What are “Large Assemblies & Drawings”? What problems can arise when working with “Large Assemblies & Drawings” in SolidWorks? How do you identify those problems? What causes these problems and how do you solve them? These were a few of the important questions that Large Assembly Specialist Frank Klein-Soetebier raised during his presentation at the SolidWorks 2012 Event in Utrecht.
What is a “Large Assembly”? ’That is a file that for one thing uses all system resources, and for another thing also consists of 5,000 to 30,000 parts’, Frank Klein-Soetebier explained. ’If your system becomes so slow that it affects the progress of the project, then you have a problem. Incidentally, that sluggishness is not only related to the size of the file. The file can also be relatively small, but extraordinarily complex. Then you sit and wait after you open the file, you sit and wait during rebuilding, you wait when creating a “Drawing” and when rotating and inserting a component. That waiting time can add up to many hours each month. Most CAD Engineers, therefore, believe that they are in need of a new, more powerful computer with more cores, faster processors and more memory and working memory. But that is the question.
We at Cadmes have formulated guidelines that a stable, fast CAD computer must satisfy. These guidelines relate to processor speed (32 or 64 bit?), graphics card, CPU type, working memory, HDD and so on. If users comply with these guidelines, the hardware is acceptable. What it mainly comes down to is how the software is used. Approximately 30% of the properties of SolidWorks software come preconfigured. What many users do not know is that 70% of the software properties can be set by users themselves. On the System Options tab, for example, you can determine how SolidWorks deals with drawings. For example, you can specify that no details need to be shown on the screen while dragging. This cuts down on the time that the computer requires.
You can also deactivate “AutoSave”, which avoids having the system come to a halt every other minute to save the file to the hard drive. You can also perform manual updates at a time that is most convenient for you. The “Automatically Hide” and “Do not display edges” options also help you save on processing time. And then there is the “Image Quality”. If you set the image quality to maximum (though why you would do this is a mystery), a drawing can soon exceed 100 MB. At a lower resolution, the drawing will be just 4 MB and the image will be composed much more quickly on the screen. When you need to see additional options, select that option, but not sooner. You will also need to conduct proper maintenance on your computer and use the Windows service tools regularly, such as HDD defragmentation, clean-up of register files and removing Temp files and unused data. If there is a virus program running on the computer, this can also negatively impact the speed. In short, immerse yourself a bit deeper in the settings of SolidWorks before your people start to collecting brochures for a new computer. After all, SolidWorks contains many basic settings that can be activated with a simple click of a mouse and that will speed up working with “Large Assemblies & Drawings” tremendously.’