Certification Series – (CSWPA) Part 4. Surfacing

The Advanced Surfacing Exam

Welcome back to the blog! In our certification series, we’ve been focusing on the Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional Advanced (CSWPA) exams.  So far we’ve covered…

…and today, you’ll join me, Andrew Parkhurst, as we talk about Surfacing!

Andrew P

Overview of the Exam

The CSWPA – Surfacing exam is one of the hardest certification exams. It tests your knowledge of working with the surfacing toolbar and the different operations involving sketches. Some of the content you will be tested on are as follows:

  • Spline Creation
  • 3D Curve Creation
  • Boundary Surface
  • Filled Surface
  • Swept Surface
  • Planar Surface
  • Knit Surface
  • Trim Surface
  • Untrim Surface
  • Move Face
  • Extend Surface
  • Fillet
  • Thicken

Total Questions: 19
Time: 90 minutes
Minimum of 190 points out of 255 points are required to pass

Experience Preparing and Taking Exam

We offer a SOLIDWORKS surfacing class that will take you through the basics of surfacing and there is a practice exam that will allow you to benchmark your knowledge. Nonetheless, I should warn you that the actual exam is very difficult, even with formal training in your back pocket. The good news is that you can leverage a lot of that material to prep. I suggest going over the exercises from the class multiple times and the practice exam as well. Again, do not take preparation lightly. Also, while taking the exam, be very cognizant of time. I thought I was going to finish early and that I was doing fine on time but a couple of questions in the middle were really challenging and before I knew it, I was behind the clock. The amount of questions is something to watch out for too. There are many more questions then what you expect from just interacting with the practice exam.

Warnings aside this test is doable. You need to be able to download files and open them up as starter files for your questions. Then you’ll have to take those starter files and do some of the normal surfacing operations required in order to move the design forward.

Surfacing Toolbar

For the most part, you’ll need to create surfaces once the area has been bounded so that will mean Lofted Surface or Filled Surface. With these tools you’ll need to know how to work with guide curves and tangency conditions. Very rarely will you need to use the extruded surface, revolve surface, or swept surface for your models. But you will need to know how to trim and then eventually knit your final models all back together. Remember that these tools are essential for surface modeling and are a different way of thinking then regular solid modeling. That means you just need to continue to get comfortable with them specifically, not just SOLIDWORKS in general. Be ready to walk through the menus and be able to select the options necessary and look for keywords in the way that the question will be asked (look for tangency or curvature consistency).

Surface Loft

Learning Goals and Tips

When working with surfacing some of the toughest spots are when you are sketching and using that sketch to trim the surface. Remember that a sketch can be used as a trimming tool to remove parts of the surface projected by the sketch.

Trimming with a Sketch

Once you complete this trim operation then you can use the new edge line for a loft or other surfacing operation. Please remember that it doesn’t actually have to touch the surface in order to be used to trim. Besides that, be ready to work with challenging offset sketches and relationships quickly inside of a 2D sketch.  This is something that threw me for a loop because the sketching part was pretty challenging.

I know I’ve been a little more doom and gloom about this exam, but I’ve heard that it is one of the most challenging certifications to get. When I took the exam myself I was almost surprised at how hard it was compared to the practice exam. To be honest, I barely passed… so I’ve got some more homework to do before I can say I’m a surfacing master! If you pass the first time you take it then that’s a good sign that you know what you’re doing. Good luck!