SolidWorks Tech Tips

Simplifying Wire Diagrams in Electrical Schematics


One of the more tedious tasks for electrical designers is numbering wires on schematics. If you are using general purpose 2D CAD tools to capture electrical documentation, then you probably know what I am referring to. With those types of tools the effort is manual. You need to check the schematic to ensure standards are maintained and that the information is cross referenced accurately in other documents (e.g.: wire lists and label reports). The more complex the schematic is, the more difficult it is to avoid documentation errors. And those errors have ripple effects. Not just rework by the designer, but inconsistent documentation can cause issues for installers and field service that in turn cause malfunctions, project delays, etc.

SolidWorks Electrical Schematic is E-CAD software that provides the ability to create and update wire numbers automatically based on schemes. You put your standards for calculating the wire number and Voila! : automated numbers across all documentation. This makes life a lot easier for the electrical designer and allows them to focus on value-add design tasks.

SolidWorks Electrical is very flexible in how you number wires on your schematics. You can use equipotential numbering (drawing wires of the same potential share the same value) or the individual wire numbering. You can also choose to display the equipotential marks near the termination points or in the middle of the drawn wire.

2014-09-03 Wire Numbering With SolidWorks Electrical Schematic Image 1

The real power is in the formulas used to define the values. You can include the wire number, page number, row numbers and more to capture specifically what would go into the marking of the wire.

2014-09-03 Wire Numbering With SolidWorks Electrical Schematic Image 2

Formulas can be assigned to specific wire styles, so you can have wire schemes unique to different schematic details (e.g.: low power, high power, and signal wiring). There are multiple way you can get to the formula manager for wires or equipotential. One way is to go to the Project tab of an active project. Then go to Configuration

2014-09-03 Wire Numbering With SolidWorks Electrical Schematic Image 3

Once you have your numbering schemes added to your templates, it is easy to automatically number (or renumber) the wires. There are a set of commands dedicated to this process and their options allow you to control which wires to update (e.g.: whole project, current book, etc.)

2014-09-03 Wire Numbering With SolidWorks Electrical Schematic Image 4

The wire number output can be shown on the schematic and referenced in reports. The image below shows a simple wire numbering scheme using the equipotential values as marks. The individual phase number and equipotential order were used in the formula.

2014-09-03 Wire Numbering With SolidWorks Electrical Schematic Image 5

I have to admit, there is a great feeling of instant gratification when you set up your numbering scheme and test it. You run the Renumber Wires command and you instantly see your new numbering scheme in effect. Knowing that this will be applied across all future projects can be a tremendous relief because it has taken away a very tedious documentation task and yet significantly reduced downstream issues.

General purpose 2D CAD tools fail at this typical electrical design requirement. And in their defense, they were not intended to be electrical design tools for manufacturing businesses. Although general purpose 2D CAD tools may be able to “get the job done”, they lack automated productivity tools mentioned here. In addition, they lack electrical validation tools and the 3D connectivity. All very important features for electrical design for manufacturers. SolidWorks Electrical provides this functionality that allows an electrical designer to focus on design and produce better documentation for personnel downstream in production, installation, and field services. This leads to better communication and less rework and faster development times.

Learn more about creating Wire Diagrams & improve your electrical schematic drawings. 5 minute video:

How to Reduce Virtual Simulation Study Time

Using SOLIDWORKS Simulation to optimize designs is a cost & time-saving practice, but generating those studies can sometimes be time consuming. Toby Schnaars, Prism Engineering, walks you through a quick tip to shorten Simulation study time by using shell elements rather than solid elements. Toby demonstrates that using shell elements will generate displacement results within 10% of those generated in the same study using solid elements. He also reviews a few tips for setting up your shell element study.

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 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:


march madness savings solidworks stratasys

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!<<<<

take cswa exam for free prismeng

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!


