When it comes to mechanical computer aided design (CAD) software SolidWorks is quickly becoming the industry leader. You may already be familiar with the basics of Solidworks, but how do you become a master of this high tech tool? SolidWorks provides a powerful set of engineering design tools to design products better no matter what size your business is. While the software is technically amazing in that it allows you to design and test virtual prototypes of any imaginable device, learning how to use it is no small achievement.

To get the most out of SolidWorks, you need to be extremely familiar with the program. This includes all of the many nooks and crannies as well as add-on programs. The key to honing your SolidWorks skills is practice and training. The better you understand the program, the more efficient and productive you’ll be at design. Here are eight tips to improve your design skills and help you become a master SolidWorks user:

1. Formal Training. One of the best ways to get started with a new software program is taking a formal class. In a classroom you’ll get invaluable hands on instruction from a Solidworks professional instructor. You’ll be committed to showing up and learning, plus the peer pressure of the other students will motivate you to put in the extra effort that would likely not occur if teaching yourself.

2. Non-traditional training. There are numerous online training materials and books if you prefer to be “home-schooled”. You can learn at your own pace, but must be motivated enough to keep at it. Just Google Solidworks training and you’ll see tons of third-party training videos, books, etc.

3. Value Added Resellers (VARs). You can often find special events for new users from your local SolidWorks VAR. VARs often offer seminars or night schools where you can find out more about SolidWorks.

4. User Groups. In order to stay current and network with other SolidWorks users, joining a user group is a great idea. It’s typically free to join and you can learn technical tips from other users. Search for a user group near you at http://www.swugn.org.

5. Be a Superuser. Become the go-to person at your company – the SolidWorks guru. Let other users come to you with their questions and problems. Considering yourself to be an expert will motivate you to learn more.

6. Discussion Forums. Getting involved in a discussion forum is a great way to get help or submit advice based on your previous experience. Solidworks maintains one of the best at forum.solidworks.com.

7. CSWP Test. The Certified SolidWorks Professional exam provides a standard measure of SolidWorks competency. You’ll feel confident in your skills and be recognized by employers as a certified user.

8. Create CAD Standards. To ensure productivity in SolidWorks, create a CAD standard book. Document how to begin new parts and drawings, how to handle design revisions, how you manage standard parts, and so on.

The best approach to mastering SolidWorks is to mix and match several of the eight techniques listed above. As the saying goes practice makes perfect. Each year there are new releases, so you’ll want to stay current with new features of the software.

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