6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 9, 2018 1:20 PM by Jim Moses

    Virtual Assembly Best Practices

    Don Carter

      Does anyone know of a published Best Practices guide for Virtual Assemblies / Virtual Components?

      Or, does your company have something documented that you could share?

       

      Here's our situation:

      We have top assemblies that contain Virtual sub-assemblies that contain external components.  Sometimes, problems occur that seem to be directly related to this structure, because the problem resolves itself when the Virtual sub-asm is saved as an external file. 

       

      An example is an Assembly Feature Extruded Cut in the top level asm that is applied to one of the external components of a Virtual sub-asm.  The cut is not propagated to the parts. It works fine in the top asm, but the drawing of that top asm sporadically drops that feature.  You can see the cut in the FM in that drawing view, but it comes and goes in the graphics area.  It can be dimensioned, measured, etc.  Save and reopen the drawing and it's gone, with dims and annotations left dangling.  Jump to the asm and back to the drawing and it reappears ----- sometimes, not always.   Save the Virtual sub-asm as an external file and these problems resolve themselves.

      The drawing is fully resolved --- no Lightweight here.

       

      Other Virtual Assembly problems are related to PDM - the children of the Virtual asm are not searchable, do not appear in Where Used, etc......

       

      Because of this kind of bugginess, this practice has been frowned upon by us company based tech support folks, but the practice continues.  I want to know if there's some documented ammunition we can use to support our position.  I got lost in the KB trying to find something.  I don't see anything in Help that would discourage this practice.

       

      Maybe we're unique with these problems?  I don't know.   What say you?

       

      We operate in a SolidWorks PDM Pro environment; SW2017 SP3 (and higher).

        • Re: Virtual Assembly Best Practices
          Glenn Schroeder

          I don't know of any documentation about it.  While my use of virtual components has been much simpler than yours, and I don't use PDM, I've still pretty much stopped using them, mostly because virtual components often seem to "get lost" when using Pack and Go.  I still create virtual components in my Assemblies, but always save them out as external files afterward.

          • Re: Virtual Assembly Best Practices
            Dan Pihlaja

            The only time I EVER use virtual components is when I am adding something to an assembly that I don't need a drawing for.

             

            Examples:

             

            1) If I have to show the tubing and wiring for an assembly, then I will add it as a virtual component because I don't need a separate drawing for the tubing and wiring.

             

            2) If I have a purchased component that comes in as an assembly (example: DESTACO Clamps) , then I will convert it to an assembly with all virtual components to keep the file nice and compact.

              • Re: Virtual Assembly Best Practices
                Don Carter

                Dan Pihlaja wrote:

                 

                The only time I EVER use virtual components is when I am adding something to an assembly that I don't need a drawing for.

                 

                Examples:

                 

                1) If I have to show the tubing and wiring for an assembly, then I will add it as a virtual component because I don't need a separate drawing for the tubing and wiring.

                 

                2) If I have a purchased component that comes in as an assembly (example: DESTACO Clamps) , then I will convert it to an assembly with all virtual components to keep the file nice and compact.

                Yes, there are lots of good uses for virtual components. Drawings are NOT one of them.  Components specific to one assembly are great, if you don't need to manage them separately from the parent.

                 

                All of our Library components that need the power of an assembly, such as clamps, become virtual assemblies with all the children excluded from BOM.  They are one file to manage.   Nice.

                Library components that come as an assembly but where we don't need any of the "internals", like a caster, are turned into a dumb solid part.. Also nice.

                 

                The problems develop when users try to mix the external components inside the virtual components inside the external assembly.  Not nice.  Not virtuous.

              • Re: Virtual Assembly Best Practices
                Matt Peneguy

                Maybe Todd Blacksher or Alin Vargatu have some thoughts on this.  They both have or do work for a VAR.  Both of them are pretty busy people, but hopefully one of them will comment on this.

                • Re: Virtual Assembly Best Practices
                  Daen Hendrickson

                  Similar to Dan Pihlaja, we use virtual components in a limited fashion - usually for non-visible consumables like sealants, lubes, tape. We also use them on COTS / Purchased assemblies to wrap up and ease the file management. And like Glenn Schroeder at times I will create a virtual part in an assembly and then save out to an external file.

                   

                  We do NOT use them for any of our own / designed components. Drawings are an issue. PDM is a HUGE issue. Re-use elsewhere is an issue. Importing information into our ERP system is an issue.

                   

                  Daen

                  • Re: Virtual Assembly Best Practices
                    Jim Moses

                    HI,

                     

                    We don't use a PDM system, so I really haven't had to deal with virtual components and how well or unwell they play together, I do know there are some bugs when you do a pack and go, with that said have a master of anything you make virtual just in case.

                     

                    As for a hard and fast rule, I apply the logic if it is nothing created by our company or a purchased component or customer part then it is alright to make virtual as for the most part components from 1 purchased assembly are not going to be used in another and even if they are, its usually such a minor item, jam nut, air fitting etc.  Same thing with a customer part, and for that matter usually no one is going to go through the trouble to see a customer parts matrix to see what is common or not, also not many customer parts have I seen are native SW files, so they all end up with generic names from a STEP/IGS or Parsolid file.

                     

                    Hope this helps you figure out what works best for you and your company.

                     

                    Regards,