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

Refine Your Mesh: Getting Useful Results from SOLIDWORKS Simulation

Sean O'Neill, Applications Engineer

Sean O’Neill, Applications Engineer

Author: Sean O’Neill, Applications Engineer, Prism Engineering, Inc.

I was recently solving an FEA study for a project I was assigned, and I found myself confronted with a seemingly terrifying responsibility: I must ensure, with a high degree of accuracy, that my product design will ‘fit the bill’ in production. The product itself will hopefully stick around for a long time, so it’s important that it’s useful and done well. If a product I sign off on proves to be faulty after its release in production, the proverbial finger of blame will be pointed in my direction.

Whether I’m using SOLIDWORKS Simulation to assist in calculating my FEA results or performing calculations by hand, the goal in both instances is exactly the same: to validate the integrity of the design in question. While I could certainly run the gamut of reasons why leveraging SOLIDWORKS Simulation’s linear statics capabilities simply makes more sense, the primary focus of this blog post will be on the topic of mesh density.

In the following real world examples, we’re going to look at why and how consideration given to mesh density directly affects actual product design changes and approvals.

2014-09-08 Refine Your Mesh - Getting Useful Results From SolidWorks Simulation Image 05

A friend of mine who works on the other side of Pennsylvania (I’d tell you his name, but he’s a Steelers fan) was recently asked to approve designs for hole-wielding aluminum plates intended to be featured and relied upon in his company’s job shop. The three designs above, as you can see, vary noticeably from design-to-design; the second is much wider than the first, the third much taller than both the first and second, etc. Using the configurations and multi-study capabilities of SOLIDWORKS, I’m able to compare the results of all three designs and their respective studies in a useful, quadrant-sectioned layout.

All three versions of the plate are subject to the same fixture conditions and the same applied forces. The left sides of the plates are fixed, and a 2,000 lb. pull force is applied to the opposite-side faces. The simulation is run with material properties derived from the SOLIDWORKS-provided listings for 1060 Alloy, which my friend wants to use because of its affordability and availability.

For example, in my initial run of the smallest plate design (the study in the upper left quadrant), I notice that my von Mises stress plot reports that I exceeded the yield strength of my material — around 3,999 psi for 1060 Alloy. After my first run of this study, it appears to only do so by a questionable margin, according to the plot. This begs the question: “Am I going to put all of my trust into this results plot?”

The answer is no. The mathematical model – comprised of my preset values of items like material properties, supports, and loads – has been reviewed and is sure to be accurate. The murky area resides in my mesh settings, which could quite possibly require refinements before we contemplate proceeding with any potential changes.

When performing FEA, situations like the one we encounter with version 1 of the holed plate have always struck me as intriguing. Initial returns report that I am over the yield strength of my material; to the untrained eye, this might be enough to say, “1060 Alloy is an awful idea. I need something better,” or “There is no way this plate will hold up with the hole intact; we need to add support material.” However, we are clearly very close to the yield strength of the material. I think we owe it to good old 1060 Alloy and the designer of this model (obviously a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (CSWE), based on the CAD-modeling prowess displayed in this part) to do some further digging.

In any FEA study with considerable ramifications, you certainly want to keep a keen eye on how you are defining your modular elements. Not doing so is careless, akin to solving complex, tight-tolerance equations while relying solely on your mental number-caching abilities as a solver. In the example below, you’ll see that, across the thickness of the model in question, we only have one solid element. If you’ve used any kind of FEA package in the past, you should quickly identify this as a major ‘no-no.’

replacement blog pic


Another thing I’ve noticed when I analyze the reported element level stresses in the given result, is that I’m seeing semi-drastic differences in localized stress areas. SOLIDWORKS Simulation presents this very clearly:

2014-09-08 Refine Your Mesh - Getting Useful Results From SolidWorks Simulation Image 01

Because the color difference from the pictured red-colored, cylindrically-mapped element is so different from that of its neighboring elements, I can conclude yet again that further mesh refinements are likely required to obtain assuring results.

