solidworks tipsSolidWorks is so easy to get started in, you can spit parts out like a factory without even thinking about it. However, one of the most important things to understand when starting out in a 3D modeling program is knowing how to build a part for how it will be used and how design changes may affect the way it functions.

With just a few tips you can make your parts load faster, change quicker and be shining examples of how to get things done.

We want parts to do two things

  1. Load fast
  2. Be easily reused

This means looking at how we’re going to create parts. People call this different things, but I’m going to call it setting Design Guidelines for your parts. What’s the best thing about this? You can do it really quick in your head. Here’s how.

  • Start with most complicated profile
  • Determine where to put the origin
  • Think how will it be attached

I wanted to list the guidelines first so you think of them all together. Now, lets break them down.

solidworks faucet

Start with most complicated profile
This can be interesting. It’s easy in the case of an extrusion, but for parts with weird shapes, it’s more difficult. That’s why it helps to think of the guidelines all together. For the faucet up above, I thought about how it was going to be attached, started the center piece on the origin with a base-revolve and went from there.

Determine where to put the origin
Parts with symmetry can be much easier to model. You can center them on the origin and mirror your sketches. You can use planes and faces to mirror features. With an attachment location centered on the origin, you can use the default planes in your part to mate to other parts. For the faucet up above, I put the origin on the center of the base where it would sit against a countertop. I decided this by doing the following.

Think how will it be attached
Build your part to use the default planes as mating planes. That’s the best advice I can give you. Features change, but those planes are always there. Sometimes it may be better to locate the origin at the center of some mounting holes. Sometimes it may be better to locate the origin on the edge of a part. This is determined best by knowing how the part will be used and reused. If I’m putting a bracket on the edge of something, I’ll put the origin on the edge. If I have to line up mounting holes all day, I’m putting that origin in the middle of those mounting holes.

Some things to get more bang

After you apply those three guidelines to your part, here are a few more tips that will really make them light up with extreme usability.

  • The fewer the edges, the faster it loads
  • Leave complicated features till the end
  • Separate complicated features and fillets
  • Name your features
  • Make a simple configuration with complicated features suppressed
  • Don’t add large attachment to the binder

This is good practice for any part, but particularly useful when building a component library. You will also get better use out of your configurations, which incidentally, is something else to consider if you use them. Just ask yourself, “If I change configurations will everything update the way I want it to?”

With thess easy to apply rules you can have your models loading faster and performing better in no time. How do your parts stack up?


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.