Posts Tagged ‘assemblies’

Weldments and Bill of Materials

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

There are many different ways to create structural frames.  One method might be creating it as an assembly with many individual parts.  Another method, which is my preferred  way, would be as a single multibody part…as a Weldment.
Weldment Icon
The Weldment way allows for easy design changes, automatic structural member trimming/extensions, and creation of cut lengths.  This however is typically just a portion of the overall design.  There might be many more pieces that go on the frame.  This is when you would add your Weldment design to an assembly.

Now with your Weldment in the assembly and the other components attached, you need a Bill of Materials (BOM).  It’s possibly to show the cut list for all the structural members in an assembly BOM.  You will need to choose a BOM Type of Indented in the PropertyManager.

BOM Property Manager
Once you choose the indented type, the BOM will show as a cut list.  The QTY column shows a total length for the structural member.

BOM Image
If you then choose “Detailed cut list” in the BOM Type, it will break each member out in their own row with a length value.

BOM Image Detailed
Now your assembly BOMs can show all the individual items even in the Weldment.  But what if you are using Enterprise PDM.  Can you see the cut list in EPDM?  Of course you can.  It is under the Bill of Materials tab.  You would need to set-up a Weldment Cut List template in EPDM but that is very simple.

EPDM Cut List
As you can see, the cut list item names can be shown to make finding the correct member easy.  Just like in a drawing, you can choose to see a Weldment BOM.

EPDM Weldment BOM
This will group all the members together giving you a total quantity.  If you select the “Contains” tab, and RMB on a Weldment member, you get some more useful functionality.

EPDM Contains Tab
When you choose “Properties”, you can see the members data card with the length.

EPDM Data Card Weldment
You will need to add the length field to the card and map it to the “BOM Quantity” variable.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

What Can’t You Design In SolidWorks? #2

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

RC Hovercraft #2 – SolidWorks

To review, I had 4 main design criteria for the Remote Control Hover Craft.

  • Utilize the SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation Suite of software to develop and optimize the hovercraft design.
  • The RC Hovercraft’s main components will be 3D Printed using the Stratasys UPrint.
  • Easy to Assemble. I want to make the assembly as easy and as straight forward as possible with concise instructions.
  • For purchases components, use low cost, off the shelf components including the electric motors, electronic speed control (ESC), batteries, and propellers.

I proceeded forward with the design of the Hovercraft using SolidWorks 3D mechanical design software.  SolidWorks allowed me to quickly develop and execute a first pass design, utilizing Multi-Body Parts, In context Assembly Modeling, Sketch Pictures, Fastening Features, Interference Detection, and several other standard options.  All of this came together in an initial design that meets the above criteria.

The design started with the Top Plate part that houses the downward facing fan assembly and gives the craft its overall dimensional size.  I kept the craft under the 8″ by 8″ tray size of the Stratasys UPrint 3D Printer.  The part consists of multi-bodies; one for the plate and the other for the fan housing.  These bodies have minimal tolerance so they are a snug fit when pressed together for final assembly.  This design criteria is so that if the propeller needs to be serviced later total dis-assembly of the craft does not have to take place. Simply pull the fan unit upward out of the top plate.

Top Plate

Top Plate

Exploded View Front

Exploded View Front

Exploded View Back

Exploded View Back


The chassis continues with a bottom plate and separating ribs.  The chassis is hollow as the air needs to fill this cavity before exiting out of the skirt.  The skirt is intended to be a bicycle inner tube cut to size with holes cut around the inner bottom portion allowing the air to escape.  The skirt will be held on by two fastening plates and standard hobby store machine screws.

Section View

Section View

The back cowling snaps into place with a Snap Hook.  The Fastening Feature command was used to create this geometry.  The Snap Hook will allow for ease of assembly, and the cowl contains a cross bar with built in motor mount sized for a 9V-11V brushed can motor. The Cowling and Top Plate will make up the mounting location for the dual rudder system.  The system is driven by  an S75 Nano servo available at most local hobby shops.





