top-down modeling in SolidWorksI know. You’re just screaming, “I work with the CAMERA. Striking a pose this way and that.” *whoosh, whoosh*

I’m actually talking about how you model your 3D design in SolidWorks. Ah, now this post is suddenly boring. No tips to get that gritty engineer look on film, just stuff about drawing lines and extruding stuff.

But look here, a question for ya and a challenge for your top-down design idea to be featured on SolidSmack.


What’s the difference between Bottom-Up and Top-Down modeling?
Like you see in the poll, Bottom-up design is creating parts, adding them to an assembly and mating them together. To make changes, it’s typical to open the part, make updates and see how the assembly is affected. This can get very time-consuming if you’re going back and forth making those changes. Top-down, on the other hand, is adding a blank part to an assembly, editing it in the assembly to add relationships to other parts in the assembly. For example, you could make one edge line up with an edge on another part, so if one changes, the other will as well.

There’s definitely a place for bottom-up design. However, top-down design allows you to:

  • Create parts in relations to other parts
  • Adjust geometry to suit fit/function
  • Reduce errors within complicated assemblies

Those are just a few major benefits, but once parts are created in the context of how they are going to be used, fine-tuning the parts becomes much easier and, can very quickly, change the production efficiency of your company.

Ready for Top-down assemblies?
So, are you interested in getting started with Top-down assemblies? Thinking about how to start? We’ll get to that, along with the do’s and don’ts of top-down design, in an upcoming post, but first, what would you like to see modeled top-down? Give me your suggestion. I’ll pick the best example of this top-down modeling frenzy and do a post featuring your idea.


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.