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!
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.
Forming and Dissolving Subassemblies
In SolidWorks 2015, there are several enhancements to the ways in which subassemblies are created and dissolved. First, you can now form or dissolve a subassembly that contains suppressed components. This can be done from the FeatureManager design tree or the graphics area. When a subassembly dissolves, the components remain at the same position in the FeatureManager design tree, with folders and subfolders preserved. Previously, this was not possible, and attempting to dissolve a subassembly with suppressed components resulted in this warning:
You can also dissolve a subassembly that contains patterned or mirrored components. Additionally, subassemblies can be created from the contents of a folder by right-clicking a folder in the FeatureManager design tree and clicking Form New Subassembly. You can also undo the dissolve action.
Interference Detection Volume Exclusion
You can now sort the results of an Interference Detection calculation by volume, and also ignore all interference volumes less than a certain threshold. Once an Interference Detection calculation is complete, right click anywhere in the results list and select Sort Smallest to Largest (or Sort Largest to Smallest) to quickly review the interferences in the model. Then, select an interference result that you believe makes a negligible impact on your design, and click “Ignore all smaller than.” These results (which may correspond to screw threads, flexible parts, adhesive, etc.) are then filtered out of the list, and you can focus on actual interferences.
Open Summary Report and Dialog Timeout For Large Assemblies
When opening a large assembly (or assembly drawing), you can activate a timeout mechanism, which will automatically dismiss common dialog boxes for you. This is useful if you open a large assembly that takes a long time to open, and you need to perform other tasks (*cough* coffee break *cough*) while the file is opening. You can activate the timer, and change its duration, under System Options >> Messages/Errors/Warnings. This option adds the timeout feature to these dialog boxes:
- Rebuild this document
- Missing Toolbox configuration (with/without auto-create option)
- Open External Referenced Documents
- Unable to locate file
- File has a non-matching internal ID
SolidWorks also collects a list of all dismissed messages in an Open Summary report. You can use the information in this report to diagnose problems in an assembly. The report displays messages that were dismissed automatically via the timeout option, as well as dialogs which were not displayed because their “Don’t Show Again” box was previously checked, and other informational pop-ups. The report also includes a list of any components which could not be loaded, and an explanation of the reason.
Treehouse is a project which made its home over at SolidWorks Labs for many years. But the project looked to be abandoned in 2011, and SolidW0rks Labs was shut down somewhere around early 2013. However, the product was so popular that a few VARs took it upon themselves to clone the project, and offer it free of charge. You would assume that meant that the SolidWorks version of Treehouse was dead and buried, but apparently not so. Treehouse is now being offered as a tool, which will be installed alongside SolidWorks 2015. No word on whether SolidWorks will also offer Treehouse as standalone freeware.
Access Treehouse through Start > SOLIDWORKS 2015 > SOLIDWORKS Tools > SOLIDWORKS Treehouse 2015.
Treehouse works like a family tree for SolidWorks assemblies. Not only does it allow you to visualize the structure of your existing assemblies, but you can also plan out the file structure of new projects before you even start modeling, using a simple drag-and-drop UI. Treehouse provides fast, easy assembly structure planning, creation, editing, and viewing using a combination of empty templates and existing files. You can edit file properties and assign names and part numbers all at once using a simple graphical user interface. Once your Assembly Tree is planned out, simply click Create Documents, and every part, assembly, and drawing is instantly created, complete with the correct part numbers, descriptions, configurations, and custom properties.
For companies using an external PDM system, this could save a lot of time. Once your file structure is mapped out in Treehouse, simply assign descriptions to each component, then request a block of part numbers from your PDM system. You can now quickly add those part numbers to the components’ file properties without opening each file individually.
According to SolidWorks: “You don’t need any prior SolidWorks experience to use Treehouse, making it an ideal tool for project managers or anyone who does not typically interact through SolidWorks, but needs to give input and direction on issues of product structure and organization.”