20 Replies Latest reply on Aug 29, 2018 3:57 PM by Tom Gagnon

    Toolbox or not to toolbox?

    Daniel Mapp

      Another one of those toolbox vs custom library threads!

      I’ve just joined a new company and am tidying up the libraries in anticipation of an ePDM deployment. Small company with only 3 Solidworks users, at the moment we are using a combination of local toolbox (uncustomised) and non-toolbox parts (networked).

      At the moment the toolbox is completely default, no company parts numbers etc. assigned to fasteners, we have a had a couple of issues with fasteners changing size which is something I’ve never come across as this is my first time in a place that uses the toolbox.

      Moving forward I can see 2 options:

       

      1

      Network the toolbox and customise with part numbers for fixings that are in the toolbox. If it doesn’t exist in the SW toolbox then it goes in a secondary network location where we keep all our non-toolbox fasteners.

      2

      Leave the toolbox as is and use it to ‘publish’ models for all the fasteners we need (probably by size and configurable by length) then have one single network location for all of our fasteners.

       

      Looking at the pros and cons of each they seems pretty even at the moment so I was wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation and can share their experiences?

       

      Thanks

        • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
          Sergio Monti

          I'm in a similar situation. We are 2 SW users in the office. At the moment we use a local toolbox, that means each user picks up toolbox parts from a toolbox folder inside their own computer.

          I experienced the 'change size' of fasteners sometimes. That's due to the fact that 'Toolbox' creates configurations of parts when you use it. Therefore, if a user opens a drawing where there is a toolbox part in a configuration they never used before, may be the case that it is shown as 'default' configuration.

          I solved the problem creating all toolbox configurations on my machine, I also customised it, adding custom properties and changing descriptions. Then I copied the whole toolbox folder to the other user's computer.

          It works fine. The problem is that any time we do changes to the toolbox, we have to copy it to the other user's computer.

          I was thinking to use a network (shared) toolbox, but my VAR said it will probably slow down performances, so I stick with this solution. We do not change toolbox parts very often.

          Another solution could be to create part in a network folder each time you use a new size of a particular fastener,  choosing the option in toolbox settings.

          I used this method in my previous company. It works, as well, you can customise it, everybody can access the same toolbox set and it's light, as there aren't any configurations to load. The inconvenience is that you have to check before in the shared folder whether the needed toolbox part exists, otherwise you have to create it using toolbox.

            • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
              Dennis Dohogne

              I strongly advocate for the use of Toolbox!  For the last 12 years I have used TB in three different locations, all with great success and great ease.  Customizing TB is not difficult and very beneficial.  We took a data dump from our ERP system of all our part numbers and put them in a spreadsheet.  We then made a worksheet that was a subset of that with only the fasteners.  Follow the instructions for how to customize TB and you will see the option to Export/Import the information in spreadsheet format.  Export your standard TB and then arrange the columns for part numbers and descriptions in your company worksheet to match the TB arrangement.  It is then a simple matter to use a VLOOKUP function in the TB spreadsheet to pick up your company information for those fasteners that match.  Save that spreadsheet as a slightly different name and then import it into TB.  Viola!!  You have just added your company part numbers and descriptions to your customized TB.  For this to work it absolutely must be located on a network directory and all your users must be pointed to it.

               

              There are those that swear against TB, but from what I have seen this is based on hearsay more than actual experience, or a lot of folks have already gone far done the path of having their own parts libraries and don't want to change.  For the folks that give it an honest effort and are willing to invest a little in customizing it they quickly discover the value of TB and would never go back.  (TB is not included in SWX Standard, but is in SWX Professional and Premium.)

               

              For more information on TB and on other items discussed on this forum you can go to this thread: Forum SEARCH RESULTS - Excel (1/10/2018) John Stoltzfus has put together a very handy spreadsheet with links to the various threads on the subjects catalogued there.

                • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                  John Stoltzfus

                  Dennis Dohogne -  I know you like the TB and have used it successfully for many years and if I were to use it again I would definitely ask your advice if I were to run into issues.

                   

                  Here is my experience with toolbox... 

                   

                  In 1997 we started using SW Standard and have started to compile our own toolbox items so by the time I upgraded to Professional in 2011 I had a pretty large easy to work with Toolbox.  So when I upgraded to Professional I started to use the Toolbox and made my own custom properties ect, however I think it was the next release that everything fell apart, at that time I had literally thousands of fasteners in my assemblies.  When I opened an assembly all my fasteners were Way bigger 1/4" bolts jumped up to 1" or something crazy like that and that was a sickening feeling and it took me a long time fixing everything in the model and it also took SW a little bit to fix the bug, so from that day on I never used TB again.  I don't want to discourage using it, it's just that once you have your own inventory that works, why change it, when it works just as good, design tables are easy to setup and use.

                    • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                      Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                      I remember that....our pressure vessel with bigger nuts ....at this moment the problem was, workstation with SW-X64 and anothers with SW-X32

                      If you work on X64 only or x32 only will be fine....SW2018 is x64 and you can't have any issue about it.

