Easy Animating for a Complex Assembly

Easy Animating for a Complex Assembly I created the following animation in SOLIDWORKS by using the Mate Controller to simulate a flying cut off saw. I created this for a final project for one of my courses at Boston University.

Project Requirements:

  •          Cuts aluminum pipe continuously extruded at 0.70 ft/s
  •          Must cut pipes of any length between 3 ft and 5 ft
  •          Saw must function with pipes between 1 inch and 3 inches in diameter.
  •          Must automatically stack pipes into 24” wide x 24” tall boxes
  •          Completely automated

This assembly requires precise machine timing to ensure that the saw keeps up with the rate of extrusion and cuts the pipes to the correct lengths. The pipes must also be collected and stacked into boxes by an automated system.

Creating the Assembly

Once all of the parts were selected and specked for the required torque,force, or acceleration needed my team and I imported or created the CAD necessary. Many of these components were STEP files downloaded from the part manufacturer’s website. These STEP files often had dozens of small bodies that did not move in relation to each other. I found it very helpful to use the standard lock mate to keep all of the components “locked” together without having to define every relationship.

Which Mate to use?
Some of the components in the assembly will move during the machine’s operation. I used the following types of mates: Standard Distance/Angle mate or an Advanced Limit Distance/Angle mate. There are better suited situations for both mate types.

Standard Distance/Angle Mate: This mate is perfect if you would like the freedom to allow your part to move any distance or angle. This mate requires that you only move your part in one direction from zero. You can not input a negative value into the mate controller for this type of mate.

Advanced Limit Distance/Angle Mate: This mate is ideal for movement that has a predetermined range of motion. This mate also allows you to move components in the negative direction. This is perfect for operations that have a zero position in the middle of their travel.

The SOLIDWORKS Mate Controller is the perfect tool for a beginner at animation. Once you have selected your mate type you simply define “positions” for each mate type and determine how long each position will last for. SOLIDWORKS will calculate the path your parts will take from one position to the next.



Alexandra Miller

I am an engineering intern at the Dassault Systèmes Fab Lab in Boston and a Mechanical Engineering Masters student at Boston University. I am most interested in the intersection of Art and Engineering and am passionate about STEAM education. I am an avid maker and am always looking for the next craft to dive into!

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