The canopy will cover all of the electronics including the Receiver, two Electronic Speed Controls (ESC), And two Li-Poly 300MAH 11.1V Batteries.  One ESC and battery per motor.  I originally set out utilizing the Sketch Picture and Surfacing to create the canopy structure. This worked out well, however at this time I did not have the electronics in the full assembly.  When trying to accommodate the electronics under the first variation of the canopy I visibly had interference. Luckily utilizing in-context editing and having a well planned design intent, the changes to the canopy allowed for an easy and quick change.

Sketch Picture

Sketch Picture

Interference Original Canopy

Interference Original Canopy

Receiver & ESCs

Receiver & ESCs


Batteries, Receiver, and ESCs

Batteries, Receiver, and ESCs

Canopy Design Change

Canopy Design Change



There is still much to do with the modeling aspect, but for now I have a good working start to the project and a starting point to investigate the flow and stress characteristics of the design.  The next step is to utilize Flow Simulation to verify the lift ability of the motor and propeller combination  for the lift fan and the rear facing fan assembly.














Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

What Can’t You Design In SolidWorks?

Monday, February 25th, 2013

RC Hovercraft #1

For this blog series I wanted to design something from scratch.  Not necessarily a new idea but something fun and cool.  My intention is to design a Remote Control Hovercraft from the ground up.

I want to give you a brief description and history of a Hovercraft:

A hovercraft or air-cushion vehicle is a vehicle capable of travelling over variable surfaces, such as land and water.  The hovercraft operates by forcing a high pressure of air between the bottom of the craft and the surface below.  This high pressure of air lifts the vehicle upward essentially “hovering” above the ground on a cushion of air. The first practical design for hovercraft derived from several coinciding inventions in the 1950s to 1960s. They are now used throughout the world as specialized vehicles for transport and other applications.


  1. Propulsion Propellers
  2.  Air
  3. Lifting Fan
  4. Flexible skirt

YouTube Preview Image

I have specific goals in mind that I want to meet in the design and build of this project.


Goals of the Hovercraft Design:

  • Utilize the SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation Suite of software to develop and optimize the hover craft design.
  • The RC Hovercraft’s main components will be 3D Printed using the Stratasys UPrint.
  • Easy to Assemble. I want to make the assembly as easy and as straight forward as possible with concise instructions.
  • For purchased components, use low cost, off the shelf components including the electric motors, electronic speed control (ESC), batteries, and propellers.

I am starting from just an idea, and a sketch. We will see where the design leads.

Hover Craft2

Robert Warren

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

How to Hide & Show Components Fast

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Here’s a cool shortcut, added in SolidWorks 2012, to hide and show components in an assembly; “Tab” key.

If you move your mouse over a component and press the “Tab” key, the component gets hidden.  If you hold “Shift“+”Tab“, it will bring the component back.  Try holding the “Tab” key down and moving your mouse over the assembly and see what happens.

You can learn some other good tips in regards to assemblies in the Assembly Training Class.  We will cover everything from Top-Down assembly modeling, to all the selection capabilities, to working with large assemblies.

Josh Spencer

Elite Application Engineer, CSWE 3DVision Technologies

Assembly Visualization – the search for the missing file properties

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Releasing your drawings to the machine shop with missing information makes a machinist angrier than a baby boomer looking at a teenager that doesn’t have his pants pulled up all the way.

As we all know, looking through a large assembly, checking file properties can be a tedious task. (At least that is the excuse I always use.) I’ve found Assembly Visualization can be a great tool to quickly skim through your assembly’s components looking for missing information.