                      • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                        Tom Gagnon

                        I still use toolbox for three parts. They still blow up on me occasionally (2018 SP2), coming in much larger than before exactly as John mentions. It sure looks funny. We just suck it up and fix them. Thankfully, we only use it for flange hardware, where it is patterned so that changing the seed's size carries through to the patterned parts. Given the narrow usage, we ought to save them out as separate files instead, but never got around to it.

                         

                        I advise against it generally, but in your single user case it should have less issues. Broadly, to me it depends on how much it's used, and what breadth of variety is used. Good luck.

                      • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                        Matt Peneguy

                        Dennis Dohogne,

                        I had a similar experience as John Stoltzfus, and some of that may have been my misunderstanding of how Toolbox worked at the time (I think SW2014).  The icing on the cake was when we went to a training session and the trainer had to fight with the "large bolt" problem on a couple of my coworkers' computers.  It was at that point, I threw up my hands and said to them, "If one of you will not take on managing and being responsible for Toolbox, we aren't using it!".  Neither of them took it on.

                        Now fast forward to today.  I believe they have moved toolbox away from the MS Access DB back end that gave me some of those problems.  And like i said above, I may not have been "doing things correctly".  But, anytime I tried a bit of customization to meet what we wanted to show in our BOMs the DB would get corrupted.

                        The takeaway from my post should be that someone needs to know all the details about how TB works, and they need to take responsibility for upkeep.  If you don't have that person, I'd advise against its use.

                      • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                        Eric Salvo

                        The answer is probably no, but I'll ask anyways. Is there a way to specify "Create parts in this folder" to use the folder that the assembly is located rather than one single folder for all parts?

                          • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                            Sergio Monti

                            No, "Create parts in this folder" it's a crap way to create a TB library to share with other users. The option you're proposing is very dangerous with SW. Create parts having same name in different folder can mess up assemblies.

                            If you open an assembly in having a part with the same name of another part included in another assembly already open, SW doesn't open the part but uses the part already open messing up all the mates!

                              • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                Eric Salvo

                                I'm the only SW user in my group here. In the rare case that I need to share a model with another group, I use Pack and Go or eDrawings. Otherwise they have no access to or need to access my models and I don't need to see theirs.

                                 

                                It might be a crap way with multiple users within the same group, but it would be convenient here. The other groups don't use Toolbox and I sometimes need to convert the properties of Toolbox components before giving them a copy.

                          • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                            Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                            Use your toolbox on net, made custom rows to add any other info as you need.

                            Toolbox Ingles a Español - YouTube

                            Extended English to spanish toolbox - YouTube

                            • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                              Glenn Schroeder

                              When we started using SW, in late 2008 (which is about the same time I moved to drafting from the construction crew), we used Toolbox.  I abandoned it several years later.  Part of that was likely a lack of training on the best way to use it.  I'd use Toolbox to create Parts, then save them in the project folders.  Some years ago the option shown below was added to Options, and selected by default, and it wreaked havoc with that system until I found it and de-selected it.  (You mentioned Toolbox parts changing sizes.  This might be one cause.)

                               

                              In addition to that, I had a bug that apparently never bothered anyone else in the universe, in SW2013 if I remember correctly.  If I clicked on a Toolbox part in an Assembly, without any command open, SW would crash.  Every stinking time.  That was the last straw.  I removed the Toolbox designation from all my hardware Parts and saved them in a library folder on our network.  I now use them directly from there, without copying them to the individual project folders.  And as I believe you mentioned, I have one Part file for each size bolt, with configurations for length.  I didn't try to set up a configuration for each possible length, but add them as needed.  I have a configuration specific custom property calling out the description, including length, and it's linked to the length dimension, so when I create a new configuration the software generates the property automatically.  Similarly, I have one Part file for each size nut, with configurations for standard hex, coupling, jam, and heavy hex, and one for washers, with configurations for USS flat, SAE hardened, lock, and fender.

                               

                              I rarely need any hardware other than standard hex bolts, nuts, and washers, so I have all these files in a single folder, which makes it very easy to drag and drop them into my assemblies.  There's anther folder inside this one for miscellaneous hardware.

                               

                                • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                  Timothy Taby

                                  I'm with Glen on this.  We do a save as on toolbox parts and then use the sldsetdocprop.exe to make them standard part.  Then we added configurations for lengths if needed (design table) as well as custom properties including part numbers and vendor information.  They are all in a hardware folder that everyone can get to and use.  We had to many instances of having to create new toolbox parts and/or wrong ones coming into assemblies (the large bolt issues).

                                   

                                  I love the design tables to create configurations on bolts.  We have a single bolt or screw model for each nominal size, like 1/4-20, and then have configurations for all the lengths.  The best hing is you can adjust the length in the assembly by just using the drop down box, if it's a toolbox part and you put in the wrong length then you have to re-add it.

                                • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                  Daniel Mapp

                                  Lot of great input here so thanks for taking the time to respond!

