In this article, I will continue to focus on some of the Solid Edge tools used to deal with large assemblies. As mentioned in the previous articles, “Working with Large Assemblies – Part 1 and Part 2”, If you are a Solid Edge user, hopefully you are aware of the following tools for dealing with large assemblies:
Combine these tools with some best practices and other tips and tricks, and you’ll find that large assemblies behave more efficiently and are more reliable in Solid Edge, than any other mainstream CAD package.
In this article, I’d like to focus on the tools not already covered in the previous articles. To be specific, this article will discuss the following tools:
Assembly Open As options
Assemblies made of synchronous parts.
Each of these tools offer the user improved efficiency and greater performance when working with large assemblies.
All Solid Edge users know about the Selection Tool, but I have found many users are unaware of the other selection tools available in the assembly environment. If you have a look at the Select group, on the Home tab, you’ll notice that there are numerous selection tools available to assist you.
The following list, briefly describes what each tool does:
Overlapping - Selects elements which are inside or overlapping the fenced area.
Selection Filter - Controls whether elements are selectable based on the element type.
Select Visible Parts - Selects parts that are fully or partially visible in the active window at its current view orientation.
Select Parts Constrained To - Selects parts that are constrained to one or more previously selected parts. This option is available after you select one or more parts.
Select Subassembly Parts - Selects all other occurrences of the currently selected subassembly.
Select All Identical Parts - Selects all the parts in the assembly which are identical to the selected part.
Select Parts by Size - Displays a command bar, which contains a spin box so you can dynamically select a set of parts based on their size.
The Part size field valueis based on the size of the parts in the current view where 1 is the smallest part and 100 is the largest.
Activate Part – Allows you to activate select parts.
Faces Priority - Locates element types such as faces and features first, then other element types, such as parts and features. Used primarily for editing assemblies with synchronous components.
Parts Priority - Locates parts first, then other element types, such as individual faces and features.
Normal Select Mode – Same as using the Select Tool.
Add/Remove Mode – Allows you to select multiple components. If the component is already selected it removes it from the selection set.
Add Mode - Allows you to select multiple components. Can only add elements to the current selection set.
Remove Mode - Allows you to only remove elements from the current selection set.
Selection Manager Mode – Used to launch the Selection Manager, when an element is selected. See the Selection Manager menu in the Solid Edge Help, for more information about this menu.
Clear Selection - Clears the selection set. You can also press the Esc key, or double-click in the graphics window to clear the current selection.
Once you’ve created your selection set, you can perform tasks like Hide, Show Only, Inactivate, and Activate. Making these tools ideal for working on large assemblies.
Another method, for finding components, is to use the Query command. The Query command, found on the Select Tools tab of the PathFinder, allows you to search for components base on the component properties.
Once you’ve used your query to create a selection set, you can perform tasks like Hide, Show Only, Inactivate, and Activate. Making this another excellent tool for working on large assemblies.
Below is a quick list of other points regarding queries:
You can define queries in an assembly document that is used as a template.
You can copy a query from one document and paste it into another document using the commands on the shortcut menu.
You can use the Query dialog box to specify whether you want to search subassemblies
You can also use the Quick Query option, on the Select Tools tab, to find and select parts in an assembly. Quick queries are not stored on the Select Tools tab.
You can use the commands on the shortcut menu to edit, delete, and rename a query entry in PathFinder
Assembly Open As options
Over this series of articles, we have discussed how to activate, inactivate, hide, and show components. Above we discussed how to rapidly select components based on various criteria. Solid Edge also offers you a way to define what state you wish to open the assembly in. For example, you can open a large assembly much quicker if all the components are inactive, and even quicker if they are hidden. In the Solid Edge Options > Assembly Open As tab, you can define your definition of small, medium, and large assemblies. You can then define what state the components will be opened in.
If necessary, you can override the defined settings when opening an assembly. For example, you can override the assembly size, on the Open dialog.
You can even override the component state settings, by expanding the More.. button, on the Open dialog.
Limited Update and Limited Save commands
These are 2 relatively new commands, added in Solid Edge ST7. Added specifically for dealing with large assemblies, these commands are defined as follows:
Limited Update - The Limited Update command confines updates to only those documents that, in the current design session, have been modified by you. If other documents have been modified by someone else, those changes can be viewed and updated by using the Component Tracker. The Component Tracker shows the status of these documents and saves can be made that overrides the limited save command if desired.
Limited Save - The Limited Save command changes the behavior of Save when you work in the assembly environment. Selecting the Limited Save command confines the save operation to only those documents that you have opened and have write access to. Limited Save acts on documents in the current assembly structure. Processing is from the active level down. Part copies that reside in parent level assemblies are not updated with Limited Save.
The Limited Update and Limited Save commands enable you to control, update, and save operations, while working in Solid Edge assembly, and while in-place activated. They need to be enabled on the Solid Edge Options > Assembly tab.
When either Limited Update or Limited Save are enabled, PathFinder indicates the mode is active using an icon on the top level of the assembly.
Before enabling these commands, make sure you read the Solid Edge Help documents, on these commands. They describe them in more detail.
Assemblies made of synchronous parts
There has been a lot written about the power of synchronous technology, in Solid Edge. The rapid modelling, and unprecedented speed of editing, has dominated these articles. But one of the often-overlooked benefits is that synchronous parts use less memory than ordered parts. Some of our customers are reporting up to 30 percent smaller assemblies. The smaller the assembly memory use, the better the overall performance.
This completes the series of articles on working with large assemblies. I’ve attempted to give you an overview of the more common tools that are available for improving your performance, and efficiency, when working with large assemblies, or any assembly for that matter. But let me emphasize that this was an overview. There are many more tips and tricks, methods, and commands that could have been discussed. For example, the recently added Isolate command, or the Insert Assembly Copy command, to name two. You can research more on this topic in the Solid Edge Help documents or attend one of our Advanced Assembly course. 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.
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