Setting Up Your Model Template in SOLIDWORKS
One of the key ingredients in keeping your SOLIDWORKS documentation in order is to set up your templates. Without organization, you will have total anarchy in your documentation as each employee thinks that they have the best approach. But if you make sure to set up your templates properly, you can avoid poorly filled out documentation.
In this article and the next, I will go over how you can best set up your SOLIDWORKS templates, for both models and drawings. The first article is all about setting up your model template, with a focus on the part template.
What is a Template File?
A template is a file that is set up to meet your company’s set of rules for documentation. If everyone uses the same template, the documentation will be uniform.
When setting up your template, you need to consider a few different things:
- Do you have any custom properties that you want filled out automatically?
- Do you want to use a drafting standard (ANSI, ISO, DIN, etc.) or do you want to deviate from that?
- Do you want multiple templates, for instance with different drafting standards, different measurements, etc.?
I usually divide model templates into two categories:
- Document Properties
- Custom Properties
To open and modify the document properties, you need to have a document open that is the same type of template you want to make.
With the part open, go to Tools > Options.
Here you will find the Document Properties tab.
These properties can be divided into two categories: “Drafting standard” and for the lack of better words, “Non-drafting standard.”
In the image below, you can see where it separates.
The Drafting standard is the document rule set that covers font type, size, arrow sizes, etc. While it has no effect on the drawing, you may want to give it a look to ensure that your coworkers always use the same font. Using these rules will guarantee that you comply with the international drawing standards for ISO, DIN, ANSI etc.
If you modify these standards, a new drafting standard will be created called “<last used standard>-MODIFIED.”
Once the drafting standard is done, the file can be saved (1, in picture below) and used in some of your old files if you want to (2).
Next, we have the “Non-drafting standard.”
These are properties that are not affected by international standards for drawings. The most important ones here, if you ask me, are the Units and Image Quality.
This section determines what units you are using in your model. Setting it incorrectly can create problems in the model. For instance, you think you have set a length to 3 inches, but it is set to mm.
These values do not transfer to the drawing. If your drawing is set to mm and your model is set to inches, then you will get the result in mm on the drawing.
Setting your image quality correctly can be very prudent for your future assemblies.
Image quality is used to set the level of detail in your model. The higher the detail, the longer the rebuild time. Rebuild time is transferred to any assembly in which the part is inserted, even if you set the assembly image quality to low.
In the below image you can see the difference between a model with the highest quality and the lowest quality. This is why I usually set this to 10-20% percent of the maximum.
On your drawing, the quality of your model is of no consequence.
With the document properties set, you can save it as a template but you can also set up your “Custom Properties.”
Custom properties are values created on the model that can be transferred to your drawing, BOM, PDM and even to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
When setting up properties, you can either make it a property that is general for the entire model, or meant for the configuration only. The easiest way to differentiate the two in the custom properties tab.
Why is that important? If you have a property that you know will always be the same for every configuration, you can add this as a custom property.
If you have a property that changes in each configuration, the Configuration Properties will need to be reconfigured.
One note on custom properties and configuration specific properties, is that your drawing will always attempt to read the Configuration tab first, and then the Custom Properties tab.
But there will be more on drawings in the next article on setting up drawing templates.
You have a few different options when setting up your properties in SOLIDWORKS. For now, let’s go over two options.
The first way is by using File > Custom Properties or the shortcut.
This is by far the most commonly used and the simplest solution.
Open the Custom property tab and write the custom properties that you need.
In this case, I have created these five custom properties and two configuration specific properties.
As you can see above, I have set some of the values to be filled out automatically and some properties with the value to “To be filled out.” This is done to ensure that I do not use an old value by mistake.
Another method is to use the Property tab builder.
The property is a program that is installed with your SOLIDWORKS that allows you create a custom property box that is quickly available within SOLIDWORKS.
We won’t get into details here but suffice it to say that this is quite a useful program. It allows you to save predefined property tabs for parts, assemblies and drawings.
To create a new property file quickly, click “Custom Properties” in the right side of the screen and select “Create now”.
This will open the program and you can determine the type of boxes you want and if you want to have some of them filled out with predefined values.
Once you are satisfied with it, save it as a custom property part template (.prtprp) or the equivalent template that you are working on.
Once it is saved, it is available on the right side of your screen and you can quickly access and fill out your custom properties.
Once the Custom Properties is prepared, it will be saved as a template by going to File > Save As.
Then, select the part template extension.
Afterwards, repeat the process for the assembly template and save it as an assembly template.
Saving your template on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a little bit different since it is saved online to ensure that everyone has access to it.
To do this, you press File > Save As once your part (or assembly) template is ready to be saved.
This will bring up a pop-up box, where you can give the template a title and a description.
When saving the template, you can determine if you want to keep on developing on it by saving it in a draft state or make it available for everyone by setting it in released state.
Creating your model template is the first step to ensuring that your documentation will be uniform and thus reduce the number of potential problems down the road.