48 Replies Latest reply on Sep 19, 2018 7:27 AM by Dennis Dohogne

# Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I've been a fan of Design Tables since they came out with the initial release of SolidWorks in 1995.  In most cases I prefer them over just using Equations.  For one thing I can more readily create the configurations than by using equations.  But the bigger two reasons are that we can 1) leverage the strength of the spreadsheets with its vast array of functions, even referencing other tabs within the worksheet, and 2) we can collect extra information from the model and show it in the Design Table.  This post is about collecting that extra information.

I have evolved a really nice parametric gear file over the years and in SWX2016 it became vastly easier.  An involute curve defines the shape of the gear tooth, but it is a complicated shape.  I did not like the equation driven curve using the Involute function for a variety of reasons so I worked with the geometric definition of an involute.  In SWX2016 they introduced the ability to make a straight line segment and an arc segment equal in length.  This allowed me to make a much simpler sketch with a whole lot less math.

Now here is the cool thing about the Design Tables, you CAN have DRIVEN values in them.  Normally, if you would go to add a driven dimension to a DT it would tell you that that is not allowed.  BUT if you select the driven dimension name in the sketch and paste it to Notepad to collect the terms you want to add to the DT you can then go to the DT and paste them there.

This DT was created with just a few parameters that are the green and yellow ones on the left of the gray blank column.  I added the other stuff to the right of the blank column and color coded things with green for input values to define the configurations and yellow for calculated values that control dimensions.  I have these configuration names to be a string automatically created from the green input parameters.  At this point everything is great.  Then I added the columns colored blue and pasted in their headers from  the driven dimension names that had been copied to Notepad.  These are values I want to know for various reasons.  These blue cells are blank at this point of creation and there is no problem with that.  Exit the DT and let it create any new configurations.  If you were to then go back to the DT you would see some or all of these blue cells populated.  Voila!  You can now show driven values in the DT!!   ==> A note of caution:  These driven values are only updated if the configuration has been regenerated.  It is possible to have changes to a configuration that would affect your list of driven values, but those values aren't updated unless the configuration is regenerated.  This drove me nuts until I figured that little trick out.  So now when I want to see these extra pieces of information I just make sure the configurations have been regenerated (showing the green check mark next to the configuration name) before I go to the Design Table.

By the way, when I first did this gear model there were only about six segments to define the spline.  I thought that was enough as everything looked right, but when I did a measurement of the pressure angle I saw there was an error in the neighborhood of 0.5 degrees.  This was way too much for the purposes of this file (wire EDM prototypes from the CAD file).  The base circle is defined by the Pitch Diameter * cos(Pressure Angle) and the sketch works from there.  However, a line tangent to the spline at the pitch diameter should also have an angle with a ray that matches the pressure angle.  That is why I created the driven dimension PressAngle_Measured@Sketch2.  The comparison of this angle to the prescribed pressure angle is in the two rightmost columns.  This gear sketch uses about 19 or 20 segments to define the involute curve and the results are pretty good, less than 1/1000th of a degree in all but the very last row on this list.

Since this is an observation on how to get driven data into a Design Table it applies to all DT's, whether in a part file or an assembly file.  I'm tickled pink about this!!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I used to use this technique to create involutes. I'll never go back now that equation-driven curves are in decent working order.

I get past the issues of moving and patterning the curves by extruding the curve into a surface body and manipulating that.

Also, it's possible to add constraints to an equation-driven involute to ensure it stays where it belongs.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

As much as this post talks about the involute curve generation it is really about getting more out of Design Tables.  Adding driven dimensions isn't something that the DT normally allows.  Learning that each configuration has to be regenerated prior to opening the DT to view its driven values was what cleared up the confusion I had been seeing.  The involute is just the example and the genesis of my need for the extra information. but I can see many other situations where driven data would be so handy to have available.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Sorry. Didn't mean to distract.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Actually Roland, that was good information to post here.  I had previously used the involute method and was VERY annoyed that the equation driven curve could move around on me.  It is good to know that it has been fixed.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Isn't it just awesome finding new stuff - - thanks for sharing - good one to post here

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I never really thought about putting driven dimension in a design table, but from your example I can see where it might be useful sometime.  Thanks for sharing how to do it.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I had figured out how to add the driven dimensions to the DT before, but I was seeing situations where those values were not being shown properly.  It wasn't until I realized the configurations had to be regenerated before the values would update.  This was the key to being able to rely on the value in the table.  Now I have more power at my fingertips and Design Tables are even more valuable!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

and...........