As a function of refining my mesh, I am technically adding more degrees of freedom to my analysis. Because a finer mesh necessitates more elements, and more elements necessitate more nodes, we are bound to gather more specific displacement data in localized modular areas such as the cylindrical face pictured above. Since our heaviest stress area is rightfully assumed to be located within and around the crevice, this is very important.

In fact, I could tell SOLIDWORKS Simulation to apply a denser mesh in the revealed areas of concern (namely, the crevice area). By applying specific mesh controls to entity areas of interest (i.e. by splitting the body into two with the Split command), we can lessen the density of the mesh in areas I’ve shown to be less important in predicting stress behavior. More importantly, we can assign the mesh in the crucial regions to be much denser. This will provide more specific results:

2014-09-08 Refine Your Mesh - Getting Useful Results From SolidWorks Simulation Image 02

As stress is dependent on displacement, we can deduce that as our displacement metrics increase in reliability, stress-level accuracy can be expected to rise as well. In many cases, stress results will rise more noticeably. After applying a finer mesh to this plate, I am able to examine elemental stresses in the area of concern once again:

2014-09-08 Refine Your Mesh - Getting Useful Results From SolidWorks Simulation Image 03

In my new results, I am able to get a more exacting look at the stress in the localized max-stress area. Whereas my result plot reported a maximum stress of approximately 4,560 psi in my initial study, I’m now seeing a maximum stress of 4,670 psi. After refining my mesh further, I start to see more convergence in my results, which leads me to reliably evaluate that this part cannot withstand the allotted pull it will regularly fall subject to in Mr. Pittsburgh Steelers fan’s shop. He might have to spend a little more money in the way of extra or different material, but he was able to pick this up in about 10-15 minutes. This was time and cost-efficient.

With this initial model, the test results that were first reported were far closer to the yield strength of material. Through mesh refinements and study result-comparisons, we came to realize that while the first results validly reported that the part could not withstand the load, they misleadingly informed us that we were closer to meeting the yield strength than we actually were. The results I ultimately drew were much closer to 4,700 psi than 4,500 psi. This exemplifies why exercising mesh refinement techniques is so beneficial and important – it leads us towards convergence of stress results, a huge indication that we’re getting the right answers to our analysis questions.


Toby’s Tech Talk Episode 31 posted on YouTube

Hello Prism Engineering Community,
In episode 31 of Toby’s Tech Talk we discussed the use of BACKUP and AUTO RECOVERY settings to help if you ever end up with corrupted files. The most common indication of a file becoming corrupted is a dialog box with a message similar to this:




After this lesson we got into a great discussion regarding ROUTING – PIPING AND TUBING during which we demonstrated how easily we can create a pipe route similar to the one in this image, with a BOM and PIPE LENGTHS for all components:


Take a look at the video on Prism’s YouTube page where you can learn about BACKUP, RECOVERY and ROUTING FUNCTIONS in SolidWorks. The video is also posted below for your convenience!

Please enjoy and feel free to comment or post any questions below.

Take care,
Toby Schnaars

Toby’s Tech Talk Episode 30 posted on YouTube

Hello Prism Engineering Community,

In episode 30 of Toby’s Tech Talk, we continue our discussion of Advanced Mates by examining the Mechanical Mates section of the SolidWorks Assembly environment.


Take a look at the following link to our YouTube page where you can learn all about these Mechanical Mates in SolidWorks. As a bonus, we also discuss the use of SKETCHED TEXT and how you can ensure that it is fully defined in your sketch.

Please enjoy and feel free to comment or post any questions below.

Take care,
Toby Schnaars

Sean O’Neill’s SolidWorks User Group Presentation: Imported Geometry

Earlier this year while at SolidWorks World 2014, I spoke to Jeff Holliday, leader of the Mid-Atlantic Region Independent SolidWorks User Group (MARISUG), about presenting at an upcoming SolidWorks User Group meeting at the Horsham, PA Library.

