SOLIDWORKS Composer offers an amazing range of tools for producing all kinds of technical documents from assembly and manufacturing instructions to product marketing materials and user manuals. It often goes overlooked by the majority of customers because they either are not sure the impact it can have on their business or simply because they have no idea that it exists.
Owners of SOLIDWORKS Composer rave about it's amazing functionality as well as it's ability to finally free up their engineers to do exactly what they are there to do, engineer.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this software, SOLIDWORKS Composer allows others in your company to use the exact 3D CAD data developed by your engineers on their own projects in real time. This means production documentation can be created inline with product development, allowing you faster, more accurate products to market.
Within the user interface are the environmental options for rendering your model—things like transparency, and shading modes as well as edge visibility. These can help define locations or expose components to make interactive assembly documents. There is also an assembly and collaboration tree to select from for reference and history. The collaboration tree records media changes so you can revert back to the original file later. For annotations and mark-ups there’s a host of options called “Author” tools to clearly dictate the size and specifications of each part. This is where you can create path lines to indicate part placement, arrows and other custom visuals.
Another helpful tool that speeds up creation of production documents is the Explode button which auto-positions components in three possible variations for your BOM. There are also Selection Sets that can be customized to include various components for re-location as well as a Triad vector positioning tool.
Additionally, you can add different animations to help illustrate a procedure, eliminating extra 2D pictures and words. Things like part explodes, attachments and detachments can all be animated to lessen dependency on language or interpretation. A huge plus if you are putting together work instructions for a multilingual facitlity.
After creating the different views or animations you are ready to publish the content. There are a host of publishing options depending on your application source. SOLIDWORKS Composer Player (a free application) lets you pan, rotate and play animations. Other options are 3D PDF, AVI video and HTML that includes SVG images with parts list and BOMS. There’s also direct functionality with Microsoft Word. For example, you can create a high resolution front cover out of picture formats like JPG, PNG or TIFF and then add subsequent views to the instruction packet. All of the views can be inserted as pictures with links that update to reflect design changes later. These are features that can deliver returns with better product communication and help bridge the gap between a new consumer and a product expert.
All in all, SOLIDWORKS Composer is a great tool that more companies should be using. If you want to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Composer and other great add-ins available in SOLIDWORKS, make sure to or contact an Alignex representative today!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Written by The Alignex Team
The Alignex Team of application engineers combined their depth of experience and industry knowledge to bring you the contents of this article.