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First question, how big is big?
What version and SP of SW are you using?
What are the computer specs for the machines you are working with?
Are you getting out of memory errors?
Are the machine physically to big and coming up against the workspace limits in SolidWorks?
Why more specifically can't you put a couple machines together?
Are you using a 64bit operation system?
Not enough info on what your problem is to give you an answer on how you may improve your process.
Why don't you save the machine assemblys as a solidworks part and then place them in the assembaly. If all you are doing is to try to show elevations in a plant this should do.
We are limited to 2gb of ram. I have 3gb but SW dumps at 2.
We use IBM T60p notebook computers with ATI cards.
I have read everything I could about the 3gb switch but all settings cause the graphics card to not repaint the screen correctly.
We are in the 7,000 part range per machine
We use simplified configurations everywhere we can and many sub assemblies.
We have been diligent in understanding and implementing everything we can about large assemblies.
We were given notebook computers because we travel every now and then.
My notebook sucks and there is nothing I can do about it. It's a management call and they don't consider our needs.
I have drawings I made with a desktop PC that was 5 year old that I can't open with my nootbook.
Even if I could put all of the machines into a production line assembly I would have to mate them out of position to get them to show in a drawings view.
I have never tried to save an assembly as a part. I'll give that a try.
It would be real nice I could put views from several different assemblies into one drawing and then be able to align them to each other using lines and centerline rather then by origin.
It is to bad your management is foolish enough not to understand that they are wasting money by having you struggle with inferior hardware. That is the root cause of your problem. Anything else you are doing is a band-aid. Sounds like you really need a 64bit OS if you are getting dumped out at 2 gigs. I feel for you having to struggle with your hardware..... Very frustrating.
A 7000 part assembly is not very big. There are folks doing much bigger then that daily in SW.
I am not sure of a solution for you if you can't update hardware. Hopefully there are others here that can give you some ideas.
I would use the same method as Ryan.
If the save assembly as part doesn't work for you, why not just create your elevation drawings all in AutoCAD or DWGEditor.
After you have created your individual views for AutoCAD, I would just keep them in AutoCAD or DWGEditor. Why jump through all the hoops to save them out then bring the blocks back into SolidWorks. Then you could do all your equipment alignments with lines and centerlines between the AutoCAD views.
Another thought for you. Have you tried setting your model views to solids as opposed to wireframes?
The solid views will take less resources then showing your equipment in wireframe mode. We do this on our top level automation equipment general arrangement drawings.
Well I tried to save a 2800 component assembly to a part file and I ran out of memory after waiting 15 minutes.
We do not use AutoCAD. Anna I hole you don't work for Solidworks. I am an advicate for Solidworks because it is our standard. We can not afford to use multiple CAD packages from cost of ownership (licensing, training, maintenance and data integrity) standpoint.
With my original method I did not use AutoCAD or the DWG editor. I simply saved the file as an Autocad format and then opened it in Solidworks.
Are you suggesting to put solid views on the drawing? I don't understand how this will help being that I need a drawing of somthing I do not have an assembly model of.
I used to work with big equipment assemblies and what I did was to suppress all inner working ( a shell so to speek) that is not relevant to the elevation and create a config named minimum. made it a lot more easily managed for elevations
Oh one more thought I would also when doing this with config. I would supress all mates and fix everything
I understand your frustration and desire to use only one CAD package. You are between a rock and a hard place though.
You say you have consistent out of memory errors which tells us you need to be working on a more modern 64bit OS computer with more memory. This will also probably be the solution to your pdf printing issues.
Not sure what to give you for solutions if the ideas given do not give you the fix you desire. You are probably going to need to continue with your current process.
Perhaps you could take each large assembly and add an in context part that creates a rectangle or any shape that swallows or contains the extents of that assembly. Create a configuration with that part unsuppressed and all other parts suppresed. This will cause that assembly to load only one part that represents the extents of the assembly during that configuration. This will eliminate "large assembly" and memory problems by not loading all the parts into memory. When you insert this assembly into your elevation assembly you can dimension to this "chunk" that represents the location and relationships to the floor and other machinery. The drawback is that you would only see and dimension to rectangles or extents of each sub assembly. This may not give you the detail that you require to show accurate plan layout of your machinery on your final drawing.
Neal gave you a good solution. A very simplified configuration. How many of the parts/sub-assemblies do you really need to see in your elevation views?
That along with showing the views as solids instead fo wireframe will go along way for helping your drawing speed.
Another question. Do you have your computer optimized for Best Performace or do you have all the Windows XP eye candy turned on? RMB on Computer > Properties > Advanced > Performance Settings > Toggle the Adjust for best performance radio button. This will not fix your issues, but will help.
What version and SP of SW are you using. It would help to add that info and also your computer specs in your forum profile signature.
I am also curious as to what you were using before SW for your CAD system?
I'm glad you have raised this topic. We have the same dilemna.
We manufacture large mechanical systems, that are Engineered to Order, from mostly stock components, which are what we actually deliver, to be assembled on site. We do not "model" the full up system. But we need to submit drawings so that they know how to install the equipment.
We are a divided house in as much as "Product Engineering" uses SW, and Project Engineering uses ACAD. It's a case of using the right tool for each task (for us).
In Product Engineering, we design the components, and sub assemblies.
We provide the rest of our enterprize with all the documentation required for procurement, inspection, component customer outline drawings (so that they can order replacement parts), and exploded view drawings so the customer can see what part goes where, from a very generic point of view. All of these interelated documents are stored in our PDMWorks WG vault.
Then the Project Engineering group, reads the ETO spec, and manually compiles a Bill of Deliverables, which lists numbered items, that are "ballooned" in 2D ACAD files. That group uses the graphics from the SW files that we have created in Product Engineering. They produce their civil site installation and layout views, plan, elevation, cross sections showing key installation details etc... It is analogous to the old days of "Applique drafting techniques used in the structural steel erection discipline. Each plan or elevation view is drawn almost schematically, and the views of the connections are pulled from a standard catalog of detail views, showing the appropriately sized clip angles, reinforcing gussets, etc...
I think that if you wish to stay native SW, you may do well to adopt this "modular" approach to your installation documentation.
Question: Is your BOD / BOM generated via SW or is it generated manually by a person ?
Good Luck, and try to have fun !