Learn about the process of finding and opening STL files and the options.
- [Instructor] Once you've gone ahead and imported geometry from another software into SOLIDWORKS, the next step in the process is deciding whether or not to save that as a part or an assembly file in the native SOLIDWORKS format and the implications of that. Let's walk through a pair of solid assembly so we can see what I mean. I'm going to go ahead and navigate to a pair of solid that I have ready. You'll notice this is the XT version and I'm just going to hit Open. You can see here when I opened this part that originally was constructed as an assembly file, this is made obviously by the fact that in the feature tree, we can see several parts underneath it that are all separate in creating separate 3D geometry.
Now if we want to at this point, we can go ahead and just click Save. And it'll save it in the location where we found it and you can say I've saved it before. So I'm simply going to overwrite that. And as well as saving the top level, it's also going to push all of the components that have been used in this assembly out to that same location essentially recreating your file structure. So let's go ahead and see what that looks like inside my folder. So you can see here that I've go the SOLIDWORKS assembly and all the part files that are needed to make that assembly right here.
Going back to my window, I also have to option to save it as a part file. Now sometimes you'll be sharing this data with someone else and sending multiple files in an assembly format just isn't necessary. Let's just say that I want to send this to a customer who's going to 3D print this for me. They would be able to use the part file version much easier which is much smaller than the assembly version. So let's see what happens when we save this as a part and open it back up. So I'm going to Save As, go down to my Save As file type, and save it as a part file.
Down here we have a different options. These all revolve around the geometry that's actually important to us. So let's say that we were doing a 3D print, the internal geometry is of no consequence. So we might select only show the exterior faces. It's a good option but not always complete. The next step up is exterior components. Let's say you have a very large assembly with many different kinds of hardware inside and you don't care what that hardware is but you want to see all the external features maybe for a presentation or something like that. You can select this option, it will be a smaller resulting file.
What I always tend to do is select all components and then cut out the geometry that I don't need after. So I'm going to select that again, then hit Save. So now you can see here that everything's saved the same in my assembly part file. But I'm going to go ahead and open up that part that I just made. Now the first thing that comes up is the FeatureWorks feature recognition. Because this was created in SOLIDWORKS, sometimes I want to say yes. But for now, I'm just going to say no. We'll come back to that shortly.
As you can see in the feature tree, instead of having parts in an assembly, I now have bodies in a part. We still have the ability to hide, save, combine all of them, whatever we'd like to do. But now we have a smaller file that's a little lighter and can be sent easier. So I'm going to go ahead and save that and approve this. If we go back to our exercise files and look at that same part and go by size, and if you add it up, the assembly and all these resulting parts below, it's going to be much less than the 1,175 KB that we have here.
I'm going to go ahead and close that. Now let's open it up again and this time, we're going to run FeatureWorks on our part. Now you'll notice here that we have overlapping solids and that's one of the limits for FeatureWorks so we can't do anything further here. I'm going to close this part and now I'm going to go back to one of the original parts from our original assembly and try the same thing. So you can see this is a single body so there were no failures.
I usually go with the automatic option in Standard features. If you're designing a sheet metal part, you select sheet metal features. You scroll down in the property manager, you can see what features we want to include. So we're going to include extrusions, revolves, wholes, fillets, chamfers, and ribs. I'm now dragging from right to left, going to select all of the features in this part. You can see that it's populated the blue window down here to contain all of the faces.
I'm going to hit go. SOLIDWORKS will now try to rebuild the feature tree as it was originally. As you can see, we have our results in the feature tree and what it's done is it's gone through and recreated this part all the way from the ground up. You can see the original imported geometry we started with and then all the features that make up the parts. So we have a boss extrusion here for each one of the letters. We have cuts for the wholes that are going through. And then we also have clearance holes in the right size.
All of this is detected simply by the geometry being there and the standards that SOLIDWORKS has built into it. So as you can see FeatureWorks is a very powerful tool that typically works best when the data that you have was originally created in SOLIDWORKS. Please leverage FeatureWorks everywhere you can to give yourself the best options for editing a part moving forward, especially when dealing with imported geometry.
- Opening files from different versions of SOLIDWORKS
- Importing models from online sources
- Importing 3D files
- Importing 2D files
- Exporting 2D and 3D files