By Jacob Cohen and Vlad Krylov
In mechanical design, CAD (Computer Aided Design) software has become such an integral part of the profession that nearly all mechanical design educational curriculums teach it. SOLIDWORKS is CAD software that is used by most of the design engineering world today. It is increasingly more common, as many companies begin to move on from other competitors. SOLIDWORKS is a 3D modeling software, which allows users to create virtually any shape they can imagine and rotate it in 3D.
In addition, numerous separate 3D models can be combined into a single assembly model to show how they fit together. From these 3D models, the user can generate high quality renderings, applying colors and textures to different parts and surfaces. This can turn a simple looking idea into an extremely realistic representation of a future design.
SOLIDWORKS also provides extensive design analysis tools, and has evolved from a CAD to a CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) tool with build-in and add-on modules which allow BOM management, FEA, assembly motion analysis, and more. The user can assign materials to any part they design, allowing the software to calculate the mass properties of the design. This is particularly helpful when designing an assembly and determining the overall weight and center of gravity of a device. Other particularly useful tools include an interference detector which determines if components of an assembly fit together properly, and the measure tool which allows for a variety of measurements between any two features in a model.
The user can also generate 2D drawings from these parts, which can be saved in a number of file formats and printed on paper, allowing those without CAD software to review the designs and their dimensions. The drawings can be annotated in numerous ways ranging from quickly generating cross-sections to show internal features, to adding written notes detailing features that are not visibly noticeable.
In addition to SOLIDWORKS, Cogmedix also utilizes PDM Professional (Product Data Management) to control models and drawings. The software acts as a data vault that allows engineers to modify models and drawings on their own computer without affecting the files used by the rest of the team. Once an engineer has completed making their changes, they can submit the file for approval to be released. Once released, the data vault will update all the files available to the rest of the team with access to the files. This tool is extremely useful when designing new revisions of components without potentially changing a file currently in use by another engineer, as well as when following regulatory requirements. PDM Professional has the features to make vault implementation compliant with FDA regulations for medical device document management.
SOLIDWORKS is continuously looking for ways to leverage 3D information to improve other processes. SOLIDWORKS Composer is an example of a technical communication tool which enables assembly procedures to be generated from the CAD models themselves. In the same vein, SOLIDWORKS Inspection allows users to generate inspection documentation directly in SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS MBD (Model Based Definition) is another tool in which the information typically depicted in a mechanical drawing is conveyed in the CAD model. As CAD modeling has evolved, suppliers are using drawings less and less for interpreting information and, one day, with MBD, may only require the 3D Model.
SOLIDWORKS enables Cogmedix engineers to design virtually any part our customers need, allowing us to provide the world-class service they expect. Cogmedix continuously evaluates best in breed software programs to ensure we are providing our associates and customers with tools for success.