Efficiently Manage Large & Complex Sheet Metal Assemblies Using SolidWorks

May 11, 2017 -- Modeling large and complex sheet metal assemblies require significant amount of planning and design engineers usually tackle with such tasks with top down modeling approach. The problem with the top down approach is that designers have to start with the highest level of the assembly design and then define individual parts and sub-assemblies with the context of the main large component. This process consumes significant design time and can affect the fabrication process and eventually delay the product delivery to end customers.

The large assembly modeling process however can be handled efficiently using SolidWorks that offer highly productive tools specific to sheet metal and large assembly design. Let’s look at the features that enable design engineers to quickly develop large sheet metal assemblies-

Lightweight Components

SolidWorks enable users to load components of assembly as lightweight over full load. This is essentially helpful to reduce rebuilding time and speed up the display during dynamic viewing, by selecting only the components as full load where design operations are required to be performed. Further, since the feature highlights only the selected component, designers can focus more on a specific set of components against the entire assembly. The lightweight (selective open) feature can be activated from the command manager when the assembly is open in a large design review mode.

Large Assembly Mode

With this feature, SolidWorks hides all the planes, sketches, curves and annotations and disables the edges display in shaded mode. It also restricts the rebuild process when switching to assembly window. Turning on this mode as such improves the performance in terms of speed and dynamic display capability of SolidWorks and subsequently enables quicker design process of large sheet metal assemblies. Users can activate this mode from the beginning of the modeling process or automatically in middle of the modeling process by defining its activation once the design reaches a threshold limit for number of components.


While lightweight feature do speed up the modeling process, the problem with the feature is that it suppresses the component references, which makes it difficult to deal with assemblies that require mating. The SpeedPak configuration however simplifies the assembly without losing references. The feature maintains the reference by considering only the faces that require mating, thereby reducing the memory usage without losing important component feature. It is possible to configure SpeedPak for individual or from a parent assembly from the configuration manager.


Design engineers dealing with large sheet metal assemblies can also take advantage of AssemblyXpert in SolidWorks, which runs diagnostic tests to generate reports on time required in rebuilding and resolving components, features or mates. The test results provide actionable insights to designers and eventually provide opportunity to improve the assembly performance.

Image Quality

One of the alternatives for faster modeling of large sheet metal assembly is to reduce the visualization quality of components that affect the performance the most. This is possible under the Assembly Visualization feature where users can select number of Graphic-Triangles or hide them. Enabling this feature significantly improves the speed and performance as the graphic engine will need less computing power.

Involvement of CAD Design Engineers

Design engineers involved in modeling large sheet metal assembly can significantly bring down design time by adopting SolidWorks CAD platform. With specific features to handle large and complex assembly models, the software enable designers to work with flexibility and at greater speeds without losing the overall focus on the assembly logic. The intuitive design capabilities within SolidWorks eventually helps in moving the designs to fabrication quickly and subsequently reduce the delivery time.

About Author:

Gaurang Trivedi is Engineering consultant at TrueCADD. He has applied his engineering expertise across several highly complex and big scale projects, consequently managing to flawlessly deliver as per the client requirements.


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