What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018 – Assemblies

In this blog, we will investigate some of the new features and enhancements available within the assembly environment of SOLIDWORKS 2018.

We will start with possibly the most obvious change, which most of you who have opened an assembly in SOLIDWORKS 2018 may have noticed. The new “Assembly Open Progress Indicator” will appear at the top of your screen when opening an assembly and gives you a great indicator as to the progress of an opening assembly, particularly for those dreaded assemblies that take a while to open and leave you unsure if the software is hanging, or just taking a bit of time to open your file.

Performance Evaluation Tool
Sticking with the topic of files, opening the newly refreshed and updated “Performance Evaluation Tool” can give you some vital indicators to a potential pesky part file which could be the cause for any long open/rebuild times. Below is an example of the same assembly file open in SOLIDWORKS 2017 SP5 and 2018 SP2 with their respective performance evaluation tool open. In 2018 the evaluation tool provides additional information regarding opening files, display and settings, rebuild performance of the model and a quick link to the SOLIDWORKS help section.

Assembly Visualization
Another option you’ll see in the bottom right-hand corner of the 2018 performance evaluation tool is a direct link to open the “Assembly Visualization” tool. This is where the next set of changes that we will be looking are located. One new option is “Performance Analysis” which you can enable to show the “SOLIDWORKS-Open Time” and “SOLIDWORKS-Rebuild Time”. With this enabled, you can have the assembly visually represented by a range of colours depicting the length of time it takes to open a particular part or for that part to be rebuilt (such as using CTRL+B or CTRL+Q for a forced rebuild).

In SOLIDWORKS 2018 the colour of the individual parts can be changed to represent its position on the graph/range depending on which attribute you are sorting by (Mass, Quantity, Open Time, Volume, etc).

Top Level Transparency
The next change within assemblies is that you now have the ability to easily make the full assembly transparent. This comes in the form of right clicking your top level assembly component and selecting “Top Level Transparency”. This feature was previously called “Change Transparency” and was previously limited to making parts or sub-assemblies transparent (by right clicking that individual or set of components). Clicking the option for the top level assembly would not change any transparency of the model in 2017, but now it can make the entire model transparent with just a single click.

Misaligned Concentric Mates
There are two nice changes within the ‘Mates’ section of assemblies. These include the ability to create misaligned concentric mates, an example can be seen in the image below where a concentric mate (or mates) can be shifted over slightly such as how, in the example, the four holes don’t align perfectly with their respective pair of holes.

The other change for mates is the ability to have the face of a component temporarily hidden during the creation, editing or copying of mates. This can be performed by hitting your ‘Alt’ key while holding your mouse cursor over the face/s in question. The hidden face/s will then reappear once you have selected an entity to mate or they can be brought back using the key combination ‘Shift + Alt’.

Rotate Instances
Another really nice change in the assembly environment is the ability to create a component linear pattern and a component circular pattern in a single feature. Some great examples of where this can be handy is in the creation of a spiral staircase or the handles for a mug rack. To obtain his type of outcome you will need to have created your initial seed, select the ‘Linear Pattern’ option where you can select your first direction as normal. You can then select the new option “Rotate Instances” which is located under the instance count. This allows you to select an axis (or temporary axis via selecting a circular face, edge, etc.) and telling the software how many degrees each instance will be separated by, with the instance count itself being controlled by the option above. Using this new feature does not remove your ability to define a second direction for your linear pattern.

Note – In the above example you are not limited to selecting these definitions, you are free to select the same options that are normally available for each respective linear pattern type (linear and circular).
A couple of other enhancements or additions to assemblies in SOLIDWORKS 2018 which we may feature in future blogs include:

  • Improvements to Speedpak.
  • Enhancements within SOLIDWORKS Treehouse.
  • The ability to create Smart Explode Lines – anyone who has attended a SOLIDWORKS Essentials Training Course prior to using SOLIDWORKS 2018 will love this, particularly when you’ve previously had to create all exploded sketch lines manually when it came to the assembly and exploded view exercises.
  • “Magnetic Mates” enhancements.
  • Changes within the “Check Entities” tool.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this blog and stay tuned for our next Blog where we will look at ‘what’s new’ within another area of SOLIDWORKS 2018.



Craig Girvan is an Applications Engineer at TMS CADCentre, a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller in Scotland.

You can read more from Craig on the TMS CADCentre blog

TMS CADCentre is a SOLIDWORKS Reseller based in Scotland providing CAD Design Software, analysis software & product data management software. Founded in 1981, TMS CADCentre is the only UK SOLIDWORKS Reseller based and funded within Scotland and have been providing SOLIDWORKS software, training and support since 1996 when the product was first launched in the UK.