Wow, you're shop wants to use Solidworks. You don't know how good you have it. I can't get anyone on the floor to even use the viewer. If they ask why a tab folded funny, you're one step closer to their understanding that the relief type was set to tear. Maybe if you're lucky, they'll tell you that a bend has too tight of a radius for their break instead of saying your flat pattern's to short.
In your position, I'd add an extra license to the next years budget.
I agree with John, be happy your guys are willing to open the SW files and get the info they need out of SW. That is something we encourage at our shop and have an extra network license or two of core SW to allow that. These are used by our CNC guys, our CMM guys, etc.
Also, Kelvin brings up a good point, most all the current versions of major CAM packages can work from SW files directly. Use the 3D data for generating g-code. Saves a bunch of translating of data, by you or your shop personal. We don't want any of our users wasting time translating data.
I agree with John also. The 2 company's that I have worked at tha shop has a set of Solidworks. We built molds at the last Company. This allowed them to create the models to machine the electrodes themselves.
Thanks for your thoughts, guys. We're using SurfCAM and it can read SW model files, but I don't think it can read SW drawing files. They are not programming in 3D - they're just doing contour programming - just the 2 1/2D capabiliites of SurfCAM. The other problem is the EDM where they use BobCAD which only reads .dxf.
Years ago the engineers were doing the translation per Kelvin's suggestion, but too many mistakes were being made as the engineer would forget to translate after a revision. I believe a machine shop, even our in-house one, should do their own translation using the very same database that the engineers are using (our outside vendors are and it works great) then there's less possibility that mistakes are made from a second database that has no automatic association when files are revised.
Have any of you worked with Esprit. I work for a manufacturing co. United Brassworks Inc. We are dicussing how many features need to be included on our models to import directly into Esprit. Threads and corner breaks are the issue. Do any of you put actual threads into a model that a program would read and cut that exact profile or corner breaks/chamfers that are .005 to .020?
Any comments would be great!
Having owned my own machine shop, and worked with a few hundred others, I would say that the labor and errors associated with translating data between your CAD and CAM systems is costing you more than you even know.
Look at just the labor costs. Designers and/or CNC programmers are interrupting their work to do translations. This time adds up. The translation takes a few seconds, but recovering from the interruption takes longer.
Look at what happens if you miss a revision change? I once made a batch of parts that were obsolete, and that was very expensive.
If you take the back of an envelope and do a SWAG estimate of the costs per year, you might be unpleasantly surprised at the number.
I would suggest you take a fresh look at how engineering and manufacturing work together, and consider moving to an Integrated CAM product. There are several Gold Partners for SolidWorks. I have my preferences, but that is not the purpose for replying to this thread.
I'm much more interested in getting you to take a step back and look at how your organization works and consider some (any) Integrated CAM solution. Eliminating translation errors is only one advantage of an integrated approach to manufacturing.
I've been compiling a list: http://www.ngms.us/integratedcam/integratedcam.htm
Why aren't the engineering/draughting personnel creating the dxf's for the shop? SW08 can create them from the model.
Better still, why not lobby to get the shop a CAM program which can read the solid model directly ... eliminate the need for dxf.
Reading your last post you are saying you want to read and translate the drawing files only? So what you need is an application that can open SolidWorks drawing files and translate to dwg? Not 100% sure as I'm not at a SolidWorks station right no to check but I don't "think" you can export dwg or dxf from a SolidWorks drawing file alone - you need to have the live link to the model to do that.
To be honest I can't think of many options here for you. if you need to read the 3D data then consider Rhino or Spaceclaim - both are low(ish) cost and both can read native SW part data.
Not much help but Ashlar have a free application called Share that lets anybody open a native Ashlar file and save to any format supported by the modelling applications - ideal for toolrooms. That's the kind of thing you need here I think?
My recommendation would be to save each SolidWorks drawing as a dwg and use virtually any 2D system to extract the profiles you need - like the free DWG editor for example.
If you are running off a network license add a timeout feature via an options file that will free the license after a specified amount of inactivity.
Create a file called sldwks_d.opt using notepad and add the following line to the file.
TIMEOUTALL 900. This will free the license after 15 minutes (900 seconds).
Place the file in the same directory where the license file is and stop and start the license manager.
Andrew, thanks for the timeout idea. We will implement this and see how it goes.
I was going to make the same suggestion Andrew made. I did that at my last company when the techs would open E-drawings take one measurement so it would pull a SW license and then leave it open a day or two just because they forgot it was open.
Also (as of SW 2013 I think) if you are using SW sheet metal you can save the flat pattern as a DXF from the model file.without making a drawing.