“Large Assemblies” can be difficult to define. For some it’s a 100 part assembly, for others it’s 1000 parts, and still others it can be 10,000 parts and gigabytes of data. No matter the number of parts or complexity, at some point we need to address large assembly design performance, whether it’s through the software, the hardware or both.
Focusing on the software side, we can make quick changes to help improve the performance of your large assembly design. How do you put it into action? There are five techniques that will have you seeing results right away.
1. Simplify Your Components
It’s easy to say, but perhaps more difficult to consider how to approach this idea. You’ve probably had some ideas about how to simplify a model either out of interest or necessity. There are a few things to consider whether it’s the amount of detail, what’s needed for analysis, or simply what your computer system can handle. A few ways to prepare for these types of scenarios is identifying where hardware can be patterned and culled from top-level assemblies, creating simplified representations of some components where high level of details are not needed or reducing the amount of patterned features, which reduce the number of edges and curves requiring more compute power to process.
2. Optimize Your Display
We’re not talking about your computer monitor here. We’re talking about the display of parts and using display configurations to control and optimize your assemblies. Think of it as having an on/off switch for different parts of your assembly. Maybe you just want to display the external surfaces. Maybe you just want to show the internal components. Maybe you just need to work on one area of a large assembly. Configurations can help you show exactly what you want to show. Along with this, you can control the visual state of your model viewport and increase performance by turning off reflections, shadows, and view transitions or adjusting sharpness and using culling or a shaded (without edges) view to speed up the assembly display.
3. Improve Your Model
Well, that sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it. Improve your model – just improve it. So, what does that mean really? It sounds so broad because there are a lot of thing you can do to improve your model from the sketches to the modeling. Some things are going to use more computer resources than others – assembly features, interpart relations, large multibody parts – these can all affect the performance of the model. Approach this technique by insuring there are no broken links between parts, use synchronous part relations instead of interpart relations and reduce the use of multibodies to smaller assemblies or purchase parts where only the detail of multiple parts may be required.
4. Take Advantage of PDM
This is an area where, many times, we don’t have a choice. We have a product data management (PDM) system or we don’t. The bottom line is however that they can be much more cost-effective than many realize. The PDM system not only helps protect the data, but protect unknown changes from going through, duplication or changes being overwritten – all things that can add more time to correct. A PDM system automates all of this and keeps the file management in front of you so everyone working on the project knows who is working on what and the state, progress and revision of everything in the assembly.
5. Pay Attention to Your Drawings
We often think of drawings last, but may save a lot of time and change request if we start thinking of them along the way. Large assembly drawings can be massive and when all the details need to be within one drawing there are different strategies you can use. Reducing cutaway, detail and exploded views can help in performance, but large multi-sheet drawings can also be split into multiple files, based on the components you’ve simplified, the configurations you’ve set up, the model improvements you’ve made and how your team is organized and utilizes the PDM system.
All of these work together to bring huge performance improvements in the process of working with large assembly, but also when you consider the process of working with any size assembly.
You’re sure to have your own ideas and techniques about improving large assembly performance. We would love to know how you approach it. In the meantime, you can learn more and get the in-depth detail about how to apply each of these techniques in your assemblies with our free guide.