The CADimensions Morning Show – Featuring SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual

mcJoin us this Friday, July 25th, at 8:00 AM EDT for the July CADimensions Morning Show!  This month, Kevin, Franco and Tom are discussing SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual; the latest product released by Dassault Systemes!

We will also be discussing the 3D Experience Platform and product design Simulation, with a special Tips and Tricks session, and discussing the SOLIDWORKS 2015 Beta program.

Oh and FYI. This month we’re giving away a prize, and here’s a HINT for all our special Blog readers.  What is the company culture acronym here at CADimensions?

So Register today, because these virtual seats are limited, and then tune in Friday to see what Mechanical Conceptual has to offer, as well as What’s New with SOLIDWORKS.


Sharing Variables & Equations Between Models

If you’ve ever taken a SOLIDWORKS Training Course at CADimensions, then you are definitely familiar with the concept of design intent.  Considering how a part may need to change and creating the model with this in mind will make life much easier for you and other users when it comes time to make revisions…  and there are always revisions!  One of my favorite ways to maintain design intent is the use of equations and, until recently, I believed these wonderful constraints were limited to the part in which they were created. Fortunately, I was wrong.

A recent modeling exercise I completed involved using SOLIDWORKS to model a set of plastic toy building blocks manufactured by a Danish toy block company, which will remain unnamed. Once all the parts were modeled, I mated them inside an assembly to build a convertible car (with help of the instructions of course).


Design tables and multi-configuration parts were used to narrow down the 100+ piece set into 29 separate SOLIDWORKS part files. One of the most interesting challenges was maintaining design intent across the series of parts. I knew that, without dimensional consistency, creating the assembly would be a nightmare of grand proportions. In my search for a solution, I discovered that not only could I share global variables and equations among multiple parts, but that I could even control their values from a single text file. So I created variables in my first part, exported them to a text file, linked the values to the file, and then imported the variables into each subsequent part. With this system in place, I could work with a common set of variables in all my parts and any value changed in the text file would automatically update each part. Marvelous! So how is it done? Glad you asked…

Export/Import Linked Equations

First you’ll want to establish which variables and equations you’d like share within your parts. These should be chosen based on common dimensions and how you expect the parts to be changed. This is an important step, but don’t worry, you can always add and/or remove variables or equations later. It’s also important to make sure any dimensions, sketches, or features referenced by an equation have the same name in all parts. Once you’ve determined what to share, open the part file containing the equations, go to the Equations Dialog Box (Tools>Equations) and select “Export”.  It’s possible you’ve never noticed the export option, but it’s been there, waiting to be utilized since 2011!


In the Export Equations Dialog Box, you’ll have the option to select which variables and/or equations to export (first column) and which to have linked (second column). Make sure the “Link to file” box is checked.


And there you have it! You now have a text file from which you can change values and add new variables or equations.  Any value changes will be automatically updated when the part is re-built, however, any new variables or equations will need to be imported manually.


You’ll notice when you return to the Equation Dialog Box that the linked equations are now grayed out indicating their values are controlled by an external file. The values can be un-linked by clearing the check box associated with each equation.


Now that you’ve created a text file of equations, you can begin importing them to other parts by going to the Equations Dialog Box (Tools>Equations) and selecting “Import”.  As with exporting, you’ll have the option in the Import Equations Dialog Box to select which variables and/or equations to import and which to have linked. Once complete, the imported equations will be grayed out in the Equations Dialog Box and the “Link to external file” box will be checked and the text file address shown.

Why Share?

It’s not hard to see how useful sharing equations and variables among models can be. First and foremost, it provides an effective way to control multiple models from one location, while reducing build and revision time. Sharing equations and variables can also promote model consistency among different users by providing a common set of modeling constraints. A less obvious, but important, benefit is that sharing equations facilitates good design intent by encouraging users to think about key geometry and dimensions while modeling. SOLIDWORKS provides a ton of ways to control your models and sharing equations is another valuable tool to have in your modeling tool belt. Now go forth and share!


Living The CADLIFE

Last week, CADimensions had our midyear company outing in Geneva, NY.  While we enjoyed a beautiful day in Wine Country, we also discussed how we were doing as a business and spoke specifically about the culture here at CADimensions.  As an employee, we are consistently reminded that the vision of CADimensions is to be the number one provider of engineering and manufacturing solutions in the territories we serve.  While we follow our vision daily, we never truly formalized a CADimensions culture to help us ensure that we were meeting the goals of our vision daily.  That was until last week when we were introduced to The CADLIFE!  While “living a CADLIFE” may be enough as a description and motto on its own, this term is actually an acronym (since we pretty much speak only in acronyms already).

