We just had this discussion on the Pro/Engineer forum. Here is a summary of suggestions on approaches to modeling the same part, but of a different color and/or material without using a PDM system (Pro/Windchill):
"Like many of you we create items/part numbers (PN) with the same geometry but in a different color/material. What we would like is
I think there are four ways to do this.
1. Family Table (SoldWorks: Configurations)
2. Stand-Alone parts
3. Inheritance/Merge/CopyGeom (SolidWorks: In-context parts)
Family Tables, used in the past, are out because of our regimented change control process.
Stand-alone parts are no fun, having to change multiple models for the same geometry change, and which one gets sent to the toolmaker?
Maybe having a general/master .prt and then add that into an assembly to make the PN, this takes care of mass geometry changes, and clears up which one drive the tooling, but now there is a part model that gets no PN, thus could be out of control and assemblies where they are not needed.
Inheritance/Merge/CopyGeom seems good, no assembly structure, mass geom. update is easy. It is an advanced feature, so could confuse some users."
"Since we have AAX (Pro-E's Advanced Assembly Extension module or add-in) I'm trying to go down the Inheritance route (in-context), seems like the right tool for the job.
Those of you who use inheritance:
My next hurdle is: We don't 'always' know what the requirement for a part will be in the future. We could release version 1-green and 2 years later version 2-blue comes along. So should we:
1. Use a parent driving model, such as tank_geometry.prt and that will drive 1-green.prt and 2-blue.prt
2. Use 1-green.prt as the parent for 2-blue, 3-yellow
I want ONE rule that applies to all my scenerios. #1 seems excessive to do for every inj molded, painted part, just incase we make a different color 'some' day. I think I'm fine with #2, our PN are incrementing and PLM knows the trail back to the intial one."
"A couple more options are:
5 - Multi part drawings, represent the different colors on a table on a single drawing.
6- General drawing and seperate specification document for different colors.
We have always modelled every part. Makes sense when you are trying to drive the BOM for the CAD, you need to represent it some how."
"We don't associate the CAD parts, only the drawings (and have set the lifecycle state of the drawing to flow down to all parts directly referenced in the drawing). We also have a separate specification document that has all the details about colours, allowable burrs, cleanliness, various cosmetic details, materials etc - it is THE specification for the part. Therefore the drawing only becomes a specification of the shape and tolerances and can be associated to multiple WTParts (for exampe the different colours). From the drawing it is easy to find the appropriate CAD model if required. This means you only have one drawing and one model for any amount of colours.
I found that actively associating EPMdocs is more trouble than it is worth, particularly when a product is not in full change control - the design is still being changed and users would change assemblies as a 'what if' and check it in, wildly changing the BOM. Once the design is locked down and we were in change control, the BOM structure has typically been already manually created and there is no point going back to create the active associations (note that we don't have large assemblies so this is feasible, also most of our users are familiar with manual BOM creation because we have a Manufacturing View that is also manually created). Finally, associating EPMdocs is much more painful than associating any other
documents (particularly for non-CAD users) so we avoid unnecessary associations.
I would go with option 2. Use one colour as the parent for the other (less models to manage)."
Without using an ERP or PDM system, which method do think is most practical in SolidWorks, or do you have another idea that has not yet been discussed? Also, can a different material be assigned to each configuration?