                                   

                                  I have no problem customising the toolbox to pull through the part numbers or any other details required, that's the easy part .

                                   

                                  My concerns against using the toolbox come partially down to the fact I've not really used it before, my old place had a custom fastener library with individual models for every screw etc. and that seems to work. Networking the toolbox is also a performance concern although eventually it will end up in an ePDM vault so this should mitigate any issues there?

                                   

                                  I'm also not keen on having some items in the toolbox and other things we use that aren't in the toolbox in a separate location, seems a bad move to split the data between 2 places. I know you can add things to the toolbox but this isn't something I really want to get into at this time.

                                    • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                      Dennis Dohogne

                                      Daniel Mapp wrote:

                                       

                                      Lot of great input here so thanks for taking the time to respond!

                                       

                                      I have no problem customising the toolbox to pull through the part numbers or any other details required, that's the easy part .

                                       

                                      My concerns against using the toolbox come partially down to the fact I've not really used it before, my old place had a custom fastener library with individual models for every screw etc. and that seems to work. Networking the toolbox is also a performance concern although eventually it will end up in an ePDM vault so this should mitigate any issues there?

                                       

                                      I'm also not keen on having some items in the toolbox and other things we use that aren't in the toolbox in a separate location, seems a bad move to split the data between 2 places. I know you can add things to the toolbox but this isn't something I really want to get into at this time.

                                      Networking should not be a problem since the whole point is for everyone to be using the same parts.  In order to open each other's work ALL the files need to be located on a network anyway.  PDM is definitely a big plus for a multi-user environment.  You will not have any slowdown operating over a network using TB unless it is through a 48k modem!

                                       

                                      Adding additional items to TB or the TB folders is a smart way to add them to your system and make them easy for everyone to find!  It is so easy to do.

                                       

                                      Do it or don't, it's your call.  I just think that lack of knowledge is not a good reason to rule it out.  As for me and my coworkers, we wouldn't be without it.

                                        • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                          Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                                          You're right buddy.

                                          Do it or don't, it's your call.  I just think that lack of knowledge is not a good reason to rule it out.

                                            • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                              John Stoltzfus

                                              Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama  wrote:

                                               

                                              You're right buddy.

                                              Do it or don't, it's your call. I just think that lack of knowledge is not a good reason to rule it out.

                                              That's with everything in SolidWorks, not just Toolbox..

                                               

                                              It's just that I would never have the Toolbox option as the only reason to upgrade from SW Standard to Professional, I'm old school pre-TB and we made it easy to use our own components, works the same as TB, no difference, with the Excel Design Tables and the ease of using Excel..

                                               

                                              edited....

                                               

                                              Plus we had Motors (Baldor), Bearings (the ones made by Dodge etc..), all of the CEMA Screw Conveyor components, LoveJoy Couplings, all kinds of Hardware, Destaco Clamps, Pulleys (Single, Double & Triple Groove), GSI grain handling components, Angle Flanges and a lot more stuff..  Toolbox was small compared to our files, and then to use our system for years and then get all hyped up about being able to use Toolbox and having our experience before and after, forget it Toolbox never has a chance, unless I can transfer my components to Toolbox, not sure what the need would be...

                                        • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                          Igor Fomenko

                                          I use my custom Standard parts and assemblies because I need full control under geometry and custom properties.

                                          My custom bolts and nuts much simpler than toolbox ones. I can change or create any designation scheme as I need.

                                          I can assign any strength grade and plating, I can add hole for pin or hole for safety wire.

                                          I can use a simplified representation for big assemblies like shown below.

                                          B+2W+2N assy.PNG

                                          • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                            Dwight Livingston

                                            Daniel

                                             

                                            A shared Toolbox is a slight pain in the butt to manage, particularly when it comes time to upgrade, but it has advantages. You can use it to help prevent users from creating duplicate files for common parts. And it is very handy if you employ design contractors, because they can use their own stock Toolbox for fasteners and, when you get their files, the fasteners update to your own custom numbers automatically. If you don't use Toolbox, you'll get a slew of sockethead cap screw files in your database.

                                             

                                            Dwight

                                            • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                              Daniel Mapp

                                              Thanks for everyones input, I've read the comments and spent most of the day mulling it over and have decided I will give the toolbox a crack!

                                               

                                              Phase one will be to customise what is there with our part numbers with Phase 2 being the adding of our own parts to the toolbox.

                                              • Re: Toolbox or not to toolbox?
                                                David Nelson

                                                Not.  We have all our parts assigned a part number with model and drawing for each.  Part of the reason is we only have one tool box and our Machinist tool room Manger keeps it checked out.

                                                 

                                                  Early on I guess they used the tool box and old drawings that are not used much have problem.  Just found one that looked like it had an extra handle.  But it was just a roll pin that was about 100 times larger than normal.  Replaced the tool box Item with one we currently use and all is fine.

                                                 

                                                  Worked at two places and both did not use the tool box.