Thin Line Between Part and Assembly Modeling
Over the past few years, SOLIDWORKS has made some major enhancements that I believe are going to have a massive effect on solid modeling workflows across the globe. Just a few of these enhancements include:
- Multi-body sheet metal parts
- Multiple materials per part file
- Improved cut list organization
- Indented cut lists in BOMs
- Parametric move/copy bodies command
- Right click access to hide bodies in drawing views
With these enhancements (and plenty more), SOLIDWORKS just converted the solid line between assemblies and multi-body part files into a construction line. Think about it; nobody complains about using part files for weldments… Why not everything else (from furniture to electronics)? Rather than using multi-body part files exclusively for parts containing structural member features, what’s wrong with extrusions? Revolves? Sweeps? Sheet Metal features?
Certainly, machine designers will stick with assemblies as they will need to take advantage of mates and degrees of freedom to allow for physical dynamics between all of their machine’s components. However, any “assembly” that’s static now lends itself beautifully to multi-body part modeling. Here are some of the benefits:
- Utilize all the in-context modeling techniques you can dream of without the hassle of external references!
- Simple file management – there’s just one file.
- No need to worry about defining parts’ locations via mates.
- Great for quick concept design as bodies can always be saved out to an assembly file with individual part files if need be (for drawing files or PDM purposes). All you need to do is remember where they buried the “Save Bodies” command (Insert > Features > Save Bodies…).
- Show bodies in multiple positions using the parametric move/copy bodies command and control the distance/angle dimensions with a design table. This method works great for controlling ‘open’ and ‘closed’ configurations of cabinet doors/drawers.
- Don’t forget, if you happen to have a library of commonly used part files, you can still use them in multi-body part files! Just drag and drop them in as solid bodies and choose whether or not they should stay linked to the original library component.
Try it out. I bet you could save a third of your design time by building a multi-body part file rather than an assembly file.