solidworks tipsMany times I will be cruising along on an assembly and realized I should be slapped hard for not taking time to do a few things that will make my work much easier. Yeah, my assembly is looking like that thingjohn carpenter the thing from John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and the room is getting dark. So, to keep your assemblies from absorbing somebody’s flesh, I’ve put together a list of 10 ½ things that could save you from certain doom.

These have the added benefit of making you look extremely organized. Your boss and co-workers may realize the thought you’ve put into things and give you more stuff to do, so use these wisely and then show others how to make their assemblies shine. Here they are.

Use the default planes of the parts to mate to
These planes are always there and won’t change even if geometry changes. You should also rename the planes to make them more relevant.

Mate to the first part added to the assembly
If you mate to the first part or base part of the assembly and decide to change it’s orientation later, all the parts will move with it.

Mate parts together that move together
That angle and fasteners move with that plate, so go ahead and mate them to it.

Mate hardware stacks together
If you have to change location or loose a reference to a hole this will save you some time redoing things.

Create sub-assemblies you can drop in and dissolve
Instead of mating in the same thing over and over again, make an assembly that has everything in it already, drop it in your main assembly, right click and dissolve it.

Create a simple configuration to help models load faster
This configuration can have things like hardware, internal parts and assembly cuts suppressed.

Use folder to organize parts and subassemblies in the FeatureManager Tree
This just helps keep things organized and easier to find. Select a group of parts or assemblies, right click one of them and select Add to folder. Then give it a good name.

Show component descriptions in the FeatureManager Tree
This really starts in the parts. If you’ve given your parts descriptions, you can right click on the Assembly name in the FeatureManager and select Tree Display, Show Component Description. This is extremely helpful if your documents are named with numbers and can give you a look at how your BOM will appear.

Use component patterns
This starts at the part level too. Use linear, circular, sketch driven or hole wizard patterns in your parts. This makes your job easier in the assembly by allowing you to use Component Patterns.

Create an empty part for ambiguous parts
The part should have a small extruded feature in it so you can give it a mass. You can hide the body in the Solid Bodies folder in the FeatureManager. This can help if you need exact measurements of ambiguous parts like adhesive, insulation or water.

Use Isolate when editing parts
If you right click on a part in an assembly, select Isolate. This hides all the other parts. Then, you can edit without all the other stuff getting in the way.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.