HD’s top tips to improve SolidWorks productivity

CAD of Seward Machine by Haughton Design

We know that when working from home, keeping productivity up is key to ensure you’re working as efficiently as you would in the design studio. Luckily for us, we’d started creating a bank of SolidWorks top tips prior to lockdown, which have really helped our team. Design Development Engineer, Danny Morris, has put together 5 of the best tips for increasing your productivity. After being crowned the speediest of the team when the guys at SolidWorks challenged us to a sketching test, we think Danny knows what he’s talking about.

Here are some productivity tips on how to optimize your workflow in SolidWorks to shave hours off a CAD intensive project. Although these tips will seem minuscule, please remember that these could be actions that you perform 100+ times a day. So, let’s say it took you on average 2 seconds to select a construction line in a sketch and you could reduce that to 0.5 seconds, over time you would notice a significant jump in your productivity.

Think of it not so much as groundbreaking methods but fine tuning the skills you already have.

Keyboard shortcuts

SolidWorks has packed in loads of keyboard shorts which shave time off repetitive tasks. These range from standard windows shortcuts such as copy, paste and save… to Assembly short cuts such like Alt+Ctrl drag which copies a component within a model. Even though SolidWorks is already pre-set with over 30 keyboard shortcuts, you can customize and create your own shortcuts to boost productivity even further.

A handy custom shortcut I have added is “mass properties” To the “W” key. Reason being we often have to consider weight and volume of a design to meet strict specification. This allows me to quickly assess my model during design.

Mouse Gestures

This can feel like a real game changer if you haven’t adopted it already. Mouse gestures are set to a wheel which pops up when you hold down right click and move the mouse.

SolidWorks_Mouse_Gestures

You can customize your wheel with your preferred tools for parts, sketching, assemblies and drawings. You can set up to 12 gestures, but I like to use 4. A good example of the effectiveness of mouse gestures is the construction line tool mentioned earlier.

SolidWorks_Conctruction_Lines

The most common way to activate this would be to navigate away from your sketch to the line tool, hit the drop-down menu, select the construction line and navigate back to where you started.

With mouse gestures, you simply right click, then navigate to where you have placed it on your wheel.

SolidWorks_Wheel

This takes a 2 second operation to a near instantaneous selection, and this can be applied to up to 12 tools!

Search Command

How many times have you hit the “insert” tab in SolidWorks and slowly worked your way down the features until you find what you are after? If this is the case, typing in the feature you require in the tool bar will save you searching through all of the SolidWorks sub menus.

Please note that when you initially start SolidWorks. The search command will be preset to “SolidWorks Help”. Select “SolidWorks Commands” from the drop down menu to activate it. You can preset Solidworks to prioritize the “search command” function in place of “Solidworks Help”.

Sketch Relations

Sketch relations not only help with constraining a sketch but can also be used to boost productivity. Take sketch slots for example, instead of dimensioning each slot, you can select the “Equal Slots” relation and only have to dimension one slot. You can also minimise dimension detail by using sketch relations such as parallel, perpendicular, horizontal, vertical, etc.

SolidWorks_Sketch_Relations

Delete Face/Move Face

These are actually 2 separate features but both tend to be used in the same scenario. The delete face removes pre-selected faces, you then have various fill options such as “delete and patch”.

The Move face option allows you to offset, rotate and translate faces. This feature is advantageous over features such as cut extrude as it does not require any prior sketch work.

These features are great quick editing, particularly if you have solid body parts with no feature tree, or just need to quickly modify something to meet a tight deadline.

Hopefully you find these tips useful. We’d love to know your own tips for improving productivity.