Tool for people on the floor to pull dimensions off part files? Edrawings isn't quite enough.

We just starting using Solidworks here at my work and we installed E-Drawings out on the floor for our guys in tooling to pull dimensions that we may not have supplied them in the print drawings, everyone has there own way of measuring things and building tools.

The problem we are having is that Edrawings does not allow them to pull dimenions off of X-sections, and also it doesn't allow them to place the X-section at a defined distance from a

0,0 origin.

Is there any tools that anyone is aware of that can be easily used and provide this functionality?

Thanks in advance, Ryan

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I know this is not your answer, but may I express a thought.

The closer the designers are to the machinists, the worse the drawings are. Build a big tall wall, and smear peanut butter all over it. Make either have to climb over it every time they want to talk to each other. The harder you make the two get together, the better the drawings are.

If one draws an item, and something is not clear. Then the designer is buzzed, he comes down and explains the issue to the fitter. Next thing you know, that info is lost, it does not end up on the drawings. It is just verbal.


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One company's experience is not another's. I've worked in several companies where there was always a war going on between engineering and the shop, and sometimes QA is a dissatisfied 3rd party at war with both the others. The best working solution that was ever found was not separation -- it was liaison. Specifically one person, the "expert" (who was also the drawing checker), was tasked to make sure the shop and/or QA interpreted the drawing correctly, and that the drafters/engineers were spelling it our correctly. He made sure that any changes were rolled back into the drawings so that misunderstandings would not occur again. It worked extremely well, and helped all parties become more productive . . . not just more efficient, but also more effective (see Peter F. Drucker for definitions of "efficient" and "effective").


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If you Edrawings Professional the engineers could save each file off as a Edrawing (eprt, easm, edrw). While saving you will get a option box in the save as dialog box. Check mark "Enable measure" and save the file. Then the Floor users could measure that edrawing file.


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I may have been a bit aggressive in my opinion. I have seen quite a few bad drawings. And now I see a trend were they send solids to tool shops, and say "Make it". That might be a final solution I guess. But for now, what I have observed is that if the Engineer has a close connection to the tool shop, he tends not to put all the info on the drawing. He/She can't help but passing some info verbaly.

The other things that has been invaluable for me is being there when it is built. (This might sound conflicting to start) An engineer should feel the pain of assembling his work. That is the only way to learn the results of fastening guards with nuts and bolts so you need one hand for the screw one for the nut another to hold the guard in place and one more for the tool to tighten it :-)

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Thanks everyone for their ideas and thoughts.

From what I can tell so far, we are not your typical user base for solidworks. Our tools are hand made out of plywood and 2x4's with other various types of wood framing methods. We don't actually make the drawings for the tooling department to make the tools from, we just provide them a drawing of the finished product for them to make the tools, it would be too time consuming and redundant for us to provide an assembly type drawing with "instructions" on how to build the tools. Each person in tooling has their own techniques to building a tool.

So now that we have a few guys that have a slight grasp on basic ACAD functions to give them dimensions and measurements that they want or need, that are not included in our drawings, example a X-section of a part in a certain area for tooling to build a profile off of, they are pressuring us to find a program that they can do this with.

Someone mentioned enabling the measure function in the edrawing. We have tried this and it would work except there is no functionality to place a X-section a precise distance from a point inthe model. And also no way to measure a cross section.

As it is now, we have the tooling guys coming into us to get these dimensions and it is distracting and pulls us off of what we need to do and keeps them in transit from department to department.

Thanks again, and I hope this might shed a little more light on the issue and lead to some suggestions,

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I hear ya, and respect your opinion. And I totally agree about the need for the designer or engineer to understand ALL the ramifications of the way they design, dimension and tolerance a part. To see the difficulties and conundrums my mistakes have caused in the past has been invaluable experience.

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It doesn't sound like precision work. Why not just place a linear scale on your drawing to allow the shop to allow them to pull dimensions that way. For instance, create a rectangular protrusion, similar to a ruler, yard stick, or whatever best fits the size of your part. Cut small grooves to mark your increments. Save, and insert a view of this part into every drawing (be sure the scale of the view is the same as the rest of the sheet). Be sure to label the units with a feature (or a simple note in the drawing).

I hope this is not too stupid a suggestion, but it did not sound like the shop needs precision dimensions.

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No, not at all, maybe I'm dumb for not thinking about that. ;)

They like to be able to rotate the parts and "get into" what they are looking at. Plus then we are in the position to think for them, and maybe where I think they need a X-section they may not. Plus our part are usually over 15 feet long. With various transitions throughout.

We are new to using Solidworks, so any suggestions are appreciated.

This sounds like it may work.

I was hoping for a viewer like E-Drawings that they can open up the solid and get whatever they need off of it.


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Another thing I keep in the forefront of my mind:

"Who is my audience?"

