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

Working with nested assemblies


Sheet Metal with SolidWorks: Enclosure Design Project

with Gabriel Corbett

Video: Working with nested assemblies

Designs can get complicated. And it's going to be bringing these nuts into this assembly.

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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

Working with nested assemblies

Designs can get complicated. And we can have parts and assemblies intermixed and sometimes it's hard to determine which parts should be in which assemblies. The best practice is to predefine the key components in a design and assign part numbers in the beginning of the design process. So, the assemblies are predefined. In reality, sometimes this doesn't quite happen. Luckily for us, we can build and dissolve assemblies on the fly and create the perfect combination. Let's take a look at some examples. So you can see here, we have a couple assemblies here.

We have the subassembly here. It's got the cover and it's got those pin hard where we placed in earlier. And then on our top level, we've got individual components. And we have some screws and things of that nature. This is the exact combination we want for this design. However, we're going to go ahead and mess it up a little bit, and see what we can do with those assemblies. First, let's dissolve the assembly. Right-click on it, and click on Dissolve Subassembly. Click on that. And it's going to be bringing these nuts into this assembly. And it's going to give you a warning sometimes if a component will go out of context.

Because we designed and made that sketch in this subassembly here, it's going to go out of context. So, we might need to repair that in the future, but in this case here, let's just say Move, and bring those all in. Now, notice there is no subassembly, that's all in one top level at this point in time. What I can do then is I can say, well, I'd like to intermix a certain amount of these components together. Let's just pick these ones here. So, this is going to be the base with the screws. Right-click on it and click on the drop-down here first, and Form New Subassembly Here.

And if it gives you a question about a template, just click on Cancel and it allows you to go ahead and choose a template. We're going to use the Lynda Assembly Template. Click on OK. And it's going to be again, give you a couple of warnings, some things are going to go out of context. And that's something you're going to have to deal with if you're dissolving and building new assemblies. Because some things are created in context to the other, but, don't worry about that. Click on Move, and they bring it in. Now we create a new subassembly here, and let's go ahead and do the same thing with these ones here. So, let's go ahead and create that, right-click on it, Form New Subassembly Here.

Okay, and hit Cancel, click this Assembly template, click OK. Move those in. And now we've created two subassemblies, in context, to the top level. Notice both of these are inside of this assembly. They're not saved to the file system. So I can right-click on 'em, and say, Save Assembly in External File. Name it whatever you'd like, just by clicking on that. Place it wherever you like, and go from there. I'm going to go ahead and Cancel that. Now I also want to point out that we can create assemblies or subassemblies of other assemblies.

So go up to File > Make Assembly From Assembly, click OK. Bring in that assembly. And then I can actually bring in multiples of the same assembly. Hold down Ctrl, choose it from over here, drag in another copy. I can keep doing the same thing here and bring in a bunch of copies of the same assembly, or subassemblies. Now I can also do the same thing we did earlier, and create assemblies of subassemblies and move things around. So, for instance, this component here, and that component there, I can right-click on it and say, Form New Subassembly Here.

Choose that template again, move that in. And now, we've got these two components are actually a part of that assembly now. So you can get really complicated with how you bring assemblies in and rearrange 'em. Keep track of how things are in context to each other, though. Because sometimes those will go out of context if you start moving things around too much, or start dissolving or recreating a subassemblies. There's a lot of great techniques you can use to either form or dissolve subassemblies to really make your design process that much easier.

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