Working with Large Assemblies - Part 1

One of the most prominent issues, that has bogged down many CAD systems, is the ability to deal with large assemblies. Despite improved hardware and continuing CAD improvements, this issue is still a top complaint among many CAD users. In some cases, it is the CAD system’s architecture that causes the system to slowdown as the assembly size increases. However, with Solid Edge, most cases we encounter are the result of the user being unaware of tools and/or best practices for dealing with large assemblies. If you are a Solid Edge user, hopefully you are aware of the following tools for dealing with large assemblies:



This creates a separate header in the PathFinder, similar to creating a flat pattern in the Sheet Metal environment.


You can now use the Delete Faces, Delete Regions, Delete Holes, or Delete Rounds commands to simplify your part. These commands are found on the Home tab, in the Modify group.


In this example, the Delete Holes command was used to create the following simplified part. Notice the Delete Holes feature under the Simplify header, in the PathFinder.


In the part environment, you can toggle between the two versions of the part, using the Tools tab > Modal group.

     

     

 

When placed in the assembly, you can select which version you want displayed by using the shortcut menu in the PathFinder.


This allows you to use the lighter weight, simplified version, in the assembly while you work. But you can easily toggle on the designed part for final display or any other time you may need it.


Simplified Assemblies

Similar to a simplified part, you can create a simplified version of a sub-assembly, to be used in the top-level assembly. Solid Edge provides two methods for creating simplified assemblies. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it is up to the user to decide which will best suit their needs. Prior to selecting the method, you first have to tell the system that you want to create a simplified version of your assembly. To do this, go to the Tools tab > Model group, and select the Simplify option.


Now you must select either the Visible Faces command, or the Model command, which are the two methods used to create the simplified version of the assembly.


Visible Faces

The Visible Faces command has the advantage of rapid creation of the simplified version of your assembly. The disadvantage is that it is not associative to the designed version of the assembly. When you make changes to the designed version, you have to remember to update the simplified version. Solid Edge defines the Visible Face method as:

Creates a simplified representation of an assembly by processing the assembly to show only the exterior envelope of faces and by excluding parts, such as small parts. This improves interactive performance when you use the simplified representation of the assembly as a subassembly in another assembly or to create a drawing of a large assembly.


Essentially, you create an outer shell of the designed assembly with the option to hide any small components, such as hardware parts, exposed to the outer shell. This is ideal for assemblies with many internal components, that are not visible from the outside of the assembly.

Simplified Assembly Model (SAM)

The second method is the Model command. This command launches the Simplified Assembly Model environment, often referred to as SAM. Solid Edge defines the Model command as:

Creates a simplified representation of an assembly creating a solid representation of the simplified assembly. The solid model is stored as ordered solid geometry within the assembly.


The SAM environment allows users to create rapid enclosure of the model, and then use ordered modelling to modify the enclosures to better represent the assembly shape. These simplified models are associative to the designed assembly. Plus, you can create simplified version of framed or cage like assemblies, that would be poor candidates for the Visible Face method. The disadvantage is that this can take a bit longer to create, than the Visible Face method.

Using the simplified version

Whichever method you use, the simplified version can be shown, in a higher level assembly, using the shortcut menu in the PathFinder.


In the Solid Edge Help documents, under Controlling simplified assemblies, you will find the following table, illustrating the many ways to control simplified assemblies.


It is important to note that simplified assemblies should only be made if it is a sub-assembly, of a higher-level assembly. Creating them will actually add weight to the assembly itself. However, you can significantly reduce the weight, of the higher-level assembly, when used in the higher-level assembly. Solid Edge best describes this as follows:

Simplified assemblies and memory usage

When you create a simplified representation of an assembly, the data storage requirements for the assembly document increase because the surface data for the simplified representation is stored in the assembly document.

The size increase required to support the simplified representation is small when compared to the size requirements of all the documents that make up the assembly.

When you place a simplified assembly document as a subassembly into another assembly, the memory requirements required to display the higher-level assembly drop dramatically. This improves performance and also allows you to work with larger data sets more effectively.

This performance improvement also applies when creating a drawing of a simplified assembly. Because less memory is required to support the simplified data set, the drawing views will process quicker.

Summary

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, Simplified Parts and Simplified Assemblies, are just two methods of dealing with large assemblies. The intent here is to make sure you are aware of them and provide an overview of their benefits. The detailed creation and use, of these tools, require much more space than allotted for this blog. Further information can be found in the Solid Edge Help documents, or you can attend one of our Advanced Assembly courses, where we teach all of the methods to deal with large assemblies, plus many more tools for creating, editing, and managing assemblies. The complete course syllabus can be found on our training page, at the following link: http://www.designfusion.ca//technical-training.html. Future blog articles will provide further overviews of the other tools for dealing with large assemblies.

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