Automating your design in SOLIDWORKS using DriveWorksXpress

Rahul Burkule, Sr. Application Engineer Mar 10th, 2021

A quick search on Google for “SOLIDWORKS users worldwide” throws a figure of ‘six million’, out of which roughly 1 million are professional users. How many of them are using SOLIDWORKS to automate their everyday mundane design tasks? The answer simply is “not enough of them”.

There could be multiple reasons for this. One of the reasons being that they are simply unaware of the free design automation tool inside each SOLIDWORKS license. Or in some cases their design changes completely each time they get a new order and hence have no use of automating their designs. Some SOLIDWORKS users might even think they need to write a program, a macro or learn a computer language to be able to automate! Afterall when I first started using SOLIDWORKS I was of the same opinion that design automation is a niche subject best left to the programmers.

But this is where DriveWorksXpress comes into the picture. It can be applied to a vast majority of products that are designed in SOLIDWORKS and fall under different industry verticals. (coming to this a bit later)

So, what is DriveWorksXpress?

It is a free entry level design automation tool that comes with each SOLIDWORKS license. In simple words, one must design a “master CAD model” (part, assembly and drawing with a design intent), so that its changing dimensions and features can be easily captured and can be further used to generate new specifications. As best practice it is advised that the model be made in SOLIDWORKS only. (Any CAD file imported into SOLIDWORKS can also be automated if the dimension’s and features are recognized and can be captured.)

Where do you find DriveWorksXpress inside SOLIDWORKS?

Tools ? Xpress Products ? DriveWorksXpress
Or you can go to the Evaluate tab in the command manager and find it by the name DriveWorksXpress Wizard.

What are the benefits of using DriveWorksXpress?

There are several benefits, a few of them have been listed below.

  • Set up once and run again and again. No need for complex macros, design tables or configurations.
  • Automate repetitive SOLIDWORKS tasks and free up time to focus on product innovation and development.
  • Eliminate errors and expensive, time-consuming design changes.

Where can I learn more about DriveWorksXpress? How do I get started?

They have their own website that has all the learning resources like “how to” videos, downloadable sample projects, webinars and a lot more. Here is a link to their website.

Another place that you can find information to DriveWorksXpress is inside SOLIDWORKS Help ? Tutorials ? Productivity Tools ? DriveWorksXpress. This is a step by step guide on how to start using the tool inside SOLIDWORKS.

Moreover, once you get a hang of how to use DriveWorksXpress, there is a free online certification exam that you can give in your spare time. On passing the exam, you will get a certificate issued from DriveWorks. The exam name is Certified DriveWorksXpress Associate (CDWXA) and all information can be found on the website.

How do you activate DriveWorksXpress?

solidworks driveworksxpress

Activating DriveWorksXpress is simple and only requires a MySOLIDWORKS  account which is free to register. If you are facing any difficulties activating the license, feel free to contact BEACON Technical support and we will be happy to help you.

Which Industries can use DriveWorksXpress?

Here is a link to their website that best describes the variety of industries covered.

You will find around 20 different product lines that can be worked on, which is diverse. Even if you have not created an account on DriveWorksXpress, you will still be able to download all the sample projects and explore how they have been setup inside SOLIDWORKS. Now isn’t that great!

Example of a design automation project.

Let us take an example of a Powerpack as seen in the sample projects on the DriveWorksXpress website. Simply by picking a motor and selecting a pump, we can let DriveWorksXpress create a powerpack for us.

Powerpack assembly

Fig1: Powerpack assembly

Assembly Design Tree

Fig2: Assembly Design Tree

DriveWorksXpress menu

Fig3: DriveWorksXpress menu

Fig1 shows the assembly setup allowing pump and motor selection. Fig2 shows the assembly design tree. We can choose between Pump type Roper 1F10 or ISO 2858. Also, there are 6 different configurations of Motors to choose from (not seen in image). Fig3 shows the DriveWorksXpress menu which appears on the right-hand side inside SOLIDWORKS. Under the Projects menu, set up the name of project as you want. The next step is to capture the assembly structure, drawing and custom properties.

Captured components

Fig4: Captured components

Drawing and Configurations

Fig5: Drawing and

Capture custom properties.

Fig6: Capture custom

Individual parts can be opened, and their dimensions and features can be captured. The below image shows the captured features and dimensions with recognizable names to be later used to identify them while writing the rules.

Skid design with dimensions

Fig7: Skid design with dimensions

Cage design with dimensions

Fig8: Cage design with dimensions

Above figures show dimensions for the skid and cage which can be captured into DriveWorksXpress simply by clicking on them and giving them a sensible name.

Captured skid dimensions and features

Fig9: Captured skid dimensions and features

Captured length and width of cage

Fig10: Captured length and width of cage

Once captured, the dimensions are listed under the Dimensions folder and the Features under the Features folder.

The names can be renamed anytime, but make sure to update them in the rules. Once renamed, the update button must be pressed in order to update and save their names.

Now we can design a form to collect all the requirements for the new models.

Type of form options available

Fig11: Type of form options available

Powerpack form options

Fig12: Powerpack form options

After setting up options for the form design it is time to setup rules for all the captured parameters.

intuitive rule builder

The intuitive rule builder helps us understand if the input rule is acceptable or not by changing the color of the background to Red if the rule is wrong. Simple excel based rules can be written to suppress, un-suppress or delete a feature or component. The result will be instantly visible. Software gives options like Inputs, Recent, Math and Logic to make work easy. Rules can be applied to dimensions, custom properties and configurations.

Although DriveWorksXpress does not allow to create new configurations, we can switch between existing configurations using basic rules.

change the configurations of the motor

Figure alongside shows rule to change the configurations of the motor. A simple selection from the dropdown list on the form allows the user to select the configuration.

Running the configurator:

The final step is to run the configurator. Go to Run and fill out the form. Press Create. Remember this button will be greyed out if you forget to fill up any field or type in a wrong input value in the form which was previously set to “Required” when creating the form layout.

Running the configurator

After the user fills in the form and presses Create, a new powerpack assembly is created and saved in the same location as the master file. DriveWorksXpress also gives it a unique name according to the user rule to identify it from others. For example, the new assembly name may be based on the unique Order number generated by the user. The assembly drawing previously captured will also be generated with a new name.

DriveWorksXpress makes sure that if any component that does not change in dimension or features (or in other words is not part of the design automation or is not captured to be driven by the changes in the form) is not duplicated. This helps save a lot of disk space.

Resulting Output files:

Resulting Output files

Resulting Output files

The new assembly is generated according to the options selected in the form. Unwanted parts are deleted or suppressed. The drawing has been updated along with the Bill of Materials. The skid and cage dimensions update to accommodate the selected components. Custom properties are also driven into the drawing. The form can be filled any number of times to generate various specifications again and again. For more capabilities, check out DriveWorks Solo on above website which has a 1-month free trial period.

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AUTHOR: Rahul Burkule, Sr. Application Engineer

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