34 Replies Latest reply on Mar 6, 2018 4:09 AM by Elmar Klammer

    How much do you use layers?

    Matt Lombard

      If you haven't guessed it by now, I'm working on the drawings section of the book.

      What I want to know now is how much you use layers, and what you use them for? Line styles? Hidden lines? Printing properties? How about line colors? Do you put different parts on different layers in assembly drawings?

       

      And if you do use layers, did you come from an AutoCAD (or straight 2D in general) background, or have you been forced into this practice by someone with an AutoCAD background?

       

      Anything you can say about how or why you use layers will be helpful to me (and hopefully helpful to others).

        • Re: How much do you use layers?
          Jim Sculley

          Matt Lombard wrote:

           

          If you haven't guessed it by now, I'm working on the drawings section of the book.

          What I want to know now is how much you use layers, and what you use them for? Line styles? Hidden lines? Printing properties? How about line colors? Do you put different parts on different layers in assembly drawings?

           

          And if you do use layers, did you come from an AutoCAD (or straight 2D in general) background, or have you been forced into this practice by someone with an AutoCAD background?

           

          Anything you can say about how or why you use layers will be helpful to me (and hopefully helpful to others).

          I don't use layers and rarely use line colors.  I haven't used them since explode line sketches were added to SW.  I used to add the explode lines in a drawing and put them on a layer.  I would convert model edges to sketch entities for trimming the explode lines.  The converted entities were in a layer with a thick red line type so that I could easily see which edges I had converted.  When finished, I would hide that layer  To me, layers/colors are a leftover from the 2D days when model and drawing were the same file and colors were needed to tell the plotter which pen to use.  The only color in my drawing is the company logo and a 'DRAFT' note if the drawing isn't released.

          • Re: How much do you use layers?
            Chris Saller

            I have some ACAD background. I don't use layers for this reason.

            I use them to turn on/off dimensions/etc for show and tell or whatever is needed.

            I mostly use them to turn on/off stamps for different types of drawings (ITAR, DFAR, RoHS, etc).

            I very rarely use line colors.

            • Re: How much do you use layers?
              Joe Ourada

              Hello Matt,

               

              I have mostly used them with title block formatting.  I like to create a TB DIM layer that I set all of my title block dimensions to and hide them after I have fully defined my borders and fields.   Keeps things clean and organized.   Makes updating title blocks easier as well.

               

              Regards,

               

              Joe Ourada

              • Re: How much do you use layers?
                Sebastyon Champion

                i use layers for color coding toolbox parts, ill make all of one length, same size, a different color from from other lengths then attach a BOM and label the corresponding description.

                • Re: How much do you use layers?
                  Tom Gagnon

                  To all of the above, yes. 0, B, C, D, H, & T are old standards for me. I don't feel it's relevant to describe CAD 101 for you.

                   

                  One thing that I find non-obvious but surely helpful in SWx drawings is the Layout layer. I have it set as light green (barely visible), phantom linetype, no print, and default not shown in templates. It is useful for drawing unseen centerlines, gridlines, alignment lines and such. These lines are either related, dimensioned, or fixed. If shown, then I typically hide them when closing or exporting.

                   

                  Other objects are then mated related to these Layout lines, whether it's a stack of centered text fields in my titleblock, a stack of left aligned text annotations or separate note blocks, customer connection points, customer connection list with block symbols, or a hidden connector between manually shown representations of section lines (where actual section is not driven from this view).

                   

                  My primary reason for starting this practice was that aligning text annotations does not relate them. Therefore, editing content or placement of one will most commonly destroy an alignment applied earlier. So, I relate it (or anything else) to a stable line which is present to define and relate to, but will not appear in my drawing result. This keeps design intent persistent across revisions, yet controllable.

                  • Re: How much do you use layers?
                    Glenn Schroeder

                    Matt,

                     

                    I know it doesn't follow any accepted drafting standard, but in my drawings I have all model edges in black, of course, but all dimensions, any annotations with leaders, section lines, etc are dark gray.  I just think it makes the drawings look better, and makes it easier to distinguish between what's an annotation and what isn't.  Notes that don't have leaders are black.  So I use Layers all the time, though I only have a few in my drawing template.  I have one that's permanently turned off for the occasions when I need to add sketch geometry to dimension to, but don't want the sketch geometry to show in the drawing.  For years I used it  for dimensions after I'd linked to the dimension in a note, but then I had a palm to the forehead moment when I found out I can just right-click and hide dimensions.  (I'd love to be able to do that with sketch geometry also and then I could get rid of my hidden Layer.  Maybe some day.)

