Kevin Jogin

The term “large assembly” means different things to different people, so how do we define a large assembly? Large assemblies are not defined by the number of component or physical properties, rather they have two primary characteristics. An assembly is considered large if:
It uses all your system resources
It hurts productivity

These characteristics can be further divided and be caused by many of the following traits:

Physically large

  • Requires some sort of layout or other engineering input to properly position all the components.
  • Has so many components that their management, calculation, and memory requirements are large enough to be a detriment to productivity

Complex

  • Has many parametric relationships
  • Has a large number of mates.
  • Taxes your computer resources.
  • Contains a large number of different components that need to be managed and can slow down the processing speed of even large, fast computers.
  • Has imported data that has to be located and loaded.
  • Has geometric complexity that is difficult to rebuild– Requires best practices for large assembly design not only at the assembly level but also the part and drawing stage of work.

Uses multiple systems or disciplines. These could include:

  • Mechanical components • Custom components
  • Toolbox parts
  • Library parts
  • Weldments
  • Routed systems
  • Components from outside vendors and subcontractors
  • Customer files
    The truth is not bigger and better hardware can fasten assembly performance but the slow performance is a combination on many factors in design.

Slower performance can be seen in following areas:

  • Opening, Closing & Saving time
  • Rebuild time
  • Creating drawing
  • Rotating, paning & viewing
  • Inserting components
  • Switching between parts, assembly, drawings
  • Mating, etc…

Major performance issue arise from modeling practices than any software or hardware issues.

  • Things under solidworks control is 20%, they are bugs, algorithms, code efficiency.
  • Things under user control is 80% as,
  • Software and data management option and setup, fail to plan things in most efficient way affects performance.
  • It’s good to buy solidworks certified hardware or equivalent for maximize performance.
  • Best modeling practice needs to adapt to guide your work by avoiding lengthy modeling processes.

Slower performing assemblies are accumulation of many small fixes there is no easy fix for such assemblies. Fact is when solidworks models starts running slow user wants to jump to bigger and faster computer which is waste of money for keeping nonprofessional drivers on board. With proper strategy of design root cause can be controlled to low problematic end irrespective to how good your computer may be (I am not against powerful Pc’s but against wrong practices).

Best Design Practice
Its important to know how thing in Solidworks background is working.

Effective modeling parts

  • Proper origin
  • Easy build features
  • Removal of in-context relationships
  • Removal of circular references
  • Simplified versions

Effective modeling assemblies

  • Sub-assemblies orginazition
  • Proper level of detail
  • Proper mates

Reducing information loaded into memory

  • Quick open
  • Light weight
  • Large design review
  • Simplified configurations
  • SpeedPak
  • Draft quality drawings

Data sharing (Must for designers)

  • Access to all necessary files
  • Access to most current version
  • Make changes to files with responsibility
  • Protect from others to overwrite files.

Things to consider while creating large assemblies

File management

  • All design team members of project needs access to files as required
  • Protect files from accidental overwritten from non design team members
  • Ensure file properties/metadata are filled correctly

Don't allow to create situations where parts, assemblies, & drawings are stuck down by

  • Inability to locate files
  • Working on the wrong version file
  • Modeling problems
  • Hardware problems
  • Network problems

Produce parts, assemblies, & drawings efficiently

  • By using in-context features at design as appropriate
  • Breaking in-context relationships & the problems of part origins
  • Sharing data between engineering, manufacturing, & design team without any problem
  • Its ideal to limit configurations to two to three at component level
  • Design simplified parts
  • Ideal to use parasolid bodies or simplified parts for library or purchased parts and assemblies

There is no quick fix method for slower large assemblies therefore significant methods and steps need to follow while designing to improve large assemblies.