One of the downfalls of this arrangement is that if the network goes down, users no longer have access to their templates. This can be averted by also putting copies of the templates on the local computers; however, it has the tendency to undermine the goal of consistent documentation. Users may tend to use and customize the local templates rather than use the standardized network copies. CAUTION
CAD administration and organizing any group of people on some level always comes down to trusting employees to do the right thing. There is no way to completely secure any system against all people trying to work around the system, so you must rely on having hired people you can train and trust.
Understanding Feature-Based Modeling
There is some terminology that you need to come to grips with before diving into building models with SolidWorks. Notice that I talk about “modeling” rather than “drawing,” or even “design.” This is because SolidWorks is really virtual prototyping software. Whether you are building an assembly line for automotive parts or designing decorative perfume bottles, SolidWorks can help you visual- ize your geometrical production data in the most realistic way possible without actually having it in your hand. This is more akin to making a physical model in the shop than drawing on paper.
“Feature-based” modeling means that you build the model by incrementally identifying functional shapes, and applying processes to create the shapes. For example, you can create a simple box by using the Extrude process, and you can create a sphere by using the Revolve process. However, you can make a cylinder by using either process, by revolving a rectangle or extruding a circle. You start by visualizing the 3D shape, and then apply a 3D process to a 2D sketch to create that shape. This concept on its own is half of what you need to know to create models with SolidWorks.
Figure 1.15 shows images of simple feature types with the 2D sketches from which they were created.
Many different feature types in SolidWorks enable you to create everything from the simplest geometry shown previously to more complex artistic or organic shapes. In general, when I talk about modeling in this book, I am talking about solid modeling, although SolidWorks also has a complete complement of surfacing tools. I will discuss the distinction between solid and surface modeling in Chapter 27.
Table 1.2 lists some of the most common features that you find in SolidWorks, and classifies them according to whether they always require a sketch, a sketch is optional, or they never require a sketch.