I am wondering if there is an easier way to assem. a chain instead of importing the link and mating them one at a time. The attachment is the link i'm working with.
I disagree, but only somewhat.
In theory you should be able to use the "Copy With Mates" command. I just tried doing this, but was unsuccessful. What I did was create two points in a sketch in your "Plastic Drive Chain" part file. Each one is on the Front plane, and constrained to be coincident with the centerline of the plastic part.
Then I put that part in an assembly. I created a spline on the front plane of the assembly, which represents the path of the chain. I then mated each of those points in the part to the spline. I also mated the chain front plane to the assembly front plane. This gave me a part that was attached to the spline, and I could move about along that spline. Now, in theory, I would use the "Copy with Mates" command, found in Insert>Component>Copy with Mates...
Unfortunately, either it's buggy or I don't know what I'm doing; because I couldn't get it to work at all. I've never used it before, but this is exactly the type of situation that it is meant for. After doing this you would then just have to drag the points onto each other as mates, which should go fairly quickly.
Has anyone else successfully used Copy With Mates?
I use Copy with Mates a lot for hardware and it works very well.
As far as a chain goes, I would not want a full chain in my assy for the resources it will take. We generally put in a connector and a roller link and then sweep the outline of them around the path to deliniate the chain volume. Works fine, looks ok, and doesn't take a bunch of resources.
I've tried (and failed) to model a complete and functional roller chain assembly by creating separate link parts with sketch points on the midplane concentric with the pin holes on each end of the link. Then I created an assembly, added a sketch for my path, and began adding links by mating them to each other and by mating the sketch points to the assembly path sketch using path mates.
It works great starting out, and dragging a small section of chain around the path works as expected.
As the assembly grows, though, the chain has a tendency to fold in on itself which requires that you fix one end and literally pull the chain back out to its full length again. This first starts happening when you push or pull on the chain too quickly, but as the chain gets even larger, sometimes even rebuilding the model can cause the whole assembly to rearrange itself.
In short, it's a nightmare.
I've never been patient enough to try to make it all the way around the path. At the end, the chances of your chain ends linking perfectly is slim to none so you'll have to make a connecting link. Even then, the assembly may end up overdefined, as I think an assembly that complex is more than solidworks was ever intended to handle.
But, if you're patient, and careful, and lucky, you might be able to pull it off.
Post some screenshots if you do!
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