                     

                    There have been a few occasions when I've used Layers to highlight a single Part in a complex Assembly drawing view, but it's so seldom that when I need to do that I create a new Layer just for that Drawing.

                     

                    I didn't come from AutoCAD.  In fact, I'm helpless in AutoCAD.  I can just barely open an AutoCAD file and print it.

                     

                    You didn't ask, but I also use the Line Format tools often.  As a matter of fact, Layers and Line Format are the only two toolbars I have active when I'm working in a Drawing.  I used to have the Align toolbar active, but Grouping annotations seems to have gotten unstable in the last couple of releases so I've quit doing that.

                     

                    If I think of more I'll post again.

                     

                    Glenn

                    • Re: How much do you use layers?
                      Larry Zawodni

                      I don't use layers at all and have not since the AutoCAD days.

                      • Re: How much do you use layers?
                        Henk Bruijn De

                        I use layers for colored hatches:

                         

                        By default, hatched lines and solids in drawing views are black on screens and pdf-documents.

                        You can change the color by placing the hatch on a “colored layer”.

                        First make the “Layers Toolbar” visible by: View => Toolbars => Layer, and click the checkmark.

                        The “Layer Toolbar” appears in the left bottom corner of your screen.

                        Create a new Layer, with a new name, and set the color of the Layer as you want.

                        Create the hatch on an area (region or view), click on the default “Format”-Layer and select the Layer with the new color.

                        The solid hatch color will override part and component (assembly) appearances.

                         

                        I consider it as a workaround, because I don't know an easier method.

                        • Re: How much do you use layers?
                          Jim Steinmeyer

                          I have 15 years of SW experience with virtually no AutoCAD experience. Layers, what are these layers you speak of?

                          We do place the model as place, the dimensions as blue, weld symbols red and all annotations as dark green.

                          • Re: How much do you use layers?
                            Jon Arendt

                            Matt,

                             

                            Used them in Autocad for twenty years, switched to SW and just about forgot about them for a while. Used them very sparingly since, hardly miss them.

                             

                            Jon.

                            • Re: How much do you use layers?
                              Rick Becker

                              Hi Matt,

                               

                              I come from a CadKey/KeyCreator background previous to SW. In KeyCreator color is king and is used extensively for just about everything one might imagine, and layers are used for everything else.

                              It was a difficult transition to SW with no colors or layers needed.

                              Our sheet format has different things on different layers to control line thickness and we use the layers for a macro I will describe below.

                               

                              We have developed a workflow that utilizes layers on our drawings mainly for color control. We give instructions to our WireEDM guys via something we call "Green Diamonds". Needless to say, they need to be green.

                              green diamonds.JPG

                               

                              We only give our WEDM guys the geometry they need and nothing else (less errors this way). We have written a macro that takes everything, except for the geometry we want, and moves it to a layer this is hidden. After running the macro we have a blank sheet of paper with the geometry and green diamonds and nothing else. We save as DXF and say no to the box that tells us we have hidden layers and do we want to export entities on all layers?. (we do this just in case someone hits save after everything gets moved to hidden layer).

                              • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                Jim Steinmeyer

                                Now I feel really foolish. Our colors are set in our templates which set  - layers with specific colors.

                                 

                                So I guess the correct answer is: yes we use layers everyday. The templates have things like Dims, weld symbols and tables set to different colored layers. We never need to look at them or mess with them.

                                • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                  Kevin Chandler

                                  Hello,

                                   

                                  I use one layer.

                                  If I used a watermark, I'd probably add it to a layer for color and for visibility toggling.

                                  Also useful for adding non-printing secret sauce data, but I'd avoid such a practice because sooner or later, the secret sauce will get inadvertently distributed.

                                   

                                  I've had my fill of AutoDesk and its myriad of layers.

                                  Layers are a maintenance item with little value added.

                                   

                                  Last week I finished converting a customer's layers from an AC template with 8 layers.

                                  One of which was TABLES, so I changed doc options for tables to this layer.

                                  But when I added a table while another layer was active, SW put the table on the active layer and not on TABLSE, so I had to move the tables after placement.

                                   

                                  Layers, like most of AC, are a carryover from 1970's AC.

                                   

                                  No thank you.

