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Best Practices

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Determine how SolidWorks files will relate to product life.  Product life is the timeframe that starts with the initial product design and ends with the conclusion of support after the product is withdrawn from the marketplace. Release phases within the product life may impact how SolidWorks files are controlled.

Modeling Techniques

There is no one-size-fits-all modelling and assembly method for all companies.  Research each and make the determination based on business needs.

Configuration Publisher

Design Tables


Several practices exist as general guides:

  • Top-Down assemblies (many similar products with well understood assembly structure)
  • Horizontal Modelling (extremely complex models)
  • Skeleton (product assembly lines, large equipment)
  • Bottom-Up assemblies (small equipment, modelling environments with many diverse disciplines, high staff turnover)
  • Configurations (many similar products with leveraged components and geometry)

For solid models, discuss preferred methods

  • preferences for creating features
  • use of reference geometry
  • organization of FeatureManager design tree
  • how to create models to capture function and design intent
  • how to apply model dimensions that will appear on the drawing

For assemblies, cover assembly methodologies

  • state when to use a methodology, such as top-down or bottom-up
  • discuss which component within an assembly should be the primary component (and whether is should be fixed or mated)
  • discuss mating rules
  • cover how to avoid circular mating

Drawing Techniques

The SolidWorks environment allows for automatic development of various forms of drawings.  During the development phase, Your company’s developers will need to determine the form of released documentation including any of the following:

  • Plotted full size drawings (Define how to produce each of these here? Or benefits of each?)
  • Drawings printed on letter size paper
  • Drawings in the electronic form only (PDF, eDrawings, or native SolidWorks)
  • Model Based Definition (use of the solid models to define the product)
  • Mix of the above

For drawings, detail how to use company standards

  • list drawing templates and sheet formats and any special instructions related to their use
  • list custom keyboard shortcuts, common macros, etc.
  • Establish courtesy rules
    • Example: Save drawings with the view at Zoom to Fit.
    • Example: Do not modify title blocks directly.

Revision Control

Any change that affectsinterchangeability, form, fit or function should require a revision.

  • Scenario:The tolerance of a mating feature is reduced.  Should the assembly of the two mating components revised along with the changing component?
  • Scenario:A drawing title block is updated to reference a the new ASME Y14.5-2009 standard.  Should this change require a new revision the part?

Revision schemes (alphabetic, numeric or both)

  • Version handling (changing documents between revisions or in pre-release activities)

When does a change requires a revision? When is a new part number is necessary instead ?

  • Primary consideration is interchangeability. Is the change interchangeable with the previous revision and vice versa?  If not, a new part number should be used instead of a revision.
  • Secondary consideration is the function. Does the part have the same function after the change?  For example, a part’s function may be different if the part is used on a new product as a result of the change.
  • Formand fitare tertiary considerations.Is the material changing?  Or, is the fit affected (even if interchangeability is not).  If so, then a new part number is required.
  • Otherwise, just revise the existing part.

Revision Control Definitions

  • Content change – Any change that affects interchangeability, form, fit or function.
  • Non-content change – Very minor document corrections to obvious errors, such as typos, transcription errors, grammar, or text formatting where the content of the document is not affected.
  • Form, Fit, or Function– Characteristics of physical items.
    • Form – Item material, composition, general shape, or other physical parameters which uniquely characterize the part.
    • Fit – Item size, mating, mounting, attachment, or connection.
    • Function – Item purpose, operation or performance (such as: method of use, operating range, safety, compatibility, reliability, accuracy, etc).
  • Interchangeability– Ability of an item to replace and be replaced.


DWG (DraftSight/AutoCAD)

Documentation Techniques



Handling Legacy Data




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