This is essential for any workout. 3 simple and quick exercises that will make the main workout flow without any pulled muscles!
C:\DriveWorksXpress\10 Minute Workout
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.
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: -
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.
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!!
How quick can you get that job into production?
Obviously that question depends on what you design.
CAD vendors are always advancing the functionality of their products, finding new ways to aid the design process, introducing new products that claim to offer a faster way of working.
All good stuff if you design bespoke products; but what if your product conformed to a set of rules?
I came across this the other day: -
"Siemens made great play of the fact that Synchronous Technology was easy to use and could be edited by non CAD users. Well what is harder or faster than opening the DriveWorks dialogue and entering a few values into boxes to create your design?"
Contributor to a CAD discussion forum
Exactly...what could be faster?
Well there is one thing, what if the engineer does not enter the values in the first place. And that can be done by making those inputs available for the customer to enter, which of course is an option with DriveWorks Live or by having DriveWorks communicate with another source of input.
But there is another speed factor that is extremely important. The speed of setting up the rules for design automation.
Who is better placed in your organization to set up design rules for your product than the engineer that designs your products?
Is it worth the time and expense communicating these rules to a third party to translate into an application only a specialist can understand, or worse into code that needs maintaining?
Part 1 described replacing components within an assembly – this example describes choosing different assemblies to create the customer requirements.
With DriveWorksXpress you select an assembly to drive and create a user form and rules that control that assembly.
With DriveWorks your user forms are detached from the assembly, meaning rules can decide which assembly is the best one to use as the starting point to create the new data from.
This has similar implications on the automation project as described in my last post with the added benefit of keeping your base model simple. There is no need to stuff every aspect of your product range into one model so that it can morph into every available option. You can simply choose which model set best fits the selections made on the user forms.
Consider the following assemblies:
These models have some similar parts, but the main design intent is very different.
The 2 models both require the user to specify overall size and a safe working load for the equipment to carry. The difference being, when the specified height is below 3 meters, or the width is narrower than 5 meters, or the safe working load is less than 3000Kg the resulting design will be the portable apparatus. Otherwise the resulting design will be the heavier duty, fixed type.
You can assign as many base models as are required to a project. The trick is in the rule you apply to the File Name parameter, of the top level assembly, for each of the models.
Basically what needs to happen is each file name results in a valid name to apply to the model set when the models ARE required. When they are NOT required the rule needs to result in Delete.
When DriveWorks establishes what is required to be generated it will look at the top level name and generate everything for it if the File Name does not equal delete.
Take a look at this video to see this process in action...
This is where your DriveWorks projects suddenly take off on a gigantic scale.
There are many areas where this makes a difference; I have picked 2 to demonstrate what this actually means and have split them into 2 parts.
Part 1 – Using component replace to drive components independently of the main model.
With DriveWorksXpress you have one User Form per model set. All components that are to be driven must exist in that model set. Any components that are not required in the resulting clone can be deleted, but the master model could potentially get messy.
DriveWorks allows you to extract components from an assembly and independently drive them – and then swap them back into the assembly.
Take the Trailer Body model below as an example, it has no rear doors.
This is because there are numerous options that can be configured for the doors.
The above models are just 2 of the rear door options. Parameters that can change include height, width, hinge quantity, lath quantity, locking mechanism type and size, etc. etc.
DriveWorks allows these components to be captured independently of the main Trailer Body model but specified as part of the same set of user forms. This has powerful implications for your project, including the following: -
The main model includes a placeholder where the rear doors will be mounted. This can be one of the actual components that can be there or it could be a dummy model with a very small file size. An important note to make is that all files that can replace the dummy must have the same internal ID (As of SolidWorks 2008 mates will fail if the internal ID does not match). You can try how your components swap by trying it manually directly in SolidWorks.
Whichever component you use in the master assembly can have the components it can swap with added as alternative files from the DriveWorks model wizard.
All alternative models can have their driven parameters captured. They then have rules applied to these parameters in the same project set up for the main model. The rule for the File Name of each model is set to result in the required name when the component is required or to be deleted when not required.
The rule for the file name of the dummy component in the main model is set to be exactly the same name given to the required component that is to replace it. And that's it.
You can see a video of a different example to this by following this link - Multiple-Assemblies
DriveWorksXpress is being put to good use by more people each day. The amount of activity on the www.driveworksxpress.com discussion forum is exceptional.
All of these users, who have automated some or most of a product lines design, now want to know what more they can do with the full version. So putting the DriveWorks philosophy of "why duplicate when you can automate" into practice, I will be creating short snippets of videos that clearly explain some of the key points we think you will be most interested in.
Check out the first of this content at http://www.driveworksxpress.com//index.php/What-more-can-I-do-/Custom-Forms.html
The first area I have concentrated on is the User Form creation. Firstly there is a video showing how you turn a single, lengthy DriveWorksXpress user form into multiple, more appealing, wizard style forms. This includes using some of the templates in DriveWorks to easily create an elaborate customer form where data is retrieved from a database.
1 The DriveWorks navigation window makes creating a dynamic wizard style approach to specifying your products a breeze!!
The other video shows a little of the Form Designer – some of the features available, some of the more advanced control types and just how much more scope you have.
2 The DriveWorks Form Designer gives you much more scope and flexibility
... and there are many more to come over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for updates.
I recently spoke with the Engineering Manager of a company who had purchased DriveWorks.
He was keen to tell me about some of his observations during the implementing of their products, and since they had been using it in production.
