What’s New in SolidWorks 2016: Chapter 5 – Assemblies

This year’s assembly enhancements include innovative new ways to add, edit and control mates, as well as a fantastic new file management time-saver.

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Copying Multiple Components

You can now copy several components at once, while preserving all mates between them. Simply select several components while holding Shift or Ctrl, and Ctrl+drag the group to a new location. New instances of the components are created, along with any mates that existed between them. Previously, the only way to do this was by using Copy with Mates, or forming a subassembly, both of which required several steps.

Component Preview Window

With the new Component Preview Window, you can zoom, pan, and orient an individual part – and select faces, edges, or other entities – without changing the orientation of the overall assembly. This is especially useful when mating components in tight spaces, when your view can be obscured, or when selecting very small faces for mating.

To activate the Component Preview Window, click on the part you’ll be mating, and select the Component Preview Window icon from the context toolbar.


The component is then displayed in a separate pane on the right side of the graphics area. Any entities that are selected in the Preview Window are also selected in the main graphics area, meaning that one mate reference can be selected in the main assembly, while the other can be selected from the Component Preview Window. When selecting multiple features between the preview window and the main graphics area, the Quick Mates context toolbar still appears.



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What’s New in SolidWorks 2015 – Chapter 5: Assemblies, Part II: Assembly Features

Last week we covered all the great Mate and Pattern improvements in SolidWorks 2015. This week we’ll review the second half of the Assemblies chapter, which covers all the “other stuff,” from Exploded Views to Interference Detection to the newly-resurrected Treehouse app!

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Radial Explode

You can explode components aligned radially/cylindrically about an axis in one step. In an exploded view, simply select the Radial Explode step, then select all the components you wish to explode, and drag them all at once with the vector arrow. The ability to radially explode components is only available in SolidWorks Professional, Premium, and MBD.

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What’s New in SolidWorks 2015 – Chapter 5: Assemblies, Part I: Mates and Patterns

There are always a bunch of new goodies in the assembly bag, and this year is no exception. There are so many new assembly features, it makes more sense to split them up over two weeks. This week, we’ll start with enhancements to mates and pattern features.

Honorable Mentions

Editing Limit Mate Values

You can now view and edit the Min and Max values of a limit mate (both angle and distance) in the Graphics Area. Simply double-click the dimension to bring up the Modify Dimension dialog box, and edit the values without re-entering the Mate PropertyManager.

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SolidWorks 2014 What’s New – Chapter 5: Assemblies, part I

Part one of this chapter will be devoted to assembly features and other enhancements, while part two will cover the large number of mate improvements.

Chapter 5: Assemblies, part I (Assembly Features and More)

Honorable Mentions

Rotations in Exploded Views

We’ve been hearing about this enhancement for a few years now, but they SolidWorks team has finally polished it up enough for release. In an exploded view, you’ll now notice rotation rings in addition to the movement triad, which will allow you to move parts in a more realistic way when creating and animation explode steps.

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Message Handling for Large documents

“To facilitate the loading of large documents, some warning, informational, and error messages are automatically dismissed when you open drawings or assembly files. You can set the length of time that the software displays messages before dismissing them or turn off this option to dismiss messages.”

Now you can safely open a large assembly and walk away without fearing that an unnecessary error message will stop the whole process while you’re gone.

Flexible and Mirrored Subassembly Improvements

Flexible subassemblies now behave much more logically, especially when there are multiple instances of the same subassembly, or when the subassembly uses limit mates. There are also more options for controlling the positions of mirrored components. You can choose to mirror parts about the assembly’s center of mass, or the centroid of its bounding box. This is useful for mirroring asymmetric components, and used to require creating a new opposite-hand configuration or part.

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Selecting Components by Size

This simple slider filters components by size, as a percentage of the overall assembly. The tool allows you to select all very small components (such as fasteners) and suppress or hide them. Great for de-cluttering assemblies for export, or just speeding up performance. Access it from the select menu at the top of the SolidWorks window.

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Context Toolbar Enhancements

You can now switch between component or subassembly configurations very easily by selecting the desired configuration from the drop-down menu at the top of the context toolbar, which appears after clicking on a component in the graphics area. You even have the option to specify what assembly configurations the change will affect.

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Additionally, you can change a subassembly from rigid to flexible and back through the pop-up context menu. Simply right-click a component within a subassembly in the graphics area, click Select Subassembly, and change the solve state directly from the context menu that appears.

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Between these two enhancements, you’ll probably never have to delve into the Properties window again.



Pattern Enhancements

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Curve- and Sketch-Driven Patterns in Assemblies: These pattern types are now available in assemblies, where only feature-driven pattern was available before. You’ll be able to drive component patterns using assembly- or part-level sketches (made up of a series of points) or curves (any tangential entities in 2D or 3D space).

Pattern-Driven Pattern: The Feature-Driven Pattern command is no longer limited to features, so it has been renamed to Pattern-Driven Pattern. Pre-existing patterns (at the part level or assembly level), as well as features, can now be used to drive a pattern.

Highlighting Seed Features: When clicking on a pattern in the Tree, the seed feature highlights in a different color than the rest of the pattern instances, making it easier to find.

These pattern enhacements are designed to make assemblies more intelligent, and minimize the time and energy users spend placing unique components.


Check out the video below for an overview of all the new assembly-based enhancements in 2014. And stay tuned for part 2 of this chapter, where I’ll dive into the dozens of mate-related enhancements.