  • C is for the Customer, who is truly the lifeblood of our business.  Every decision CADimensions makes is with the best interest of the customer in mind, because we fully understand that without our customers, there is no CADimensions.
  • A is for Attitude, since a positive attitude is vital to yielding positive results.  Attitude is one piece of our culture that each employee can control, and it can be clearly seen that success starts with good attitude.
  • D is for Dedication, because CADimensions is fully dedicated to ensuring customer success and the best working environment for employees.
  • is for Loyalty between CADimensions and both customers and employees.  The team at CADimensions knows that loyalty is not just a word, but it’s our way of life.
  • is for Integrity, because success without integrity is failure.  While CADimensions strives to expand into new markets and new geography, if we go about our business without integrity, then it is all for naught.
  • F is for Family.  While CADimensions is a family business, it extends well past last names, and includes all employees and customers.  As a family, we share our values and ideas in order to help each other accomplish goals.
  • E is for Employee, who is the foundation of the company.  The hard work and commitment of each CADimensions employee ensures that the correct solutions are provided to the customer.

As each piece of the acronym was presented to our staff, it made me proud to have a phrase that represented what I did on a day-to-day basis.  It was a phrase that was so much more than “I answer tech support calls” or “I give software demos” or “I nurture relationships with customers.”  It characterized a culture that I’m happy to be a part of, where strong values stand for something.  I do live the CADLIFE. A life where the employee is the strong foundation for the five pillars of attitude, dedication, loyalty, integrity, and family that support each and every customer.  

DraftSight: A Free and Fabulous 2D Solution

It’s hard to argue that AutoCAD isn’t expensive when there’s a product just like it out there available for free.  If you’re still roaming in a 2D world and feel like saving yourself some money, DraftSight might be the tool for you.

What is it?

DraftSight is a 2D tool that you can use to update and maintain your DWG and DXF files.
The neat thing about DraftSight is it’s free for everyone to download!

Who is it?

DraftSight is owned by Dassault Systems, who is leading the way with CAD programs such as SOLIDWORKS and CATIA.

What does it have to offer?

With the free downloadable version, your support and training tutorials are all tied into  However, it is also possible to purchase DraftSight Professional which has a bundle of extra services that make it easier for companies that have multiple users. This package also includes phone and email support and a couple of other goodies.


All you have to invest is a little time.  Take this product for a spin and see all the things that there is to like.

Start here DraftSight

Project CADcopter: The Parts List

Finally, a long overdue update on project CADcopter.  I spent a fair bit of time researching the different components I needed to purchase, but  I finally purchased the all components needed for the build:

Flysky 9x transmitter (no tx module)
Frsky djt diy tx module
Frsky d8r reciever
Sunnysky 2212-13 motors
Dys 30A ESC flashed with SimonK firmware
10×4.5 props (need 2x CW and 2x CCW)
Multiwii pro flight controller with GPS
Turnigy 5000mah 3s battery
Lipo alarm

I could talk for hours about all the different possible combinations we could have chosen.  In the end, it all comes down to the lift needed to maintain a hover.  While searching, I stumbled on this handy calculator that helped me choose the motor and propeller combination.  Ecalc allows you to enter information such as the weight, motor rating and propeller size to find out how much throttle will be needed to maintain a hover.  Below are the results for the CADcopter:


As you can see, 54% throttle will be required to maintain a hover.  This translates to roughly minutes of flight time, which is decent for something that weight 3.3 lbs.

According to my tracking numbers we should be receiving the parts any day now, and then it’s off to the interns so they can model all of the components to use in the final assembly.  We have the frame design almost finished, but we need the rest of the components so we can check for clearance.

While we’re waiting for the components to ship, let’s take a look at one of the many designs currently available for purchase.  The DJI Phantom is an all-in-one small Quad Copter designed for multi-rotor enthusiasts.  With a range of around 3000 ft and a 10-15 minutes flight time you can definitely have some fun out of the box with this guy.

WMCH Drone


This design is certainly simple and sleek, but it’s no fun to “buy” something when we can build it, right?  Stay tuned for more updates on the CADcopter’s frame design in the near future.