Last Thursday, April 17, I had the opportunity to present about Imported Geometry in SolidWorks. It’s a topic that most users have to become somewhat acquainted with, and it’s one that, in my opinion, could use some demystifying. For those reasons, I thought it would be a great topic to share with my fellow SolidWorks users.


MARISUG meeting at the Horsham Library


Through the use of an eclectic mix of SolidWorks features that lend themselves to these ‘direct-editing’ sorts of operations, I made a significant amount of changes. Towards the end of my array of fixes and alterations, I utilized the INTERSECT command, which was new in SolidWorks 2013, to capture the internal volume of my basket using a surface body and an existing solid. My selections can be seen below:

blog sean 1

I then added a decal to the resultant internal body, making it appear as if it was a pile of laundry!

blog sean 2
Overall, it was very fulfilling to receive great feedback on the presentation, as it was something I worked very hard on. Presenting at these meetings gives us a unique opportunity to interact with fellow users in a neutral forum, and we’re always happy to participate and contribute.

As always, if you have questions, feel free to contact Prism’s SolidWorks Technical Support team!

Going from 2D to 3D – WEBINAR

Hi Prism Engineering Community,
Recently Prism Engineering hosted an outstanding webinar on the topic of going from 2D to 3D using the SolidWorks software.

Going from 2D to 3D - DAN WAGNER

Dan Wagner did a great job of going through the steps involved to convert any 2D geometry to a usable 3D SolidWorks model. He recorded the webinar, and it is posted here:

Please enjoy this webinar, and let us know if you have any questions or comments below.

Hope this helps,
Toby Schnaars
SolidWorks Elite Applications Engineer


5 SolidWorks Tips You Should Use Everyday: Design Library

Hi Prism Engineering Community,
An often underused tool in the SolidWorks software is the DESIGN LIBRARY.


The available depth of functionality within the design library is MASSIVE. So to break down a bit and make it more digestible, I recently posted a Prism Tech Tip video showing the intro and basics of the Design Library.

PART 1 : Using the Design Library in SolidWorks – Part 1

PART 2: Using the Design Library in SolidWorks – Part 2

The design library can and should be used any time you are working with geometry (or notes) and you need to use and reuse this geometry. In the example shown in the video tech tips, we demonstrate how the cutout for a pickup used in a bass guitar can be saved to your design library, so that you can insert this same cutout into ANY bass guitar that is using this model of pickup.


As you will see in the video, this can be a terrific time saver and it’s definitely a SolidWorks tool that I would encourage all users to become familiar with.
If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

Hope this helps,
Toby Schnaars
SolidWorks Elite Applications Engineer








5 SolidWorks Tips You Should Use Everyday – Using the File Explorer

Hello Prism Engineering Community,
The file explorer is a great time saving tool in the SolidWorks software. It exists over on the right, in the task pane, and is shown in the following image:


The file explorer allows you to browse your Windows drives and devices to facilitate the dragging and dropping of files into the SolidWorks environment. This is extremely useful, especially when dragging and dropping multiple parts into an assembly.
I have created a short video tech tip on some different ways to use the File Explorer to save time. Please take a look at the following location:

There are a lot of great ways to use the file explorer to save time in the SolidWorks software.

Please enjoy and feel free to comment or post any questions below.

Hope this helps,
Toby Schnaars
SolidWorks Elite Applications Engineer




5 SolidWorks Tips You Should Use Everday – Using Templates

Hello Prism Engineering Community,
One great way to save time in the SolidWorks Software is to create TEMPLATES for your parts, Assemblies, and Drawings.


As you can see above, I often will create a new template when I take on a new client, for example: JDH AUDIO, STEELWAY, or PRISM ENGINEERING INC.
When configuring your templates, you can create pre-defined custom properties (such as WEIGHT and MATERIAL) that will be linked to notes in your SolidWorks Drawing Title Block, so that these notes auto-update.


