You’ve nurtured your model from concept. You have an intimate knowledge of every fillet, extrusion and sweep. You've accommodated its need to be different using configurations and are now ready to release your design to the world in the hopes that it will be accepted and flourish. It can, and it will. Your model will survive checking, inspection and most importantly time – if configurations were used in moderation.
One simple way to view and create configurations in parts and assemblies is from the ConfigurationManager. This tab identifies which configurations are up-to-date, active, need to be rebuilt or marked to be saved.
There are several additional ways to configure features, dimensions and other properties. A few of the options are:
You can select Add Configuration by right-clicking in the CommandManager window. Right-click on the default configuration to create derived configs which will apply any change from our parent to the child configuration.
Another option is to right-click on Feature and select Configure Feature. This will open the Modify Configuration window and you can double click items to add them to a configurable list.
If a configuration has already been created, double-click on a dimension to bring up the Modify dialog box. The drop down window next to Dimension will allow us to specify how this configuration will be applied.
Configurations are best when used in moderation.
Creating two or three different models with different dimensions shouldn’t cause any huge fuss. Identifying machined versus non-machined or creating a simplified model without fillets or other complex features whose detail may not be required is a perfect use for configurations.
Assembly configurations work great to suppress hardware components or show the assembly in alternate positions. If you begin experiencing performance issues at the assembly level, you can quickly create configurations in all of your parts using the Parent/Child Options. The part level configurations will still have to be modified later manually but the new configurations are there.
In Simulation Professional and Premium, you can add a deformed shape configuration from your static or nonlinear studies to display what the model may look like under load.
For optimal organization, naming your features and creating a design table in SOLIDWORKS or Microsoft Excel is recommended to eliminate any confusion. This is also a great way to visualize the scope of your efforts. One simple way to create a design table is to select Insert > Table > Design Table.
Moderation is the key to survival!
Keep it simple! When using the design table, it is an easy path to formulate data to include an array of dimensions, suppressed components or features to create families of parts. Increasingly complex configurations will lead to a decrease in system performance. For each active configuration you will be saving additional information to our single file. The simple configuration changes above resulted in a file three times the original size! Add multiple instances of the configured model to an assembly, and file size can increase exponentially.
When configurations are used to create independent part numbers, they remain inside a single part or assembly file. Tracking and documenting our multiple configurations can be difficult. Keep in mind that revision control in PDM is only allowed at the file level and not in individual configurations. When implementing PDM, configurations are broken out into their individual part numbers and saved as separate files.
Remember, configurations are for simplifying models to improve performance. Use configurations in moderation!
Written by Travis Quick
Travis Quick is an Application Engineer at Alignex, Inc. Travis spends his days teaching SOLIDWORKS courses and helping customers on the Alignex Help Desk. If he's not there when you call, he's probably playing video games or testing his physical strength on an outdoor obstacle course.