Alignex Blog

How to Create a Custom Toolbox Component - Part 2

Mike Dady on April 2, 2020 at 11:30 AM


In a previous blog we showed how quickly we can customize the Toolbox to add new fasteners. Today we are going to show how to add other types of hardware to the Toolbox and specify custom properties, like Material. Let’s dive in and see how it works.

Custom Washer

As mentioned in the previous blog, everything begins in the Toolbox Settings. Remember that we are working in our custom standard for the company's hardware. This time we will add a new ¼"  Washer. This piece of hardware is going to be a slightly thicker version of the standard ¼” Washer.

When adding certain types of custom hardware to the Toolbox, we have to pay attention to the Size and Nominal Size properties to successfully add the hardware.

The Size property has to be unique for the type of component. The default washer is listed as “¼” for the size specification. For the new washer we’ll add “THK” to identify the thicker washer type. This is also the name displayed in the Property Manager when adding the component to an Assembly.

The Nominal Size property needs to be unique for the hardware as well. The existing Washer lists “0.25” for this property, and the value is reflected in the Configuration Name. In this case, we’ll add an extra zero on the end. Once the changes are saved, the new washer is added to the list.

Custom Properties 

Out of the box, Toolbox Components have very few Custom Properties, listing only a Part Number and Description. However, other properties can be added to the Components for use downstream. Let’s take a look at the details of this process.

Custom Properties can be added at any level of the Toolbox Standard. For this example, we’ll only add properties to the Flat Washers. The settings used in the definition dialog depend largely on the User Settings for the Toolbox. Our previous blog suggested using "Make Parts". This creates a new Part Model for each unique component.

We’ll start by specifying “Finish” as our Custom Property Name. Since we’re creating a new model for each component, a Configuration Specific property is not needed. Clearing this setting means a regular Custom Property is added to the Model.

The "Unique Configuration Name" setting should be checked. This ensures that a unique model is created each time a new Finish is specified. The "Show in Property Manager" option will determine if the Custom Property can be set when adding a Washer to an Assembly. We’ll turn this on to allow for customization at that time.

A Textbox will be used for this property instead of a list. This means the user will type in the Finish as needed for the Component. The "Overall Default Value" is used to specify the starting value for the Custom Property, if needed. Otherwise, it can just be left blank.

Once the Property is created, it needs to be activated for the Hardware and lastly, our changes need to be saved. With our new additions, we can specify the Finish on the fly as the Washer is added to an Assembly. If a different property is entered, a new Model is created.

Material Property

Custom Properties can also be added using a List of values. Today we’ll use this type to add a Property that is linked to the SOLIDWORKS Materials Database.

The Values for a list can be set in two different ways. We can set them manually, or, as mentioned, the property can be linked to a SOLIDWORKS Material. Today, only two materials will be added. Plain Carbon Steel and Brass. The "Suffix" Values are used for creating a unique Model Name.

Again, once the property is added, we need to Activate it for the hardware and save our changes. Once back in the Assembly, the washer can now be added with the Finish and Material customized. Notice that unique model names are created based on the properties used.

The whole purpose of this exercise? Now our Toolbox Models will have the correct Custom Properties for use in Drawings, Bills of Material, or any of the places a Custom Property is useful.

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