BWC News

SOLIDWORKS Productivity Hacks


Posted by Alix Francis | 02-Feb-2018 13:18:14

Since its release in 1995 SOLIDWORKS has been one of the industry leading pieces of software for computer aided design (CAD). It was created to allow designers and engineers to bring their product designs to life with ease and precision.

SOLIDWORKS has continued to develop over the years and has become one of the best tools to use for CAD.

Being able to use SOLIDWORKS efficiently is an incredibly useful skill to have under your belt. Not only will it help you know your way around the programme, it will also help you become more productive by customising the tool to how you work best.

Before you get stuck into these hacks, we’ve created a SOLIDWORKS cheat sheet of commands you can use to speed things up.

 

Download the SOLIDWORKS Cheat Sheet

 

Getting Started

 

Customise Your Toolbars 

Start off by customising your toolbar so you have your most frequently used tools at your fingertips.

Go to Tools → Customise, and drag/drop the commands you’d like to a location on your toolbars.

It’s as simple as that.

 

Mouse Gestures

 

You can customise what commands your mouse can do with a right-click and drag.

Navigate to tools → Customise, and select the ‘Mouse Gestures’ tab to select which commands can be actioned from the wheel.

 

S-Key Shortcut

 

The S-key can be set to produce a shortcut toolbar.

Tools → Customise

 

Command Search

 

At the top right of the screen there is a search by to search commands.

Use this to search for any command and launch them by pressing enter.

  

3D Mouse

 

If you have access to a separate 3D mouse it will make it easier to manipulate the model, you are working on.

 

Features & Sketches

 

On-Screen Numeric InputSOLIDWORKS Productivity Hacks.jpg

 

You can speed up your sketching and add specific dimensions to lines, rectangles, circles and arcs as you create them.

To enable the feature, go to Tools → Options under the System Options tab select the Sketch area and check “Enable on screen numeric input on entity creation”.

 

Dimension to Outside of Arc

 

You can add a dimension to the outside of an arc instead of the centre point.

Hold the SHIFT Key whilst clicking on a circle or arc to quickly add dimensions to the outside.

 

Box Selection

 

You can select all entity types in parts, assemblies and drawings by dragging a selection box with the pointer.

When you select from left to right, all items within the box are selected. When you select from right to left, items crossing the box boundaries are also selected.

Click options or tools → options → selection → Box Selection

 

Selecting Items by Lasso

 

You can select items by free handing the lasso tool around the parts you would like to select.

Click options or tools → options → selection → Lasso Selection

For clockwise lasso selection, the lasso selects only items contained in the lasso loop. For counter clockwise lasso selection, the lasso selects sketch entities in the lasso loop and items that cross the lasso.

  

Selecting Over Geometry

 

This feature is helpful when you can’t start the drag from a blank region. It makes it easier to exclude items you don’t want to be selected.

Without Select over Geometry, if you start the drag on top of geometry, the drag fails and the geometry under your initial click is selected:

Click options or tools → options → selection → Select over Geometry:

  • Drag a box or lass to clear current selection and select different items
  • SHIFT + drag a box or lass to add items to selection

 

Auto-transition to Arc

 

Use the ‘a’ key to quickly switch from line to tangent arc command.

 

Virtual Sharp Creation

 

You can multi-select two sketch entities and pick the ‘point’ command on the sketch toolbar to create a virtual sharp at the intersection.

 

Contour Selection

 

The contour selection window allows you to select a single piece of your sketch to extrude, cut, etc.

 

Offset Plane

 

Create an offset plane quickly by holding CTRL + dragging a corner point of plane.

 

RMB to accept commands

 

Accept commands by clicking the right mouse button and selecting the accept icon.

  

View, Rotation & Orientation

 

Arrow keys can be used to your model on screen:

 

To rotate in 90-degree increments;

Hold SHIFT + arrow keys

Hold ALT + arrow key to rotate in-plane

 

Use Triad to align/position your model on screen:

 

Select triad in the bottom left corner then select an axis;

Hold SHIFT + Click an axis to rotate 90 degrees around that axis

Hold ALT + Click an axis to rotate in 15-degree increments

 

Middle Mouse button shortcuts

 

Zoom to Fit;

Double-click middle button

 

Roll around an edge

Click on middle mouse button + drag on a model edge to rotate about it

Rotate around Scene Floor

Right mouse click in space and select to enable

 

Undo Last View Change

 

CTRL + SHIFT + Z

 

View Orientations

 

The spacebar can be used to create and save custom view orientations

 

Assembly Tips

 

Smart Mates 

 

To quickly mate an entity;

Hold ALT + drag

 

Rotate a part in place

 

Right click and drag

 

Select through transparent parts

 

Transparent.jpg

System options → Display/Selection

To select the transparent part;

Hold SHIFT

 

Quickly hide parts

Hold the TAB key, and hover over the part you’d like to hide.

Show the part by using SHIFT + TAB and hovering over where the hidden part would be.

 

Shortcuts for Advanced Mates:

 

Multiple-select 3 faces, then hit the Mate command automatically invokes a Symmetry Mate

Multiple-select 4 faces, then hit the Mate command automatically invokes a Width Mate

 

Drawings

 

Disable Sketch Relations

 

Hold the CTRL key to avoid creating snaps/relations in a drawing

 

Break View Alignment on placement of view

 

Hold CTRL key before clicking to place

 

Move/copy dimensions across views

 

Use SHIFT + drag a dimension to move to from one view to another

Use CTRL + drag a dimension to copy it to another view

 

Add another leader to note

 

CTRL + drag on an existing leader to create another leader

 

Angle dimension shortcut

 

Select a line, and an endpoint of that same line. Use the quadrant selections for angle

 

Dimension WITHOUT creating virtual sharp

 

While dimensioning, right-click an entity and select ‘find intersection’.

Select a second entity to dimension to the virtual sharp.

 

Download our SOLIDWORKS cheat sheet

 

We’ve put together a cheat sheet of SOLIDWORKS commands to help you whizz around the programme.

Download it here;

 

Download the SOLIDWORKS Cheat Sheet

 

 

Written by Alix Francis

Marketeer extraordinaire, Alix brings you all the latest developments from BWC. She has a great eye for design, and has a knack for finding ways to match our services to our customers needs.