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Since I posted this, there have been many issues with my not following through on the thread. The biggest issue was my being transplanted to England for most of the summer to work with our sister company to deliver their first project. While I’ll never be a regular blogger, I like to pop in now and then, just to maintain a log for my own benefit. While I was away, Matt Lombard started a thread on his blog Dezignstuff that addresses the topic of using a master model in design.

We use this in our designs and it has become the single best tool we have to do what we do quickly and efficiently. I could never write as thorough a series of posts as Matt, so please check out the series, it will be worth the time, believe me.

Original Post:

I have been working with SolidWorks for over 10 years now, and in that time, I have been able to utilize most of the features at one time or another. The one thing I am using now is something that I believe is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal: top-down design. I have looked throughout cyberspace to find anything about this technique, and have found that there isn’t much available.

We use top-down for our joiner design, which involves a parent assembly and several multi part sub-assemblies, any of which can have reference, toolbox or library parts.

If anyone would like to start a discussion on top-down, please comment.

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After several weeks of fear and trembling, I finally took the time to take the CSWP test. I am happy to say, I passed with a perfect score! I was sort of shaking for about 15 minutes afterwards, and I still  am a little shocked. (I took a sample exam about a year and a half ago and only got frustrated)

So, now I get to place this cool logo everywhere. So exciting!

This is the reward.

This is the reward.

In our department, we design interior joinery for superyachts. This means that we need to have the ability to build high quality furniture that rivals Giorgetti and Smania, but with new technology and tools rather than old world craftsmen. Now, don’t get me wrong, the guys in our shop are world class; I am amazed at their work every time I see it!

Using SolidWorks allows me to ‘build’ a room from scratch in virtual reality; a CNC router allows those parts to be cut precisely as I envisioned them. The biggest challenge is to find the right kind of person for my department. Most designers don’t have cabinetmaking experience, and most cabinetmakers don’t have CAD experience. Our schedule and  staffing requirements do not allow me the luxury to develop a person over time; they must posess a minimum amount of both worlds to be successful.

We also use PDM Workgroup in our company. This allows us to have several projects and users going at the same time without having to worry about one person overwriting someone else’s work. It also allows virtual collaboration so we can see interferences with other trades before they hit the shop floor saving time and money. Now, I know there are a lot of PDM systems out there, but the one  I have is the one I will embrace; anything else would be folly and unproductive. I will save any ‘wishlist’ items for the other help blogs that are out there. A few that I use:

SolidNotes, 

The SolidWorks Blog, Twitter

This area of my blog will be a journal of successes, failures, course corrections and overall life as a SolidWorks user and department manager.

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