18 Replies Latest reply on May 21, 2015 10:24 AM by Christopher Sudlik

    Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?

    Dave Lonsdale

      Hi All

      I have a problem that I just cant work out. I often tap into the wealth of knowledge on these forums when I get stuck, but I fear maybe this is a step too far.


      Hopefully I can describe my problem sufficiently:


      I am designing some security bars, the kind that are fitted over windows/openings. For the larger sizes, a modular design is used. For example, a 3m x 3m opening would have 9No. 1m x 1m modules.


      I am modelling top down with sketches in the top level assembly driving the model. I have set up equations so that once the user inputs the size of the opening the number of modules is worked out automatically. I have used a pattern to do this, the first module is inserted into the assembly which is patterned and sized according to the opening.


      Taking the 3m x 3m example, the top left module will be different to the top middle which will be different again to the middle centre module due to what each side of the module fixes to. I can easily configure the module subassembly for each possibility but, now to the root of my issue, I cannot figure out how to link the position of the module in the pattern to which configuration is should be.


      What I want to do is something like:

      Position 1,1 in the pattern is the corner so that module should be the corner config

      Position 1,2 in the pattern is top middle so that module should be the top middle config

      Position 2,2 in the pattern is the middle centre... etc...


      I need to extract the position information of each pattern instance and use this to drive the configurations of the modules.


      All my work so far regarding equations has been done in the equation manager. I'm sure a design table would be better but my excel knowledge is limited.


      Is this possible or have I wasted a couple of days going down the wrong path?


      Any input welcome





        • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
          John Stoltzfus



          I think you made a great start and there are a lot of different approaches to this type of work.   Did you try Drive Works or check out www.auto-configure.com


          Will you always be working with 9 squares? or is there a possibility of  6, 9, 12, etc....


          If possible you could make one part, which would include 3 different configurations, then after you make your part pattern you could edit the pattern and change the configuration based on the position..

            • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
              Dave Lonsdale

              Thanks for your input john, I'll check out that link. Drive Works is not really an option for us.


              It will not only be 9 squares, and they may in fact not even be square. It all depends on the opening size, and the fact that a module has a maximum size of 1m x 1m. It could be a 5x2 grid or 1x6. The fact it is different every time is why I want this level of automation.


              Yes, my intention is to create 1 part/subassembly for the modules and configure it but I want to call on the location of the part in the pattern to drive its configuration. I don't want to have to manually select the configuration of each module. This is a source of error for the operator, it would be easy to select the wrong config. It would also take longer to process an order.

            • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
              John Stoltzfus

              Auto Configure would do what you need - The contact info : Rajat Jain rajatjain@auto-configure.com


              Another option is to have one main sketch per window configuration and do an entire assembly, which would be a template assembly, then when you have a new project, 9 squares but different overall size, then you would open up the 9 square template and do a Pack & Go, then open that file and change your sketch dimensions and everything would change accordingly.  Then use the Task Scheduler to update all the Custom Properties for that project.


              Either way you need time to set everything up, now or later.  I would personally prefer using the assembly template, takes a little more time to setup, however within minutes you can have a total new drawing pack ready to go..

                • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                  Dave Lonsdale

                  Hi John


                  That's an interesting idea, but like you say it is a lot of work up front to model every combination. And again there is an extra process for an operator to get wrong. When I have created this master model, trying not to be rude, orders will be processed by lesser skilled personnel. The less that has to be done the better. A perfect model would be one where all that needs to be done once opened is enter the size of the opening and Solidworks does the rest.


                  Regarding Auto Configure, I would have to convince the boss to part with some money which is never easy!!!

                    • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                      Paul Marsman


                        Going down the road of having an assembly template for each configuration option, you could build an add-in that the user would start in the same spot each time and then the macro would handle the decision making in the background for them.  Not sure if you can make SolidWorks figure out the config to use in each position with your case, but I'll think about that some more too.



                        • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                          Dave Lonsdale

                          Thanks for the input Paul.


                          If I could write a macro to do this I would. I know I mentioned handing this to lesser skilled people to process orders, but I am no power user by any means, I am just trying to achieve the brief I was given. I have been mentioning the power of macros and what I would be able to do if they sent me on a decent course. I have been thinking for a while now that I would buy some books and teach myself, just haven't made the step from thinking to doing!

