SolidWorks “Freeze” Saves You Time

SolidWorks 2012New in Solidworks 2012 is a tool that allows you to take charge of your models and give you time back in your busy schedule. How many of us work with import bodies, large data sets, or complex models? We find ourselves waiting for the model to rebuild multiple times for features or parts we’re simply working around for our design. SolidWorks has come up with a solution. "Freeze" is a new SolidWorks Feature Manager tool for SolidWorks 2012. It allows you to lock down items in the feature manager that are no longer changing and therefore don’t need to be rebuild on every model change.

How to turn on Freeze in SolidWorks 2012:

  1. Click Options Options (Standard toolbar) or Tools > Options.
  2. On the System Options tab, click General and select Enable Freeze bar.
  3. Click OK.

The yellow freeze bar appears near the top of the Feature Manager design tree, under the part name.

Freeze Bar

The freeze bar controls the point at which a part’s Feature Manager design tree rebuilds. Features above the freeze bar are frozen – you cannot edit them, and they are excluded from rebuilds of the model. Freezing a portion of a model can be useful if you work with complex models with many features. Freezing the features helps to:

  • Reduce rebuild time
  • Prevent unintentional changes to the model

Feature Freeze prevents the geometry of frozen features from being rebuilt. However, you might still experience long rebuild times due to other processes that are not addressed by Feature Freeze. Examples of potentially time-consuming processes not addressed by Feature Freeze:

  • Updating display appearances, especially on very large patterns
  • Updating complex DimXpert dimension and tolerance schemes
  • Updating the graphics (tessellation data) of very large, complex parts

To freeze features:

  1. Move the pointer over the freeze bar. The pointer changes to Hand icon.
    Freeze bar change
  2. Drag the freeze bar down below the last feature you want to freeze. When the freeze bar is at the top of the tree, you can also right-click a feature and click Freeze to freeze that feature and all features above it in the Feature Manager design tree.
    Feature Manager design tree

    Features above the freeze bar are frozen – you cannot edit them, and they are excluded from rebuilds of the model. Frozen features are indicated by a lock icon Lock and gray text.

The freeze bar shortcut menu provides commands for moving the freeze bar, controlling rebuilds, and controlling part rebuild indicators. Right-click the freeze bar to access these commands:

Roll to End (Freeze All) (Available when the freeze bar is at the top of the tree.) Moves the freeze bar to the bottom of the tree, freezing all features.
Roll to Top (Unfreeze All) (Available when some or all features are frozen.) Moves the freeze bar to the top of the tree, unfreezing all features.
Update Frozen Features (Available if one or more frozen features are out of date.) Rebuilds out-of-date frozen features and their dependent features and returns them to the frozen state. Also rebuilds active features if deemed necessary by the SolidWorks application.
Update All Configurations Rebuilds all configurations regardless of any other settings.
Always Update All Configurations (Available in parts with multiple configurations.) When selected, rebuilds all configurations when you click Update Frozen Features. When cleared, rebuilds only the active configuration when you click Update Frozen Features.
Hide Part Rebuild Indicators Stops the rebuild indicator Indicator lights for out-of-date frozen features from propagating up the Feature Manager design tree when the part is a component of an assembly. In the assembly tree, the indicator appears on the out-of-date frozen feature, but not on the part level or assembly level.

The example used for this test was an injection mold. As you can see the rebuilt time saved was ~1 minute and 20 seconds. Multiply that by the number of changes and/or features added per day needed to complete this project. The settings for the Freeze bar are recognized by the Statistics option to give you a good indication of where you stand.

Feature Statistics Feature Statistics example

There are times when certain changes might cause frozen features to become out of date. There are safe guards against this causing problems with your design. Examples:

  • Changes to external geometry that is referenced by the frozen feature, such as features in another part in an assembly.
  • Changes to equations that subsequently affect a frozen feature.
  • Changes to a design table that affect a frozen feature.
  • Changes to an assembly feature that drives a frozen feature in the part, such as a hole created in the assembly that is propagated to the parts in the assembly.
  • Changes to an external base part that is used to create geometry in the part containing the frozen features.

Rebuild Indicator
Out-of-date frozen features are flagged with a rebuild indicator Indicator lights. When the part is a component of an assembly, you can control whether thebrebuild indicator propagates up the FeatureManager design tree. In the part containing the frozen features, right-click the freeze bar and click:

Hide Part Rebuild Indicators Stops the rebuild indicator Indicator lights for out-of-date frozen features from propagating up the FeatureManager design tree when the part is a component of an assembly. In the assembly tree, the indicator appears on the out-of-date frozen feature, but not on the part level or assembly level.


Update Frozen Features
To update out-of-date frozen features, right-click the freeze bar and click:

Update Frozen Features Rebuilds out-of-date frozen features and their dependent features and returns them to the frozen state. Also rebuilds active features if deemed necessary by the SolidWorks application.

If the part containing the frozen features has multiple configurations, you can control whether all configurations or only the active configuration are updated. Right-click the freeze bar and click:

Always Update All Configurations When selected, rebuilds all configurations when you click Update Frozen Features. When cleared, rebuilds only the active configuration when you click Update Frozen Features.
Update All Configurations Rebuilds all configurations regardless of any other settings.

So don’t waste your time waiting for rebuilds on items you’re not working with. Let SolidWorks “Freeze” them.

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This post is courtesy of Jerald Staley. Jerald is an Elite Application Engineer and a Certified SolidWorks Expert at DASI Solutions, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations throughout Michigan and Indiana. He is a regular contributor to the DASI Solutions Blog.

Matthew West

Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.