Five Unsung Heroes in SOLIDWORKS 2015

If you’ve had a chance to attend our SOLIDWORKS 2015 premiere events –and several hundred of you have– you’ve seen a number of major new enhancements and new tools that have a lot of people talking. But in every new release, there are also some less-heralded goodies that I think deserve some more exposure to the masses. Here, then, are my five “unsung heroes” of SOLIDWORKS 2015.

Select Previous. I mentioned this in a previous blog, but I think its really important to know about, and it really hasn’t received a lot of press. If you’ve ever selected a bunch of faces, bodies, or parts in a design, only to accidentally drop the selection set before you’ve picked everything you needed, the Select Previous will turn your frown upside down. It’s available on a right-click, but only after you’ve selected something at least once in your SOLIDWORKS session; the first time I went looking for it, it was right after I fired up the software and at first I thought it was missing in my beta.


Smaller file sizes. File sizes with SOLIDWORKS 2015 have been reduced by up to 50-80% for typical assemblies and 30-50% for parts; another one of the benefits of leaving old versions of Windows behind. Disk space is cheap, but network speed is not, and this will help you work faster on the infrastructure you already have.

Angle Dimension Manipulator. No longer do you have to create reference geometry to give you vertical or horizontal references when there is no convenient part edge to use; this gizmo, as part of the angle dimension tool, lets you reference imaginary cardinal directions. Select the edge to dimension, and then a point on the end of that edge, and you’ll see a cross appear where you can pick up, down, left, or right virtual references to which you can dimension. I’ve made a looping, animated GIF and placed it below so you can see the steps more clearly:


Interchangeable Pattern Types. In the past, if you created a pattern of features and later wanted to take the original feature and un-merge it to create a separate body, the pattern could not be edited to change it from a feature pattern to a body pattern. Now, all pattern types you create (face, feature or body) can be edited to become another type.

Make Independent. Sometimes you bring in several instances of a part for use in your assembly, but then discover that one or more of those instances actually needs to be modified and saved a new part. That exercise was possible before, but it involved several steps and not everyone was comfortable with the process. In SOLIDWORKS 2015, this is much simpler, as you can see from the SOLIDWORKS 2015 Help:

You can save one or more component instances as a new file from within an assembly. The assembly points to the new file for those instances only; other unselected component instances in the assembly still point to the original file.
To save one or more component instances as a new file:
  1. In an assembly, in the graphics area or FeatureManager design tree, right-click a component or Ctrl + select multiple components and click Make Independent. 
  2. In the dialog box, click OK when asked to save the component with a new name. 
  3. In the Save As dialog box, type a name and click Save.
  4. The new component is referenced in the assembly for each instance you selected.
You can save component instances as new files for virtual and envelope components. You cannot save instances of patterned components as new files. 

The more you look at SOLIDWORKS 2015, the more of these “unsung heroes” you’ll find. Which ones have you run across? Let me know!

By: Jeff Setzer, SOLIDWORKS / Composer Product Manager

Be sure to check out other SOLIDWORKS 2015 blogs on SolidNotes

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