Not that configurations aren’t pokeable or that I’m trying to stop something you enjoy doing, but really, it’s just a Configuration Publisher. It just so happens that is new in SolidWorks 2010. Kinda new, anyway. Call it an upgrade of sorts.

It attempts to make the whole configuration creation a whole lot easier. What I’m wondering is if you’ll use it or go about the old way of creating configurations with those wonderfully formatted Design Tables you love. Take a look. See what you think. Will you use it?

What the Heck Does it Do?

Very simply, the Configuration Publisher allows you to create a PropertyManager for your Configurations. The Configuration Publisher looks likes this (click to enlarge):

You drag and drop those attributes on the left into the edit window and set up the options to the right. After you save it, here’s what you’ll get when you put a part in an assembly:

So, it allows you to drop in existing configurations or select options for a new configuration to be created when inserting a part into an assembly, rather than just having to select from a list as in version prior to 2009. Yes, this existed in 2009. It was known as the Create PropertyManager. Along with being renamed, it’s been updated to include the options to configure Custom Properties, configure assemblies and publish your models to 3DContentCentral.com.

The Link to 3D Content Central
So now, whenever you create your Configuration PropertyManager, you also have to option to publish (upload) your component to 3DContentCentral.com (3DCC), a user and supplier generated online 3D model hub.

However, you can only upload a model if you’re a ‘Registered Supplier‘ on 3DCC. It’s free, but if you already have a personal account, you’ll have to create a a different supplier login, or use one your company already has set up. This feature should really be available for either type of user.

Sorry, suppliers only for 3DContentCentral publishing options.
Sorry, suppliers only for 3DContentCentral publishing options.

How it Works within a PDM environment
Since the Configuration PropertyManager allows configurations to be created and added to a Design Table, you would think this may conflict with parts that are not checked out in a PDM system. You will need to have the part checked out to save the changes.

Ideally, this will work as it does with any other component that uses configurations. If someone need to add a new configuration by selecting different option in the Configuration Publisher, the component would simply be checked out, then checked back in. If the model had been uploaded to 3DCC, the ‘Update Model’ option on the 3DCC Preview Tab would be used.

That’s the theory anyway. I have yet to use it in a PDM system that doesn’t require a checkout before makaing changes. So, to be safe, I’ll makes sure the part can be saved. If you happen to make a configurations on a part that isn’t check out, save it locally, check it out and replace it.

Oh By the Way, You Can Configure Materials Now

I just thought you should know that… oh, you want to know how? It’s simple. Right-click on Materials in the FeatureManager and select Configure Materials. That dandy Modify Configurations window will pop up allowing to to select a different material for each configurations.

Does it work with the Publisher? I’m not sure. The materials do not show up in the Design Table and the Publisher does not automatically import them. I tried several attributes to get them to show up, but was not able to get this option into the Configuration Publisher.

Will the Publisher Work For You?

Did you use the previous Create PropertyManager for Configurations? This update provides a way to create configurations as they’re needed. It gives you more options for creating configurations automatically without having to enter each property in a Design Table yourself. This can be useful no doubt, but much like a Design Table, it takes that special someone to sit down and work through it. While it seems like a great tool, I know of Design Tables so complex, it would be hard to bring into the simple List, incremental Values and suppression states. I do see this version more likely to be used, but mostly for basic parts and assemblies. It’s getting there, but needs a bit more work to handle the complexities people can create with a spreadsheet. Will you use it?

Image via Flickr

Author

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.