Speed up Large Assemblies with Display States

Working with large assemblies can be a challenge in SOLIDWORKS. Time consuming rebuild times, being patient while the assembly is opening/saving or delayed response during rotating/zooming the assembly. It are just a couple of symptoms which can occur during large assembly editing. One of the main reasons for the reduced usability is the consumed space of the computer’s memory (RAM). SOLIDWORKS offers different methods to load less data into memory, so the assembly performance is raised. The commonly known options are lightweight and large assembly mode, which help to load minimum data into memory. In this tech blog I want to explain another method to respect the computer’s memory and to increase the large assembly performance.

We are going to achieve this by defining display states with limited shown parts. Then, during opening the assembly, a display state can be selected in combination with an option to only load the visible components into memory.

Step 1: Defining Display States

I will use the following assembly for this example. It’s a part of the interior of a motorhome. It takes 50 seconds to open and contains 430 components.

To find the display states, just go to the ConfigurationManager and the lower half is reserved for the display states. A default display state is always available. In the following image I already renamed this display state to Show_all. Because this will be the display state where all components are visible.

Creating display states is a simple task. Right click somewhere in the Display State area and select Add Display State.

After you created a display state and made it active by double-clicking on it, you can hide components. Automatically the hide status of a component is saved in the active display state.

To make life easier, I have some extra tips:

1. Familiarize yourself with the selection tools in the Select flyout menu:

With these tools you can quickly select components, so you can hide them in a certain display state. To mention some options:

  • Select Identical Components:
    Great option to select identical components by selecting just one of these components.
  • Select Internal Components:
    Selects all internal components that are enclosed by other components. Performance gain after hiding them: What you cannot see, do not need to be loaded.
  • Select By Size:
    Displays the Select Components by Size dialog box, where you can specify a percentage of assembly size to select. Performance gain after hiding them: Most of the times small components are not necessary during engineering. So these do not need to be loaded.
  • Select Toolbox:
    Selects all Toolbox components in the assembly. Performance gain after hiding them: Most of the times toolbox components are not necessary during the engineering process.

2. Quickly create display states during the Isolate command:
When you make a selection of components, you can right click and select Isolate to make these components visible and hide the rest of the assembly. In the Isolate popup toolbar you can directly save this status to a new display state:

Step 2: Using Display States to improve performance

First of all, make sure your assembly with all the new display states is saved. The next time you are going to open the assembly, you can select the display state in the Open dialog box.

But that is not all! After choosing the display state you can select the following option: Do not load hidden components.

This option loads only those assembly components that are visible in the selected display state. This introduces a great performance gain, since less components need to be loaded in the computer’s memory.


In my example I created a Kitchen_only display state. By opening the assembly with this display state and in combination of the Do not load hidden components option, the open time is reduced to 10 seconds. That’s 5 times faster than opening the complete assembly. Also the performance of editing the assembly is significantly improved.


Written by Martijn Visser, Elite Application Engineer, CAD2M


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