SOLIDWORKS 2020 Assembly Envelopes

Designing in the context of an assembly or top down design is one of the great benefits of SOLIDWORKS. The designer can use components in one assembly as a reference to design a new component in another assembly. If the component in the referenced assembly changes the new component will change accordingly. This is great because my design intent is working for me and I don’t have to remember to update two components independently to keep everything updated.

There are things we must be aware of when working in a top down mode. Large assemblies are heavy loads on our computers especially when assembly modeling is not well thought out and violates assembly modeling best practices. The over use and/or “willy-nilly” application of in-context relationships will bring your assembly performance to its knees. It’s important to understand how in-context design is used effectively without increasing the performance load on your computer so you can realize the full benefit of associative top down design capabilities with minimal downside.

The best thing we can do to maintain peak performance is work with smaller sub-assemblies as opposed to creating a flat structured assembly. A flat assembly doesn’t use sub-assemblies and has all components mated at the top level using hundreds of assembly mates. The assembly should be structured in logical sub-assemblies allowing those sub-assemblies to be opened and worked on independently of the top level assembly. When external relationship are created it’s at the sub-assembly level not the top level.

So, what do we do when we want to use a component in the top level assembly as an in-context reference in a subassembly? Create configurations of each subassembly suppressed and unsuppressed to reduce the large assembly load when working in-context? Sure this method will work but it also adds to the performance load of the top assembly. There’s a better way with SOLIDWORKS 2020 using Envelopes.

SOLIDWORKS 2020 builds on Assembly Envelopes by introducing the Envelope Publisher. When a component is used as an Envelope it is ignored in global assembly operations such as Bills of Material and mass properties. Here’s how the Assembly Envelope Publisher works.

In this example I’d like to design a component which will attach the hydraulic cylinder shaft and provide the ability to pivot in the Boom Support highlighted in green.

The Boom Support is in the Boom Assembly as seen here.

The next step is to define a subassembly the Assembly Envelope component will reside in along with the new Knuckle component I’ll design. We’ll call it the Knuckle Assembly.

This assembly isn’t too bad to work in and by using Assembly Envelopes I can reduce the load even further. I’ll use the Support Housing as an Envelope and publish it into the new Knuckle Assembly. The Assembly Envelope Publisher can be found under Tools>Envelope Publisher. Using it is straightforward.

You’ll define the Components to use as Envelopes. Multiple components can be used as an envelope. Then define the destination subassemblies. An envelope can be used in multiple subassemblies.

Opening the Knuckle Assembly the Boom Support is there ready to be used. Notice the In-Context indicator next to the Published Envelop in the Design Tree. Expanding the Envelope we’ll have access to all of the features of the Support Housing which we can edit if required.

To get the Knuckle Design started I’ll add the 2 Wear Plates from the Design Library and mate them to the Boom Support.

By using the Boom Support as a reference the new Knuckle component is designed using the surrounding geometry and positioned exactly where it needs to be.

SOLIDWORKS 2020 Assembly Envelope Publisher will help you work faster and smarter when using an Envelope in Top Down design. No longer do you need to create configurations at the top level or add unnecessary loads on your computer by having to work at the top level assembly. Learn more about SOLIDWORKS 2020 here!

Mike Sabocheck
Mike Sabocheck is a Technical Sales Director with Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS. Mike has been with DS SOLIDWORKS for 21 years. Prior to SOLIDWORKS he worked for Xerox for 17 years and then for Intergraph. His specialties are applying SOLIDWORKS to different design and manufacturing processes.