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The Magic of Costing – Customizing Materials

I may not be a wizard, but SOLIDWORKS helps me to work engineering magic by estimating manufacturing cost quickly and easily with Costing! This functionality is available with SOLIDWORKS Professional or Premium licenses and is customized through the Costing Template Editor.  Templates help control the material, operation, and tooling costs taken into account by SOLIDWORKS to generate a manufacturing cost for a part or assembly. This allows Costing to accommodate any manufacturer’s, even a wizard’s, needs.  In this blog post, we will walk through customizing Costing to support the famous wizard engineer, Mr. Ollivander, maker of fine wands since 382 B.C, and his unique manufacturing needs.

SOLIDWORKS comes with a materials database, which holds a large number of standard materials ready for use; however, if you need a material that is not listed, additional databases can be created and customized materials can be added. Ollivander uses a variety of unique woods; therefore, we will create a material database just for him and add the wood types used for Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s wands.

Whether you are using a SOLIDWORKS provided material or a custom material you have created, the material must be flagged for use with Costing. To flag a material, the custom property “Financial Impact” must be assigned to the material. We will edit each of our materials to make this modification. Once the materials have been marked for use with Costing, we can begin to create and customize a costing template, which can reference them.

Costing templates are created and modified through the Costing Template Editor. The editor is a program outside of SOLIDWORKS and it can be launched from the SOLIDWORKS Tools folder installed on your machine or through Costing within SOLIDWORKS.  With the Costing Template Editor open, we will choose to start a new template. There will be three template types available. Knowing Ollivander’s wands will be machined, we will select the “template for machined, molded, or 3D printed parts” and save it as “Ollivanders Costing Template”. We will follow best practices and save the template in a folder outside the default location with our other customized files. We will then need to add this folder to our file path for costing templates under Tools>Options>System Options>File Locations to have it available in Costing. With our costing template created, we can now begin the process of customizing it to meet Ollivander’s manufacturing needs. We will begin with material.

Through the Costing Template Editor, the marked materials will now be available for selection under the Material category. Ollivander will be machining the wands; therefore we will expand the machining subcategory. The template will already have sample materials listed by default, which we will remove since they are not needed. A single row can be removed by right clicking the row number and selecting delete, but multiple rows can be removed by left click dragging over the row numbers and right clicking to select delete. With the nonrelative materials removed, we will now add our new materials. We will click in an empty row and working left to right to fill out the columns for the desired material. The columns with dropdowns will now have the materials flagged with “Financial Impact” available. Ollivander plans on machining the wands out of blocks and so we will go through and setup this stock type for each of his custom materials. We will save our changes and move on to the Operations category in the Costing Template Editor.

The Operation category is organized into manufacturing subcategories and each method needs to be setup, which may apply to the material stock. The manufacturing subcategory sets up the tooling information needed for the material. This may require you to add several lines for each material to fully cover all the possible manufacturing methods. Ollivander’s wands only require a milling operation, but we will need to create about twelve different lines to cover the range of tooling and finishes needed for all his wand designs. In the image below I used the filters to only show the milling options for holly. We are now finished editing the costing template for Mr. Ollivander and will save the template before closing the Costing Template Editor.

Costing is now setup to estimate a manufacturing cost for any of Mr. Ollivander’s wand designs. I hope this blog post showed how SOLIDWORKS can help any engineer to estimate manufacturing costs quickly and easily. Unlock the magic of Costing to identify and reduce cost earlier in the design process to save you and your customers’ money.

Happy Modeling!

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