Hi, I’m Mike Dady, Application Engineer for Alignex. One frequently asked question we get at Alignex is how to customize SOLIDWORKS Drawing Templates and Sheet Formats. Customers want to be able to convey the needed information for manufacturing, yet not spend a tedious amount of time creating Drawings. Let’s take a closer look at that customization process and see how it can save you time and money.
The first step in the process is understanding how Drawing Templates and Sheet Formats work together in SOLIDWORKS. I say work together because Drawing Templates and Sheet Formats are two separate file types. The Drawing Template is used to create a new Drawing, but the Template references a Sheet Format.
Before making any changes to the Templates or Formats, some housekeeping is required. SOLIDWORKS installs with the Default Document Templates stored in a System Directory. It is highly recommended to change that location to a non-system directory. The reason for the change? If SOLIDWORKS is removed from the computer, that system directory can be removed and all files lost. The whole point of this process is to save time. Losing our custom files is the exact opposite of that goal. The file locations are found in the System Options. As you can see, the location is updated on my computer for both Drawing Templates and Sheet Formats. If there are multiple users at the company, a network location can be specified so all users are working with the same file set.
With the housekeeping done, let's get started on a custom Template. The quickest way to begin is creating a new Drawing from the Default Template. Once started, we can then save it to a new name, or replace the existing Template if desired. It is also possible to open the Default Template directly for modification.
The Drawing Template can be customized in multiple ways. Document Properties can be updated for Drawing Standard, Annotations, Dimensions, Detailing, Document Units, and a variety of other changes for each Template. The Sheet Properties can be modified for the Scale and Projection Type, along with the previously mentioned specification for the Sheet Format. Display of the Format can also be turned off if needed. Other customizations can be adding Notes, Tables, and a variety of other unique Drawing items. Like any file, make sure to save early and save often to prevent any loss of changes. Finally, Custom Properties can be added to the Drawing Template for use downstream, or, as we’ll discuss later, to populate the Drawing Title Block.
The Sheet Format is where the streamlining happens. A properly set up Sheet Format will auto-populate when creating a new Drawing. Minimizing the time needed for a user to finalize the Document.
No conversation about Sheet Formats can be discussed without including the Drawing Border. The fastest method to setup the Border is using the “Automatic Border Tool.” It allows us to quickly remove existing items to start with a clean slate. Once the rubble is cleared it only takes a few mouse clicks to get the Border Zones, Lines, and other properties setup.
With the Border complete, the Title Block is next up. The lines for the Title Block are sketched, and like all Sketches, Dimensions and Relations are used to determine the Design Intent. Proper use of Relations can make it easy to resize the Title Block for larger Sheet Sizes. To auto-populate the Title Block, we create Notes that are linked to Properties. The Notes can link to Properties of the Model used in the Drawing, the Drawing itself, or System Properties. If Model properties are used, it is necessary to create Drawing Views of a Model with the needed Properties and then create the Notes. Once the linked Notes are complete, the Drawing Views can then be deleted. Another great time saving technique is using Title Block Fields. This tool allows for Notes in the Sheet Format to be modified while editing Drawing Sheets. If the Notes are linked to Custom Properties, including Model Custom Properties, the Properties are automatically updated with the changes. Eliminating the need to open any Model or Property windows.
Other Annotations can also be added to the Sheet Format as needed. Anchor locations are included here as well for automatic placement of Tables when added to a Drawing.
Once all the modifications are complete, it is essential to Save the Sheet Format. It can be saved to the existing file, or a new name if desired. Once that is complete, verify the Drawing Template is referencing the correct Sheet Format in the Sheet Properties. One or the other of these two steps are typically missed, and have caused tons of frustration to SOLIDWORKS users over the years.
Many companies like to have a different Sheet Format for multi-sheet Drawings, saving space on subsequent Sheets. This can be setup in the Drawing Template Document Properties. Removing the need to constantly change the Sheet Format when creating a new Sheet.
Now you know what it takes to customize your SOLIDWORKS Drawing Templates and Sheet Formats. By streamlining the Drawing creation process, you’ll be able to move onto bigger and better projects much faster. For more information on this and other SOLIDWORKS customization, please subscribe to 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.