It’s happened to all of us. You’re bakin’ up sweet 3D assemblies in SolidWorks when all of sudden your supervisor walks over, scratches their dry chin skin over your keyboard and challenges you to 1) not vomit and 2) create 5 other version of the same assembly.

All psoriasis and skin flaking antics aside, creating usable assembly versions in SolidWorks is challenging, especially in a design environment where ideas float around like immunological diseases in need of a heavy dose of anti-inflammatories.

However, there are ways to do it, and probably a few things you’ve tried yourself. Here, we look at the question that prompted a look into three options and get your take on which works the best or if there are other ways to prove you are a design iteration master. It’s ON.

What would you say to someone that told you this:

I’m cranking away on a large assembly, but I’m designing as I go for a lot of details. I’d like to be able to fork off into a new design and run it parallel to another concept I’m trying, or at least have points that are easy to move back to if an idea doesn’t work out.

How do you create versions in SolidWorks? Even more, how do you create versions you can work with simultaneously? Here are three options I’ve used…

Option 1: Use Pack & Go
Using File, Pack and Go… you can copy and add a prefix to the assembly files.
Option 2: Save the assembly as a part
Using File, Save As… you can save an assembly as a part to try different things.
Option 3: Configurations
Insert copies of parts, suppress other parts, flip back and forth between configs.
Option 4: Virtual Parts
Insert representation of parts, copy parts, make copies independent and save to external file.

The best way to create versions of SolidWorks Assemblies? Pack and Go allows you to select what files you want to copy and add a prefix or suffix to them. (Click to Enlarge)
The best way to create versions of SolidWorks Assemblies? Pack and Go allows you to select what files you want to copy and add a prefix or suffix to them. (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve done each. Pack and Go, no doubt, works the best to create and open multiple version of the same assembly. Virtual parts allow you to work in a single assembly between copies of parts. But are there ways or methodologies you’ve used to do assembly versioning better?

Update: I just want to clarify. How do you make versions without a PDM system? It’s easy to assume everyone can use a PDM system (Enterprise PDM or Workgroup) to retain version of files, but that’s not always the case. This is really something that should be available outside the realm of file server/vault and outside the need to upgrade a Standard SolidWorks license with installation and training of a database.

Author

Josh is co-founder of EvD Media. He engineers and designs, is the Director of Marketing for Luxion, is CSWP certified for SolidWorks training and support and excels at falling awkwardly. He is editor of SolidSmack.com and co-host of EngineerVsDesigner.com, a weekly podcast about design, engineering and what makes it all happen.