Feedback on this topic link” in the upper right screen area. Enter your feedback here.



1[Technical Note about Kernals. SOLIDWORKS licenses the Parasolid Kernal from Siemens which is the underlying 3d modeling software. In listening to Jim’s talk, it became apparent that not all things are as simple as they may seem. The Parasolid Kernal may limit or restrict how the User Exprerience Team formulates a function or command. Additional information about the Parasolid Kernal may be found online]


Matt Krebs, Southwest Composite Works-Member Vignette


2016-04-13 19.31.18.jpg


Southwest Composites (SWC) was founded in early 2014 to debut composite technology, and specifically carbon fiber, to the Albuquerque area and provides concept-to-completion composite services to a fast-growing market. Matt received his BS in Industrial Technology from Western Washington University in 2008 after studying CAD/CAM, CNC machining, polymers and composite technologies.  Since then he has worked in the fields of CNC machining and mold/tool design and has extensive experience applying his Design for Manufacturing skills to customer projects.  His presentation included:


  • Benefits of Using Composite Materials
  • Considerations / Best Practices for Designing Composite Parts
  • Tools and Tips for Designing Composite Parts in SOLIDWORKS
  • Cost Drivers For Composite Parts


SWC was spun-off from Southwest Pattern Works.


As engineers, we are all aware of composite/carbon materials. We can usually recognize its appearance. We know it is strong, lightweight, and expensive. We see now quite often in recreational equipment, bikes, skis, and fly rods. Matt showed a photo of a HAAS Formula 1 race car that was made out of carbon fiber from “tip to tail”. He also shared a saying they have in the composite industry. “From Drones to Cell phones, not if but when.”




  • Design as a surface body then thicken it to a Solid
  • Draft is good, as much as possible, use these SOLIDWORKS features and commands
    • Extrude with draft
    • Draft feature
    • Draft analysis tool
  • Curvature
    • Use the largest radii possible
    • Avoid tight angles
    • Use the curvature analysis tool
  • Allow for part trimming
    • Extend the stock beyond the part
    • Tolerances


Matt showed us the downforce wing on the HAAS Formula 1 racecar. Together with the UNM FSAE Team, SWC mentored the design and manufacture for a similar rear wing for this year’s UNM FSAE racecar.


Matt demonstrated designing the top and bottom wing panels first using native SWX surfacing commands. It is important to work from the mold surface out. He first added a mounting feature with 5 degrees of draft. Carbon fiber flows much nicer in a molded shape with flowy curves so he ultimately gave the mounting feature 45 degrees of draft. Lastly, he used the thicken command to give the wing panels thickness.


Matt will come back at future meetings and discuss closed molds, parting lines, parting surfaces, and mandrels.




Q: What is their maximum part size?

A:  45” x 25” bounding box. They can create multi-piece parts at the expense of accuracy.


Q: What about layup?

A: It is always good to go with a balanced symmetric layup. Ply specification is always missing when they receive an RFQ. They do mostly prepreg and vacuum bagging. Temperature of the process effects the finished part. High temp parts require metal molds.


Q: Can they make tubular parts?

A: Yes, they print plaster mandrels with a 3D printer and then wash them out of the finished part.


Note: SOLIDWORKS Premium does the plaster layup and analysis.


Thanks to Southwest Composite Works for donating their time and expertise to the UNM FSAE team.







Alin Vargatu, Javelin Technologies Inc.-Custom Properties Management, via GoToMeeting

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We have noticed that 99% of users spend too much time inputting custom property values in their models. There are many ways to fill custom property values in models, but users do not have the time to study the best ways for harnessing all the functionality in SOLIDWORKS in order to optimize the input process and drastically reduce the time spent for actual data entry. We did extensive research in this area and designed the perfect workflow for minimizing all data entry tasks related to custom properties. Former Javelin students consistently report 90%-95% time savings in data entry by using the techniques learnt in our course. We will share with them the fastest way possible for rapidly applying custom file properties (in bulk to all components or some of the components of an assembly, and also to individual components) using all the tools available in SOLIDWORKS 2016. More importantly, they will discover how to extract maximum benefits from the already applied Custom Properties in order to:


  • automate the creation of intelligent Bill of Materials (BOM), capable of making decisions
  • populate bi-directional title blocks - quickly select components in an assembly
  • isolate components
  • sort components - color code components
  • link annotations
  • drive sketch text
  • drive model dimensions
  • drive equations

Javelin is the Canadian Value-Added Reseller for SOLIDWORKS. Alin was broadcasting from Oakville, Ontario, Canada near the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.


Alin considers himself a SOLIDWORKS user first and an application engineer second. He is active three user groups. He delivered three presentations at SWW 2016.


A SOLIDWORKS customer/company suddenly commits to do a huge project. Do they hire more people or work overtime? HIRE ALIN AND HIS STAFF AT JAVELIN TECHNOLOGIES. They will teach your existing staff how to become more efficient at SOLIDWORKS. Your staff will DOUBLE their design productivity and SOLIDWORKS expertise.


