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Should I buy a new PC?
Hardware is essential, but top of the line hardware will never replace good practice. Your graphics card needs to be certified and the drivers need to be up to date. The processor should have enough power to handle the loads you start adding to it with every component. Your RAM needs to meet the baseline requirements or even be a place to have a little extra to spare. Your hard drive should be steady-state and you shouldn’t be working over a network. You could be doing everything right and your model is still slow. Is there anything you can do? Absolutely. And DesignPoint is here to show you some of the best practices it’s picked up along the way.
A critical area to review first is YOUR specific modeling techniques. More often than not, when we investigate ‘poor’ PC or SOLIDWORKS performance issues from our customers, their modeling technique is part of the problem. In this article, we’ll talk about Parts, Assemblies, and Drawing techniques, and examine some of the best practices that will allow you to be more productive while sacrificing as little as possible. Our goal is to reduce the time you spend sitting around and waiting for a model to rebuild and instead get you back to designing sooner.
Swept threads on fasteners, pipes, or fittings: Nothing will kill your performance faster than using swept or swept cut threads (commonly found in McMaster-Carr downloaded parts) throughout your assemblies. ‘Please try to use the SW Toolbox components with the cosmetic threads instead.
Unnecessary detail modeled on parts: If you must have all fully detailed models, make a reduced detail configuration where those features are suppressed. We don’t want you to be lazy, we want you to model efficiently.
- Extruded/Embossed/Debossed text: Use a split line feature if you must have text on parts. ‘It’s much less taxing on the video card because it doesn’t create the hundreds of small depth surfaces from the extrusion.
- Transparency: Having transparent parts can increase the load on your GPU by up to 40%. We recommend only using this for renderings in large assemblies, otherwise, hide those parts or make them opaque.
- Fillets: Avoid/suppress them if you can on ‘high BOM quantity’ parts in your assemblies. Ask yourself if you really need .010in fillets on all edges to finish this design? Create a configuration where you suppress them for use in assemblies.
- Imported parts: Ensure your imported parts are solids and have a sane number (generally <10) of bodies. Surface bodies add up quickly and are often much more taxing than a single solid, due to the nature of the surface definition. There are options to try to create solids when importing parts in SOLIDWORKS, make sure you have these checked. Try to merge multi-body parts into a single body.
Mates: This is an area that starts to add up when your assemblies grow in size and complexity. You should always follow a plan and here are some tips
- Mate to primary planes or axis: The primary planes are always there, so build your large assemblies referencing items you CAN’T DELETE and use them in mates.
- Mate logically; avoid sequentially: When you ‘stack’ together mates, you stack together equations that SOLIDWORKS must solve. When you have several components try to mate to a common part rather than tying them together.
- Use sub-assemblies: A good rule of thumb is not to have more than 1 screen’s worth of parts/sub-assemblies inside a single assembly. If your assembly feature tree has a vertical scroll bar, it is probably time to start creating more subassemblies. If you have repeated part patterns, create a sub-assembly, and pattern them.
- Flexible Sub-Assemblies assemblies: Try to avoid having complex flexible sub-assemblies that can move inside a different SOLIDWORKS assembly. This involves a lot of complex math to resolve the final location and may also have multiple solutions depending on your mates/components. You can suppress these mates to free your mechanism during design but try to keep it fixed after you test the range of motion.
- Assembly level features: These are generally very powerful techniques and can save you time modeling. Just make sure they don’t end up costing you time on the backend when you get to your top-level assembly.
Try to avoid putting multiple parts/assemblies in the same drawing file as this starts to multiply the PC load quickly. Also, try to minimize the number of sheets inside a drawing. Your PC must simultaneously open all referenced parts/assemblies once they are shown in a drawing view. Alternately, use the ‘Select Sheets to Open’ option, from the open dialogue to lighten the load for a single drawing.
If you think about performance before you create the model, you’ll really squeeze a lot more productivity out of even a less powerful computer.
I hope you found these tips and best practices helpful. I apologize in advance if this deprives you of taking your coffee break while the model rebuilds! All in all, our goal is to help you get more done. Thanks again for reading.
If you’ve read this, and still need some hardware recommendations, please see Building a Cost Effective Workstation for SOLIDWORKS.