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Techniques For Opening Corrupt Assemblies

The Dreaded Error Message

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “SolidWorks has encountered an error and needs to close”. Have you ever tried to open an assembly and encountered this error? Fortunately, it happens rarely, and many SOLIDWORKS users have never experienced this error. For those who have, it can be very frustrating.

The error is more common with assemblies and even more so with assemblies that contain components imported from other CAD programs or downloaded from the internet. In such situations, there are two techniques that can help you open the assembly and salvage most of your work. This blog will explain these techniques.

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Assembly Motion tools you never knew about

One of my favorite parts of teaching SOLIDWORKS Essentials is the Assemblies lessons. From the first time I picked up SOLIDWORKS, assembly motion has always impressed me. The ease of use and intuitiveness of manipulating components and assemblies has always been a strong point for SOLIDWORKS. Just grab a component and move it. 

Lost in this ease of use is the “Move Component” tool. This handy tool has many tricks up its sleeve. 

Move Component

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Animating Flexible Components

Have you ever wondered how to create an animation that included a component that deformed? The technique involves creating a part in the context of an assembly, which you may already know how to do. In our example, we will show how a spring can be compressed and uncompressed during the animation sequence.

Figure 1: The completed piston assembly.

Figure 1: The completed piston assembly.

For the sake of adhering to the topic at hand, and for the sake of brevity, this article assumes you know how to create components in the context of an assembly. We will also assume a basic understanding of swept features and using the motion manager to create simple animations.

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SOLIDWORKS shows you the reason for the seasons

Trying to explain to a four and six year old why it’s cold in winter can be a challenge. I was getting into a long-winded dissertation about the northern hemisphere being tilted away from the sun in winter... and losing them fast. SOLIDWORKS to the rescue! Yes, I know there are hundreds of videos on YouTube explaining this, and Bill Nye even did a pretty cool episode on it, but what fun is that? My kids love when I break out SOLIDWORKS at home and we make “cool 3D stuff” on the computer.

So we started making a scale model of the solar system. Seeing as SOLIDWORKS has a physical limit of 1000m^3, the scale of the sun and earth would have to be roughly 1:149M. At this scale, navigating the “solar system” and even finding the earth became exceedingly time consuming (though pretty neat to see how small the earth is compared to the sun). So I just made the earth a 1m sphere and used a point light as the sun. It gets roughly the same effect without all the big numbers!

By finding an image of the earth (thanks again Google) I created a decal and wrapped it onto my sphere. Of course, it was critical that I tilted the decal 22.5deg, to actually show the seasons. Next, I created an assembly with the point light at the origin and a circle describing earth’s orbit. Again, very not-to-scale, but it’s OK.

Point Light at Origin

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Cam Design Made Easy with SOLIDWORKS Motion

If you are reading this post, then you have some sort of interest in designing cams. For the purposes of this blog post, a cam is a not-quite cylindrical part that translates circular motion into linear motion. The shape of the outside of the cam directly contacts a “cam follower,” which rides the cam in a linear fashion. Here is a simple example:

Cam

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Making a Precise Move

I am always on a mission to find the fastest way to do things in SOLIDWORKS. One of the workflows that had me questioning my technique, was how I moved or rotated a component with a specific value inside an assembly. In the past, I would go into the move component command, select delta XYZ, and type in a value. However, being spoiled by all the heads-up interaction that SOLIDWORKS provides, I set out to see if there was a more efficient way.

precise

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Selection Techniques for Sheet Metal or Weldment Parts in Assemblies

Many users are creating assemblies that utilize parts created as Weldments, Sheet Metal, or standard part files. Identifying these parts within an assembly which are Sheet Metal or Weldments can be beneficial. SOLIDWORKS Advanced Select allows you to customize the way you select parts in an assembly, making it quick and easy to pick and identify only the parts you want.

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Using Snapshots to Capture a Moment in Time

When working within the assembly environment in SOLIDWORKS, I often find myself hiding and showing components to look at different aspects of an assembly. In a large number of cases, I will un-hide the components and begin working again, only to find that I need to see that view again and must re-hide the components… which wastes time.

Snapshots in SOLIDWORKS provide a way of capturing locations within an assembly that I would like to get back to quickly. It lets you not only remember the assembly view but also remember which components were hidden at that moment. To take this feature even further, you can add comments to the snapshot; this may allow you to make note of areas you want reviewed or where you have continued work you would like to be completed.

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