Alin put together a course title Custom Properties Management. He presented this at SOLIDWORKS World last February in Dallas and is giving us an abbreviated version this evening. In advance, Alin supplied us with the files and William Radigan graciously printed several of the course manuals and distributed them at the meeting.




Section A: The FASTEST WAY to input Custom Properties to all components of an assembly

               Lesson 1. Apply common Custom Properties in bulk to all components of the assembly

               Lesson 2. Apply common Custom Properties in bulk to groups of components

               Lesson 3. Fast Technique for Applying Properties to Individual Components using a Temporary BOM

               Lesson 4. Apply deferred Custom Properties at the drawing stage (push information from the drawing to the model)


Section B: Using Custom Properties

               Lesson 5. Sort and Color Code Components Based on Custom Properties

               Lesson 6. Create Intelligent Bill of Materials that can Make Decisions

               Lesson 7. Link annotations to Custom Properties at various levels in a drawing: component, view, or sheet

               Lesson 8. Link annotations to text in sketches (to be used in features)

               Lesson 9. Drive model dimensions using Custom Properties

               Lesson 10. Link the overall part sizes (bounding box dimensions) to custom properties


The course contents list above is from the 111 page course manual. Alin’s presentation moved along quickly and was peppered with “WOW!” moments. Alin used SOLIDWORKS Custom Property Tab Builder, Bills of Materials, and Title Block functionality extensively during his presentation. Here are some of the highlights.


  • From a feature manager tree containing parts and subassemblies, select the parts only and then apply a custom property to them
  • Select all parts painted red
  • Select all parts that are heavier than 2 lbs.
  • If you have a list of recurring vendors, place them in a drop-down list in the Property Tab Builder
  • Apply unique descriptions to all the components in an assembly, without opening each component, THIS IS HOW
  1. In an assembly, Insert dummy BOM that has a Description column
  2. Double-Click the top Description corresponding to the first component
  3. In the dialog that appears, choose Keep Link and check Don’t Show Again
  4. Type in the description and press Enter to index to the next component
  5. When finished, select a part in the model and verify in the Property Tab Builder that the Description property matches what you typed in the BOM
  6. Delete the BOM
  7. Save and close the files.

NOTE: This works the same way in a drawing BOM.

  • Enter Title Block Data at the drawing level, not in the sheet format and not in the Sheet Properties Table
  • Push Custom Properties from a drawing, model, property tab builder
  • Use the filter command in the FMT to search for Custom Properties
  • Use the Assembly Visualization tool to correlate color with Mass or the value of any other custom property. Take this a step further and create display states that exhibit vendor specific colors.
  • Create multiple drawing views of the same assembly each with a unique display state. One view might show vendors, one view could show manufactured parts, and the last view could show parts that weigh over 4 lbs. Each view can have its own balloons tied to the Custom Properties.
  • Create Intelligent BOMs that can make decisions. For example,iIn a single BOM column, for each component, if it is manufactured—show the Material; if it is purchased—show the Vendor. He used a logical equation to populate the column =if SOURCE =(”Manfactured”;Material;Vendor). No more mostly empty columns taking up BOM real estate
  • Link annotations on a drawing to Custom Properties
  • Drive Model Dimensions using Custom Properties
  • Change Custom Properties from within SOLIDWORKS Treehouse then port them to the SOLIDWORKSfiles WITHOUT OPENING SOLIDWORKS! Someone who does not have SOLIDWORKS can change/update custom property values using Treehouse.


Related links


A recording of Alin’s presentation is available here:



You may download the training files for the lessons above at this link:



Javelin YouTube Channel



Javelin Technical Blog




InterLink Engineering is looking for a mid-level Engineer / Designer for a permanent position in Ontario, CA & Phoenix AZ.



XL Scientifics is looking for several Mechanical individuals:

Mechanical Engineer Intern: http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/jobs/details/90521

     (currently planning to hire 2)


Mechanical Engineer: http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/jobs/details/90511

Know of other open positions?  Please contact William Radigan to be included in this list.




  1. Gruenig and her students occasionally attend our meetings and are past presenters. What these young people are imagineering and building in their robotics camps and competitions is remarkable. It is clear from their presentations that these students have a head start in engineering skills, mindset, and aptitude well beyond traditional academic curriculums. Everything they do is relevant in today’s engineering workplace AND because of NMSUG interaction, every new kid gets a one-year SOLIDWORKS license.


Do you know a student who would like to learn more about SOLIDWORKS, Build and compete with robots, learn about the engineering design process and how to effectively market their product all while working with a team? If so, please check out our wide array of camps that are at a variety of locations around the state throughout the entire summer (May thru July)! Learn more here: http://begreaterthanaverage.com/camps/




Thank you from our sponsors


Richard Doyle- SOLIDWORKS

Rapid Sheet Metal