solidworks tipsDon’t you just love the magnificent spectacle of an exploded assembly in SolidWorks? It’s like everything in the world has been revealed and facial hair has become a thing of the past. And let me tell ya, when you’re exploding stuff you want as little facial hair as possible cause that’s just gonna distract aerodynamics and there’s the whole grooming thing.

While it’s fairly common to make exploded views of assemblies, there’s also a way to do it in parts, and it doesn’t require an angle grinder and 2 lbs of highly combustible Thermite powder. Here’s how.

If you remember back a few tips, one really slick technique you can use to build models relatively quickly is Bodies-as-Parts Assemblies. This is basically a part with certain features split up. Every time you create a feature you can choose to merge the feature to the other features or keep them separate.

However, did you ever think you could create exploded views of these parts? Are the wheels are turning? Well, it really only requires a couple additional steps and a little forethought. Here’s the process with all the steps laid out. If you’re impatient, you can skip down to the video.

exploded-part-assy.jpgFor an example, lets say we’re creating a simple model for some chunks of metal to weld together. Exciting.

  1. Think of how you want you part to explode
    Not too easy sometimes, but think of how you’ll put it together. Then rewind it backwards… then forwards, then backwards, then forwards… until you picture it in your mind and wake up screaming with nightmares about it.
  2. Create your first feature
    This could be what everything else is connected to.
  3. Add the second feature
    Here’s the secret. Instead of adding a relation where the sketch attaches to the first feature, add a dimension. A really tiny one, like .001. Extrude the feature like the first one, except uncheck Merge Results just below the Distance setting. Select OK. Can you guess what’s next?
    Note: For Circular type stuff that you want to show exploded, it’s works better to make it as a revolve. See attached example below.
  4. Add a Configuration
    This is so we can show an exploded version and an unexploded version. Select the configuration tab on the FeatureManager, right click the part name and select Add Configuration… Now, just name it “exploded” and select OK.
  5. Explode the part
    Go back to the FeatureManager, double-click on the last feature you added. Double click the .001 dimension. The dimension dialogue box comes up. Change the dimension to 1.00” and in the configurations pull-down, select This Configuration.

Now you can switch between configurations and see the difference between the two. There are limits of course. It may be a little more tedious since you’re not able to select multiple parts like in assemblies and it’s not the best for showing exploded views of hardware.

What you can do is create an exploded part and use the exploded configuration in an assembly that adds hardware. Here’s the example file with some extras and below you’ll see the video.

Exploded Part (400k)


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.