For more info on this terrific time saver, be sure to check out our recent youtube video tech tip at:

Please enjoy and feel free to comment or post any questions below. You can also watch the “Using Templates” episode of the “5 SolidWorks Tips You Should Use Everyday” below:



Hope this helps,
Toby Schnaars

SolidWorks Electrical: Creating a motorized conveyor system

What is the difference between an E-CAD system and a “Dumb CAD system”?

“Dumb” CAD systems: Typically .DWG-based systems for general electronic drafting purposes or drag and drop systems that are designed for flow chart development. There is very little intelligence in these systems, and the processes for schematic and BOM creation are mostly manual.

SolidWorks Electrical: An E-CAD system that connects multiple aspects of electrical design and documentation. For example, models of parts in 3D are connected to symbols represented in single line diagrams and electrical schematics. All of the connectivity is maintained through an SQL database. The connected information updates automatically throughout the project from document to document and even user to user when working collaboratively.


SolidWorks Electrical is component-centric. These components connect important information used throughout electrical design documentation.

To demonstrate how this may help in an engineering environment, let’s consider a scenario in which a Mechanical & Electrical Engineer must work together on a mechanically-driven project to create a conveyor system that requires a motor to move materials:

From left: Mechanical Engineer and Electrical Engineer

From left: Mechanical Engineer, Bill, and Electrical Engineer, Jane

The project is mechanically driven in nature because the mechanical engineer, Bill, needs to size the motor to move the material. The electrical engineer, Jane, needs to size the electrical controls to support the system.


Motor power schematic details in SolidWorks Electrical

SolidWorks Electrical Professional allows mechanical and electrical engineers to work together throughout the design development process. The mechanical or electrical engineer adds a motor to the list of components needed in SolidWorks Electrical. At this very early stage in the project, the component could merely be a placeholder with undefined power and torque requirements.

electrical 4

From here, Jane, the electrical engineer, adds placeholders for other electrical components (e.g.: motor, contactor, breaker, terminal strips, switches, cable, etc.) Again, none of the details need to be captured at this point. However, a concept is already in development early in the project and it can be visible to anyone at this point. This is one way SolidWorks Electrical Professional enhances collaboration.

Next, Bill, the mechanical engineer, will select a motor based on load requirements. With SolidWorks Electrical Professional, Bill then assigns manufacturing details (vendor, power, current rating, etc) to the component, and he then attaches that component to the 3D model. This is done without leaving the SolidWorks CAD environment that Bill, being a mechanical engineer, is familiar with. From here, the single line diagram is updated, and Bill communicates using the SolidWorks Electrical chat tool to notify Jane that it is time to capture the remaining electrical schematic details.

Assigning manufacturing part information to a SolidWorks Electrical Component

Assigning manufacturing part information to a SolidWorks Electrical Component

From here,  Jane completes the details of the necessary electrical components, wiring, cables, and harnesses.

electrical 2

After ensuring all the supporting electrical components are defined within the detailed electrical schematics, Jane notifies Bill with the SolidWorks Electrical chat tool that it’s time to add the 3D models and route the wiring.

Bill stops to savor this moment, as he recognizes this is a critical stage, because it allows him to define fabrication of harnesses/cables and installation intent. By doing this, electrical fabrication is performed in parallel with mechanical assembly and project durations are reduced. The installation documentation also provides clarity to the installer so that less hand-holding is necessary from engineers. It’s a win-win solution for Bill and Jane.

Through the example of Bill & Jane, we’ve learned that SolidWorks Electrical is component-centric.  The components can be associated with symbols, models, metadata, and more. Wires, cables, and harnesses can be used to connect all of these components together. There is intelligence in all the SolidWorks Electrical information. Bill can even perform design validation on the circuits he created.

Bottom line, SolidWorks Electrical is an electrical design environment for manufacturers with electrical needs. Dumb 2D systems are general purpose electronic drafting boards. When you need to be fast, accurate, and professional in a competitive environment you want to have the right tools, like Bill & Jane.

