Harbec uses Solid Works as our main CAD (Computer Aided Design) software tool for product design, mold design, fixture design and basically every application we generate a 3D (3 Dimensional) model for. You may not be aware of the size, and scope, of its capabilities. Within Solid Works users have the ability to generate complex 3D models in solids, or surfaces, as well as generate detailed drawings, or electronic drawings, to communicate ideas efficiently. That is basically what every CAD program can do; nothing amazing there. The significant advantage of Solid Works, as a 3D modeling program, is that it utilizes parametric modeling as the basis for its design platform.
Parametric modeling allows users to make changes easily, and more accurately, by setting boundary conditions at the beginning of the design process. Unlike traditional “dumb solid” modeling, the boundary conditions define the shape and form of a part. Here is an example: picture a calendar in your mind. Every calendar has a hole near the top from where it hangs. The location of the hole is typically in the center of the page and, for this example, lets say ½ of an inch below the top edge of the calendar. If we design a model of a 12” wide calendar, in Solid Works, we can define the location of the hole based on the parameters we just defined; center of the page and ½ of an inch below the top edge. We would actually use the midpoint of the top edge to define the hole’s position from left to right and add a dimension from the top edge to define its position from the top. Using Solid Works we can now create a new configuration for a 24” calendar with a simple change to the dimension that defines the width of the calendar. When we change the width from 12 inches to 24 inches the new calendar model updates to reflect the new width and still has a hole in the center of the calendar ½” from the top edge. No other modifications are necessary to reposition the hole. One simple dimension change and the result is a completely new design of the calendar.
This is an extremely simple example of how parametric modeling can be used, but think about the liberties it gives to designers. When designing a mold, the handling holes can always be located in the center of the A, or B plate, no matter what size mold is used. Ejector pins could be defined by features on the part, and if the part changes during the design process, the position of the ejector pin gets updated automatically. The possibilities are limitless but it takes a lot of time, and practice, to learn the most effective ways to define a part.
Within our engineering department we have over 45 years of combined experience with Solid Works and we are continually learning new features and techniques to improve our capabilities. Some of our engineers are becoming a Certified Solid Works Professional (CSWP). The CSWP certificate is offered by Solid Works and is only given to users who have proven their competencies, within Solid Works, by taking a comprehensive 3.5 hour test to demonstrate their knowledge.