When working in any CAD environment, quickly and intuitively being able to manipulate views will improve efficiency. The basic premise is with the use of the number pad, shortcuts and if you want some scripting most CAD programs can be customized to speed up your workflow.

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Unfolded box

If you look at the number pad on your computer. Imagine that the 5 is the top of a box, 4 and 6 are the left and right, 2 is front, 8 is back and 0 is bottom. Using sheetmetal tools I folded up this flat pattern into a cube.


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In this second model I created a standard game die with the dots replaced by numbers and a letter corresponding to a standard view. This model will be provided in STEP format to help you setup your shortcuts. CAD programs have differing conventions with regards to the standard views and the triad’s orientation. Because of this you may need to rotate the die with move/rotate tools to line up appropriately.

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SolidWorks was the most straight forward to setup because the number pad is available to assign shortcuts simply by clicking on the keys.


Then search for a view. In this case ‘Back’ was searched for. Make sure to use the one designated as ‘Others’.

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For Catia I needed to perform some model rotations using:

Insert>Transformation Features> Rotation

After the die is lined up then go to:

Tools>Customize>Commands>View>Show Properties

Select ‘* back’ then click in the accelerator. Click the ‘Ctrl’ button then ‘Other…’ scroll down to ‘KP_8’. For the other views you can simply paste ‘Ctrl+KP_#’ replacing the # with the appropriate number.

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For Abaqus the number pad is not accessible as a shortcut so I used the arrow keys instead which is a bummer. It also required the use of a modifier key such as Shift, Ctrl or Alt. I chose Shift because Ctrl and an arrow is used when viewing results to advance steps.

Tools>Customize>View Manipulation>Front View>Shift + Down>Assign

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I can’t talk about view manipulation without mentioning the peripherals that I use daily. From left to right are my trusty tools of the trade: 3DConnexion Space Mouse Pro, Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, and my Logitech Performance MX Dark Field mouse. These are all work horses the spacebar is polished by my right thumb which apparently I use more than the left thumb. The mouse’s metal plating is worn through so you can see the underlying plastic, then the copper layer and the receding chrome layer.



I hope that this has been helpful and you try out this and other customizations. In SolidWorks I modified some scripts that I found years ago on eng-tips.com to create all the various corner and edge views. Which corresponds to this crazy Die. The various CAD models and scripts are provided in the link below.

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Thank you.

Rob Stupplebeen