Batch create drawings + multibody sheet

CAD Booster is now four years old.

So to celebrate our birthday, we released Drew version 3.0 and Lighting (our fast fastener filter) version 1.6.

Here’s what we built for Drew.

Batch import models + create 10 drawings at once

This is a great new tool for companies that receive lots of files from their clients. Those files can be native SOLIDWORKS files, STEP files or other importable file formats.

From now on, you can import ten files with one click. With a second click, you start ten new drawings.

This is a great addition to our tool that lets you create drawings for all assembly components.

To start, close all files and click Create drawings for a folder in the Drew task pane:

batch import folder for solidworks drawings

Now select a folder and Drew finds all native and importable files:

batch create drawings

With the buttons next to the filenames, you can:

Import a single file

Start a new drawing

View an existing drawing in Quick View (way faster than opening a drawing in edit mode)

Edit an existing drawing

Batch import SOLIDWORKS files

This button at the bottom of the screenshot imports up to ten files that need importing. We mark files that can be read by SOLIDWORKS with this icon:

Drew skips the importable files that already have a SOLIDWORKS part or assembly with the same name. See Top.STEP in the screenshot above.

Batch create SOLIDWORKS drawings

Starting new drawings is the most boring part of making 2D drawings. You select:

  • A template
  • Your preferred sheet format
  • The model for the drawing

Then you start adding:

  • A first (main) view
  • A few projected views
  • An isometric view
  • Outer dimensions
  • A cut list or BOM
  • Blocks and notes

Drew automates all of this. You store your drawing templates and preferences (for each customer or project) in blueprints. Then Drew starts a new drawing from a blueprint in one click.

We already had a tool to start 10 drawings for assembly components. This new tool does not even need an assembly.

Just click Start 10 drawings and Drew creates up to ten new drawings for models that need a drawing. The drawings stay open so you can make quick changes.

Views for every unique body on one sheet – in one click

Drew could already create a sheet per unique body.

But some of our users wanted to add multiple bodies to a single sheet. So we built something for them.

Just click this button while creating a drawing for a multibody part:

add views for each unique body automatically in solidworks

Drew will then:

  1. Find all unique bodies
  2. Add the default 2D views for them – you can choose the body views in the settings.
  3. Rotate straight weldment bodies for a perfect horizontal view (when enabled)
  4. Add outer dimensions (when enabled).
  5. Add a balloon (when enabled)

solidworks weldment view rotate

The result is something like this:

In this example, you see three views per body, plus dimensions and a balloon. The view orientation and rotation are optimized: some use a front view, some a right view, some a current model view.

The dimension positions are not perfect, but we decided to use the 80-20 rule and automate the most boring bits (adding views and dimension) first. We’ll improve the positioning later.

Support for diagonal weldment bodies

Creating a flat, straight view for a diagonal weldment body takes way too many clicks. So we automated that.

But we could not create these perfect views for weldment bodies that are diagonal in all directions.

It took some matrix math and a whole lot of trial and error, but now we can.

solidworks 3D weldment body view

One-click exporting to STEP, eDrawing and PDF

Every engineering company is looking for a faster way to import and export models and drawings.

So for drawings, we already had one-click exports to DWG, DXF and PDF.

We now added exporting the underlying model to STEP. Drew then switches to the part or assembly (or SOLIDWORKS creates an empty export), saves it to STEP and switches back to the drawing.

The one-click exports always use the filename from the drawing. So if the drawing is saved as rocket.slddrw, we save the STEP file as rocket.step.

batch export drawing to pdf - dxf - step

We also added four ways to export your parts and assemblies in one click:

  1. 3D PDF
  2. eDrawing
  3. STEP
  4. STL

batch export to step stl edrawing pdf automatically

An improved toolbar

We streamlined the Drew drawing toolbar a bit.

There were too many sheet delete buttons, so we combined them in Delete sheets of type. Hit that button and choose a sheet type to delete all body sheets, sub-weldment sheets or flat pattern sheets.

batch drawing automation toolbar

Other improvements

We made dozens of improvements under the hood, including some major ones. These are the changes that you might notice, though:

  1. Fixed adding a sheet metal thickness twice
  2. Added the option to use a current model view as the main view. You cannot change the main view to a current model view because we would need to delete the view first. That would break the links to projected views.
  3. Drew now adds the perfect weldment view directly, instead of adding the front view first, then changing it.
  4. Removed mate statistics
  5. Added Help button to the toolbar
  6. Added full support for SOLIDWORKS 2021

Bug fixes

We noticed a few bugs in the past month and fixed all of them:

  • Fixed a bug that caused an error when it could not add an angle dimension.
  • Fixed a bug that caused an error when adding dimensions to a weldment body.
  • Fixed adding a BOM instead of a cut list to a sheet that has no views.

What’s next?

Our backlog contains 65 ideas and ideally, we’d like to achieve ten of those items for the next version.

We’ll be working on creating a single drawing for all components in an assembly. Plus we’d love some export settings, like including the revision in the filename.

In the meantime, go ahead and try out some drawing automation for yourself 😉

create, edit and review SOLIDWORKS drawings twice as fast

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