Is there a slick way to display or otherwise convey an assembly of components as one cohesive unit? We are evaluating SolidWorks for our business in fabricating misc wooden/mdf products. What we need to convey (via images and drawings) to our customers is the finished look, which is all the assembly joints faired (think mudding up drywall joints) and the whole thing painted. To them, the piece ought to appear as one unit, even though it is made from many separate parts. Of course, for our production needs, we need to retain the individual component data and pass along to our CAM package to cut. In other words, I can't affect a part at the component level by combining/joining in a way that would make it something different what we would fabricate. And, we need the connection between the "one-piece" presentation to the customer and production data to be very tight...nothing can get lost in communication, revisions, etc.
I am familiar with Save As an assembly to a part file and then Combine bodies to create one component. This is in fact the appearance we want, but these steps happens in the part environment, not the assembly. The complication is that we will use DriveWorks Solo or Pro to automate the design process and create drawings and quotes for customers...and I'm not sure to what degree we'll be able to automate the Save As/Combine steps, and reiterate for revisions. What would make more sense is to use assembly configurations or some assembly feature that can be affected in the assembly environment. To the extent that the assembly structure ought to properly represent how the assembly comes together in reality, I don't see any way to represent covering up joints and applying a film/paint across the whole exterior surface. I've searched around for something like this and have found nothing, which I find surprising given the use of SW in the furniture & woodworking industry.
Any ideas would be appreciated!