Next week, we’re going to review how to create wiring using SolidWorks Electrical. Feel free to post comments, questions, or suggestions below.

5 SolidWorks Tools to use Every Day: Tip 2 – The “R” key



Today we continue our 5 week series entitled, “5 SolidWorks Tools You Should Use Everyday” with a short video on using the “R” key in SolidWorks. The “R” key gives you quick access to your most recently accessed documents in SolidWorks. Not only can you view and open these recently accessed documents, you can also drag a recently accessed model into an assembly or drawing. Take a look at our video on youtube for a great tip that you can use, everyday. Check out the video below.

Hope this helps,
Toby Schnaars
SolidWorks Elite Applications Engineer




5 SolidWorks Tools You Should Use Everyday: Tip 1 – The “S” key

2014-03-03 Default Shortcut Bars in 2014-The S key


Today, Friday, March 7, 2014, we begin our 5 week series exploring 5 SolidWorks Tools to Use Everyday.

The first tip is using the “S” key in SolidWorks. This little trick is one of the greatest shortcuts ever added to SolidWorks, and users who take advantage of this shortcut will immediately see an increase in their performance. The “S” key can be customized to utilize any icon-based command in SolidWorks, making it versatile and uniquely tailored to each users’ strengths. Take a look at the “5 SolidWorks Tools You Should Use Everyday” video I posted on YouTube, or watch below. Comments and feedback are always welcome!

Hope this helps,
Toby Schnaars
SolidWorks Elite Applications Engineer



Can I Run SolidWorks on my Mac Computer?

Short answer, no.

However, (yes, there’s a “but”!) we have heard of a few successful cases of users running SolidWorks on a Mac in conjunction with a tool like Boot Camp.

The official response:

Prism Engineering and DS SolidWorks do not recommend or support SolidWorks running on a Mac computer.

In response to rumors of successful attempts to run SolidWorks in a Windows OS installed on a Mac, SolidWorks published a Knowledge Base article in 2010:

sr solidworks on mac

More recently, SolidWorks posted a blog article regarding Mac compatibility. You’ll read in the post that a main reason SolidWorks is not supported or tested on Macs is because SolidWorks was developed to utilize OpenGL technology, which is found in workstation-grade video cards, such as NVIDIA Quadro and ATI FirePro drivers.

In addition, of course you are able to VIEW SolidWorks files using eDrawings for Mac.

So the long answer is this: Maybe.

But Prism & SolidWorks won’t be able to support you in the event your Mac catches on fire, emails all of your friends viruses, and destroys your life’s work. With that in mind, Prism can’t recommend or support you if you’re using SolidWorks on a Mac.

SolidWorks has the following system requirements:

solidworks os requirements

To learn more about how to ensure your hardware meets the needs of your software, visit the SolidWorks System Requirements page.

Prism Engineering at SolidWorks World 2014

Thanks to all that came out to support SolidWorks & visited with Prism Engineering at this year’s SolidWorks World. It was a busy week, but sunny San Diego treated the Prism team well!

SolidWorks World 2014 Recap

san diego weather

Photocred: MLC CAD Systems

We even had a few cases of sunburn, but we decided that was the lesser evil compared to frostbite from the bitter-cold temps at our East Coast offices:

blog shot

We finally adjusted to the sunshine, and embraced the So-Cal spirit with a ukelele session during Toby’s Surfacing for Beginners technical presentation on Tuesday. Watch the Surfacing for Beginners presentation Toby previously recorded:

Surfacing for Beginners – Part 1

Surfacing for Beginners – Part 2

Toby is Prism Engineering’s Director of Technical Services; frequently he carries a ukelele & performs this instructional musical video entitled, “Fully Define (Every Time)”. It’s a quick guide to ensuring your sketches are properly restrained:

