Creating Inspection Documentation and Reports with SOLIDWORKS Inspection: Part 1

SOLIDWORKS Inspection provides unique manufacturing and quality control solutions designed to standardize and automate common inspection processes, including the creation and publication of ballooned/bubbled manufacturing drawings and inspection reports in a variety of customizable formats such as AS9102, PPAP and Process Performance.

In this article, we’ll be covering the basic steps for using the Inspection add-in for SOLIDWORKS CAD, which is designed to work with SOLIDWORKS 2D drawings as well as 3D CAD models directly (Professional version only). As such, there may be some advanced concepts and tools that are not covered. Additionally, if you primarily work with PDF files for inspection purposes, the Inspection add-in for SOLIDWORKS will not be suitable for you — instead, consider reading our article on SOLIDWORKS Inspection Standalone, which is designed for use with PDF drawings.

This article also assumes an intermediate knowledge of inspection as a process — for those less familiar with the industry of inspection in general, we highly recommend first familiarizing yourself with the basic concepts, tools and terminology which are covered in our related article SOLIDWORKS Inspection and the Importance of First Article Inspection.

Creating a New Inspection Project

It is important to note that when using the SOLIDWORKS Inspection add-in, inspection projects live within SOLIDWORKS drawings/models and do not exist as separate unique files. As such, a drawing or 3D model must be open in order to begin an Inspection Project.

Once the desired drawing has been loaded, the SOLIDWORKS Inspection add-in must be enabled. Navigate to Settings > Add-Ins and scroll down if required to locate SOLIDWORKS Inspection in the list of available add-ins:

Checking the box in the left column will enable the SOLIDWORKS Inspection add-in for a single session while checking the box in the right column will load the Inspection add-in automatically each time SOLIDWORKS is booted.

Once the Inspection add-in has been enabled, a SOLIDWORKS Inspection tab will appear, providing all the required tools and options for ballooning/bubbling SOLIDWORKS drawings and producing inspection reports. The very first command in this new ribbon tab is New Inspection Project and is the first step toward producing a ballooned drawing and report:

Upon creating a new inspection project, you’ll be prompted to select an inspection project template. It’s important to note that inspection project templates are not the same as inspection report templates. The inspection project template (shown below) sets the default units/tolerances and properties of the project, often according to standards such as ANSI or ISO, to ensure that the project data is captured properly.

Inspection report templates, on the other hand, format the data for export in accordance with a particular report standard, such as AS9102 (first article inspection), PPAP (production part approval process) or process performance.

Both of these template types can be modified to suit your organization’s needs and reduce the amount of time required to set up an inspection project or produce a final inspection report.

Once you’ve selected an appropriate inspection project template, you’ll be prompted to provide a variety of project properties which are divided into four sections. While these are not technically required in order to produce a ballooned drawing or report, any information provided here will be available for automatic export to the final inspection report and as such it is highly recommended to provide any critical information.

The first section is simply named Properties. While the fields available for Part Name, Part Number, etc. can be typed in directly, one of the unique advantages of the Inspection add-in for SOLIDWORKS is the ability to link these fields to custom properties of the associated drawing and/or CAD model. This not only speeds up the data entry process but more importantly, it ensures that if the drawing/model are ever revised, the updated information will be passed through to the inspection project.

To link an inspection property field to a custom property, simply click the button for Part Name, Part Number, etc. and select the custom property you would like to link. Selecting OK will then populate the field with this property and establish the link:

Certain properties, such as Vendor, Operation and Method are controlled by dropdown lists which contain frequently used selections. If a new entry needs to be added to this list, it may simply be typed into the text box for the property and will become available the next time the dropdown is used.

Alternatively, there are commands available in the ribbon to add/remove selections from these lists:

The second section is Custom Properties, which allows additional custom properties from the CAD model and/or drawing to be added and linked to the inspection project in the Custom Properties section. A large dropdown list is available to select from common custom properties, although names can be typed in directly as well if preferred. Once named, the value field can be linked by clicking the green plus symbol and the familiar Custom Property dialog box will appear once again to select a property:

Note that while capturing and linking additional custom properties can certainly be valuable, the default inspection report templates do not contain placeholders for them and as such they will not automatically appear in produced inspection reports without first customizing the Inspection Report templates, which is outside the scope of this article.

The Characteristic Info section contains a handful of settings that control how the characteristics extracted from the drawing will be organized and classified, along with the option to choose between automatic and manual extraction. Automatic ballooning and renumbering options are also available. The options in this section will be different between organizations, and often between individual projects, and should be explored to determine your preferred settings, as shown below.

Finally, the Sampling section allows you to input lot size, default level/type and an AQL value to be applied to the project. These values ultimately control how precise manufacturing processes must be for parts to be deemed acceptable and Characteristic Info will often vary depending on manufacturing methods and requirements.

Read Part 2 of this series on the SOLIDWORKS Inspection Add-In. Part 3 is available here.

Recent Articles

Related Stories

Enews Subscribe