Machine Design Tools Overview

This overview lists typical machine design tasks and the SOLIDWORKS solutions that help you complete them.

Working with Sketches and Parts

Tasks Solutions
Start with a bottom-up or top-down design method.

Bottom-up Design

In bottom-up design, you design individual parts that you add to assemblies.

To create parts, start by creating a sketch with sketch tools, or by importing an existing sketch (for example, from an IGES or DXF/DWG file).

You can also convert a 2D sketch into a 3D model. The 2D sketch can be an imported drawing, or it can be a sketch constructed in SOLIDWORKS.

Top-down Design

In top-down design, you use a layout inside an assembly to drive part and assembly design.

Related Topics
Create parts. Add shapes called features to create parts.
Create weldments.

Use Weldments tools to create weldments.

To learn more about weldments, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Weldments tutorial.

Create sheet metal parts.

Use Sheet Metal tools to create sheet metal parts. You can also use the Convert to Sheet Metal command.

To learn more about sheet metal, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Sheet Metal tutorial.

Add parts into a part document. Use Insert Part to add parts into a multibody part document. You can add parts multiple times into the same document.
Create multiple versions of parts within a single document. Create different configurations of a part in a single document. You can create configurations using any of the following methods:

To learn more about creating configurations using design tables, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Design Tables tutorial.

Determine the volume and weight of parts. Use Mass Properties to calculate a part's properties such as density, mass, and volume.
Determine the factor of safety to see how parts perform when you apply forces to them. Use the SOLIDWORKS SimulationXpress analysis wizard to determine the factor of safety of parts. Click Tools > SimulationXpress to start the wizard.

To learn more about SOLIDWORKS SimulationXpress, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the SOLIDWORKS SimulationXpress tutorial.

Working with Assemblies

Tasks Solutions
Drive a part or assembly design using a layout. In an assembly, create an assembly layout sketch to verify that your components are positioned properly.
Add parts to an assembly. Create a new assembly from an existing part or assembly, then add components to the assembly.

You can also create a part in the context of an assembly so you can use the geometry of other assembly components while designing the part. The new part is saved within the assembly file as a virtual component. You can save the new part in a separate part file so you can modify it independently from the assembly.

To learn more about assemblies, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Lesson 2: - Assemblies tutorial.

Manipulate component location, orientation, and display states. Use Move Component and Rotate Component to move assembly components. See Moving and Rotating Components.

Use Display States to specify a separate display mode (Wireframe, Hidden Lines Removed, etc.) for each component in an assembly.

Control assembly movement and define the design intent.

For example, you can constrain a shaft to remain concentric to the cylinder in which it moves.

Use mate tools to add mate relations that control the movement of parts:

Standard mates specify standard mate relations between components, such as concentric, parallel, perpendicular, and so on.

Gear mates control the rotation of one component with respect to another component.

Lock mates maintain the position and orientation between two components.

Rack and pinion mates allow linear translation of one component (the rack) to cause circular rotation in another component (the pinion), and vice versa.

Limit mates limit component movement to a specified range.

Width mates center a tab within the width of a groove.

SmartMates automatically add mates when you drag components into place.

Path mates constrain a selected point on a component to a path.

Universal joint mates drive the rotation of the output shaft of a universal joint by the rotation of the input shaft about its axis.

Hinge mates limit the movement between components to one rotational degree of freedom.

To learn more about mates, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Assembly Mates tutorial.

Create holes and add fasteners or components that require other components and features. Create holes for fasteners with Hole Wizard , then use Smart Fasteners to automatically add standard fasteners into the holes.

You can access a customizable library of standard parts using the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox Library add-in. Select a standard and the type of part you want to insert, then drag the component into the assembly. For details, see Toolbox Help.

Click Tools > Add-Ins, and select SOLIDWORKS Toolbox Library to activate this add-in.

To learn more about SOLIDWORKS Toolbox, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Toolbox tutorial.

Create Smart Components that require the addition of associated components and features such as bolts and mounting holes. When you insert the Smart Component into an assembly, you can choose whether or not to insert the associated components and features.

To learn more about Smart Components, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Smart Components tutorial.

