Invest in your SOLIDWORKS setup

You know how Granny in the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons always says: “You reap what you sow”? Who do you know is wiser than Granny?

You made an investment when you bought SolidWorks. SOLIDWORKS is making you money, but your investments shouldn’t stop after you purchase your software. You need to customize your system so it works its best in your environment.

The easiest customizations are keyboard shortcuts, toolbar configurations, file properties and drawing templates. (You would be amazed how many people aren’t even doing this! You better be!)

A purchase part library has a return on investment (ROI) of nearly one for one. Meaning the time you spend creating a part for your library is nearly recouped the very first time you use it. (It isn’t exactly 1:1; some time is lost because you need to spend a little bit of time creating the part for maximum re-usability and coming up with a location to store and recollect the file.) Certainly you will come out ahead the second time you use that part.

Putting a commonly used feature in the feature library has a ROI of 1:1.5. Again a useful library feature requires a little pre-planning; but looking up a hole pattern for a commonly used purchase part, dimensions for a lift-locate cutout, or the proper sizes for a shaft feature is a complete waste of time that you shouldn’t have to do more than once.

Smart parts have a ROI of about 1:3.7. Yeah, you have to use them almost four times to get your time investment back -mostly because they require quite a bit more pre-planning, and I at least usually end up changing my mind several times before I get one built the way I like.

DriveWorks/DriveWorksXpress’ ROI is all over the board. It depends so much on the complexity of what you are doing. Simple parts can be in the range of 1:5, large complex assemblies can certainly climb higher. Remember though, a good DriveWorks implementation can be used over and over again giving you payback for years -and be used by more than just your engineering department.

Macros. It doesn’t take me long doing a mundane task before I decide I would rather write a macro. Good macro writers can get a ROI of 1:10, but don’t forget a few good macros will get your co-workers buying you drinks for years to come.

Where did these ROI numbers come from? …okay I made them up, just me patting my head and rubbing my tummy. However I can guarantee you this: A designer who has made good investments in his system can design significantly faster [and better] than a designer using an out of the box system. Spend the time now, enjoy the fruits of your labor later. You either lead, follow or get out of the way. Where do you want to be?

These investments will certainly pay off better than my 401k has been the past few years.

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