In many examples, the Magnetic Mates functionality in SOLIDWORKS is used for conveyor assemblies. But in this tech blog I want to show you more capabilities of this great feature, together with a new SOLIDWORKS 2018 functionality.
Let’s take a look at the following assembly:
It is a model of a milling machining table with vise clamps. This is an example of an assembly which can be built in many different configurations. We could do this with SOLIDWORKS configurations, but this would produce 126 configurations for all the different positions of the vise clamps. Also, for the assembly of the eight components we need to manually create 24 mates. So, instead, we can use a library with the clamp components containing Magnetic Mates. From this library we can simply drag and drop all the components into the assembly. This will make it really easy to put the different components together in a short amount of time.
The practical approach
First of all, let’s take a look at the table component:
As you can see, twelve connection points (pink dots) were added on top of the table. These points behave as snapping points for the components which will be added later. The twelve points ensure that the different possible positions can be selected.
To get the different connection points, we started with a sketch with twelve sketch points. Then, we created the connection points on each sketch point. To do this, go to Tools – Asset Publisher.
In the PropertyManager, select a face as Ground Plane (blue face in the image). Then select one of the sketch points. Also, select a face for the direction (purple face in the image). After that, select Update Connector, to create the connection point. An orange arrow shows the positioning direction. The orange arrow of the connection point on the other part should point towards the arrow on this part. This will ensure correct positioning.
The above process should be repeated for all connection points on the component. This can be done inside the same Asset Publisher PropertyManager. After defining each connection point, simply press Add Connector. When finished, press OK.
The definition of the connection points should be completed for all the components in the library, so we can easily put them together.
The assembly process
When all the components are added to the Design Library, we can start the assembly process. In this case we start by dragging the table component into the assembly. After that we can take a clamp component and drag it to a connection point on the table.
The pink line in the above image indicates the snapping between two connection points.
To make this drag-and-drop process even better, I have some great tips:
- Adjust the Magnetic mate proximity in Tools – Options -System Options – Performance:
When setting this to Less, you can save yourself unexpected snapping behaviour.
- In SOLIDWORKS 2018 a new option is added for Magnetic Mates. When inserting a component with a magnetic mate, you can cycle through the connection points by using keyboard shortcuts. Use the left bracket [ to cycle through connection points on the moving component. Use the right bracket ] to cycle through connection points on the static component. This makes it really easy to get the correct connection point. Particular in this case, because we have quite some connection points on each component.
- Another enhancement in SOLIDWORKS 2018 is the possibility to directly lock a Magnetic Mate after placing a component. You can do this by clicking on the button, as in the image below:
Locking a Magnetic Mate ensures that you cannot accidentally drag a placed component.
- To unlock all locked Magnetic Mates at once, simply right click the Mates folder in the FeatureManager Design Tree and select Unlock All Magnetic Mates.
- Placed a component at the wrong location? No problem, just drag and drop it at the correct location. Was the Magnetic Mate already locked? Then simply unlock the Magnetic Mate as mentioned earlier.
Don’t think that Magnetic Mates are only for conveyor like assemblies. As we have seen, we can also use it for other applications. To summarize for the example in this tech blog:
- We saved the creation of 24 mates.
- We saved the creation of 126 different configurations.
- We brought back 15 minutes of assembly work to 1 minute!
- Modifications are quick and easy. We do not need to change a lot of mates. Drag and drop is enough.
So, good luck with exploring the possibilities of the Magnetic Mates!
Written by Martijn Visser, Elite Application Engineer