We are also very proud of a few special members of the Prism Engineering User Community; two of our longtime customers & friends were recognized for their superb SolidWorks talent & dedication:

jeff holliday awardJeff Holliday | User Group Leader of the Year

Jeff Holliday is the local leader of the MARISUG (Mid-Atlantic Region Independent SolidWorks User Group) SolidWorks User Group & has been a customer of Prism for many years. Jeff is not only a great partner to work with, he is a pillar of the SolidWorks community in Prism Engineering’s User Community. Congratulations, Jeff!

tom smith awardTom Smith | Model Mania Champion

Tom Smith is a regional power user of SolidWorks. Tom smoked the competition during the Model Mania design-off this year by recreating a complete model accurately in 9 minutes and 53 seconds–WOW! Tom is also a Prism partner of many years, and he regularly attends Prism & SolidWorks events–make sure you say, “HI!” next time you see him! Congrats, Tom!

Stay tuned for more updates on SolidWorks World 2014; some exciting product announcements coming your way! Join us for Toby’s SolidWorks Tech Talk–it’s a free webinar featuring tips, tricks, and news surrounding SolidWorks–on March 5 at 12 PM for further updates regarding SolidWorks.


Toby’s Tech Talk Episode 27 Posted

Hi Prism Engineering Community!

I posted Toby’s Tech Talk Episode 27 on Prism’s YouTube Page. We talked about SolidWorks World 2014 in sunny San Diego, and we discussed some of the new products announced at the conference, such as SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. Of course, we ran through some technical tips and focused on drawing skills this week.

As always, please comment with questions below.

Please enjoy!

Bridge the gap between design and manufacturing

Mastercam for SolidWorks is a tool developed by CNC Software (the developer of MASTERCAM) that helps bridge the gap between your design and manufacturing processes by embedding toolpath creation directly in SolidWorks with a process called, “feature based machining”. Full integration enables the designer to optimize designs for manufacturing in one system–eliminate transferring designs to a different software to lay out tool paths only to discover multiple design revisions are needed. Watch this video to see Mastercam for SolidWorks in action:

Best-in-class companies (like Summit Tooling featured in the video above) are optimizing designs & manufacturing processes by simultaneously design parts & creating toolpaths in one system. Mastercam for SolidWorks  harnesses the time-saving processes of feature based machining, high efficiency machining, and mulit-axis toolpathing integration.

Questions? Ask Prism Engineering for information about Mastercam for SolidWorks


Can I run SolidWorks on my computer?

Can I run SolidWorks on my computer? (via

Maybe you’re getting ready to install SolidWorks for the first time, but you’re not sure if your computer is up to the task. Or maybe you’re ready to upgrade to the latest model workstation, and want to ensure that you’re ready for the future…


Assembly Design using Layouts in SolidWorks – Toby Schnaars @ SWW13

Hi Prism Engineering Community,

I posted a recording of a lecture I gave at SolidWorks World 2013, back in January of 2013.

Here is the link to the YouTube page :
The topic of this lecture is “Using a MASTER MODEL LAYOUT PART to Drive Assembly Design in SolidWorks“. There is mention of a PDF supplement during the lecture, and if you would like a copy of this PDF, please email us at

I encourage anyone who is working with assembly design–particularly in context assembly design–to try this method out. There are some great tips and tricks in here that will help you keep the inter-relationships between your parts in line.

There are also some tips for reverse engineering a design, simply using photographs and a measuring device (digital or dial caliper).

Toby Schnaars
Director of Technical Services
Prism Engineering, Inc.

5 Cool new features in SolidWorks 2014 – Toby’s Tech Talk Episode 023 Posted

Hi Prism Engineering User Community,
Toby’s Tech Talk Episode 023 was recorded Wednesday, October 2. Watch below:

In this episode, we provided a “QUICK TIP” on using the SEARCH function for commands and options in SolidWorks. Learn to configure your search files to broaden your searching capabilities; even search for sweep commands (and others) within SolidWorks!

We get into 5 great great new features in SolidWorks 2014.