I was expecting the usual furore of slashing design time by 90% or the increase in orders that can now be taken. But this was glossed over while he told me something more interesting.
In the past if they had given 2 engineers the same job they would have got 2 different sets of data to issue into manufacture.
In the past had they got an order for a particular style they needed to wait for a certain engineer to become available to process the job through design.
In the past only one engineer knew how to enter the bill of materials onto their ERP system.
In the past only a few of the company's products were designed using SolidWorks by the SolidWorks trained engineers, while the others were designed using AutoCAD.
In the past each engineer produced design calculations in various ways – MathCAD, Excel, Word.
In other words the knowledge they held was tribal and they were erring dangerously close to meltdown, if any of the engineers were absent they would not have been able to get work into production. The Engineering Manager was a nervous wreck knowing that this could happen at any moment.
During the collation of information to implement into DriveWorks they had collectively agreed on the best method to design each of their products. Each had learned how each product was designed. All had agreed on how to present the drawings for manufacturing. All experienced the joys of the ERP system. All engineering data was now produced on the same CAD system. All design calculations now shared a common format.
All this had obvious implications for eliminating mistakes, saving time on manufacturing queries from inconsistent information, the reliance of individuals to fulfil their part of the process, the need for engineers to be proficient in multiple applications.
And on top of this the Engineering Manager could now relax knowing that jobs will always get done, on time. He also had more confidence in his own knowledge of the products they manufactured.
His engineers are now united, early fears that jobs were on the line have now been replaced by a more fulfilled role. Some are collaborating on product development, never having the time to do this before. Some are working on other tasks within the business that can be automated. All will be SolidWorks and DriveWorks trained.
The days of tribal knowledge within engineer to order companies have gone.
So, for all of those that missed SWW I will try and put into words and pictures what the technical team were demonstrating on the DriveWorks booth at SolidWorks World.
The screen shot below shows just 4 variations of a pressure vessel that were all automatically generated (along with all part and assembly drawings) by DriveWorksXpress. All in line with rules and equations that were put in place with DriveWorksXpress
Before I continue let me explain the difference between an equation and a rule: -
An equation is a mathematical calculation stating that 2 elements are the same, 1+1=2.
Elements can be constants or variables but the items either side of the = symbol must always equal true, x(x -1) = x 2- x
Engineers use equations in the following form: -
Body Length=L - 2*C ...or... Max. Pressure = (2 Ѳ t)/(r+0.2t)
The variables in the equation (the L, C, Ѳ, t and r) can be substituted with other equations or information coming from the input form. The item we want calculating (i.e. Body Length or Max Pressure) is set to a captured parameter in DriveWorksXpress. However, with an equation the same calculation will always apply.
A rule, however, is much more flexible. A rule allows one equation to be applied under certain conditions or a totally different equation to be applied under other conditions. More than that rules do not need to only control equations, a rule can select text to apply, materials to select, components to replace or maybe which configuration to choose. Rules are the great thing about DriveWorksXpress; they are used to automate the design of your products.
So we have established that rules and equations are attached to a captured parameter, but we also mentioned that our rules and equations contain information coming from an input form. Below is the input form created to ask the questions required to specify the pressure vessel. This allows the rules and equations to calculate, which drives the parts, assemblies and drawings: -
The red fields indicate information is missing.
So what rules and equations were used to allow us to automate the design of the pressure vessel?
Lengths, diameters, thicknesses, inlet / outlet positions and sizes, along with quantity and pitch of baffle plate perforations. Cage section size, secondary support quantity (if required), inclined foot height and angle all need to be calculated.
Look carefully at the input form; the captions next to each input appear in the rules above (shown in bold). This allows each equation and rule to calculate to drive the parameter it is set to.
Now we only had a limited time to get a point across so more often than not we just ran a few specifications through DriveWorksXpress and watched it build all the parts, assemblies and drawings, while explaining what was happening underneath the hood. But if anybody did want to learn exactly how the demo was put together the above is the first part of what we demonstrated, in about 5 minutes, live.
One last point to make is that DriveWorksXpress is not only for automating the design of pressure vessels. It automates the design of any product where rules and equations can express the changes that happen to its components.
I've just about recovered from a packed week at SolidWorks World.
SolidWorks World was particularly exciting for me as we distributed almost 1000 copies of The Little Book of Rules.
Requests for me to sign copies elevated my ego to superstar status; and it was very pleasing to hear from people who had already got the book and put it to good use.
Exhibiting at SolidWorks World does take a lot of preparation; from the logistics of taking 8 members of staff and all the required equipment to providing material for presentations and promotional displays is all meticulously planned. Thank goodness for Maria and Claire.
The technical side of things, what we demo, is easy. We have DriveWorksXpress and DriveWorks to thank for that.
With DriveWorksXpress now seeing the light of day as companies roll out SolidWorks 2008 we wanted to get some main points across.
We like to make the most of any opportunity in front of our reseller channel; and as a large percentage of SolidWorks resellers also sell DriveWorks it was a great chance for us to show the latest enhancements, discuss opportunities and provide some technical and sales guidance.
Of course there would be no point in us attending the show at all if it was not for the attendees. This year not only saw many DriveWorks customers visit us, but also saw the largest number of potential customers visit us. In previous years (this was our 7th SolidWorks World!) our time has been spent educating on what design automation is and what DriveWorks does. This year the attendees were split between those telling us how DriveWorksXpress has saved time and those gathering information for when they do install SW2008 and start using DriveWorksXpress.
All were grateful for their Little Book of Rules.