                                   

                                  Cheers,

                                   

                                  Kevin

                                  • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                    Wing Hoe Tan

                                    I have been using drawing templates where each of my drawing entity (dimensions, centerlines, notes, hole callouts, etc.) is set to a different layer and colour. I find that this really helps visually in my workflow and it allows me to hide/show and even print stuff selectively.

                                     

                                    Also, I often have a need to hide/show sketches to demarcate regions on a printed circuit board. Hiding or showing sketches manually on each drawing view (by right clicking) is a pain and often unreliable. Nowadays, I would hide sketches at a universal level, create layers and use convert entities to bring out these sketches. This allows for a very neat way of adding a lot of information on one single drawing view, something an electrical engineer would appreciate.

                                    • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                      Richard Gergely

                                      Not used layers since the 90s in Acad. Just use different colours/ line types/ thicknesses as I go. With the selection feature I just haven't found need for it anymore.

                                      • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                        Shaodun Lin
                                        1. Use layer for Line Styles and Color.
                                        2. I never put parts in the different layer.
                                        3. I have ACAD background and I found layer is useful for design communication.
                                        • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                          Kevin Quigley

                                          Yes, extensively. We have templates set up that automatically put dimensions into different layers (and line colours), same for tables, annotations, blocks and sheet entities llike title blocks.

                                           

                                          I have no Autocad background, and everybody that works for me has none either.

                                           

                                          so why use layers? Well we need to communicate with others, and many others use Autocad or similar apps. DWG is still the format of choice in the AEC sector and in many other sectors where issuing 3D data is not liked. We have to consider that we are just part of a process in going from design to product.

                                           

                                          We get quite a lot of Autocad type data from architects and contractors. On the whole, the quality of this data is mediocre at best. So it is not unusual to get a DWG containing hundreds of layers from architects with instructions to "extract the relevant bits". So I make sure that when we issue data it is not like this, and sent out in easy to use and interpret forms. So that means layered DWGs, that the receiver can turn on and off to see what they need (and reuse), and PDF drawings that are crystal clear by highlighting different elements in different colours.

                                           

                                          FYI when you export PDF FROM autocad it can include layers in the pdf. From SolidWorks it just gets lumped into one layer, which is a big drawback, as you often then have to export the same sheet multiple times for different uses (eg, with dimension off). Another thing that needs to be added.

                                          • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                            John Stoltzfus

                                            Having used SW for years, only the last 3 or 4 years I have ventured out and started using layers, now I use them on every drawing.  What's nice about using layers is you can set your Tools/Options/Document Properties and then when you insert a BOM, a Dimension, a Note, a Section View, etc.. It will always bring it in with that color, however for it to be automatic you need to set your layer property to "Per Standard"

                                             

                                             

                                            I also have a block where I insert all my ISO views of the part and I have a layer that doesn't print and I use it to center the part within the block, I also have a Drawing Note Layer that doesn't print and in that Drawing Layer I can add notes that show up on the drawing page, for references etc.

                                              • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                David Matula

                                                some crazy reasons to start using layers.  I thought it was a big joke when they added layers since everything was in the model that you would want to look at.  there is even a place in the model to add those document notes just for that part.  Never have been a big fan of layers in SolidWorks.  Now those none 3d programs could use them more. 

                                                  • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                    Kevin Quigley

                                                    Not sure why you think these are crazy reasons? Implying that those that use layers extensively are wrong? SolidWorks is used in a very wide range of sectors, and for many, drawings are still the contractual document. So for this reason it makes sense to make the "contract" as clear as possible. Personally, I would like see some expansion of layers in SolidWorks into the part and assembly environment. Many other 3D CAD systems use layers extensively inside the modelling environment (eg Rhino being a good example many will know). Layers are just another way of organising data and making things clearer for others who might have to pick up your native models and/or your converted downstream data sets (eg DWG/DXF etc).

                                                     

                                                    At the evry least the current drawing layers system needs some overhauls - things like being able to select multiple layers at one time (for cleaning up imported blocks), or layer nesting in folders and sub folders. Basic stuff that needs adding.

                                                • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                  Alex Lachance

                                                  We use layers to represent our weldings as we find that it is easier this way then with the functions built into the program. It was an idea I came up with, I do have some sort of AutoCAD background as I worked 3 years on AutoCAD before moving to SolidWorks.


                                                  Basically, we draw lines over the geometry and set them to the correct layer so the thickness adjusts itself.

                                                  • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                    Jason Martin

                                                    Hello Matt,

                                                    First let me say that I've used your Solidworks bible to help others at my work learn solidworks from scratch. Very helpful. Thank you for putting your time into making your book!

