One of my favorite “hidden gems” within SOLIDWORKS are “Sensors.” Just like when the crew of the starship Enterprise would scan the surface of a planet, SOLIDWORKS users can continually scan and retrieve data from their models. It’s what one can do with this data that is so powerful.
They’re able to track such things as changes in the part weight, volume, and Centers of Gravity. They also can be used to monitor particular dimensions or be created through the Measure tool. My personal favorite use is for Simulation studies.
When I change the model and re-build, the tree and sensor provides feedback to the user.
For FE analysis, sensors are employed to track any output quantity you may wish: displacements, stress, frequencies. These are used in conjunction with optimization studies for the creation and tracking of constraints and goals.
Or plainly used, they simply can be used to monitor key aspects of the design such as peak stresses on a face or along an edge.
At the assembly-level, sensors can be employed to monitor changes in the size of the model for the purposes of packaging or fitting in alongside other aspects of the design. For example, if you’re installing a new machine you’ve designed but you’re limited with regards to the footprint on the shop floor, sensors can keep track of the width and length and alert you should you go over prescribed maximums.
If the costs of shipping are a concern, using a sensor to track changes in the weight can save you from costly mistakes before the product ever leaves the dock! I believe the uses are almost limitless. You should try them!
By: Chris Schaefer, Simulation Specialist