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This special offer makes purchasing a SOLIDWORKS Professional or Premium license an even smarter buying decision. From now through May 31, 2015 extend your design capabilities by including one additional product license at no cost*.

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Purchase SOLIDWORKS Premium, and receive one of the following at no cost:

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*Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until May 31, 2015. Cannot be combined with any other discount or offer. Educational and Research licenses do not qualify for this offer. Subscription Service must be purchased for one-year at full price on each new SOLIDWORKS Professional or SOLIDWORKS Premium license as well as full one-year subscription price on additional no cost product license(s) outlined in this offer. Other restrictions may apply. Contact with questions.


Using the SolidWorks Note Feature to Improve 2D Drawings

Hello Prism Engineering Community,
Toby Schnaars here with another Prism Tech Tip. Today we are going to examine the process of combining dimensions into notes using the SolidWorks Note feature. Combining Dimensions Into Notes Image 1


When working in a SolidWorks and using the command INSERT > ANNOTATIONS > NOTE, you have the ability to add 1 or more dimensions to this note text. This dimension text will then appear as part of the note, and any changes you make to the original dimension will automatically update the note, as the 2 will be linked together.

To accomplish this in SolidWorks, simply open a drawing and add some dimensions to your drawing views. These dimensions may either be DRIVING DIMENSIONS (from the model) or DRIVEN DIMENSIONS (newly created in the drawing).

Combining Dimensions Into Notes Image 2

Next create a new note (INSERT > ANNOTATIONS > NOTES) and begin typing some text.

Combining Dimensions Into Notes Image 3

When you are ready to add the DIMENSION info to the NOTE text, move your mouse out onto the screen and single left click the desired dimension. You should see your dimension text added to your note.

Combining Dimensions Into Notes Image 4

This functionality works for both DRIVING and DRIVEN dimensions, and any changes you make to the original dimension (for example, adding a bi-lateral tolerance to the driving dimension) will be automatically propagated to the NOTE, via the linked text.

Combining Dimensions Into Notes Image 5

Once the dimensions are combined into the note with the desired display, you may (optionally) utilize the command VIEW > HIDE/SHOW ANNOTATIONS. This command will allow you to single click on any visible dimension in your drawing, changing it a very light grey. Once you choose the command VIEW > HIDE/SHOW ANNOTATIONS again, you will exit the command, and all the dimensions you selected will be hidden completely.

2015-04-06 Combining Dimensions Into Notes Image 6

To view these hidden dimensions launch VIEW > HIDE/SHOW ANNOTATIONS once again and single click on any hidden dimensions. Upon exiting the command these hidden dimensions will return to their previous state (visible).

I hope you find this trick to be a useful way to combine dimensions into a single note, to get the perfect presentation for your SolidWorks drawings. For more great tips tricks and webinars be sure to visit us at

Have a great day!
Toby Schnaars

Toby SchnaarsAuthor: Toby Schnaars, Sr. SOLIDWORKS Applications Engineer, Prism Engineering, Inc.





Using SolidWorks EPDM Data Cards to Update Excel Documents

Automate documentation of ECOs in multiple documents using EPDM Variable Fields

We all know that SOLIDWORKS EPDM can store files created by Microsoft Excel, but what if there is information in the Excel file that we want to display in the file’s EPDM data card or vice versa?

SolidWorks EPDM allows the user to create a relationship between Excel, Word, and SolidWorks content and EPDM data cards, enabling the user to update multiple documents by editing just one EPDM data card field.

Is there anything special we need to do with EPDM variables to make this automated update process work? Is there anything special in Excel we need to do? In this article we will find out how to make EPDM data cards communicate with your excel file:

Overview: Entering ECO data in one EPDM data card to update many documents

A good example of why you might want to push data from a data card into an Excel file is if you are using Excel to document an engineering change. In this example, we will do just that.

I have created a template for new ECOs (Engineering Change Orders). This template brings up a data card that prompts the user to enter information about the engineering change:

using epdm data card to update excel

This data should then be used to populate fields in the data card rather than the user re-typing all that information into the Excel file. Our philosophy should always be to create a single point of entry, meaning enter the data once and have EPDM leverage that data elsewhere automatically.

In this example, when I select the “Create File” button, this is what I get for my Excel-based ECO:

using epdm data card to update excel 2



The text that has been pre-filled into the Excel file came from the data card:

So, how did all this loveliness happen?

Procedure: Link Metadata fields between your EPDM data card & Excel

Excel can store and use metadata just like EPDM and SolidWorks can (This is also true for Word). The metadata for Excel and Word is called custom property, just like in SolidWorks.

