Every software is bound to have its idiosyncrasies, and SolidWorks is no exception. One that we have experienced recently involves working with drawings that have dangling dimensions. DriveWorks automations will frequently leave unneeded dimensions dangling on a drawing, and that’s not a problem (they’re unnecessary anyway, right?). But when they are invisible yet still selectable, that can make working with the drawing almost impossible. But there is an easy answer.
SolidWorks has an option to deal with dangling dimensions, Tools -> Options -> Documents -> Settings -> Detailing -> Hide dangling dimensions and annotations. This option works wonderfully to create a drawing that prints out completely devoid of danglers.
A strange thing happens in certain circumstances involving reference dimensions to components that are deleted; these (dangling, invisible) dimensions are somehow still selectable. In fact, if there are quite a few dangling dimensions, it can be difficult to select anything else. Even though we work frequently with DriveWorks and see this problem all the time, we checked with SolidWorks technical support and they verified that this can be a problem in other cases, too.
So what are we to do with all of these dangling dimensions when they make the drawing almost unusable? Delete them, of course.
Since DriveWorks is causing the problem in this case (by removing components), let’s get DriveWorks to be part of the solution. DriveWorks has the ability to drive annotation text, including dimensions. This allows us to add text above, before, after or below a dimension value. We can also pass “DELETE” to the DriveWorks rule, and have the system delete a dimension when it’s not appropriate. This is a perfectly good way to remove those pesky dangling dimensions.
We might have a large number of invisible, selectable, dangling dimensions for other reasons, too. Luckily, there is another way to remove a large number of dangling dimensions easily. A basic SolidWorks macro can walk through each annotation on each drawing view (I smell a nested programming LOOP) and delete that annotation if it is dangling. And if DriveWorks is part of the picture, we can place this macro in the Group ContentMacros folder, and have this validation step run every time that DriveWorks generates a drawing.
One more trick related to identifying dangling dimensions is the use of the SolidWorks Design Checker. With SolidWorks Professional, the Design Checker can be used to identify all dangling dimensions on a drawing, and once they are identified, they can quickly be deleted with a single command. The folks over at Solid Applications have a nice post on this trick.
So if SolidWorks gives us lemons, we should call up support and ask “why are you giving us lemons?” But if SolidWorks gives us dangling dimensions and annotations, we can easily hide them with the Document Properties dialog, or we can locate them as a group (with a macro or Design Checker) and delete them all at once. If you have any burning questions like this related to the automation of your SolidWorks drawings (or models), please contact us – we love this stuff.