I would like to talk about a much overlooked feature within SOLIDWORKS. The “Property Tab”. The property tab was introduced some time ago in SOLIDWORKS.
We all know how useful custom properties can be within parts, assembly and drawing files. Aiding us in populating bills of material, weldment cut lists, drawing borders or even properties within a PDM database. But keeping track of where these properties are controlled or changed can be frustrating at times. This is where the property tab comes into play.
The property tab lives over in the “Task Pane” down the right hand side of the SOLIDWORKS interface.
We have two methods of creating properties to populate the property tab.
- From the property tab we can simply click on the “Create now” button (if we have a file open).
- We can use the standalone tool found in the SOLIDWORKS tools from the “Start Menu”.
Both options will result in launching the Property Tab Builder. From here we can design the layout of our property tabs.
Property tabs can be created for:
- Part Files
- Assembly Files
- Drawing Files
- and Weldments
To start with we will create a tab for a part file.
You can see that we can add a “Groupbox”, these are used to group items together.
“Textbox”, a textbox will allow us to enter any text value linked to a custom property.
“Listbox”, these allow us to have dropdown lists of things
“Numberbox”, this will limit our inputs to a range of numerical values using an up and down counter.
“Checkbox”, a checkbox will allow us to have yes/no type of input.
“Radio”, this type of input will allow us to select from a maximum of 3 different selections.
There are other factors that can be brought together such as, “If I make this selection show me these choices” or “If I make another selection show me some other choices”.
OK, let’s get started.
I will start by renaming the Groupbox as “Part Details”. This can be done by double clicking on the word group box next to “Caption” on the right. I like to do this to make it easier to identify what properties I am working on.
Next we will add a “Textbox” by simply dragging it from the list on the left and dropping it into the renamed groupbox.
We will fill the “Caption” as Description.
Change “Name” to Description, this will set the name of the custom property to “Description”. The “Type” we will leave as Text, and the “Value” will be left blank. Lastly we will set the property to show on the custom property rather than it being a different property for each configuration.
Next we will add a “Listbox” and rename this as Designed By, setting the custom property to Drawn By. We will add a few names to the dropdown lit to represent our designers.
Lets now add a “Checkbox” to allow us to indicate if the part is purchased or manufactured. If it is purchased we can choose from a list of suppliers. These were entered using a listbox. If it is manufactured we can choose what manufacturing method is used, again by use of a listbox. For example, if it is cast or machined etc. By using the advanced options for the checkbox, we can have the property tab show only the relevant information. So if we tick the box for Manufactured it will show the dropdown list for Manufactured Method. If we leave the checkbox un-ticked it will show the dropdown list for Suppliers.
This is as far as we will take this property tab for now. Lastly we will save the tab in the default location.
To round things off we will create another tab for our Assembly custom properties. This one will be a little simpler and will only have the following:
“Groupbox” renamed as Assembly Details
“Textbox” for Description
“Listbox” for Designed By
“Textbox” for the date, we will set this to a date input.
Again save the tab in the default location.
Let us now look at an assembly within SOLIDWORKS.
As you can see the “Property Tab” will allow us to input custom properties for the assembly.
No more endlessly opening and closing parts simply to change a material or custom property value.