Solidworks Blog #2: Making Parts

Hello Everyone! Welcome back for the second installment of our semi-exciting CAD adventure! Today we really dug into Solidworks by finishing the last tutorial in Unit 1 and continuing on to 2 more tutorials in Unit 2. Though not fascinating, these tutorials were much more rewarding. The last two even left us with shiny end-products – manifestations of what we had learned. Below is a breakdown of the specific skill-sets taught in each tutorial:

Unit 1: Intro to Solidworks

–> Lesson 3: Starting a New Project

Learn to:

  • Navigate folders
  • Open and save projects
  • Orient yourself with the Solidworks interface: the various viewing 

Unit 2: Building a Part

–> Lesson 1: Pre-CAD prep

Learn to make a C-Frame:

  • Use the line tool
  • Draw shapes
  • Change measurements
  • Use the relations tool
  • Use the offset relations tool
  • Use the extrude tool
  • Use the fillet tool

 –> Lesson 2: Creating a bracket

  • Learn to make an L-Shaped Bracket:
  • Review skills 1 learned in lesson 1
  • Use the hole wizard
  • Draw on the face of a part
  • Use the extruded cut tool

Again, all of this took us about 50 minutes. We encourage you to try it out. Leave any questions in the ask box and we will try to answer to the best of our abilities.

Join us next Wednesday as we continue our tutorials and hopefully learn how to integrate parts into assemblies!


Solidworks Blog #1: Getting Started

Hi Everyone, and welcome to our new Girls of Steel Solidworks blog.  Each week, Shana and George will spend about an hour teaching themselves Solidworks and blogging about it here.  Our hope is that this will result in a roadmap that you can use to learn along with us. 

First, lets answer a few basic questions:

What is Solidworks?  Solidworks is a computer aided design (CAD) program.  It allows us to draw things (like robot parts) in 3D and then combine those parts into some larger assembly (like a robot).

Why should you learn Solidworks?  Everyone on the Girls of Steel should learn Solidworks.  It is the main tool that we will use to design and communicate about the robot. It doesn’t matter what your technical interests are, Solidworks will be useful to you and help you understand all of the different parts involved in building our robot.

Where can I get Solidworks?  The team has licenses for Solidworks so that you can install it on your own Windows computer (see Tammy about getting the installation discs).  We go over how to install it next week, but for now we will just use the Girls of Steel Solidworks computer, which is in George’s Agricultural Robotic Systems Lab just off of the highbay.  You are welcome to use this computer.  The username to use is cad, the password is solidworks. Here are some pictures to help you find the computer:

We will start this blog by working our way through a series of tutorials provided by Solidworks that are geared toward FIRST robotics.  You can find them here:

So, without further ado, let’s dig in!

Lesson 1: What is Solidworks? – This is actually a pretty boring movie, but it is short (less than 2 mintues) so watch it anyway, you might learn something.

Lesson 2: The Solidworks Interface – in this lesson, you will open up Solidworks, load a part that someone else created, and look at it.  I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but it is a first step toward bigger and better things. The tutorial uses a slightly older version than we have, but it is pretty straightforward to follow along. 

The main thing you will do here is learn how to access a library of pre-made parts (there are thousands of them available!).  We weren’t registered on the 3D Content Central website so on our first try we were unable to download the “center bolt wheel” part.  We then created an account for the Girls of Steel (you are welcome to use this account if you don’t want to create your own, username: girlsofsteelrobotics, password: riveter).  Then we logged in to that account, then searched for the wheel again.  This time, success!  Well, almost. 

According to the tutorial, you are supposed to be able to drag the link 13_Center_Bolt_Wheel directly into Solidworks, but we were unable to do that.  We had to download the part to a local directory (make sure you download the 2012 version of the part), then unzip it, then drag the resulting solidworks assembly document “User Library-13_Center_Bolt_Wheel” into the Solidworks window. 

The result is in a nice shiny picture of the wheel.  You can move the wheel around by holding down the center mouse button (scroll wheel) and moving the mouse around, or you can zoom in and out by scrolling the scroll wheel.  If you are using the Girls of Steel Solidworks computer, you can also (in theory) move around with the fancy 3D joystick (see pic), but we sadly weren’t able to get this to work.

So that’s it for our first week.  All of this took us about 50 minutes complete.  Give it a try, and let us know how it goes! And tune in next week when we will tackle Lesson 3.

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