5 New Features in SOLIDWORKS 2018 for Workflow Speed Demons

As CAD users, you want nothing more than to work fast. For decades, SOLIDWORKS has introduced additional functionality to its suite of tools to make CAD speed demons work as quickly and efficiently as possible. And SOLIDWORKS 2018 is no exception. Try out these five new enhancements in 2018 design to learn how you can improve your efficiency and work like a CAD speed demon!

1. Alt-Hide Faces in Assemblies

How much time do you spend rotating your model? You probably don’t think about it too much, as it is second nature to most of us and it only takes a half second each rotation. But let’s think about how many rotations we make. A bulk of those are in the assembly environment because of the nature of the assembly process. We mostly put things right on top of each other, which means that the bottom side of a component is mated to the top side of another. In a 3D environment, we cannot see both the top and bottom faces, which means that to directly select both we must rotate the model.

This new feature in 2018 solves this predicament. In the mate tool, we can press the ALT key to hide faces. What this allows us to do is to set the view in one orientation, say, looking at our components from the top. One of the target faces should be naturally visible so we can click that. Now instead of rotating around, we can hide the top face of the other component, leaving us with a clear shot to the bottom face. Since the face is infinitely thin, selecting that bottom face from the top is the same as selecting that bottom face from the bottom — thus allowing us to make our selection without a rotation! Making assemblies have never been faster.

Alt-Hide Faces in Assemblies

2. New Folder Icons

Another improvement in 2018 pertaining to assemblies is the new folder icons. Before, if we had one hidden component in a sea of folders, we would have to consider the part itself and recall where we placed it within the file structure.

Gone are those days, because SOLIDWORKS 2018 has new folder icons! This allows us, as designers, to quickly discern what folders contain which components. Not only are there unique colors for resolved, hidden and suppressed components, but there are icons for folders that have combinations of this as well. Lastly, this system also applies to parts as well! See the table of icons below.

New Folder Icons Image

3. Copy Pop-Up Measure Tool

This is a subtle enhancement, but once you know it’s there you’ll be thanking the developers for adding it in! Most people who use SOLIDWORKS use the measure tool. It’s a convenient and quick way to grab measurements of an entity itself, a pair of entities or a pair of points. If you hover over the measurement in the measurement dialog, a “copy” symbol will appear. That’s right — clicking this button will copy that measurement with units to your clipboard, ready to paste in whatever feature or application you need!

Copy Pop-Up Measure Tool Image

4. Dozenal Mouse Gestures

Many of us were waiting for this one! As you know, mouse gestures are an effective way to triple the speed of your workflow. And in SOLIDWORKS 2018, Mouse Gestures are even more powerful. The maximum amount of mouse gestures has gone up from 8 to 12.

Setting the mouse gestures is simpler now, too. Simply open up the customization menu and go to the “Mouse Gestures” Tab. Drag any icon to the mouse gesture display on the right side. If you are having trouble memorizing these gestures, there is also an option to print all of your preferences and post them at your workspace.

Dozenal Mouse Gestures Image

5. Press “t” to Select Over Geometry

Another of one of my favorite enhancements is the new ability to select over geometry. This is something I didn’t think I needed until I tried it out. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without it! Box select is one of SOLIDWORKS most powerful selection tools. It used to be that you needed to start over air to initiate a box select. We can now press the “t” key to activate the select over geometry mode. This allows us to use the box select over solid bodies. Before, we would have to zoom out to fund some air to start in or even worse, select entities one by one. Such are the continual improvements to the SOLIDWORKS suite of tools!

Press “t” to Select Over Geometry Image

Thanks for following along! I hope you learned some new ways to streamline your workflow, making you the fastest SOLIDWORKS user in the workplace!