If you’re wondering what one of the basic things you can do to make creating parts, assemblies and drawings easier without pushing it off onto someone else, I may have a solution for you.
Steps that prevent repetitive tasks can usually be some of the most simple.
While things in SolidWorks are not always so simple there are simple practices that can reduce the pain. A lot of times we start a new project and don’t realize we’re doing a lot of the same work we did before. To prevent this, and save you a load of time, you can speed up design by creating templates for parts, assemblies and drawings, but there’s a secret.
What’s the big idea?
The big idea behind each template it is to have a basic version of anything you create and modify on a regular basis. So, whenever you’re like, “Heavens ta betsy! I’ve got to create that all over again or try to re-use that monster of a part that has millions of features and circular references! Someone kill me.” this would be a perfect time to create a template.
Here’s how we do it.
The templates are actually SolidWorks documents. Yeah, surprise. Take a look. Whenever you select File, New you can select a part, assembly or drawing. These are templates. So, why can’t they be a little more advanced and help you speed up your design? Well, they can.
Create a document with the most generic information possible
Whether this is a part, assembly or drawing we want these to be pure as the driven snow.
Parts – Limit the amount of features or info you put in the document. For example, if it’s an extruded angle, just create the basic shape of the angle, without holes, chamfers or cuts. The only time you would add other feature is if they were always used. Get the idea?
Assemblies – How basic can you make an assembly to re-use it again? I think you can make it real simple. One example would be just creating the external model and leave the internals out. Again, only add other subassemblies or parts if they are always on the assembly. Now we’re goin’
Drawings – We typically think of drawings as templates, but we can really save some time by adding things to them, even parts and assemblies, BOM’s and saving them as templates. One thing I always create is drawing template for general notes. I could create these as blocks, but if you have a lot, it can start affecting drawing file size. Create a drawing, stick your notes in it and organize them with pages. Golden.
One important note
Make sure you put all the mass property data and all your attributes information in as well. Re-entering that stuff is one of the biggest pains ever. You can also have all your textures applied and scenes set as well. That is extra cool. I would even create a procedure or checklist to make sure everything is set up correctly for each template.
Where do I put templates?
The default location for templates is in the data directory of the SolidWorks install folder, but you can put them anywhere you like.
I recommend doing what I talked about Creating an Organized SolidWorks Team and create a network folder. The location you would like to use can be set in Tools, Options, System Options, File locations and select Document Templates in the pulldown.
Really, anything you can create a basic version of to start from can be a template. Here’s some more examples of documents that you could turn into templates.
Parts – Extrusion, stock material, brackets, sheet metal boxes, gears, ergonomic surfaces, buttons
Assemblies – Pallet assemblies, drawers, chassis, circuit boards, internal system components
Drawings – General notes, Installation drawings, Wiring Diagram, plumbing routings