Better Large Assembly Design Tools for Industrial Equipment Manufacturers

Industrial equipment manufacturers face distinctive design and development challenges when building conveyer systems, industrial robots, construction equipment, and other large-assembly projects. Electromechanical systems are becoming increasingly complex. Assemblies, often large and multifaceted, can slow CAD development and increase the likelihood of problems with interference and collisions, among other potential difficulties And, because engineered-to-order systems are common, every project requires a brand-new design from scratch.

With SOLIDWORKS® integrated product development solutions, industrial equipment manufacturers have the tools to produce high-quality products faster and more efficiently. Let’s look at one of the most obvious design challenges in more detail: large, and often complex, assemblies and drawings.

Drawing Performance

SOLIDWORKS 2021 is loaded with improvements in large-assembly performance.

Detailing mode was first introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2020 as a way to dramatically speed large drawing detailing. Basically, Detailing mode is a superfast lightweight drawing mode in which the drawing opens in seconds and allows the user to immediately begin detailing. Detailing mode is improved in SOLIDWORKS 2021 to allow the creation of Detail, Break, and Crop views as well as add hole callouts, just as if the drawing were fully resolved.

The Enhanced Graphics Performance option, which was first implemented in SOLIDWORKS 2020 to take advantage of high-end graphics cards by moving the graphics burden to the card, has been extended to the drawing environment in SOLIDWORKS 2021.

Check out this side-by-side comparison between the drawing performances of SOLIDWORKS 2020 and 2021.

Drawing performance has also been improved in several other areas, including zoom and pan, selecting and moving annotations, and dynamic highlighting. Performance has also been improved when opening a drawing, saving a drawing as a .dwg file, creating and updating large-section views, Auto Insert of a center mark when creating section views, creating a detail view in a section view, importing cosmetic threads into a view, and sorting a BOM.


“A lot of our customers use SOLIDWORKS, and we believed that it would provide us with the speed and flexibility that we needed to capitalize on the large- and extra-large-format opportunity that we saw in the 3D printing market.”

–President Jonathan Schroeder, 3D Platform.


Automatically Resolve Lightweight Components

In addition to enhanced drawing performance, SOLIDWORKS 2021 improves on assembly performance. This is evident when opening resolved and lightweight assemblies, opening assemblies with parts that have many configurations, updating assemblies that have many mates, and closing assemblies without saving.

For assemblies opened in lightweight mode, top-level components and subassemblies resolve automatically when you click to expand an item in the FeatureManager® design tree. Components in subassemblies remain in lightweight mode until you expand them. This prevents unnecessary loading of large assemblies and allows you to quickly access and resolve the components you’re working on as needed.

Mind Your Mates

It can be confusing to choose from so many types of mates so SOLIDWORKS provides different types of assembly mates to speed assembly time and ensure that you create the proper assembly relationship between components.

In SOLIDWORKS 2021 a new streamlined Property Manager in Mates offers Standard, Advanced, Analysis, Mechanical tabs for each group, which makes it easier to find the correct mate.

In addition, when creating mates to Slots, SOLIDWORKS 2021 lets you choose the default type of position. This saves time by eliminating the need to regularly change the location type when adding new slot mates to your designs, which also saves you from accidentally choosing the wrong constraint.

“Our assessment, that only SOLIDWORKS had the intelligent mating technology, open Application Programming Interface (API), and user community necessary to achieve our goals, has proven accurate.”
President Kevin Mauger, Glide-Line.

Synchronize Components

SOLIDWORKS has always offered the flexibility to change the configuration of each component instance within a pattern. Sometimes, however, you may want all the components to reference the original instance, and configuring and double checking each component can be time-consuming.

In SOLIDWORKS 2021 you have the option to synchronize the configurations of all component instances created by a pattern. This new option also helps you avoid inadvertently changing the configuration of any components from the quick menu drop-down and enables locking this option within the Component Properties dialog.

This enhancement ensures that any configuration changes you make to a pattern’s seed components will be propagated appropriately.

Tracking Interference Issues

 Interference Detection is a powerful tool to help you quickly find issues within your design. With SOLIDWORKS 2021 assembly interferences can be tracked in a spreadsheet.

You can even capture a thumbnail image of each interference that can be shared and reviewed by others on your team. This new collaborative way to review interferences in a design offers a way to determine if they are intentional (due to fit conditions), or if you need to collaborate with others to solve the interferences.

Save Defeatured Model as a Configuration

A great way to speed up large-assembly design is to defeature the model to remove unnecessary detail. When you use the SOLIDWORKS 2021 Silhouette method for defeaturing, you can create a configuration from a defeatured assembly. In the assembly you can quickly switch between the defeatured configuration and the full model, saving time and simplifying the process of substituting the defeatured model.

Get There Faster

With an integrated 3D product development system like SOLIDWORKS, industrial equipment manufacturers can collaborate and more efficiently develop innovative equipment and processes. And because SOLIDWORKS can manage large assemblies efficiently, less time is wasted, so products can be delivered to market sooner and for less expense.

If you have more questions or would like to see a live demonstration, please contact your local reseller for more information or click below to learn more about what’s new in SOLIDWORKS 2021. Also, you can learn more about how other Industrial Equipment manufacturers are finding success with SOLIDWORKS Simulation solutions by downloading this eBook, “Simulating Better Industrial Equipment.”

Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien is a 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS Senior Portfolio Manager with over 30 years of CAD and industry experience - engineer, consultant, CAD product manager, CAD company co-founder. Currently, serving as Senior Product Manager for SOLIDWORKS and 3D Mold Creator. Craig has a B.S.M.E. from WPI and is a Graduate of General Electric's Manufacturing Development Program.