SolidWorks allows you to build either a standalone part, or what is called an “assembly”, which is a useful feature for more complex projects. Parts can be independently designed and updated, and the assembly will also be updated. In an assembly parts can be added one after the other, and made to be positioned in special relationships — with faces which coincide, or with holes which are aligned, or centered, just as in real life objects can have parts which move about each other, such as a doorknob rotating on a door.
To start, we will just work with one part at a time, to start understanding the basics. So from this point on, we assume you have started SolidWorks and you chose ‘New’ ‘Part’ (from the “welcome window” for instance).
The way SolidWorks is organized is as follows. Solidworks has several groups of menus. The left bar is enumerating the components of the current entity. For us, since we are going to work with one part at a time, these will be the elements of the current Part. As you add features, they appear one after the other one, and the bar at the bottom marks the end of the sequence of operations and entities taken into account (that is, things can be rolled back, if something is not right).
The top bar, under the general “File,Edit,Insert,etc”, has several groups of tools, and we see for instance the ‘Sketch’ tool right there.
Notice how you actually have three rows:
- the very top one, with ‘File’, ‘Edit’, ‘View’, etc.
- the middle one, with “zones”:
- the leftmost has a ‘house’, which allows you to get to the ‘Welcome’ dialog, then “New”, and “Open”, then a “traffic light”, etc.
- the second zone has the Sketch and Smart Dimension
- the third zone has Sketch-specific tools, and so on
- the lower one has “main categories” of operations: ‘Features’, ‘Sketch’, etc. We are going to focus on sketches and then features.
In general, when adding elements, SolidWorks likes to have a “dialog” with the user. The user requests the element, SolidWorks asks a few questions to know how to start about doing it, then the user “grabs” the initial element, stretches it, moves it around, maybe pre-selects “landing points”, and when the user is happy, it clicks a checkmark, or the right mouse button, and then SolidWorks completes the task, and the new entity appears in the left bar enumerating the components.
Most of these can then be renamed, can be made invisible, and can also be edited to be changed.
Let us follow through with step-by-step examples, in the next lessons.