Sheet Metal with SolidWorks: Enclosure Design Project
Illustration by Richard Downs

Sheet Metal with SolidWorks: Enclosure Design Project

with Gabriel Corbett

Video: Connecting the parts with hardware

We now have that basic parts designed in our assembly, And then go ahead up to your Open and click on screw.

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Watch the Online Video Course Sheet Metal with SolidWorks: Enclosure Design Project
2h 31m Intermediate May 21, 2014

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Real-world projects are vital to mastering SolidWorks, and sheet metal enclosures are a perfect example of a typical project. Sheet metal enclosures house and protect circuitry, wiring, and other sensitive electronic parts and frequently require customization by a professional CAD designer. So take a firsthand walk through designing a sheet metal enclosure for circuit boards and panel-mounted connectors, as well as fans, power cords, and switches, with SolidWorks. Gabriel Corbett covers the key techniques for working with in-context parts and assemblies that dynamically adjust based on the master part model. He'll show you how to use equations to drive the size of the box and calculate vent holes, work with circuit boards, and download connector components. Plus, learn how to add decals before prepping the final drawings for manufacturing.

Topics include:
  • Working with the Base and Flange tools
  • Building the rough enclosure shape
  • Designing the cover
  • Adding vents
  • Adding components
  • Cutting holes for connectors
  • Adding graphics
  • Making assembly drawings
Gabriel Corbett

Connecting the parts with hardware

We now have that basic parts designed in our assembly, and we going to go ahead now and connect the parts together. So what I've done is I've downloaded a PEM fastener, which is a captive nut, as well as a machine screw from McMaster-Carr. There's a lot of different sources to be able to get hardware from, and those are just a couple that I chose for this example. To get started, let's go ahead and open those parts up. So I'm going to go over here to Open, and I have a little folder in the 2-2.4 folder called Hardware. Open that up, you can see I have a nut and I have a screw and as well I have a PEM data sheet on that piece of PEM hardware.

So let's open up the nut. Click on Open, and that's how it shows up. And this is an imported solid so sometimes you'll get this little feature works pop up, just go ahead and click no. And then go ahead up to your Open and click on screw. And by the way you can also select both those and open them at the same time. So there's our two pieces of hardware. Now let's go down here to our assembly. So I'm going to click on Window > Tile Horizontally, and you can see all the different components we have. Now we want to keep track of how we assemble these part together. I could easily drag both of these components into this top level assembly.

However, in reality, this little nut here is actually should be part of the cover assembly, because it's not really assembled at the same time as all the other components are, this screw here is. So let's drag a couple of these in here. So there's one. And then for this one here I want to actually build a new assembly here with this cover in it. So let's go back to that assembly for a second. Now here's the part that just came in. Let's click on View Height Sketches so we don't see those little internal sketches there. We don't need those. And once you already have one component in the design you can easily hold down Ctrl on your keyboard and just replicate that part.

So that's a real easy way to do that. But now what I want to do is create an assembly with this part over here. So. First things first, let's go ahead and make that an assembly by opening it, and creating the parts. There's two different ways to do this. One is I can bring in these components here first. So here's one, drag it in. And then create an assembly in context. So I say, I want this part, and I want that part. So both of those are actually it, being selected. Let's make sure we got them both. There's that one and there's that one.

And I can right click on them and I can create an assembly in context. Sometimes you have to click on this little drop down arrow right here and it says Form New Sub Assembly here. It says if you can't find your correct template and make sure you're doing that do you want to continue? I'll click on Cancel and I'll choose a correct template. And I'm going to use the Lynda assembly. Click on OK. And you can see now I have a virtual assembly inside of my design. I want to go and save that out to my file system. So I'm going to right click on it, and I'm going to say save assembly in external file. And as far as the name I don't want it to be assembly1 so double click on that.

Under Exercise Files. In this case here, it's going to be 2-4. Okay, click OK, and let's change that name to 2.4-2. And I'm going to go ahead and change that name. Go ahead and click on OK, and that saves it out as a new file. It's a new assembly. So now I can open the assembly. And you can see I have my original part plus I have my new piece of hardware that I've just added. Let's go ahead and create the assembly and build those parts together. I'm going to drag this close by, spin it around and add a couple mates.

So under Mates, I can click on, I want the inside of this circle here. And, I want the outside of that. Those meet together. And the inside face to this. And that face there. Now, I do want to point out, there's a couple different ways we can be adding hardware to our design. If you have SolidWorks Premium or Professional, you generally will have the toolbox. You can come over here to Toolbox and select some different hardware. You can add it in and drag those components in. That's one really great way for using and pulling in hardware. And, it's a real quick way to add it. The only problem with that is it doesn't actually give you a real part number to associate with each one of those.

It's a more generalized hardware, but it does bring things in quite quickly to build a design rapidly. In this case here I'm just going to use the same hardware. Hold down Ctrl, drag out another copy of that, I'm going to bring it right over here. Now, you also have the option to doing quick mates here, you can basically hold down Alt and snap things together as they mate. And sometimes that works with hardwares and sometimes it's a little bit more tricky. So, I generally prefer just to do quick, regular mates here. Make these two pop together, take that surface there, take this bottom surface here, and just have those things slide together.

I've got two there. Let's just grab that next couple. Again hold down Ctrl. Right mouse click, spin, click on Mate, mate that with the inside of this. Mate the inside surface here with that surface there. Click OK. And then hold down Ctrl, drag out one more copy. Let's spin that around. Bring it over here by this hole here. Again, up to Mate. Mate those two. Grab that surface there, spin it around. Grab the inside surface. Those two should slide together.

Click OK. And there's all my hardware installed on my cover. Click OK. And let's go back to our assembly. So here's the assembly here. You can see the hardware is now installed. And now we're ready to jump in and do the screws. Same thing with the screws, Mate. In this case, it's a little bit hard, because there's no actual good round surfaces. So, because the screw here if I zoom in real close I can see there's actually a surface here which is a cylindrical face. It's a little hard to grab, but it should work.

Grab the inside of that hole. Those slide together, and then I'm going to choose this face here. The other option here is choosing this face and this face to have things mate together with. That way you don't have to choose the outside of the thread. To do that, let's just grab this face here. And then this face here. Have those slide together, and it knocks out two mates at one shot. Once you got those, again hold on Ctrl, drag out a copy. Let's pull it around to the side here. And then get it in the right orientation by spinning it with my right mouse button. Click on this face here, click on mate, click on that face there, those slide together, and then for our final mate we're going to hold down Ctrl, drag that out, mate.

And this can obviously be a little bit tedious if we have to do this for multiple, multiple pieces. And if you have something like in a row it's pretty easy to do some type of a component pattern or bring those in at assembly level. Or again do the multi-mates or rapid mates as you're bringing them in. Lot of options. I just kind of want to go through the slow method here just to illustrate what we need to do to build that assembly. Connecting parts together is one of the biggest concerns when designing parts for production. Thinking connections through and choosing wisely will make a big difference down the line.

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