Bend-to-bend dimensions and smarter balloons

Another month, another Drew update.

The number of companies that use Drew is growing rapidly (yay!). Because of this, we received loads of feedback from trial users and existing customers in the past few months.

So thank you all for reporting strange issues that only seem to occur in your particular workflow. Every comment makes Drew better.

Add bend-to-bend dimensions to flat patterns

The biggest new feature is dimensions for flat patterns. One of our customers, a sheet metal shop, asked for this. This feature is not meant for engineers, because your supplier usually makes their own flat pattern anyway.

When Drew adds a flat pattern, we can now also add what we call bend-to-bend dimensions. If you have a better name, please let us know 😉

Drew gets all bend lines from your flat pattern, creates groups of horizontal and vertical lines and adds a dimension between each two. You can then decide which ones you want to keep or delete.

This only works with horizontal and vertical bend lines for now, which should cover about 80% of bend lines. We’ll try to add diagonal lines soon.

solidworks flat pattern bend dimensions

To enable this option, go into the settings > Flat patterns Add bend-to-bend dimensions.

flat pattern bend to bend dimensions solidworks

Use cut list folder names for sheet names

When you create body sheets, you can now use the name of the cut list folder as the sheet name.  This makes navigating the drawing much easier.

cut list folder name as sheet name

You can enable this in the settings > Sheet names > Body sheets > Use cut list folder name

cut list folder name as sheet name

Better balloon positions

One of Drew’s greatest features is the ability to add a sheet per unique body (weldment or not, we even rotate a weldment body and add a flat pattern for a sheet metal body). Drew then adds views, outer dimensions, notes and a balloon, all according to your preferences.

We now improved these balloons in two ways. First, we let you choose whether to add the balloon to the first 2D view or to the first 3D view. Until now, we would add the balloon to the first 2D view.

Second, we now move the balloon until it’s no longer over the view. Under the hood, we try to select a face at each corner point of the box around the balloon. When the selection fails, we know that that specific corner is not over the view. This approach works in about 90% of cases.

solidworks automatic balloon

First angle projection / European projection

From now on, Drew will read the first/third angle setting from the current sheet and display the correct projected views in the user interface.

solidworks drawing automation first angle projection

For each blueprint, you can set a toggle in the settings so the settings also use first angle projection.

Drew first angle european projection

AutoFit improvements

AutoFit is our technology for fitting all views, tables and blocks onto a sheet every time you make a significant change. It saves you loads of clicks and seconds dragging around views, trying a new scale, then dragging around views again.

It’s great when AutoFit works as you expect it to, but it’s pretty annoying when it doesn’t.

So we made three improvements:

  1. Added more sheet scales in the settings, so you can now use numbers like 3.5 to create scales like 35 to 1 and 1 to 3.5. Don’t select all of them though, this will make AutoFit slower because it may try each scale.
  2. Added a Tight fit option. Check this checkbox so that AutoFit starts with close to zero space around each view. Sometimes this allows a better fit.
  3. Drew uses a different mode when there are no regular 2D views, but only a 3D view and a flat pattern, for example. This mode is now better at fitting multiple views on the sheet without overlap.

solidworks drawing automation first angle projection

Other improvements

We made dozens of smaller improvements under the hood. These are the changes that you might notice, though:

  1. Added button in the settings to copy a blueprint.
  2. Made adding dimensions to weldment bodies more consistent.

Bug fixes

Together with our customers, we noticed a few bugs in the past month and fixed them:

  • Fixed bodies in sub-weldments not getting their own sheet
  • Fixed interference with CAD2M add-in
  • Fixed showing flat pattern section in the UI for body sheet
  • Fixed projected views that showed up as isometric views
  • Fixed exporting unsaved drawings
  • Fixed export status because it was hidden immediately
  • Fixed allowing too large margins, which caused saving the settings to fail
  • Fixed error when Drew cannot find the third view for an angle dimension

What’s next?

Now that we tackled bend-to-bend dimensions and a bunch of smaller improvements, it’s time to think ahead again.

For the next few versions, we’d like to improve Drew’s ability to work with existing drawings. Drew is great at starting new drawings but lacks editing tools.

We’ll also be switching to a better licensing platform (one that takes less than three weeks to respond to our emails) and we’re improving exports.

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