Ok, someone has asked me what my single greatest SolidWorks tip for large assemblies is. That, all you SolidWorks Pros may know, is a large request in itself.

If I had to split my knuckles across the edge of my desk about anything, it would be the frustration that comes with large assembly management in SolidWorks. It’s actually easy to me after years of figuring it out, but really, it shouldn’t take ‘years of figuring it out’ right?

So, are ya ready? I’ll let you know what it is and why it starts here and how to move on. My single greatest SolidWorks Tip for dealing with Large Assemblies is…

“Don’t make Freakin’ Large Assemblies”

That is downright amazing advice isn’t? Imagine all those years of frustration summed up in that annoyingly, obvious statement. However, it’s true. You take the greatest common joy of SolidWorks, the speed at which you can sketch/model parts, and put it into creating assemblies. It’s fun. But then, a few things happen, and whether it’s your hardware or how you’ve modeled the part, your assembly is now large and unmanageable.

The simple part is getting away from the things that make it unmanageable. It may arise from bad training, archaic processes or ‘just to get things done’. Resolving this is pretty simple though. It all starts with a list… really, a list.

How to not make a Freakin’ Large Assembly

  • Define your hieracrchy – of assemblies and sub-assemblies. Break it up by assembly process, function or manufacturing process. refine, discuss, refine, perfect.
  • Simplify Parts – I’ve preached this before. Only detail items you’ll manufacturer. Represent simple models for everything else.
  • Fully-define Sketches – Put some dimensions on anyway. It’ll make the change process easier for you.

That’s it, just do those simple things and you and your assemblies will be better off. Is it that simple though? I think it is. If it’s harder to think about than that, why use 3D CAD at all?


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, 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.