That's why we are on a continual hunt, trying to find better ways with the tool we use everyday...

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Just in case peeps don't know

hmmm.. Where did I leave the rebuild all configurations button??

Oh yes it's here buried in the config manager.

This is a great button.. Any errors, the config name shows in red.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

You can just right click on the part under the configuration tab and select "rebuild all configurations"

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Timothy Taby, thanks for the screenshot.  This is from SWX2017 and it shows not only the Rebuild All that is easier to find, it also shows check marks next to configuration names indicating those configurations rebuilt without errors.  This is very handy and long overdue.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Also, I think that SHIFT+CTRL+Q = Rebuild all configs as well (in 2016 and later).

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Good point to show this, Rob.  SWX2017 finally came out with a rebuild all that wasn't buried like the one you show.  They also made it display the rebuild health of each configuration, something I had been pressing them about for at least four years.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Design Tables are awesome tools...Back in 2006, I created punch and die tooling that would take values that people in sales input into a different drive by linking equations to the cells via hyperlink, each time a change was made you'd have to update the model, but it became very easy to add new tools and change clearances and such. I miss doing that stuff. Everything I work on now is a one-off, which is also cool...

Thanks for posting that Dennis, I'm sure a lot of DT creators/users can use. You can also put information in lookup tables.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I'm confused about the pasting from Notepad part. On several library parts I've created I use driven dimension values using the &TEXT(,)& function of Excel to fill in description data (such as pitch diameter, outside diameter, lengths, thickness, etc).

What is the purpose of copy and paste from Notebook?

One issue I've had with driven values in design tables is that until the configuration is activated, the field don't update.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Grant, driving dimensions can be set to be configured values and therefore when you automatically create a DT they will be added.  Driven dimensions cannot be set to be configured and thus cannot be automatically added to a DT.  By selecting the driven dimension names and pasting them to Notepad or some other convenient temporary spot it is easy to accumulate the proper driven parameter name to add to the DT when you open the DT for editing.  Then it is a simple matter to copy the parameters from Notepad and paste into a new column header of the DT.

Grant Kirkland wrote:

I'm confused about the pasting from Notepad part. On several library parts I've created I use driven dimension values using the &TEXT(,)& function of Excel to fill in description data (such as pitch diameter, outside diameter, lengths, thickness, etc).

What is the purpose of copy and paste from Notebook?

One issue I've had with driven values in design tables is that until the configuration is activated, the field don't update.

Your last statement is exactly what I was saying was the key to the whole thing.  Unless the configurations have been regenerated you cannot count on the driven values associated with a configuration to be correct.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

If you can remember the names and the format you can just type them in as well, but I think for most of us the copy/paste method is easier.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I used to use a word document that I saved with common equations as a cheat sheet, that I'd cut and paste and just change cell numbering, it came in handy.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I love using design tables on fasteners, pipes and beams, pretty much anything where you have the same object just different lengths.  It easy to add the separate fields for description and part numbers to each configuration,a s well as create new ones when you need them.  But to me, the best thing is you can replace a short bolt with a longer one in an assembly just by selecting the configuration from the drop down box by right clicking on the part.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Timothy Taby   What I did is keep the style and diameter in the same file, that way it's really easy to change out lengths and if you need another diameter, it's also easy to use the "Replace Component" command.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I have a simple assembly of two parts on one of the parts is using a design table to make different configurations for a length.  I want to make the drawing at the assembly level in order to include the BOM.  I have started another DT at the assembly level that uses the code \$configuration@partname<1> in order to activate the to correct part configuration for the different configurations of the assembly.  My only problem is I want to display the dimension that changes in my part file in my dt at the assembly level and I have no clue how to do this.  Basically my assembly is of two parts with no mates the first part is just in the assembly as a raw material the second part has its own DT for changing one dimension lets call it DIM "A".  Hopefully my intent is clear, any design table experts out there who understand my point here?

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Chris Appleby wrote:

I have a simple assembly of two parts on one of the parts is using a design table to make different configurations for a length. I want to make the drawing at the assembly level in order to include the BOM. I have started another DT at the assembly level that uses the code \$configuration@partname<1> in order to activate the to correct part configuration for the different configurations of the assembly. My only problem is I want to display the dimension that changes in my part file in my dt at the assembly level and I have no clue how to do this. Basically my assembly is of two parts with no mates the first part is just in the assembly as a raw material the second part has its own DT for changing one dimension lets call it DIM "A". Hopefully my intent is clear, any design table experts out there who understand my point here?

