This is by far my favorite Solidworks feature that no one seems to use or even know about. It’s called “move with triad” and it makes working with assemblies much easier. Right click on any part in an assembly and it should be an available option.
The triad tool allows you to constrain part translation or rotation to a single axis. This removes a lot of frustration when positioning parts in an assembly prior to mating them. The flexibility to position things easily can really speed up machine layout and concepting when things are loosely defined.
The triad can also help you locate parts lost in larger assemblies or move parts that have gotten lost inside other solids.
This is an interesting video from NASA showing the manufacture of what appear to be different composite spacecraft parts including a fuel tank.
The center piece here is an articulated robot mounted on a “seventh” linear axis with a automated fiber placement end effector. The end effector heats the area and applies strips of resin impregnated composite “tape.” The whole process requires a high level of motion control especially with a rotating work piece.
I’m not an expert on the process but it’s easy to have an appreciation for the new manufacturing processes required by high performance composites.
The pair of blue “post” style machines in the beginning of the video appear to be testing for voids in the finished part.
They were definitely thinking outside the box on this one. Interesting concept but some of the claimed advantages seem dubious. The machining envelope appears limited for the size of the machine and the control enclosure is never shown in frame. The tool changer seems like a bit of a kludge and makes the whole system difficult to guard – everything would need to be isolated and caged as a cell. Work piece access also appears difficult and would require a lot of reaching and bending at the waist.
I’ll give them credit for trying something new and developing the concept as far as they did.
Over the years I have used most of the available solid modeling packages for machine design and part detailing. Autodesk Inventor, PRO/E, CATIA, and Solidworks. I tried Sketch Up once and considered it an abomination – it is in a strange uncanny valley between engineering and consumer uses.
Inventor and Solidworks are extremely similar in appearance and function but Solidworks is by far the package I have used the most. It is my current favorite (having learned all of the its idiosyncrasies) and has a nice blend of usability and performance. I have easily surpassed the 10,000 hour mark but still have much to learn.
That being said I have learned a few tips and tricks over the years and plan to share them here. Stay tuned for some Solidworks specific posts.
The goal of this site is for me to share engineering videos, topics, or stories that I personally find interesting. I plan to cover a lot of automation, mechanical design, and maybe provide some light analysis. If you’re into machinery or manufacturing expect to see a lot of really cool stuff here.
I am a BSME and have a background in aerospace assembly, manufacturing automation, and machine tool design.