3 Replies Latest reply on Jun 22, 2015 11:24 AM by John Stoltzfus

    Best way to design a configurable assembly?

    Casey Newport



      I am new to SolidWorks, been working with it for about 4 months now. I have been tasked to design an enclosure for our variable speed drive. The enclosure has many sheet metal parts, assemblies, and sub assemblies. I want to be able to change the basic dimensions for the entire enclosure and everything update automatically. I reverse engineered another enclosure we have on file and noticed they used a bunch of reference planes to draw all the base flanges on. Each base flange was drawn on a plane and then the dimensions were referenced to other planes. So, if you change the reference plane dimension the assembly will update, but not really.


      The enclosure has a top and bottom cavity separated by a partition. The bottom, top of partition, and bottom of partition planes are all referenced to the top plane. I can change the bottom plane dimension which effectively changes the height, but the spacing of the partition, hinges, etc are not linked and I can only change one reference plane at a time. Is there a way to use global variables or equations to change everything at once? Sorry for the newb qauestion, any information would be of great help! Thanks in advance.

        • Re: Best way to design a configurable assembly?
          Casey Newport

          So I figured out that I can use a 3D sketch to drive reference plane dimensions. This works great if the parts referencing the planes are parts in the master assembly. I ran into some trouble when I had parts in sub-assemblies referencing the 3D sketch dimensions of the master assembly. My parts in the assembly would only update after several rebuilds, lesson learned. To correct this issue, I created global variables in my master assembly connected to the 3D sketch driving sketch and fed those variables down the sub-assembly parts. This works pretty well, but it does take a while for the rebuild to update.


          I also wanted the hinges and latches to update their spacing and quantity with a change in height or width. I used a linear pattern for the hinge holes, latch holes, and their spacing. I then created global variables in the master assembly for "hinge/latch spacing" and "hinge/latch instances" and linked then to the linear pattern sketches in the parts. I created a few equations at the part levels that referenced the 3D driving sketch to evenly space everything at the height and width grew. I then used an IF statement in the equations to manipulate my "hinge/latch instances" after a critical spacing was reached. When I added the hardware to my hinge/latch holes, I used a feature driven my a pattern and the parts would update with everything else.


          I hope this helps someone else as they learn more about SolidWorks! Feel free to ask me any questions if I'm not being clear!

          • Re: Best way to design a configurable assembly?
            John Stoltzfus

            Any design that I do I start with a part that I call "A Skeleton Sketch Part" -  I have all my information in that part, which only consists of Planes and Sketches, however you could have basic 3D modeling if you would like.  This Part is the first part in every sub-assembly and also in the main assembly and everything is built off of the sketches and planes that are in that Skeleton Part.  There are many nice features that you can apply using this part, however the best thing that I like, is the ability to break down my sub-assemblies and work on them individually without having to have all my assemblies open, because all the information comes off of the same part.  Then when you go to insert the sub assembly into the main or another sub assembly, it just snaps in place with no interference's.


            Might take a little more thought or getting used to, but changes are so easy........