Developing CAD model for large and complex assemblies require a lot of planning and organization. It is most common for designers to deal with large assemblies in many industries, consuming large CPU power and making the modeling process time consuming. In order to simplify large assembly designing, designers utilize top down modeling approach, which involves creating the assembly design at the highest level possible and individual parts and subassemblies are defined with the context of the entire assembly. Despite this approach, dealing with large and complex geometries often slows down the design process. Thankfully, modern CAD tools such as Solidworks offers some of the useful features through which the assembly modeling process can be managed efficiently.
Simplification of Large Assemblies
The first and the most important feature the software offers is the simplified representation of large assemblies. When dealing with a small subset of components from the large assembly, the performance can be improved by loading components as full load or to load them as lightweight. The selective open feature allows users to load a set of components as full load to perform design operations, while other components can be loaded as lightweight. This feature improves performance and rebuilding time, speeds up the display during dynamic viewing such as zoom, pan and rotate and allows users to place their focus more efficiently on specific set of components, rather than the entire assembly. The selective open feature is found on the command manager when the assembly is opened in a large design review mode. After making the selection of the components from the dialog box, only the specified components are loaded and all other components remain invisible.
Utilizing Large Assembly Mode
The large assembly mode is a set of settings that is applied together to improve the performance of the design process of large assemblies. Switching on this mode will hide all the planes, axes, sketches, curves and annotations. Also, this option will disable all the edges display in shaded mode and will restrict the rebuild process when switching to assembly window. This mode can be implemented directly from the beginning of the modeling process or can be activated automatically when a specified number of components are built. This can be done by defining a threshold limit for the number of components; once the limit is reached, the large assembly mode is activated automatically. To enable this mode go to Tools > Large Assembly Mode
SpeedPak is a geometry simplification feature which simplifies assembly without losing references. Unlike regular simplification, where components are suppressed, SpeedPak simplifies the assembly without suppressing. The SpeedPak configuration thus allows working on higher level assemblies, without losing performance. This feature is essentially useful when dealing with the mating of a complex assembly to a higher level assembly; since only a subset of parts and faces is used for mating, the memory usage is reduced, while keeping the references intact. SpeedPack can be configured for individual assembly or can be configured from a parent assembly. To create a SpeedPack, right click on the existing configuration from the configuration manager and select Add SpeedPack.
Reducing Image Quality
With increasing image quality settings, the performance is likely to slow down. Using the Assembly Visualization feature, you can check the components whose image quality is affecting the performance. Under this feature, the number of Graphic-Triangles can be selected to see which component requires large number of tessellation triangles. Components with high number of graphic triangles can then be hidden, which will improve the speed and performance significantly. To use this feature, go to Tools > Assembly Visualization and click more for properties. Select Graphic-Triangles and click OK; a column will then appear listing the components with number of Graphic-Triangles.
AssemblyXpert is the most useful feature for large assemblies; it runs diagnostic tests and generates report on the rebuilds, amount of time required to rebuild and resolve components, features and mates. Based on the analysis, it suggests possible action that can be taken to improve the performance of the assembly process. This feature is available under Tools > AssemblyXpert.
Nikunj Patel is a design engineer working with Hi-Tech CADD Services - Engineering Company for the past 4 years. He loves designing specialized industrial equipments and can always be found in the lab discussing, brainstorming & tweaking designs.