You know how it goes. You’re sitting hunched over the keyboard with a coffee in one hand, spinning your model around while singing “Weeeee little bird!” in your highest pitch, when a knife comes flying over the cubicle wall. That… can cause a mess the janitor is not use to cleaning up.

Besides taking voice lessons, there are other ways to be not-so-annoying when reveling in your 3D modeling mastery, most of which will keep sharp object from entering the space inhabited by your skin and organ sacks. Here are five to start with along with some custom SolidSmack 5-minute sketches to make it all less boring.

  1. Grab the first random person you see and teach them something
    By force if necessary. Chains are cheap these days, but education is priceless. Even if it’s a Vietnamese shop guy with one eye that give you mean looks, pull him over and show him how to extrude a cube. He may not understand what you’re saying, but he will see how it’s done, plus it will attract the attention of jealous co-workers who will inadvertently gather round your cubicle to absorb your knowledge. It can be quick too. Step through the features of an existing model. Show what the different options of a feature do. Open someone else’s model and point out everything that is wrong with it while chuckling. Simple stuff. Doing this on a regular basis keeps you learning new ways to model, explain it, pass it along to others and avoid a knife to the kidneys by the one-eyed shop guy you’ve finally befriended.
  2. Write a tutorial
    Even if it’s a sucky tutorial and makes the step-by-step process for making toast a Pulitzer prize nomination. Start typing out how to model something. You will be amazed at how many steps you actually go through, to the point you will want to stop writing the tutorial and dip your head into a pot of boiling coffee. Don’t. Write it and send it to your co-workers via email. Heck, send it to SolidSmack. Maybe we’ll post it. If something is unclear in the tutorial, people will threaten you with a sharp instrument and ask you what the hell you are talking about. Which will, in turn, lead to fine tuning the art of explaining the particulars of 3D modeling with SolidWorks in a clear way that prevents you from being bludgeoned.
  3. Provide 10% time to model new ideas
    This pretty much only works if you’re a manager and can dictate such activities, but hey, if you’re just a wee employee you could also break the rules, risk being chastised by the company people with hairy moles trolling the isles with steak knives in their mouths, and use 10% of your work time to model up new ideas. Keep a folder. I have one called “Design” I put all the random ideas I come up with into. Back it up with Dropbox, just in case you are chased out of the building by the knife-wilding corporatis. Focusing 10% of your time, 4 hours per week for those of you who do the 40 hour thing, on developing new ideas is just a good practice to get into. Suggest it to others you’d like to stab yourself, who sit there clipping their toenails or playing Facebook games at work.
  4. Throw a CSWP party
    Becoming a Certified SolidWorks Professional (CSWP) takes time, study and money. Now, there’s nothing better to make someone feel left out than to throw a party they’re not invited to. A CSWP party. One for those who have received the certificate for their accomplishment. However, before actually throwing the party, it may behoove you to help co-workers learn what they need in order to pass – even better if you can have your company pay the cost of everyone of the team to take the test. Making it an effort everyone is aiming to accomplish will promote everyone helping each other to get there and eventually, the lone co-worker who wears a knife vest beneath his fur coat will feel accepted and start acting normal.
  5. Visit other companies using SolidWorks
    Believe it or not, there are other companies out there which use SolidWorks. Some may even be in your area. Some may even be a knife manufacturer. Avoid that one. But if there are any you know of, talk to them and ask about taking a tour of their facility or putting together a lunch with the SolidWorks users in both groups. Crazy sounding? Maybe, but even if you’re an independent consultant who uses SolidWorks, you know the benefit of getting together with another user and discussing modeling techniques, issues, hardware and methods. Absolutely Invaluable. Plus, after a few meetings you can start a little knife gang of your own and start going around taunting all of those innocent 2D users.

Whatcha got? Any other unconventional ways to promote SolidWorks mastery and avoid being stabbed?

Stuart Brown (@3Dengineers) had some great advice via Twitter:

“Buy a years training passport and go on ALL the courses. You meet fellow users and get SW manuals 4 each course.” and “If you can’t afford time or money for training buy all the manuals Solidworks publish and READ them. Cost 250 Pounds.”

Image via Flickr (Charlie Cravero)


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.