Hi, I’m Mike Dady, Application Engineer for Alignex. As many of you probably know, the Toolbox Add-In is a database that allows for the quick addition of fasteners and other hardware to a SOLIDWORKS Assembly. However, many don’t realize that the Toolbox can be customized. Making it possible to create new sizes not included in the database, specifying different materials for items, or even adding the same Custom Properties used in most SOLIDWORKS Models. Let’s take a look at this process.
We get started in the same location mentioned in a previous Alignex Blog on Hole Wizard Customization, the Customization Tool. It can be accessed from multiple locations; Inside the SOLIDWORKS System Options, the Windows Start Menu under the SOLIDWORKS Tools, or for quick access, pin it to Start Menu.
The first is to copy any existing Standards that will be available for customization. For this example, the ANSI Inch Standard will be copied and renamed. This will make sure there is always a backup database in case anything happens to the custom database. If the Toolbox is stored on a Network drive, it is also good practice to backup that location.
Once the Standards are copied, deactivate any hardware categories that are not needed. This will help with load time for the add-in, and prevent the use of any hardware that is not setup to company standards.
Individual types of Hardware can be removed as well. As we can see, there are 5 different types of Hex Bolts. Not all companies will want all of the hardware included in the standards and clearing a simple checkbox will remove them from the Standard.
Next, Alignex recommends changing the User settings for the Toolbox. Especially if this is a shared toolbox for the company. The ‘Files’ should be changed to Create Parts.
This will create a Unique SOLIDWORKS Model for any sizes added to Assemblies and is easier to use than Models with Multiple Configurations. It is also possible to customize how Toolbox Items are displayed in the Feature Manager and in Bills of Material.
Now that we have our standards and settings changed as needed, it is time to start creating our custom hardware.
Let’s start with creating some new Bolts. Looking at the Hex Bolt section, there are a few different categories for the Standard Properties. The steps needed to create the custom Bolt will depend on the Properties of the new Bolt and what is already included in the Database. For this example, we will go through the steps needed to add a few #10-24 UNC Bolts to the Database.
The first step in the process is to add the Size Data for the new bolt. This will include information for the Bolt and Hole Sizes for the Counterbores. This information can be found on the internet, or if you like books, The Machinery’s Handbook. Notice how there is a warning after adding the new size. Letting us know that other information may be needed.
Now that our new Size is created, the different lengths can now be added. Today only a few size will be added for expediency. Looking at the Thread Data section, #10-24 is already included, so no new information is needed there.
The thread display might be something easy to overlook, but it does contain a potential problem for Assemblies. The ‘Schematic’ Thread Display will actually show the thread geometry in the Model. According to the Alignex 10 Best Practices for Large Assembly Design, modeling the threads is a performance no-no. This option should be disabled for all threaded hardware. The best choice for display is the Simplified option.
Once everything is added to each of the Properties section, the database needs to be updated by saving the changes. Now the two different Bolt Sizes have been added to the list.
Now you know just how easy it is to add Custom Hardware to your SOLIDWORKS Toolbox. To find out more ways in which you can save time with your SOLIDWORKS workflows, make sure to check out the Alignex Blog.
Written by Mike Dady
Mike Dady is an Application Engineer at Alignex, Inc. Mike spends his days working with customers to resolve their manufacturing issues and helps them to improve on existing product designs. If he’s not solving customer challenges, he’s probably at home customizing his snowmobile or working on a home improvement project.