                    • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                      John Stoltzfus

                      In this you have to pick your own poison - once you have that "Perfect nobody can screw up Model" let me know


                      I would set up the template model where all the "Lesser" skilled people need to do is change the Height and Width, do the Pack & Go, run the Task Scheduler and print the results - pretty simple, if they screw that up then hire someone else.


                      If you use Drive Works or Auto-Configure there is also a bit of upfront "Design Intent" that needs to go in your project, so its "Pay me now or Pay me later"

                      • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                        Bernie Daraz

                        I once went to a user group meeting where a guy made up a fantastic 'routine' using just equations as you have there. It WAS fantastic. It was too hard for anyone else to pick up on how to edit the mess it turned into to accommodate a bunch of variables. They dropped it. I would suggest you look into a design table. At least you'll have more variables available and the 'almost' full power of Excel at your call.


                        The other suggestions are great ways too.


                        If I can call attention to your statement: I just cant help thinking that the information I want is already there. i.e. when you choose an instance to skip in the pattern feature it gives you the coordinates of that instance. That coordinate is what I need I just can't tap into it.


                        If you didn't have that instance in there in the first place you wouldn't need the coordinates. Think about obtaining the integer count of your 'width' divided by an average 'spacing'. (OOPS! I see you are doing that.)


                        Just a a suggestion of course. Let us know how you are doing as you go along.

                          • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                            Dave Lonsdale

                            Hi Bernie


                            One of my initial concerns was that it could become quite complex and a DT would be far better. But I still have the same problem, I just cant figure out how to link the position of a module to the configuration it needs to be. I need to learn a lot more about the functions available in Excel.


                            I have been using Solidworks for a number of years now, but my previous jobs where all relatively simple, basic stuff in terms of Solidworks. I have been in this current job for a couple of months and this is the most complex thing I have ever done in Solidworks, yet in the grand scheme of things I'm sure this is a very simple thing compared to the limit of what is possible.


                            I feel like I have all the pieces of the jigsaw, I just cant put them together.

                          • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                            John Stoltzfus

                            Dave - The hardest parts in life are the simplest - in other words it is very easy to make something complicated, equations, design tables etc..   Here in the past there were tons of models made with equations and 99% of the ones I open throw all kinds of errors, every time I open an old model I have to go in and delete all the equations, why??? 


                            Because someone thought this part would work in this other assembly and they decided to add on to that part in this other assembly, which created a huge mess.  I would also like to mention that design tables are an awesome way to design hardware, and I have a lot of files that use design tables, having said that, there is a huge chance of design failures if you don't rebuild your models properly, so either way there is maintenance and you got to know how to set up the Design Intent.  Don't forget we don't work here forever, so the next guy taking your place will be a different thinker


                            The more I thought about your project the more I would rely on something more robust and simple, start with a square sketch, which would be your width and height, this is the only sketch you need to work with to make changes.  Then add other sketches to get what you need, spacing ect., that can be done with equal relations.  Use this sketch as the foundation for all your assemblies, main and sub. 


                            The other thing I forgot to mention was - Once you set up a "9" window model, it is very easy to change to a "6" or "12" model assembly....


                            Good luck

                            • Re: Is there a way to configure individual pattern instances?
                              Dave Lonsdale

                              Morning/afternoon/evening Guys (delete as appropriate)


                              Thank you all for your input and advice.


                              I think I have found a solution. I was going to head down the route of several assembly templates as suggested by John Stoltzfus but my Overlord and Master wasn't keen. But that approach of not making one thing do too much made me think. Rather than insert 1 instance of the module subassembly and pattern it then configure the instances which I was trying to do, I can insert 9 subassemblies (that is the most number of different configurations at any one time), suppress or unsuppress as required, configure each subassembly instance then pattern each configuration that needs patterning. I am also driving this through a design table which will be a bit simpler now I'm not trying to make one subassembly do everything.


                              I would welcome your thoughts on this.


                              If anyone is interested I can upload my model when it is a bit more complete for you to peruse at your leisure.