SolidWorks Modeling Methodology: Before You Start Your Design

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When we were taught SolidWorks it was in one of two ways–we were either self taught or we took a class through a local SolidWorks reseller, or maybe at a local college. In either case, when we learned SolidWorks we were taught what the different features and functions were, the settings, and what the end result would be from using a particular feature. In very few cases were we ever taught proper modeling methodology, and what is the best order to create a file in SolidWorks so that we can get the best efficiency from our model for performance, modeling changes and revisions and all the other items that a file will need to go thru during it life cycle.

When we look at modeling methodology, we want to look at several different items before we actually start to create a model.

  • Manufacturing – How is the part going to be manufactured, is it a molded part that needs draft, or is this going to be a sheet metal part and are you adding in the right clearances for your tooling to punch and form the part? These are just some of the many different items you are going to need to consider.
  • Features – There are generally several different ways to create a part, so you need to think about those features and what is going to be the most efficient as you work with the model during the development and life of the model.
  • Assemblies and Drawings – You also need to think about how your parts need to and are going to interact with the other files in the assembly. Also you want to think about the dimensions in your sketches and are those going to be imported into your drawings, so are you dimensioning to the proper points and are those going to carry over into your drawing the way you want.

For an example, today we are going to use a part that is already been produced and reverse engineer the part. The part when we take a first look at it seems simple enough but there are many things to think about as we go about creating it. The part is a acrylic napkin and silverware holder, and below are some images of the part.



Some of the things that we know about the part:

Manufacturing – The part is a molded consumer part, so we need to think about; Material, Wall Thickness, Material Flow, Draft, Parting Lines, Gates, and Ejecting Points and the overall look of the part.

Features -To create the model we need to think about the overall shape and size, the part is symmetric so would it be best to draw 1/4 or 1/2 of the part then use Mirror. Also what revisions could be happen to the part and how do we tie the different sketches to each other so that a simple dimension change does not cause other features to fail. Is it best to use a Sketch Offset, Thin Feature, or Shell to create the wall thickness.

For part 1 of this article we are going to stop here so we can take into consideration all of the different items mentioned above. For my article next month we will start to model the part and show you some of the different ways to model that part and find what combination of sketches and features give us the most efficient model. I would also appreciate that if you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions as to different features or ways to create the sketches for this part you post a comment and I will try to take all of those into consideration as I write my next article.

Thanks for reading.

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Josh Altergott is Support Manager at Computer Aided Technology,
a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations in Kentucky,
Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. He is a regular
contributor to the CATI Tech Notes blog.

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Josh Altergott
Josh Altergott is Support Manager at Computer Aided Technology, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations in Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. He is a regular contributor to the CATI Tech Notes blog. http://blog.cati.com/