I know that it is for the exact opposite issue, but you should be able to use it the same way:

Instead of: “D1@Distance1@Assy Config 1@Assem1.Assembly”, put "“D1@Distance1@Part Config 1@Part1.Part”

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Yes Dan Pihlaja, I've done it like that in the past, I think, can't remember! I remember this post, thanks for finding it, I'll have to bookmark it! Tons of good stuff in there!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Thanks for the super quick reply.  I still have been unsuccessful.  Perhaps I am going about it the wrong way.  My end goal is to have a drawing at the assembly level that contains a updating table.  The table will have one column for the config number (part or assembly, doesn't matter in this case b/c both have same name and very simple)  I want the table to update this works well when insert a DT into a drawing at the part level.  The DT can be formatted by hiding column and so on until it looks good.  However I have no ability to display dimensions on the assembly level DT.  I wanted the table to automatically update with the current dimension I am changing in the part file.  I rather not added column to the assembly level table for text and have to update that manually.  Perhaps I can find a way to import this data into a general table. Ok going back to the code for the assembly level DT here is what I tried:

Thanks for the reply. Any idea how the code works

my part name is 300xxx.sldprt my part is a simple rectangle extrude and I have setup a DT to make configs the only dimension I am changing is the length which I have renamed to be DIM “A”  therefore on the part level DT this is called:  DIM "A"@Sketch1

all of my config names are -1000 or something like a just a –then 3 or 4 numbers.

My assy name is 300xxx.sldasm

Let’s say one of the config names at the part level is “-1000”

In My Assembly DT the column code \$CONFIGURATION@300xxx<1> let me choose the correct Part level Config from a drop down box.

Note for my Assembly Level DT I used the same name -1000 for the configuration names

I tried this but it didn’t work:

DIM “A”@Sketch1@-1000@300xxx.Part

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Can you create a custom property at the part level or assembly level with the following text:

"DIM “A”@Sketch1@-1000@300xxx.Part"

You need to include the quotes (I am not sure how the quotes you already have are going to affect this....might be a game ender.  You might need to remove the quotes you have from your dimension name).

Then link the custom property to a column in the table at the drawing level?

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I think I'm getting close I was able to (in my configuration file's customer properties on configuration specific tab) I added a property:

DIM A -1000 with the code "DIM A@Sketch1@@-1000@300xxx.sldprt" The calculated value worked! It pulled the dimension I wanted to see well in 2 decimal places I’ll have to update doc settings I think.

Each will have its own name but I’ll will have to add them all one by one or copy and paste and change description

Just have to see if I can get them into the table

Thanks for the help, I’ll keep updating as I progress.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Chris, you could always use a VLOOKUP table on sheet 2 of the design table and on sheet one, reference the cell to look for the proper row/column in the "VLOOKUP" table. I haven't done it in quite a while as I have no use for killer DT's where I'm presently working. I'm getting dumber by the minute it seems...

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Also I'm looking into how custom properties are used perhaps there is a way to use that functionality

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Just wanted to update with the solution I found.

1)    In my ASSY file I made a new DT.  There I added new configs and a column that allowed me to select the active configuration of my configurable parts used in the ASSY using code

\$CONFIGURATION@componentname<INSTANCE NUMBER>

(component name was my filename, for us the drawing number)

2) I then added another column that would create my custom property that fetches the dimension I am configuring in the part using the code:

For the Column Header Syntax: (Note this will show up in your custom file properties after the column has been filled out)

\$PRP@PROPERTYNAMEOFYOURCHOICE

"DimensionName@Sketch#@@PartLevelConfigurationName@FILENAME.SLDPRT"

Be sure to type in the quote marks, I simply pasted this code into the cells down though each configuration I have created only needing to change the config number referenced

(note this code will update AFTER you reopen the table if you have typed it in correctly)

I the close and reopen the table to confirm my dimension is pulling.  Go to tools, options, doc properties, units, to change decimal places shown.

3) Often an asterisk was showing which I didn’t want to show up on my DT because I want this for my drawing as well.  I then made a new column with the header:  \$USER_NOTES

In this column I made a new formula which would remove the asterisk from the cell referenced using the code:

=SUBSTITUTE(CELLNUMBER,"*","")

Now you value will appear with the asterisk!

Simply format you table accordingly hiding cell as needed and using the code \$USER_NOTES in left most column to make extra header cells in the same row as this code.  You can even add shade to the cells for easy reading on the shop floor.

