Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Pitch and Quantity

Calculating the parameters of Component and Feature Patterns can cause some confusion.

Typical parameters used to drive patterns include Pitch, Quantity and End Distance.

The problem being that each of these parameters rely on the other to be calculated before it can be satisfied.

The solution is simple. Use the equation for each of the parameters within the calculation for the other parameters.

We do need to use some preferences within the calculations, for instance you may have a particular preference for your pitch. Or it may be a preferred distance for the pattern to start.

These preferences may be variable, in which case you can use an IF statement to select a value of a number of possible options.

This example requires you to enter your preffered pitch (but it could just as easily be calculated in the rules), DriveWorksXpress calculates the Top Distance and quantity based on this entry.
Download the file from the URL below.
Extract it to C:\DriveWorksXpress
This will create the subfolder \ladder
Open SolidWorks and launch DriveWorksXpress, select Create\Change database and browse to C:\DriveWorksXpress\ladder\ladder.mdb

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

10 Minute Workout

Warm up

This is essential for any workout. 3 simple and quick exercises that will make the main workout flow without any pulled muscles!

  1. The first thing to do is to create a folder where the workout files will be stored. I have just created the following folder structure on my C drive: -

    C:\DriveWorksXpress\10 Minute Workout

  2. Next, in SolidWorks, model a very simple part. A circle for example, and dimension the diameter – don't worry about the size. Extrude it to a depth; again don't worry about how much. Save the part in the workout folder created above with a suitable name – Cylinder. Insert the part into an assembly and save the assembly into the same folder. Give it a name - Cylinder Assembly.

    Note it is important the assembly has a different name to the part! Inserting the part into an assembly will allow the example to be expanded if needed.

  3. Finally create a DriveWorksXpress database. In SolidWorks select DriveWorksXpress from the Tools menu.

    By default DriveWorksXpress will create and open an Access database called DriveWorksXpress.mdb in your user profile\Documents\DriveWorksXpress location. It is OK to create a new database in any location you want if your user permissions allow.


With the warm out done we can now get down to some good exercise. I have broken the exercise down into 3 key stages: -

  • Let DriveWorksXpress know what you want to manipulate with rules –this is the CAPTURE stage

  • Build a form that allows the requirements to be entered – this is where we CREATE the user forms

  • Apply the links between the captured information and the requirements – I have called this stage CONTROL!


This is where we tell DriveWorksXpress what we want to automate. This starts with checking the models within the assembly that change and then the parameters of those models (dimensions, features, properties etc.), any drawings are also captured. To begin with we'll just get used to controlling models and dimensions.

If you still have the DriveWorksXpress wizard open from #3 in the Warm up section above you should see this: -

If the DriveWorksXpress wizard has been closed, make sure the Cylinder Assembly file is open in SolidWorks and then launch the wizard (SolidWorks Tools menu>DriveWorksXpress), click the capture tab.

With the option to "Use current open model" selected click Next on the wizard. This will capture the Cylinder Assembly for automating.

Follow the video to capture the elements that need to be controlled.

Now we have something to automate we need an area where we can enter the inputs. The inputs define our requirements for the assembly being automated and are presented on a Form.
Follow the video to create the Form.

Finally we link the items we want to automate to the inputs; we tell DriveWorksXpress how the parameters are controlled in relation to the inputs. This is usually done by defining rules (which we do another day) but to show the link in its simplest way we will just connect the captured parameters to the inputs directly.

Follow the video to control the parameters.

Now you can enter your requirements on the form and generate the new models.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

10 minute workout!

There is nothing like a good workout to clear the mind and see things in a different light. And as much as your body needs that workout sometimes you can benefit from giving your designs a little exercise.

I'm talking about automation. Flexing the processing power of your computer and letting it take some of the workload away from you.

The first problem is to understand the tools available to you. But finding the time to learn new tools can be difficult.

We have many tutorials available for learning DriveWorksXpress. But you still need to set aside an hour or so to go through them. Some may not have that hour to dedicate, so over the next few days I am going to break that time down into 10 minute slots.

10 minutes of work out time that you can pick up and put down with ease, without affecting your workload.

These work outs will be totally unrelated to any specific product; they are just intended to give you an insight into how to control your models.

So grab a coffee, open your lunch box and let's get exercising!!

Friday, 6 February 2009

DriveWorks at SolidWorks World

For those that are attending SolidWorks World next week there are an unprecedented number of breakouts tailored towards design automation.

The interesting point about this is that these are topics that people who use DriveWorksXpress or DriveWorks have chosen to present. It gives us great satisfaction that DriveWorks is making such an impact that end users and resellers are compelled to talk about it.

