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How to access global variables from part to drive assemblies

Question asked by Anthony Fettig on Mar 31, 2012

I am using Solidworks 2012 and was hopeful the new equation features would help with controlling a complex model from a single part file.  I haven’t been able to accomplish my goal yet.


We build machines with multiple axes of motion. What I am trying to do is create a controlling part containing global variables for X,Y,Z,A,B positions, with comments for maximum travels. Example would be X_axis = 1500mm. Min 0mm, Max 3000mm.


If I could insert this part into another part file or assembly and access these global variables, I could drive assembly positions, as well as change model dimensions based on these global variables for cable carrier, hose and other non-assembly parts that have to change dimensions when assemblies move around. I see global variables are not an option, only sketches, planes, etc.


I understand you can export the global variables to a text file, then read them into another part equation.


This has serious limitations for collaboration, because if one user changes the text file and saves it, everyone’s model changes. With a part file containing the global variables, each user in the data set can have a different driving part model state and move the assembly through its various positions without interfering with four other people doing the same thing. I expect PDM software would better handle the native SolidWorks file links rather than a dead text file in the file system.


This also would make assemblies with 5000+ parts reliable when changing through states, rather than trying to manage configurations, limit mates, etc. that fail.  We used this method with another 3D system before we changed to Soldworks in 2008 and found it to be rock solid and productive. This is one of very few things we still miss.


Does anyone have a good solution for this in Solidworks? Is there a syntax that would allow the global variable to be read by other files?