Here’s how I could use it to find any parts in my assembly without material specified:

1. Start the Visualization tool (it is either on your assembly or evaluate toolbar by default)

2. Right mouse button click on any of the headers (except “File Name”) and choose “Add Column”, or find any column with a little black arrow pointing to the right.AddColumn

3. Click on that arrow and choose “More…”


4. Choose the property you want to examine. (Check it out, you could work with formula too!)


5. Now you can sort by this property by clicking on its heading and your parts with missing information will come to the top. You can quickly see I haven’t assigned a material to my “crank-knob”missing

Thank you for attending “Jeff Sweeney’s SolidWorks tip of the randomly selected interval” please tune in next time, at a time to be determined when I feel like it, to learn more cool SolidWorks tips and tricks.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Game Show: Why won’t these references update? – The Solution

Friday, May 20th, 2011

In Wednesday’s competition we learned neither our champion nor challenger’s method of updating references worked. Did you figure out why?

The problem they ran into was caused by how SolidWorks finds referenced files when assemblies are opened.

SolidWorks has a set of rules to go by when trying to find components of an assembly. It is important to know and understand SolidWorks’ method.

  1. Try to use an already loaded file
  2. Look in the paths listed in the “Referenced Documents” list in the options area
  3. Look in the same directory as the assembly
  4. Look in the directories where it has already found other components
  5. Look where the file was the last time the assembly was saved (excluding the drive letter)
  6. Look where the file was the last time the assembly was saved (including the drive letter)
  7. Ask you where the file is

Both contestants correctly told SolidWorks to look in the new location, but SolidWorks would rather find the file within the same directory as the assembly was found. (Priority #3) It only appeared the references were not updated.

If either of our contestants would have deleted the motor from the assembly’s directory they would have won the autographed coloring book because SolidWorks would have gotten to priority #5 and the correct motor file would have been opened.

What is the moral of the story?

  1. Spend some time learning how SolidWorks resolves referenced documents. This is a very important skill, that I promise can save you many headaches when files are acting funny
  2. Never duplicate file names for SolidWorks files. If these two files would not have had the same name, at worst our contestants would have been notified that SolidWorks could not find the file (gotten to priority #7) and they could have known to fix the issue.


Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Game Show: Why won’t these references update?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Welcome everyone to America’s favorite game show: “Why won’t these references update?!” I’m your favorite game show host Guy Smiley.

Today we have two challengers. Our first challenger enjoys hopscotch and talking to her gold fish, say hello to Penelope Pendelton!

Our second player enjoys working in his store, Mr. Hooper.

Here is the challenge: Today we received a set of files from an outside contractor. Our producers have copied the files from our ftp site and have added them to our network as shown here:



The challenge we have for the two of you today is that the “182T.SLDPRT” file is a standard product of our company and we wish for you to change the assembly’s reference to no longer load the file from this downloaded directory, but to use the file in our standard parts library instead:


The winner of today’s challenge receives a coloring book autographed by me, Guy Smiley.

On your mark, get set, go!

Our challenger, Penelope wastes no time opening SolidWorks and changing the reference through the “Reference” button in SolidWorks’ Open dialog box.


She quickly opens and saves the assembly and clicks her buzzer. 37 seconds, an unbelievable time.

Now it is our champion, Mr. Looper’s turn.


Mr. Hooper notices the assembly is stored in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, so he uses EPDM’s “Update Reference” tool to change the reference in only twenty seconds!

It looks like Mr. Snooper has easily won this challenge, but let’s wait for the judge’s final decision.

Our judges go to each challenger’s computer, open each assembly and find the assemblies are still referencing the original motor! Neither method worked! Are we doomed to never have this assembly reference the file from the library like we want?

Both assemblies were checked out, the assembly files have a new time date stamp …what happened?

Tune in tomorrow to learn: “Why won’t these references update?!”

(Hint: This is not an EPDM issue.)

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Pack and Go vs. EPDM’s Copy Tree – Who Wins?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Pack and Go vs. EPDM’s Copy Tree – Who Wins?

When working with files outside of the vault, you have no choice -Pack and Go is the only tool you have, and it is a good tool -all the cool kids are using it.

However, for copying files within SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, both tools are an option, which one should you use?