I have picked out the sessions that focus on DriveWorksXpress and DriveWorks below: -

Designing for Reusability
Monday, February 9, 1:30 - 2:30 - Jeff Sweeney, Engineering Data Specialist, 3DVision Technologies - Room: Osprey Ballroom
Learn how to use existing designs to create new designs. Attendees explore what happens when parts change and customers do not use SolidWorks, how to create library parts for flexibility, and examine configurations, design tables, the API, mates, and DriveWorksXpress.

Design Automation with DriveWorksXpress
Tuesday, February 10, 1:30 - 2:30 (Hands-On) - Steve Fick, Regional Application Engineer, Fisher/Unitech - Room: Swan 2
Learn how to easily automate your designs with DriveWorksXpress. In this hands-on session, attendees walk through creating an automation project; capture dimensions, properties, drawings, and configurations; and explore different options for the powerful rule-building capability that DriveWorksXpress offers.

Design Automation: Design Tables vs. DriveWorksXpress
Tuesday, February 10, 1:30 - 2:30 (Hands-On) - Scott High, Technical Services Manager, 3DVision Technologies - Room: Swan 3
Discover which SolidWorks tools are best suited for your design processes and how to scope and develop an automation project. Via step-by-step, hands-on exercises, attendees will contrast the different methods of automation as they utilize Design Tables and DriveWorksXpress.

Save Time and Money with DriveWorksXpress
Tuesday, February 10, 2:45 - 3:45 - Trevor Waldeland, Product Designer, Eric Summerfield, Design Drafter, Exlar - Room: Swan 9/10
Learn how to automate design aspects that you do day after day - and never do them again! Attendees examine how to use DriveWorksXpress to automate features in their designs and create one-off parts fast and cost-effectively.

Design Automation for Today and the Future - A DriveWorks Story
Tuesday, February 10, 4:30 - 6:00 - Nicholas Benner, Mechanical Engineer/CAD Administrator, Scott Buiten, Mechanical Engineering Manager, Granco Clark - Room: Swan 7/8
Gain a broader view of design automation for an immediate return and with an eye to the future. Attendees explore what an implementation at their company might entail and how to get an early ROI without sacrificing long-term goals.

Design Automation Options within SolidWorks
Wednesday, February 11, 1:30 - 2:30 - Keith Schaefer, Regional Technical Manager, Computer Aided Technology - Room: Asia 4
Gain a better understanding of the different progressions of design automation within SolidWorks. Attendees will examine the strengths and weaknesses of configurations and design tables, DriveWorksXpress®, and DriveWorks®, as well as available options, add-on products, and tips and tricks.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Custom Wheelchair design automated

New DriveWorksXpress example now available.

Another example on the DriveWorksXpress website is of automating the design of custom chairs. This is a big industry, but one historically associated with mass production. Customer driven demands and the development of the industry into sports and recreational activities mean this product now involves a lot of design time. Time that can be saved by adopting design automation.

Sunday, 11 January 2009


I am asked quite often how a date, entered on a user form, can be driven into a captured custom property.
When a date is entered into a text box, DriveWorksXpress will report the date:time code used by excel. You must let DriveWorksXpress know how the date is to be formatted. To do this we can make use of the Excel TEXT function. The TEXT function needs to know 2 things: -

  1. The item to be formatted

  2. How it is to be formatted

The rule will look something like this: -

= TEXT ( InputName , "mm/dd/yy" )

Where InputName is the user form control where the user enters the date, and the element within "" is how this is to be displayed.

This will result in 01/11/09, other formats can be used. For instance: -

"mmm-ddd-yyyy" will equal Jan-11-2009

"DDD DD,MMMM YY" will equal Sunday 11, JANUARY 09

There are many combinations of formatting that can be used, best bet is to just experiment until you hit the one you want.

The only hang up with this is the date must be entered in a specific format on the user form.

However there are some functions that calculate the date automatically, so there is no need for it to be entered on the form. The NOW function is one which returns the current date that your system is set to. This function requires no arguments, so it will just be entered as =NOW(). This again returns the date/ time code, so you must use the TEXT function with it: -

= TEXT ( NOW () , "dd/mm/yy" )

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Happy Birthday!!

The Little Book of Rules has just turned 1.
The book has proved to be a valuable source of information for everyone who is using DriveWorksXpress. It is packed with examples of common functions used in building rules. One reviewer has even wrote:
A Must Read
...It is clear, concise and easy to read. If
you are interested in Design Automation this is the book to have.

Over the past 12 months the Little Book of Rules has reached number 62 on the Lulu all time best sellers list (current position is 65). And there are over 4000 (yes - four thousand!) copies in circulation.

These facts are a good indicator that DriveWorks and DriveWorksXpress are helping engineering companies to speed up the design function with design automation.