I used to design lots of mechanical devices 15~30 years ago, but have been consumed by electronics and software design for the past 15 years. Now I've got to design about 50 mechanical parts for two devices and apparently ruler, paper, and pencil no longer suffice. People with CNC machines want CAD output files. Gee, I wonder why? At least that much is obvious to me!
So here I am trying to learn solidworks while I design my parts. Nifty software, but it sure looks like a steep if not vertical learning curve... so I hope you guys and gals here will take pity on me and answer some massively stupid questions! Today I start with a few "day one" questions.
#1: I've got several linear ball bearings in the design and I found and downloaded some CAD files for these parts from the internet. It took me for-freaking-ever to figure out I had to run some oddball macro command on the .swb files to convert them to .swlprt format. Fortunately some of the parts were available in .swlprt format already.
However, now that I've got these parts in a directory on my computer, I can't seem to figure out how to get them into the parts collections... or even what section of the parts collections they belong in. I see 39 gazillion nuts, bolts and all kinds of other goober parts including regular bearings in their parts collections, but no linear bearings. I don't know whether I should be trying to shove these parts in some existing section (somehow I doubt it), or where. I assume these shouldn't be in any collection of my own parts, since these are standard off the shelf parts.
So where should these newly loaded parts go, and how do I get them there?
#2: I always design with my axis of symmetry along the Z-axis. I have kept this policy on everything from optical design software I wrote, to 3D game engines I wrote, to... well... everything I've written that happens in 3D. Unfortunately, pretty much all these linear bearings as well as some of the other parts I've looked adopted either the X-axis or Y-axis as their axis of symmetry.
2A: So, surely a software app as clever as solidworks must contain a feature somewhere to let me simply swap the axes on a loaded part... right? Please say "of course", then tell me where to find that option. I assume once I exchange the X-axis or Y-axis with the Z-axis I can save the parts and henceforth they'll load with the Z-axis as the axis of symmetry. Right?
2B: The other problem is, I want that 3-axis gizmo in the lower-left corner of the working area to be rotated 90-degrees around the X-axis, so the Y-axis is pointing away and to the right slightly, and the Z-axis is pointing straight up in the air. Surely lots of other people want Z-axis == zenith, right? Everyone knows that makes sense, right? No? Well, either way, how can I tell solidworks to always "start up my way". Or if that's not possible, at least tell me how I can change it each time I start up the software.
NOTE: At least solidworks has a right-handed coordinate system! If it didn't, I'd be asking how to switch that too!
#3: Obviously I haven't gotten this far yet, but when I do, how do I tell solidworks that the linear bearings are free to slide along the ground hardened shafts once I put those parts together in an "assembly"? I'm guessing most parts stay put when they're assembled into an assembly, right?
Okay, those are my first stupid questions. Many more will surely follow soon if I'm not chased outta here for being overly stupid and lame.