4 Replies Latest reply on Dec 12, 2014 1:11 AM by Markku Lehtola

    Teaching  SolidWorks

    Mike Pogue

      A search didn't turn up any threads on this.


      I'm going to be teaching design with SolidWorks in an engineering technology type program this winter.


      I'm curious who else teaches it, and whether they have any comments.


      I'm also curious if people who aren't necessarily instructors have any thoughts on things they wish they'd known at the beginning, things they wish others knew, things they think are important.


      Finally, I'm interested in compiling a consensus on best practice, since it may do students a disservice to rely solely on my own opinions. But I think that's another thread.

        • Re: Teaching  SolidWorks
          Markku Lehtola



          I've been keeping SW-courses since 2001. I create and maintain the material (about 120 pages inc. exercises for 3...4 days basic course) for the courses myself. I think what is most important is to give good basic skills. Everything is based on them. I mean you don't have to show what you can do with surface tools on basic course...But, tell that they do exist, so they can find and learn them later (or come back to take another course to learn more).


          Also, what I find quite important is to show how you can modify the user interface...it makes work so much faster if the UI is customized...for example, I don't use Command Manager at all, because I found tools behind "S" are faster and I get more space for graphics.


          Other important stuff (my opinion of course):

          • library - on server, there should be librarian to take care of it, otherwise you will have a mess
          • templates - like library
          • configurations - if you don't handle them, you can brake a lot of stuff, so take care that atleast people know what they mean
          • there should be a guide for users in your working place



          So, to get a good, clean start, some of the stuff should be "centralized" so that basic user can't/doesn't have to deal with them (just ends up with mess again, if everyone does what they feel is ok). There's always other more interesting stuff going on when you start using SW, but you should not forget to centralize...what you do at the beginning, can affect your (and others) work many years.


          About consensus - there is no such thing :-) But you can always tell people that "this is just my opinion, and there might be better ways for other companies/products". Often, in real life, you just have to find out the consept for something what you're doing....and that might take time.


          In every course, I also learn something new! So, be humble .-)





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            • Re: Teaching  SolidWorks
              Mike Pogue

              Thanks Mark. I'm planning to start very simple--fully-defined sketches, take advantage of symmetry, what is parametric modeling and why is it great, use the gosh darn hole wizard, extrude, revolve.  I figure that's at least 80% of everything you need for modeling. Add in sweeps and lofts, and you're close to 100% of what the average user does. Then bring in simple configurations, then design tables, and move on to assemblies.


              I've taught it before, but in a semi-formal setting. It was very high impact, very quick:

              • Stop doing these things, start doing these things instead.
              • For the love of Pete stop making your sketches in AutoCAD and pasting them into SolidWorks.
              • Delete your templates and use mine.
              • Any questions?


              I want to be more prepared for paying customers. The order I'm planning is Part -> Assembly -> Drawing, with the students using my templates. Then have them develop their own once they understand the relationships between the files. For the beginner class, I really want them to understand the fundamentals of how to use this program, and then just mention that the more advanced stuff exists .

            • Re: Teaching  SolidWorks
              Daen Hendrickson



              My only "teaching" is/was to new engineers in the group. Some of the 'basics" I found lacking:


              • Design Intent / Use of Symmetry. It seems the standard beginner intuition is to anchor the corner of your part to the origin. Help them understand that symmetry around the origin and standard planes makes things so much easier later.
              • Modeling Efficiency. This ties in with the first point. Let them know that by doing the first, they don't need to add a redundant mirror plane later. Dimensions consume additional resources on every rebuild. Show them that good sketching uses relations as much as possible and only the bare minimum of dimensions. Some relations become redundant. You may need to set two lines parallel so that the dimension tool will add a linear separation instead of an angle, but once the dimension is added, the parallel becomes unnecessary. Don't leave your sketches under defined. Mirrors and patterns are much more efficient.
              • Assembly patterns are much more efficient.
              • Highly Opinionated.... take the time to name features and critical dimensions. A little pain now reaps big rewards later in keeping things organized.
              • Perform a CTRL-Q rebuild before your file save operation.
              • Link drawing title block info to custom properties. Your drawings become nearly automatic.
              • Use of SolidWorks Rename in the windows folder RMC. Teach them about file interdependencies.
              • Folders in the feature tree help keep things organized. If you need to scroll your feature list, then you definitely should look at ways to use folders.
              • Organize, name, add comments, etc so that a different person can open the file in 6 months and understand it.
              • Model Stability - Mate and reference things to the earliest features in the tree as possible for stability. If able choose one of the three primary reference planes. Never reference to a member of a pattern.


              I think you can see that my theme here is "good habits." For the simple level of items your students will be building they probably wont see any difference in performance or stability. But if they learn these things it will enhance their sanity later on.



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              • Re: Teaching  SolidWorks
                Markku Lehtola

                Good stuff/points guys!


                I use PART-DRAWING-ASSEMBLY-ASSEMBLY DRAWING as an order...because I want to show drawings stuff as soon as possible, since it's still the "end product" what us used mostly. Maybe SOLIDWORKS MBD will change this in few years.

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