At our last Essentials training class, I stepped in to teach the lesson on Patterns, and I recalled something from that lesson that I thought would be worth sharing.
We all know that patterns are an easy way to re-use geometry and features without having to recreate features. The time savings in creating them alone often justifies their use, but they have added benefits in being quicker to regenerate and easier to digest on a feature tree. They’re so nice, that the 2014 release of SolidWorks is going to have a few new additions to the arsenal of patterns available for you to use (hint: if you wish there could be more component patterns for assemblies, you’re in luck).
But what I had forgotten about, and what you should know, is that all feature patterns have a secret setting that can make them even more beneficial to use in your part files: the Geometry Pattern setting.
It’s use is pretty straightforward. With the option checked, all of your patterned features will have their exact geometry copied (as opposed to, say, their end conditions). The primary benefit of doing this is that you can save on regeneration time when you utilize it. I wanted to demonstrate this with a simple example: the cribbage board that students build as an exercise later in the lesson.
I built the cribbage board using two methods:
- Using the exercise’s instructions (using one two-direction linear pattern with a lot of skipped instances and then a mirror)
- Using a slightly different method with an additional mirror, and an additional single-direction linear pattern where I avoid having to select any skipped instances.
With the Geometry Pattern option cleared for all of my linear patterns and mirror commands, the Feature Statistics tool said that it took 0.50 and 0.81 seconds to rebuild each method, respectively. When I turned on the Geometry Pattern option, those rebuild times plummeted to 0.23 and 0.26 seconds, respectively.
Certainly, this is a simple example, and the results are a bit skewed by the fact that I really only have two other features in the model. All the same, you can see how easy it is for this setting to give you back seconds of your life on every rebuild. This would be especially true for those of you who have to pattern features more complicated than a Hole Wizard hole, like some ribs or formed sheet metal feature.
And if you think that’s something, you should start thinking about using the Feature Freeze bar.
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Dave Mandl is an Applications Engineer at Graphics Systems