Build efficient, modular assemblies using subassemblies. See Working with Subassemblies for tips and links to related topics.
Create simulations of machine movement. To display machine movement:
  • To verify how components interact while you create an assembly, use the Physical Dynamics option in Collision Detection. When you drag or rotate a component, it applies a force to any components it touches, and you view the motion of assembly components.
  • To record and play back a simulation of movement, use SOLIDWORKS Motion. For details, see Motion Studies Help.

You can

  • Create animations of models, such as a rotating or exploding model with the Assembly Motion level of Motion Studies.
  • Add more physics and realism to your animation with SOLIDWORKS Motion (available in SOLIDWORKS premium). You can add Simulation Elements that move components, such as springs, motors, and gravity, to control and automate motion. For details, see Motion Studies Help

To learn more about motion studies, click > Tutorial > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Assembly Motion tutorial.

Troubleshoot problems you have when moving assembly components, such as components that collide. Use Interference detection to check a file for components that interfere with each other. A list gives you the names of the components that interfere and the interference volume. The area of interference highlights in the graphics area.

Use the Collision Detection option when you move or rotate components to detect if multiple components collide.

Use Clearance Verification to verify the minimum distance between selected components.

If a problem with mates is causing problems with the assembly motion, use MateXpert to identify mate problems.

Maximize performance of large assemblies. Use lightweight components, which loads only a subset of a model's data in memory. The remaining model data loads on an as-needed basis. You can also open subassemblies as lightweight components.

Enable Large Assembly Settings to maximize system option settings for large assemblies.

Use SpeedPak to create a simplified representation of an assembly without losing references. SpeedPak can significantly improve performance when you work in large and complex assemblies and related drawings.

Simplify assemblies and vary the assembly design with component configurations.

Working with Drawings

Tasks Solutions
Make drawings from a part or assembly. Use Make Drawing from Part/Assembly (Standard toolbar) to create a drawing.

To learn more about drawings, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the Lesson 3 - Drawings and Advanced Drawings tutorials.

Add views. The SOLIDWORKS software offers tools to create various drawing views:

Add detail views, section views, break views, and broken out sections to a drawing.

Use Alternate Position Views to superimpose one drawing view precisely on another. Use alternate position views to show the range of motion of an assembly.

Add dimensions and annotations from part and assembly documents. Use Insert Model Items to insert dimensions marked for drawings and annotations already in model documents.

Use 3D annotations to create annotation views in the model. You can use these views in a drawing. The annotation views are converted into 2D drawing views; the annotations that you inserted in the model appear in the drawing.

Use DimXpert to apply dimensions in drawings so that manufacturing features (patterns, slots, pockets, etc.) are fully-defined.

Add annotations and balloons to views. Add Center Marks , Centerlines , Geometric Tolerance Symbols , Notes , Surface Finish Symbols , and other annotations.

In Options > Document Properties > Drafting Standard, specify defaults for center marks, centerlines, balloons, and dimensions to be inserted automatically on view creation.

Use Auto Balloon to automatically insert balloons in a drawing.

Add a bill of materials and other tables. Use Bill of Materials to add a bill of materials to a drawing.

You can create bills of materials in assembly files. After you save the assembly, you can insert the BOM into a referenced drawing.

You can also add hole tables, revision tables, and weldment cut lists.

File Management and Design Collaboration

Tasks Solutions
Manage product data and control revisions. Use one of the following product data management (PDM) add-ins:
  • SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard (installed with SOLIDWORKS Premium and SOLIDWORKS Professional)

    Click Tools > Add-Ins, and select SOLIDWORKS PDM to activate this add-in.

  • SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM (separate installation and licensing)

    Click Tools > Add-Ins and select SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM to activate this add-in.

    To learn more about SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM, when you are logged in to a local file vault, click Help > SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM Help.

Get the newest version of a document. Reload the document to get the latest version.
Replace a component in an assembly document. Use Replace Components to replace components and update the assembly. See Replace Components PropertyManager.
Store documents in a common place. Use Save to save the assembly document and all referenced component documents.
Copy a document to use it in a new design. Use Save As to create a copy of a document with a different name that you can use in other designs.
Change the location where you store parts and subassemblies of an assembly. Edit part location to save parts or subassemblies of an assembly to a new location or file name.
Send part, assembly, and drawing documents to others for review. Publish an eDrawings file from SOLIDWORKS, then send it to others who can use the free eDrawings Viewer to view the file.

To learn more about eDrawings, click > Tutorials > All SOLIDWORKS Tutorials and complete the eDrawings tutorial.