MBD Implementation DOs and DON’Ts – Customize and Standardize Templates

We all know the benefits of templates: they provide the ability to reuse data to avoid duplicated effort, maintain consistency, and improve quality. Here in the context of Model-Based Definition (MBD), templates can help with many areas too, such as 3D annotations, notes, 3D PDF, properties, tables. Let’s look into several examples.

  1. 3D PMI Templates. Defining detailed 3D annotations can take lots of time. A car manufacturer deployed the MBD approach in their Body-In-White production using CATIA. A floor panel model was added with over 100 3D annotations and a powertrain cylinderhead with over 800 annotations, which took days or even weeks. Fortunately, they were able to save these 3D annotations into PMI scheme templates and apply them to similar models later. Yes, they still had to spend several hours to tweak the 3D detailing here and there in new models to define unique features, fix dangling annotations, and improve presentations, but templates saved the majority of the time and effort, while maintaining the consistent layout, tolerance styles, and associativity, where possible.
    SOLIDWORKS MBD provides similar capabilities, called Copy Scheme, to reuse 3D annotations across multiple configurations. The fully defined shaft in in the image above has two holes at two ends. The configuration in Figure 2 has no holes at all. To avoid redefining all the annotations from scratch, we can simply copy them over as shown in Figure 3. You may notice several annotations in yellow along with red warning signs on the left tree. This is because these annotations associated with holes are no longer applicable in this configuration with no holes. These errors are caught by SOLIDWORKS automatically thanks to its built-in intelligence. We can easily fix these by deleting the irrelevant PMI in this case or reapplying unique PMI in other cases. This Copy Scheme function is also shown in action with another model in a quick animation in one of the MBDinSeconds tweets.

    Copy tolerance scheme from a shaft configuration with holes
    Figure 2: Copy tolerance scheme from a shaft configuration with holes
    Figure 3: 3D PMI copied to a new configuration with minor tweaks needed


  2. Notes templates. From one design to another, we can often find many similar and standard notes such as “DEBURR AND REMOVE ALL SHARP EDGES,” or “DIMENSIONING AND TOLERANCING PER ASME Y14.41-2012.” Most of the time, we don’t want to and shouldn’t need to retype them. As one manufacturer pointed out: “We really don’t want ten engineers to come up with ten different surface finish notes or anodize notes.” This is where templates can help. As shown in Figure 4, SOLIDWORKS can save notes and annotations as templates in the Design Library. We can simply drag and drop selected notes into a model and make unique adjustments as needed. This can save lots of manual typing and human errors while ensuring consistency and quality.
    Figure 4: Drag and drop a notes template from the Design Library to a model
    Figure 4: Drag and drop a notes template from the Design Library to a model


  3.  3D PDF Templates. 3D PDF is well received because it’s viewable in the free and popular Adobe Reader to lower the 3D communication barriers, but one 3D viewport in a PDF isn’t enough because there are many types of communication documents, such as part specifications, assembly specifications, and Request for Quote (RFQ). Each of them has their own characteristics, and most of them are specific to a company, a department, or even a site. For example, part specifications may need part numbers and materials. Assembly specifications read better with Bills of Materials (BOMs) and exploded views. Some technical documents are under Export Administration Regulations (EAR), or International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), so must show these regulations or statements on the first page.

SOLIDWORKS MBD provides a 3D PDF template editor as shown in Figure 5 to customize templates for various kinds of documents. Document properties can be mapped from SOLIDWORKS to 3D PDF. BOM holders can be placed on templates to extract BOM table details from SOLIDWORKS. Multiple sheets, viewports, and tables can be inserted to present complicated technical information professionally. In the U.S., Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) defined 39 key requirements on 3D PDF for Department of Defense procurement activities. SOLIDWORKS MBD 3D PDF meets all these requirements.

Figure 5: SOLIDWORKS MBD 3D PDF template editor
Figure 5: SOLIDWORKS MBD 3D PDF template editor


Above are just three quick examples. There are many more areas where templates can help and we will share more in future blogs. Next let’s move onto a controversial topic: ”Don’t exclude paper printouts.” It will discuss long-term visions, short-term realities, and sensible strategies for today’s MBD implementations. To learn more about how SOLIDWORKS MBD can help you customize and standardize templates, please visit its product page. Also welcome to discuss this topic with me on Twitter (@OboeWu) or LinkedIn (OboeWu).


Oboe Wu

Product portfolio manager of SOLIDWORKS MBD, passionate about smart manufacturing opportunities, Keen listener to customer challenges, Sharp problem solver with 20 years of experiences in engineering, Sleepless father trying best to take care of a baby daughter.