Update on the SOLIDWORKS 2023 Auto-Mate Command
A few months ago, I tested and tried the new SOLIDWORKS Auto-Mate tool using the SOLIDWORKS 2023 beta release, but wasn’t able to get it to work properly. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the kinks would be fixed by the time SOLIDWORKS 2023 fully released. A member of the SOLIDWORKS’ development team reached out to me and asked for a copy of my model so they could use it for their own testing. I was happy to oblige as the model was from several years ago and no longer in production. The SOLIDWORKS team was able to replicate my errors and used my model to troubleshoot the new feature, with excellent results.
I am happy to report that the Auto-Mate tool works beautifully now. I tried with no success to replicate my previous failures—but Auto-Mate is wise to my wily ways and was able to re-establish clean mates every single time.
As any long-time SOLIDWORKS user knows, broken mates can be tedious and annoying to deal with, especially when you are working in a large and complex assembly. You don’t want to see those red error warnings—you want a clean assembly. Broken mates slow down your system’s performance and they make it more difficult to troubleshoot.
After I test-drove the Auto-Mate tool through my previous model, I decided to create a new assembly and see if I could put this new feature through another round of testing. Working with the SOLIDWORKS development team provided me with some insight into what might make this tool fail.
I started off by making a simple box with a lid and four holes. I added some flathead bolts from McMaster-Carr, my favorite source of SOLIDWORKS-modeled hardware.
You see right away that my box is a little too narrow to accommodate the countersinks. Additionally, I am using M6 bolts and the holes in the box bottom are set to M4.
I start by editing my box bottom to enlarge it and use M6 holes. I didn’t save it as a new part.
Once I made my changes, I saw broken mates immediately.
I couldn’t fix my mates until I updated my lid. I did that by creating a new part and then replacing the old lid. I created the new lid outside of the assembly to ensure it was treated as a brand-new part.
I selected the old lid in the assembly, right clicked and selected Replace Components. I used this option because the SOLIDWORKS developers hinted that the Auto-Mate will still work using this workflow.
Holes were misaligned, and the box still required some editing.
I ended up breaking several mates by the time I had completed my changes.
Now it was time to test the new Auto-Mate feature.
I selected the first broken mate, and the Auto-Mate tool wasn’t available. I had the option to replace or redefine the mate, so I selected that option. I repaired that one mate and all the other broken mates automatically healed.
What sorcery was this? The SOLIDWORKS team has improved their software so much that SOLIDWORKS can detect where mates need to be and correct them with very little user input.
I needed to know more. I broke some mates and challenged SOLIDWORKS to fix them.
I opened the box bottom file and did a SaveAs, which would replace the existing bottom with the revised file. Then I modified the hole pattern, saved and closed the file.
I suppressed the bolts while I was performing my edits so I could focus just on the two box parts and how they interfaced. Interestingly, SOLIDWORKS did not see a problem with this concentric mate between the hole in the lid and the now non-existent hole in the box. SOLIDWORKS should have reported this as an error, but it did not. Once again, I decided to create a new lid starting with a new part and using the Replace Component feature.
SOLIDWORKS reports several broken or missing mates. I select the green check to see if I can use the Auto-Mate tool to correct any of them.
I still have my hardware suppressed. So, we will see if those mates resolve once I fix the broken mates between the lid and my box.
When I right click on the Coincident mate (the mate between the lid’s bottom face and top face of the box), the Auto-Mate tool appears.
When I select the Auto-Mate tool, a dialog appears telling me that the mate has been fixed and then the dialog fades like a fairy godmother into the mist.
In the browser, the mate now shows as good.
Another broken coincident mate is between the side face of the box and the side face of the lid.
When I selected the broken mate, the Auto-Mate tool was available to make the repair.
I selected it, and once again Auto-Mate was able to make the repair successfully.
Time for the more challenging broken mates. Will Auto-Mate be able to match the hole in the box with the hole in the lid and successfully redefine the mate?
Yes, it did!
The final broken mate is going to be a bit more challenging. I replaced the single hole in the middle with two offset holes, but Auto-Mate is still available to make the repair.
I can’t really fault Auto-Mate with not being able to figure out which hole to use. I selected the Edit button and made the mate manually.
Once I selected the mating holes, I could replace the broken mate.
Next, I unsuppressed the hardware to see which mates are shown as broken.
It appears that SOLIDWORKS was able to manage the mates for two of the fasteners, but I needed to re-define the mates for the remainder. This might have been avoided if I had used the feature pattern method of placing the fasteners.
I deleted three of the fasteners and kept one.
The remaining fastener still has a mate error. The coincident mate between the top face of the bolt and the top face of the lid. Can Auto-Mate repair this?
Yes, it can!
To prevent future issues with the fasteners, I selected the remaining fastener and used the Pattern Driven Component Pattern option. This will place fasteners using the hole feature, so if the hole feature changes, the number and position of the fasteners will update with the change.
I simply select one of the holes in the lid and the fasteners fill in.
SOLIDWORKS has made major improvements to how the software troubleshoots assembly mates. The new Auto-Mate feature speeds up the process and allows users to clean up their assemblies in half the time it took in previous releases.
About the Author
Elise Moss has worked in Silicon Valley for the past thirty years as a designer and mechanical engineer. She is currently traveling the United States with her husband and their two horses, exploring backroads and historical trails. She is writing about her horse travels on her blog shakespeareantrails.substack.com. Her professional website is mossdesigns.com. She continues to write textbooks for Autodesk software. Her AutoCAD 2024 Basics textbook may be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and directly from her publisher at sdcpublications.com.