Easy. Copy Tree. No question, no contest. I don’t want to hear your argument for Pack and Go…your argument is bad. Copy Tree gives you:

  • Speed
  • Less Mistakes
  • More Options


Speed - What happens when you click “Include Drawings” with Pack and Go? Pack and Go goes through all of your referenced paths looking at each and every drawing trying to decide if it is a parent of one of the chosen parts. That can take time. If you have lots of paths, that can take a loooong time. Click “Include Drawings” in EPDM, since there is a database – all drawings are found almost immediately.

Less Mistakes – See those two radio buttons “Use latest version of references” and “Use attached version of references”? Pack and Go doesn’t have those options. This means that Pack and Go is going to simply copy the version of the file that is in your local cache. Is it the right version? You better hope so! These two options in Copy Tree help ensure you are copying the version you want.

More Options:

  • Rename with Serial Number – If you are using EPDM’s serial numbers, Copy Tree will look those numbers up for you and rename the new files on the fly
  • Check in files with comment – Checks in the new files after the copy.
  • Name drawings after their models – Very handy if you are renaming the models, you can get the drawings to have the same name automatically

Every tool has its place, ensure you are using the right one at the right time.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Dynamic Clearance-Worth the Price of Admission

Friday, March 18th, 2011

In Essentials class this week, one of the attendees was very impressed with the Dynamic Clearance option available when using ‘Move Component’ in an assembly.  He commented that neither he nor the few other Engineers and Designers he works with knew about this functionality.  Considering this attendees’ company designs and manufactures non-static equipment, I am somewhat surprised.

As a refresher, the Dynamic Clearance option is available when using ‘Move Component’ on the Assembly Command Manager tab.  After you select ‘Move Component’, you have several options.  As you can see from the screen capture, I have selected the male and female yoke as the two components that I’m interested in knowing the Dynamic Clearance between.  Once I have selected the components and clicked the ‘Resume Drag’ button, I select a mobile component of the assembly and start to move it.  This dimension in the graphics window represents the current minimum clearance between the components I selected.  Also, you should note that in the Property Manager window, the dialog at the bottom of Dynamic Clearance provides an indication of the minimum clearance between the components, shown as [min = 0.079], as soon as you start to drag/move components.  Then all you have to do is watch your on-screen feedback to move the components to that closest position.

Now that you’ve added a new tool to your arsenal, take a look at some of your movable assemblies and see if you have less clearance between components than you thought.  As another Essentials attendee commented, not all of our minimum clearance conditions occur in our orthogonal views!  For him, the Dynamic Clearance functionality was “worth the price of admission”.   I hope the rest of the class was, too!
2011-0317 Dynamic Clearance

Bill Reuss

Elite Application Engineer CAE Technical Specialist 3DVision Technologies

What’s New in SolidWorks 2011: DEFEATURE

Friday, January 14th, 2011

I just built this great model, now you want me to do WHAT ?! Defeature it ??

Yep, that’s right, SolidWorks has come out with a tool to get rid of all the small details in your part.

Why would you ever want to do this ?

Perhaps you are going to share this model with someone who needs to build “around” it, but you don’t want them to see all the intellectual data INSIDE of it… Perhaps you have downloaded an assembly (or part) off the internet and you want to quickly dumb it down…

The DEFEATURE tool, new in SolidWorks 2011, will let you remove details from a part or assembly and save the results to a new file in which the details are replaced by dumb solids (with no feature history).

The tool is found under TOOLS—DEFEATURE (while you are in a Part or Assembly file).

There are steps to allow you to specify COMPONENTS to remove from the model (for assembly files only), specify any features you would like to keep (mounting holes, etc.) that may have been automatically removed in the first step, and even a step to allow you to specify if there is any movement/motion you would like to keep ! You also get to preview the “defeatured” model in a cool split screen window before you save it out as a new file.

One of the best things is that when you defeature an assembly, it will get saved as a multi-body PART file, so you don’t have all the references to worry about sending to someone or maintaining yourself. Also, any open areas in the model will be “filled in” with solid material !

Be sure to check out this new tool in SolidWorks 2011 !!

Randy Simmons

Application Engineer, CSWP 3DVision Technologies

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