It’s easier than ever to teach others with your SolidWorks CAD models thanks to the GrabCAD Library. Many engineers and students download others’ work to see how something was created. Walking step-by-step through a CAD model offers invaluable information on design and CAD skills. It helps the engineer downloading create better designs the next time they work or use best practices more. By recording your thoughts as you build, or after the fact, you get to preserve your design decisions and give back to the engineering community at the same time.
We didn’t think of how the new SolidWorks Part Reviewer could be used as a tutorial tool until we saw this Football Helmet by Jordan Tadic in the Library. Jordan discovered GrabCAD a couple of years ago when someone in the SolidWorks community tweeted about it. It was introduced in 2011, and it’s a great way to share design notes as it syncs your comments to a specific position in the feature tree. By simply clicking the blue arrows (left or right), you can navigate through the feature tree while reading all of the comments left by the original designers.
Not being run or hosted by a specific solid modeling software is what really opens GrabCAD’s doors to the entire 3D modeling community. I haven’t found a site that’s more open than GrabCAD. Also, I love GrabCAD’s project format which allows users to upload multiple file formats and custom renderings to control the presentation of their models. Native files’ feature trees are always a benefit as they’re going to tell the entire story of how a part was built, but it’s nice to be able to share neutral file formats as well to encourage cross-platform communication. - Jordan Tadic
Create tutorials with Part Reviewer comments
Follow along with Jordan's helmet model to get a feel for how you can leave comments in your model that help others learn and reinforce the decisions made throughout construction of the model. Then, open or start your own model and follow the directions below to add comments as you create.
Step One: Turn on Part Reviewer
Open the model in SolidWorks and click Tools > Part Reviewer. This activates a new tab in the Task Panel, on the right side of the interface. Open the Part Reviewer tab.
Step Two: Enable sketch details
Jordan left comments on some of the sketches, so click the sketch icon on the Part Reviewer tab to include these in your review.
Step Three: Filter items with comments
Comments are only left on the important sketches/features, so to speed up the review process, click the comment bubble icon. This will allow the Part Reviewer to skip past the less important sketches/features that do not have comments attached.
Step Four: Edit feature names and comments
Choose the pencil icon. Edit the feature name and add or edit comments in the comment box. Click the Date/Time Stamp to add the current date and time to the comments. Click Save and Close to update the feature name and comments. Click Delete to remove comments.
Step Five: Browse and review
Click the blue arrows to navigate the feature tree while reading the comments on the Part Reviewer tab. Move back and forth to see how the model progresses. Any hidden comments can be made viewable by selecting the glasses icon.
Jordan's top tools for creating models in SolidWorks
The Sketch Picture Scale Tool allows you to easily scale imported images to their precise physical size for accurate reverse engineering.
There are many ways to sketch splines in SolidWorks, but the new Style Spline is probably the easiest way to achieve a very high quality of curvature with minimal work. They also make it easy to fully define your splines for a greater level of control.
More tutorials are coming
There’s a lot to be learned by reviewing others’ designs. Jordan plans to upload many more models following this format in the future, so stay tuned. Follow Jordan on GrabCAD to be notified when he uploads a new tutorial to the Library.