I am relatively new to SW (old school AutoCAD guy) and can see a lot of potential here. The company I'm with is fairly new to SW also and even with some classes behind us we're stumbling a bit through the learning curve. What I'm trying to do now is to create an type of universal assembly (I think it would be an assembly) that I can put into other jobs.
Think of it as a window. It would have 4 sides made up of the same frame extrusion (a top & bottom piece) with separate gaskets following the frame. In side that would be the glazing (glass, acrylic, polycarbonate, etc). I want to be able to start a new job and copy this Assembly into the new job folder and change the overall size of it. That part isn't very complicated.
Where it starts to get interesting to me is that the frame on each side can only become so long until another section is required. And each of these sections need to have mounting holes auto spacing while adding and deleting as needed. This means that the smaller windows frame will have 45 deg. cuts on both ends while larger ones may have 45 & 90 on two end pieces with a piece(s) in the middle with (2)90's. To add to that the glass can only be a certain width. Once it reaches that width a mullion would have to insert into model and adjust the end glass panels to be equal sizes. I would really even like to include the screws into this Assembly.
I have been experimenting with variations but the sizes can be any length imaginable and I cant possibly put that many length variations. And I'm not sure how to keep the parts used in the assembly from being changed every time we start a new job. I could make an assembly with parts in a folder keeping them more manageable, but if I then save a copy of the assembly to a new job I have to save all the parts too (with their relationship to the new assembly - not the old one). The only way I know how to do that is to pack-n-go but that screws up the files and makes a big mess of trying to keep everything organized.
I know what I'm looking to do is going to be pretty complicated to set up but it will be huge for our productivity if we can just grab a window when we need it and change the length and width, then mate that into our larger model. Right now we have to make and mate every little part, plus put in holes and screws. Our engineering hours are through the roof for time spent modeling very repetative procedures. I know that there has to be a way to do what I'm looking for but I'm not sure where the right place to look for the right answers is. It seams like I can do multiple portions of this in at least a couple ways. Weldments seamed like a great start but then I also need to be able to detail each part separately for fabrication drawings. And I don't see a way to make the weldment stop after so many inches and start a new part.
I'm not sure where to really start investigating. What commands and tricks should I be learning about to accomplish my end goals?
Thanks for any help you can shed on point me in the right direction.