Hidden Gems in SOLIDWORKS 2019 or Later

   By on July 24, 2020

SOLIDWORKS understands that engineering is a process of constant improvement. Their software reflects this philosophy and every year more and more features are added to improve the user experience. We always cover the major changes in our roll out presentations, but sometimes there are hidden gems that you might not have heard about.  In today’s article, I go over some of those gems from SOLIDWORKS 2019.

>> Explore some of the hidden gems in SOLIDWORKS 2018

Show Breadcrumbs at Mouse Pointer

Breadcrumbs have been a convenient way to navigate through your parts and assemblies since 2016. By clicking on an entity in the graphics area, such as a face or edge, information about that entity will be displayed in the upper left of the graphics area. 

Breadcrumbs  in SOLIDWORKSClicking the different items in the breadcrumbs allows you to access various tools, such as feature edit, sketch edit or mate options. This can greatly speed up part and assembly navigation, as well as make editing much easier. There’s no need to go searching through your feature or assembly tree, and parts and features can be selected directly from the graphics area. In 2019, SOLIDWORKS added an option that made breadcrumbs even easier to use. Now, breadcrumbs can automatically be shown directly on your mouse pointer when you select an entity, rather than the upper left of the graphics area.


Breadcrumbs option in SOLIDWORKS

This can speed up the usage of breadcrumbs, and saves on mouse travel, giving users a more ergonomic experience.

Measure Tool Available Any Time

Another subtle addition for 2019 was the ability to use the Measure tool. In previous versions of SOLIDWORKS, users would occasionally have to exit the Property Manager for the active tool before they were able to measure something within their part or assembly.  Now in 2019, it’s no longer blocked from use, and available whenever you might need it.

Measure Tool in SOLIDWORKS

Click to enlarge

Specify Default Save Folder

Many users make use of an “in progress” or “working” folder for their CAD designs. If there’s a folder to which you frequently save your documents, it may be helpful to set that as your Default Save folder. SOLIDWORKS 2019 now allows this option to be set as part of your File Locations settings.

File location settings in SOLIDWORKSClick to enlarge

Now, when a document is saved for the first time, SOLIDWORKS will automatically browse to that folder in the Save As dialog without having to manually do so.

Synchronize the Component Preview Window with the Assembly Window

The component preview window can be invaluable when it comes to selecting edges or surfaces on enclosed or hard to reach components. In the past, the component preview window was not synchronized to the graphics area, causing difficulties when rotating the model. Orientation could be lost, and on parts with symmetry, it may have been difficult to determine whether the correct selection was being made. In 2019, SOLIDWORKS added the option to synchronize the component preview window with the orientation and zoom level of the component in the graphics area. This makes it much easier to make the proper selections on the component being previewed.

Component preview in SOLIDWORKS

Roll Back Exploded View Steps

When creating exploded views, it can sometimes be difficult to ensure you’re creating the explode steps in the correct order. Once the exploded view is complete, you may discover that you’ve forgotten to explode a subassembly or a specific component. Fortunately, in SOLIDWORKS 2019, users can now rollback through the assembly explode steps. This makes it easy to go back and add in an explode step between existing explode steps. 

Exploded Views in SOLIDWORKS

The steps can also be re-ordered by dragging and dropping them within the list of explode steps. This is particularly useful when creating explode or collapse animations where the sequence of steps is more important.

Second Direction for Circular Patterns

Prior to 2019, circular patterns were limited to a single direction around an axis. This often necessitated a second circular pattern feature if additional instances were required in a second direction. In SOLIDWORKS 2019, it is now possible to specify a two-directional circular pattern. The pattern instances can either be symmetric in both directions or the second direction can have its own unique spacing.

Circular Pattern in SOLIDWORKS

Click to enlarge

Pattern Components Up to a Selected Reference

Another useful pattern enhancement for 2019 was the ability to define linear patterns based on a referenced edge, face or vertex within the part. This allows patterns to be specified either by the distance between instances or the total number of instances, rather than having to specify both of those parameters. 

When defining the pattern by instances, SOLIDWORKS will adjust the spacing between them accordingly to fit the specified number of instances from the starting position of the seed feature to the selected reference. By default, it will pattern the centroid of the selected seed feature up to the selected reference.

Pattern selected reference in SOLIDWORKSClick to enlarge

As can be seen, this is not always desirable, and therefore another option exists to instead use an additional selected reference on the seed feature to be patterned up to the selected reference defining the pattern. Additionally, an offset can also be specified, making sure that the pattern does not cut through or interfere with the selected reference.

Selecting pattern reference in SOLIDWORKS

Click to enlarge

When defining the pattern by the instance spacing, the same parameters apply, but SOLIDWORKS will automatically adjust the instance count to fit the pattern instances within the confines of the selected reference.

Selected reference in SOLIDWORKS

Click to enlarge

Exclude Selected Drawing Views from Automatic Updates

On SOLIDWORKS drawings, occasionally there are views that can be quite complex and take a long time to update whenever the model geometry changes. This can lead to time- consuming wait times when detailing a drawing and making minor adjustments to the model geometry. In SOLIDWORKS 2019, selected views can now be excluded from automatically updating. 

Selected views in SOLIDWORKSClick to enlarge

This allows users to make the required changes to the model geometry and update annotations and markup on specific views, without waiting for more complex views to update every time the geometry is modified. When the changes are complete, the views can be manually updated by right-clicking the view in the drawing tree and choosing Update View.

Updated view in SOLIDWORKSClick to enlarge

Include Thumbnails in BOMs Exported to Microsoft Excel

Many organizations need to export their Bills of Material (BOMs) to Excel spreadsheets for purchasing or documentation requirements. This makes it easy to share these documents in a commonly accessible format and ensures that anyone can open them without the need for SOLIDWORKS or eDrawings. Some components may be difficult to identify by name alone. In SOLIDWORKS 2019, thumbnails of the components can now be included in BOMs that are exported to Microsoft Excel.

SOLIDWORKS BOMs in ExcelClick to enlarge

Keep Trimmed Entities as Construction Geometry & Ignore Trimming of Construction Geometry

When trimming sketch geometry, it can sometimes be frustrating to lose geometry that was previously dimensioned. Users may wish to continue using these entities as reference geometry to dimension additional entities. Fortunately, SOLIDWORKS 2019 now provides the option to convert trimmed entities to construction geometry.

Converting trim entities to construction geometriesClick to enlarge

Similarly, it was also frustrating when your existing construction geometry was trimmed when using a tool like Power Trim. In 2019, there is also now an option to ignore trimming of construction geometry, allowing users to only trim away standard entities.

Many of these are minor enhancements, but the combination of these enhancements can lead to a major improvement in the overall user experience. As SOLIDWORKS continues to constantly improve upon the software, even in incremental steps, it’s exciting to see what SOLIDWORKS 2021 brings to the table!

Ready to explore more of the features in SOLIDWORKS 2019? Head over to our blog, where we provide a summary of each one of these features and guide you through them.

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Mike Souders

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