There is often a very wide chasm between what a parts-by-the-hundreds-machinists and one-off-toolmakers find workable. I have made part prints for both and find that the requirements are very different. In one case, I might tell a toolmaker "3/8 oversize c'bore" while I might tell a machinist "dia 13/32 thru, c'bore dia .593 x .406 deep, 45deg x .02 chamfer both ends".

Having anyone intentionally isloated from the process for which they are designing is (in my mind) self-defeating to the highest degree. What passes for a "good" part print here may not be so nice over there. Knowing the context for ones work is extremely important.

The thing that I always ask myself: "What is the user of this part print (or even data file) responsible to know?", then I act accordingly. A toolmaker should know that "block A" needs to be a light slip fit into the opening in "block B", so tolerancing it for him is a waste of time. He has a CONTEXT for the part and an understanding of its function, therefore he does not need a tolerance. On the other hand, if you outsourced the same blocks to a vendor, you might need to specify what was needed with tolerance, or if you intended to make 100 pcs that need to be interchangeable, you might need to define the part print differently.

My 2 cents.


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Sean-Michael Adams

That is so true what you wrote. Toolmaker want to see the whole assembly and make it fit and work. Machinists want every thing called out with tolerances and sizes. They could care less what it fits into. And of course there is a third situation, our "in-house" prints are less stringent, less toleranced, than anything going to the outside.

I was a toolmaker (stamping dies and plastic injection molds) for 22 years. Now I am on the designing end. I always tend to put too much info on a print than not enough. I might tolerance the part AND put a note to fit it to such and such detail. If the machinist chooses to ignore the fitting part of the note, at least you tried to communicate what was trying to be accomplished.

Dan Bovinich

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Dan Bovinich

It's good to have a toolmaker who's smart enough to ignore what you put on the drawing and do what works instead. I just like to be told when it happens, so I can document it for the customer and then do it right next time.

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Dale Dunn

In our shop, we generate a set of drawings called the "Control Copy". The toolmakers are responsible for redlining this copy with any and all changes/deviations. When the job is finished, the control copy comes back to me and I incorporate those changes to the drawing file. The result is called a "Final As Built" copy. All subsequent repairs are built from the FAB copy.


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I like this control copy idea, the problem is we usually have the guys in tooling building the tool off of part drawings, we don;t make the whole assembly for the tool in the drawing department because of the nature of the tools/molds we make, they are all wood, for laying up dry fiberglass and a lid os closed and it is filled with flotation foam.

So alot of the time while I am working on the drawings of the parts they are off building off a handdrawn sketch or redlined drawing that was previously made of just the part. And in the end I usually end up having to go out and check their work to make sure my drawing matches up in the end. IMHO, it is an ass backwards sytem, but the only solution I have is to get the modeled part into their hands so they can get the right dimension when they need them, so the part that comes out of their tool is correct.

Again we are a semi-small company that is starting to cross the bridge into more and more 3D modeling type work, and the system just isn't organized like it should be. Many times we have three different departments working on the same part all with different information, and it isn't until the very end when we ship out a prototype that all of us get together and inspect the part, and then it turns into a finger pointing, and everyone interprets the drawings different for some reason.

Sorry for the long explanation, I;m just curious if anyone had crossed this road before. I was just trying to find a solution for them to pull dims off, but its turned into a better discussion with some great ideas from you guys, I appreciate it, Thanks Ryan wrote:

toolmakers are responsible for redlining this

control copy comes back to me and I incorporate

copy. All subsequent repairs are built from

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I work at a theater, and we have just started the transition from AutoCAD to Solidworks. I continually wrestle with the issue of putting too much information vs. not enough. If I add too much, I think there is a tendency to overlook things. Also, the guys that weld the metal understructure have different dimensioning need, while the guys that add wood or fiberglass have another.

In my case, the shop is about 30' away from my desk, so I am easily accessable. Also, almost everything we make is a one-of-a-kind. The time spent producing higher-quality drawings and different sets of drawings for each department doesn't generate as much payback as it would if we were producing many of the same thing (because a drawing would be used many times).

The final result is a compromise. For the wood framers, I often put a set of dimensions showing where the 4'x8'x3/4" plywood flooring sits. This is because I have located structural members where I know there will be seams in the wood. If I omit this detail, they have to figgure out how I planned for them to cover the floor, and sometimes they don't figgure it out correctly.

On some items, that have a lot of curves, I decided to just say "full-sized templates will be provided" dimensioning instead of dimensioning them. The I use a 36" wide ink-jet plotter to give them a full-sized print. I will tape the output together to form pieces as large as 15' x 10'.

The challenge is finding where the man-hours are. For me to spend 1 hr doing life-size plots has to take less man-hours than having me dimension in detail and having the shop guy cut metal to my dimensions. The other factor is just hassle-factor.

Joe Dunfee

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