We’ll take a look at just one field in the data card: the “Description” field. As we can see, the “Description” field is storing its information in an EPDM variable called “Description.” This Description variable is linked to custom property information called “Description” and it applies to SolidWorks files, .docx, and .xlsx file types. Of course, in our case, we are most interested in the .xlsx file type.

using epdm data card to update excel 3

That’s all that is needed on the EPDM side. Let’s get the Excel file ready to read the information in the EPDM data card:

using epdm data card to update excel 4

In Excel, when you select a cell, the cell’s name is displayed in the top left corner, just below the toolbar. Typically, it’s something like, A11, B12 or G4… Hey, you sunk my battle ship!!

These are the coordinates of the cell you have selected. You can actually rename a cell and that is what we will do to communicate with EPDM data cards. In this case, the field that will contain descriptive information about the ECO has been renamed to “Description.”

To display an Excel file’s custom properties, go to the home button in the top left corner and select “Prepare” and then select “Properties.”

using epdm data card to update excel 5

Select the “Document Properties” pull-down and select “Advanced Properties.”

using epdm data card to update excel 6

In the property dialog, create a new custom property called “Description.” Then select the “Link to content” check box. This will allow you to choose from the list of named fields in the “Source.” In this list of names, you should see the field we named “Description.” Select “Add” and “Ok.”

using epdm data card to update excel 7

Now, that field in our spread sheet is linked to the custom property “Description” which, when added to EPDM, is connected to the data card field “Description.”

And that’s it! Yet another way to automate our processes and make our lives easier through EPDM.


Using SOLIDWORKS to Create Festive 3D Models

March is filled with so many great things: Spring, March Madness Savings, and St. Patrick’s Day! Prism Engineering’s SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Department had a few interesting requests on St. Patrick’s Day…

Use SOLIDWORKS to turn images  into 3D CAD Models:

Aaron & Sean, SOLIDWORKS Applications Engineers, give you a quick look at how to use SOLIDWORKS to quickly design realistic 3D models with a festive flair:

Aaron’s St. Patrick’s Day Hat Challenge:

solidworks model irish hat prism

This was quite a fun model to make. My first thought was, “What do I want it to look like?” In order to decide this, I browsed pictures of various hats on the web.


Once I found a hat that I liked, I began by drawing splines on the front plane until I created a shape for the brim and the top part of the hat that looked similar to the picture.From this point I revolved these sketches to form the base of the hat.


The belt was created by converting, offsetting and trimming entities and then revolving the subsequent sketch. The extruded portion of the belt clip was created in a similar way.

Next, the cut extrude of the belt clip was created by converting the outer edge of the clip onto a plane which was offset from the right plane. I then offset entities and added finishing sketch geometry to complete the shape of the belt’s cut extrude. The last cut extrude was a simple, circular cut created on a plane made coincident to the bottom of the hat’s brim.

Finally, I added the appropriate appearances and the hat was complete!

aaron winthers prism engineering

Aaron Winthers, SOLIDWORKS Applications Engineer, Prism Engineering


>>Download Aaron’s St. Patrick’s Day SOLIDWORKS hat model here.<<





Sean’s Festive Shamrock Design:


prism engineering shamrock st pattys

Being the Irishman that I am, St. Patrick’s Day is clearly a very important holiday for me.


Using the power of the Autotrace add-in in SOLIDWORKS, I was able to have SOLIDWORKS instantly trace my imported sketch picture of a shamrock.


After I extruded the closed spline shamrock, I efficiently inserted a fully-created sketch block of the Prism Engineering logo for extrusion.

In no time at all, I was festively finished!

sean o'neill prism engineering

Sean O’Neill, SOLIDWORKS Applications Engineer, Prism Engineering


>>Download Sean’s St. Patrick’s SOLIDWORKS Shamrock Model Here.<<




How to Get Started with SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD Tools:


If you’re not yet a 3D CAD user, learn more about the SOLIDWORKS March Madness Savings available to help you create quick, impactful models like Prism’s St. Patrick’s Day SOLIDWORKS designs:


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Mastercam Dynamic Motion Seminar Announcement

mastercam dynamic motion event

March 20, 2015—Philadelphia, PAPrism Engineering, Inc., the Mid-Atlantic’s most trusted & preferred source for CAD, CAM, and 3D printing solutions, welcomes Mark Summers, President & Founder of CNC Software, the developer of Mastercam, to its Mastercam Dynamic Motion Seminar March 26, 2015.