                                                     

                                                    I do not use layers much at all. I have worked at one company that wanted to set up layers for their drawings but it does not seem very useful to me at all. The layers are only used to distinguish between model lines, text boxes, and dimensions in a drawing.  Solidworks already labels everything with certain colors with problems or checks that we should be aware of. I have no use for layers

                                                    I came from an AutoCAD background.

                                                    • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                      Bjorn Hulman

                                                      Hi Matt,

                                                      I use layers a lot in drawings. I use them as they allow for consistency in drawings, either over time, or in a multi-user environment. My template is set up with multiple layers, some are for the sheet format, some for changing colours to highlight details, and a hidden layer for hiding construction geometry which I would prefer I didn't need to add, but sometimes do. The non-printing layer is also useful. I've used it to add template revision info and instructional info.

                                                      • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                        Paul Risley

                                                        We use layers everyday.

                                                         

                                                        From hidden elements to color coding drawing details.

                                                         

                                                        If we have a parts that is routed through several operations all pertinent information for each operation is assigned a layer. Turn off each layer as needed to print what you need  for each operation. ! drawing with a legend will create an easy to interpret document.

                                                         

                                                        There are also those times when you have to export to DXXF or DWG for an end user that has Autocad. It is nice to be able to map layers to turn out a plant layout or something like it with colors applied so there is some difference between all of the different parts.

                                                        • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                          Carrie Ives

                                                          Lately, I have started using them to get layers in an exported DXF file. This is the easiest way to communicate the printed circuit board information to the person actually doing the ECAD work for the PCB. The primary side components go on a layer, the secondary side components go on a layer, and the board has its layer. It's a very manual process, but we have a small company and the time to set up libraries to transfer this information with circuitworks just doesn't make sense.

                                                            • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                              David Matula

                                                              the time taken to set up any part of SolidWorks properly is well worth in in the time saved over the lifecycle of the program.  It could be as simple as saving a drawing template as and engineers name cause he likes some different font on his drawing...the 10 seconds it takes to change that over the year could turn into hours.  It removing 4 keystrokes over time could make a difference.  Removing 2 mouse clicks per drawing.....

                                                            • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                              Kevin Chandler

                                                              Hello Matt Lombard,

                                                               

                                                              I think the best advice on layers is to use them judiciously and with good reason, especially for those new to SW (or CAD in general) and more especially for those who haven't experienced the joy of AutoCAD and all the fudgin' around and futzin' around one had to do with layer management.

                                                               

                                                              Perhaps show them the layers dialog from Draftsight for them to see how much junk has to be maintained if you take layers too far down the chapel

                                                              aisle.

                                                               

                                                              Good luck with the new book.

                                                               

                                                              Cheers,

                                                               

                                                              Kevin

                                                              • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                                S. Casale

                                                                I use layers from the default setup. I have a mark-up layer that I use when marking up prints or showing changed dims - I use it sometimes.

                                                                 

                                                                I also have a hidden layer to hide some stuff when needed.

                                                                • Re: How much do you use layers?
                                                                  Elmar Klammer

                                                                  Hi Matt,

                                                                   

                                                                  You make it sound like an AutoCAD conspiracy....<force to.....> They are most certainly a good function that should be used with good judgement. I understand that some AutoCAD applications have gone overboard with excessive layer options.

                                                                   

                                                                  Layers in general are a great tool in drawings. We place specific drawing objects on different layers i.e. dimensions, text, title block

                                                                  We use No-Print to hide items or information before printing in case we want to share limited information.

                                                                  We also put specific title block elements on separate layers to hide or show information as needed like tolerance tables, Generic parametric linked notes etc.

                                                                  We have dxf export layers like Cut, Punch & Scribe that we use for import to nesting software. They are automatically assigned given functions in the nest creation. Those are used for all 1:1 scale flat pattern drawing views. We convert given model object lines onto the specific layers and hide the original objects like adding center points for holes and hide the circular edge itself.

                                                                  Then I have Hidden & Phantom...those we use if we need to add reference sketch geometry like center or hidden lines that we cannot get SW to do. The line style is set accordingly.

                                                                  All in all a great function to organize drawings and facilitate easy manipulation and filter function for exports. Most formats like pdf or dxf support layers.

                                                                  Some are auxiliary layers that I use if I need to create drawing sketch objects like points or custom boundaries or temporary references.

                                                                  I can isolate them easily to find them afterwards.

                                                                   

                                                                  Elmar