Be sure all tables and configs have been rebuilt when making changes and unhide all the cells when updating the DT so you don’t forget anything.

Only bug for me is DT in drawing will try to open the assembly and then say DT is corrupt.  If editing the DT do so from the assembly not the drawing.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Always edit the Design Table from the assembly or detail! Also, when closing, watch the upper right corner of your screen for the flash of an error screen which means that something is wrong someplace. The thing should stay up for a minute so you could actually read it!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Hi Edward

Yes that error message is gone in a flash!!  I can't remember who posted it, but someone suggested using a screen recorder to capture it.  It's helped me occasionally... just replay the video and pause.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

That's a great idea, saves you the trouble of finding the error on your own!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

The pop up design table error screen used to be 100% trustworthy but became funky a few years ago.  When I notice it's not working correctly (features don't update correctly), I insert a blank column before column C then exit the design table. This clears all controls in the model after column B. Then I immediately edit the design table again, delete the blank column, then exit.the table to rewrite all controls.  This usually makes the pop up screen reliable again at least for a while.

On some models with lots of configurations and a complex design table, I have to repeat this occasionally to get the features to update or just for insurance when a job is done.

You can also put an entry in the last cell (last row last column) that you know will fail.  If the pop up only identifies that specific error, you know all previous cells values have been updated in the model.  I have had tables that didn't produce a pop up error screen even though I had an error entry (on purpose) in the last cell.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Thanks M. B., I've forgotten that there was a way to kind of force it. That's a great trick I'll try to remember, it's been a couple years since I've done ridiculous design tables! I miss it, so I try to sneak one in here and there for fun!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I forgot to mention that I also sometimes first delete every configuration then rebuild them after deleting the blank column in the design table.  Be careful though because you can loose things like exploded views that are dependent on configurations.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

yes, that can be dangerous.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Thanks for the tip Edward I haven't noticed that yet but I'll look got it now that I'm aware of it.  Now onto the last hurdle for this project, best way to display bill of materials.  Wish me luck!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

gOOD LUCK, YOU'LL NEED IT!!!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions
 ER #: 1-16657929612

I submitted this feature request for many of the missing tools we need for making tabulated drawings from configurations.  I think it relates to this thread.  Please review and vote on it by logging into your Solidworks Customer Support Portal and searching for the number above.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

I am having a problem with my simple table updating my driven sketch values. I think this may be due to the \$configuraiton. I have rebuild  all configurations and made sure my design table would allow model edits to update DT just in case.

In my case I am working on rough.prt. I have inserted finish.prt and applied various cuts. I only need both dimensions in the DT to use in the drawing.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Omar Hernández wrote:

I am having a problem with my simple table updating my driven sketch values. I think this may be due to the \$configuraiton. I have rebuild all configurations and made sure my design table would allow model edits to update DT just in case.

Omar,

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Yeah, from the snippet, it doesn't look like there are any values in the DT to rebuild.  If Thru@... and Cb@... are dimensions to be driven by the DT there should be numbers in those columns.  Otherwise, all configurations may be the same.  So, as Dennis says, posting the part would help to determine what is going on better.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Dennis,

I have attached both files, but the one with the driven dimensions is rough part.

Off topic from above issue:

I have tried to create a gear tooth like yours using equations. I saw a thread online and figured I would give it a shot. My equations failed and when I would try to fix them I think my sketches would turn red. I finally just gave up and left it undisturbed. Would you mind sharing your file?

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Omar Hernández wrote:

Dennis,

I have attached both files, but the one with the driven dimensions is rough part.

Off topic from above issue:

I have tried to create a gear tooth like yours using equations. I saw a thread online and figured I would give it a shot. My equations failed and when I would try to fix them I think my sketches would turn red. I finally just gave up and left it undisturbed. Would you mind sharing your file?

Omar,

It appears that in order for the DT to display the driven values those cells must first have something in them.

I took your file and did this to the DT:

After exiting the DT and then telling SWX to Rebuild all Configurations the DT then updated to this:

As for the gear file, it is attached.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Thank you Dennis for the solution and the involute file. Many thanks!

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Omar,

It's great Dennis solved your problem.  And you got an excellent gear model, too.  I have it and it works great.

• ###### Re: Nice Trick for Design Tables to Show Driven Dimensions

Matt Peneguy wrote:

Omar,

It's great Dennis solved your problem. And you got an excellent gear model, too. I have it and it works great.