Mastercam’ Dynamic Motion toolpaths use material-aware technology to generate milling & turning toolpaths that reduce cycle times, extend tool life, and reduce machine wear.

mark summers cnc softwareMark Summers, President & Founder, CNC Software

CNC Software, Inc. is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art software tools for CAD/CAM manufacturing markets. Our goal is to provide superior software products based on our users’ needs to solve simple to complex design and machining problems.

Mastercam Dynamic Motion Seminar:

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What is it?: At Prism Engineering & CNC Software’s Mastercam Dynamic Motion Seminars, we demonstrate the Dynamic Motion technology in presentations, in-depth technical explorations, videos, and live machining demonstrations.

Where is it?: Prism’s Mastercam Dynamic Motion Seminars take place at Mid-Atlantic machine dealers giving you the opportunity to explore best-in-class CAM software AND CNC machines!

Who should attend?: Those managing/using or interested in using CAM software or CNC machines in their businesses should attend these events. Learn what Dynamic Motion toolpaths are, how they work, and why they’re the industry-leading toolpath technology for any machine.

Find a Prism Engineering Mastercam Dynamic Motion Seminars near you.


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Some restrictions apply. Promotion expires March 31, 2015. Cannot be combined with other offers. Contact Prism Engineering at with additional questions.

Become a CAD Power User & Get Certified for Free

>>>>EXTENDED: Now you’re able to take advantage of this special offer to take the CSWA Exam for free until APRIL 30, 2015!<<<<

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How can I become a certified CAD power user for free?

The Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate Certification (CSWA) provides a strong entry into the SOLIDWORKS Certification program: a series of certifications that enable users to become experts in SOLIDWORKS CAD software. There are over 85,000 certified CSWAs worldwide who are more competitive at work and in their local job market because of the CSWA!

Now for the first time, Prism Engineering & SOLIDWORKS are offering an official prep course to pass the CSWA exam, available at  The 45 module prep course is meant to prepare you to take and successfully pass the CSWA exam.

Until March 31st, this prep course is free. To begin the process, visit and register, or log in and visit the MySOLIDWORKS CSWA Prep course page.  To make this deal even better, if you complete the entire course during the promotional period, you will also receive a voucher via email to take the CSWA exam for free*!

You only have until March 31st, so start your journey to becoming a SOLIDWORKS CAD expert TODAY!

*You will be able to take the CSWA exam only once with the voucher you receive via email. If you don’t pass, you will have to pay for any additional exam attempts. When you complete the prep course, you will be send your voucher code via email. For further instructions, please read this post.

Learn more about certification & training options on!


High Feed Machining with Mastercam

OK. You’re running a simple pocket toolpath and you notice that your optimal feed rate has the tool approaching a corner at what can only be described as a ludicrous speed. If only you could run fast where your need fast and slow where you need slow.

That’s right folks: it’s High Feed time!

high feed machining in mastercam icon

Mastercam has this neat little function called High Feed. Don’t confuse that with the many High Speed options. The High Feed function will only adjust the feed rates in your cut.

Mastercam describes High Feed machining as:

High Feed machining optimizes feed rates for 2.5 axis and 3-axis mill toolpaths. It computes feed rates that reduce machining time without sacrificing accuracy. Instead of using the same feed rate for the entire toolpath (as entered in the toolpath parameters), Mastercam adjusts the feed rate for each tool position based on the volume of material currently being removed. This typically results in a faster machining cycle and better control over the machining forces.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you have a basic pocket tool path using zigzag and depth cuts.high feed machining a pocket

Click on the High Feed icon:

Highfeed iconhigh feed machining in mastercam icon

and the High Feed machining dialog opens:

Optimizing your job's parameters in mastercam

You have two options for optimizing: Finishing & Roughing/Finishing

If we pick finishing, the parameters are controlled by the Machine dynamics in the Machine Definition’s General Machine Parameters. If you pick the other, you can set parameters in the dialog box itself.

After clicking OK in the dialog box, go to the Ribbon bar:

High Feed-Ribbon Bar

Click the Step button and watch how the feeds will change as you click along:High Feed-Big arrow


High Feed-Little arrow

Click the Run button and it will apply the feeds to the tool path:

2014-10-30 High Feed-Ribbon Bar 2

You’ll get a notice of how much the time decreased or increased and it will lock the operation to prevent regeneration.

Post the operation and you’ll see the changes in the federate:

High Feed-Code

Now, it’s your turn! Go experiment. Below is a quick video to help you understand how easy it is to use Mastercam’s High Feed function:

Feed Rate Optimization is a technique that allows shops to increase machining efficiency by optimizing the feed rate to suit the moment-by-moment cutting conditions. Based on the volume of material removal and tool limitations, feed rates are produced that correlate with the specific job: slower during high-volume removal, faster during low-volume removal. Learn how to optimize your 2-/3-axis toolpaths with this High Feed Machining tutorial from Prism Engineering, Inc.

Mike Small PicAuthor: Mike Steelman, Manager – Mastercam Support & Training, Prism Engineering, Inc.

Contact Prism Engineering Mastercam Technical Support with your CAM & machining questions

Migrating from Mastercam X6 to X8

Mike Small PicAuthor: Mike Steelman, Manager – Mastercam Support & Training, Prism Engineering, Inc.

Okay, you’re comfortable programming in Mastercam X6, but now you realize that you need to take the plunge and load the latest version., which is now Mastercam X8.

You may ask yourself, “What about my existing post processors?

If you’re using the generic post processors that are included with Mastercam X6, and you did not make any edits to those posts, you can use the matching generic posts that are available with X8. If you purchased custom posts, or modified posts yourself, you need to update those to Mastercam X8.

Don’t worry too much. It’s an easy process:

First thing to do is copy the X6 files from their current location into a folder you have easy access to:

STEP 1: Create a folder on your Desktop called X6.

STEP 2: Add a subfolder called CNC_MACHINES to X6.

STEP 3: Copy the custom Machine Definition files (.MMD-6) and the custom Control files (.CONTROL-6) from \Shared Mcamx6\ CNC_MACHINES and paste into the new \X6\ CNC_MACHINES folder you just created.

STEP 4: Add another subfolder to X6 and call it Mill.

STEP 5: Open the Mill folder you just created and add a new subfolder called Posts.

**(At this step, if you have Lathe, Router or Wire posts, you would create the Lathe, Router, or Wire subfolders and then the Posts subfolders)

STEP 6: Copy the custom Post Processor files (.PST) and their companion file (.PSB) from \shared mcamcx6\Mill\Posts and paste into the new \X6\Mill\Posts folder you just created.

X6 folders

You went through all of that folder creation in order to mimic the folder structure in X6. When you do the actual migration, the updated files will then automatically go where they belong.

STEP 7: Open Mastercam X8, go to the File menu and select Migration Wizard.

Migration Menu 1

Select the Advanced option.

Migration menu 2

STEP 9: Set the File Locations.

Check Migrate shared mcamx files.

Browse to the X6 folder on the Desktop and click OK.

Check the Include Subfolders checkbox.

Leave the destination to shared mcamx8.

Click Next.

File location

STEP 10: Set the File Types.

Pick Control definitions, Machine definitions and Post files from the File Types list.

Click Next.

file types

 STEP 11: Set the Version.

Click Next.


Click Next.

STEP 12: Click Finish.

The migration is complete and you will see an UpdatePost.log file open.

Close the UpdatePost.log file.

Click OK to see the results in the Mastercam Event Log.

Check in your \shared mcamx8\CNC_MACHINES folder and you’ll see the updated versions of your custom files.

Thank for reading. I hope you found the information useful. Please return to Prism’s blog for more great Mastercam tips and tricks, educational content, and updates.

UPDATE: Issue with SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP0 and SP1

Hello Prism Engineering Community,

We emailed you yesterday to inform you of a bug  discovered in SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP0 and SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP1. The bug is described as follows:

SPR#833247 – any file containing a custom property value consisting of a date value will decrement the date by 1 day every time the file is saved and reopened

Here is an example of how this would affect SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP0 and SP1 users:

A drawing has the custom property for DRAWNDATE.  This property TYPE is set to DATE.

This property is mapped to the SOLIDWORKS Drawing Title block.

When a user SAVES and CLOSES the drawing, then RE-OPENS the drawing, this DATE field decreases by 1 unit.

This bug has been resolved in SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP1.1, and SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP0.0 and 1.0 have been removed from the download page at

The Prism Engineering tech team recommends that any users of SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP0.0 or 1.0 upgrade to SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP1.1 as soon as possible.


Today you will notice a dialogue box appear when you start SOLIDWORKS 2015:

bug 2015 sp1

This addresses the same issue. Download these instructions to learn how to install SOLIDWORKS 2015 SP1.1.

Thank you,

Toby Schnaars and the Prism Engineering SOLIDWORKS Tech Team

Toby Schnaars | SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer
Prism Engineering, Inc. | 655 Business Center Drive | Suite 100 | Horsham | PA | 19044
Phone: 215-784-0800 | Fax: 215-784-0945 | Highest Customer Satisfaction in North America

SOLIDWORKS | Mastercam | Stratasys 3D Printers