SOLIDWORKS Toolbox 101

Recently at DesignPoint we have received an influx of questions regarding the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox; how to customize it, best practices for setting one up, how to share it, etc. So, we wanted to create some resources to help you form a better understanding of Toolbox functionality, and how you can use it to optimize efficiency and decrease headaches during your design process. This article will go over how to set up and configure your SOLIDWORKS Toolbox. The next article in this series will guide you through using your Toolbox to speed up your design process.  I recommend also checking out the article my colleague, Dan, wrote which shows our top 4 startup tips for Toolbox. With all these great resources at your fingertips, you’ll be a SOLIDWORKS Toolbox expert in no time!

What is the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox Library?

SOLIDWORKS Toolbox is your personal library of customizable hardware and supplier standard components. Toolbox components can be easily dropped into a file at any point while fully maintaining the properties assigned during setup. Once in the file, you can easily change a component’s configuration and populate BOMs with proper descriptions, sizes, and other custom information. Next up I’ll show you how to install and choose a location for your Toolbox.

Installing SOLIDWORKS Toolbox

Every Professional and Premium installation of SOLIDWORKS includes the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox. Within the Installation Manager, under Product Selection, you will find the list of Toolbox components available for install.

SOLIDWORKS Toolbox products in the Installation Manager

The Installation Manager is also where you choose a name and location for your Toolbox. This is specified on the Summary page of the manager, as shown in the image below. The default Toolbox location is set up to save on your local C:\drive, with the name “SOLIDWORKS Data”. Both the name and location can be changed and relocated by selecting ‘Change’.

Choose the installation location for your Toolbox

After the Toolbox products have been installed, you can now configure SOLIDWORKS to point to the correct location. In SOLIDWORKS, under Tools > Options > System Options > Hole Wizard/Toolbox, you can specify the correct folder location as well as other customizable options for this library.

Configure your Toolbox

The best thing to do before using your Toolbox is to spend some time configuring it to your liking. The Toolbox settings program is a separate application where we can customize the hardware, define user settings and permissions, and even configure Smart Fasteners. You can access this program to configure your Toolbox by either:

1) Start > All Programs > SOLIDWORKS 20XX > SOLIDWORKS Tools > Toolbox Settings

2)  Tools > Options > System Options > Hole Wizard/Toolbox > click Configure

Navigating the Toolbox Settings Program

The Toolbox settings program will prompt you with 5 steps to customize and configure your library. I have outlined the steps below, and provided a summary for each section:

  1. Hole Wizard: This is where we establish settings for Hole Wizard and define which Standards will be available. Each Standards folder (ANSI Inch, ANSI Metric, etc.) has several hole types for us to either select or unselect. You’ll notice there are also subtypes of each hole type that we can pick and choose from depending on which we want available to us throughout the design process. My suggestion here is to unselect any folders, items, or sizes you do not need.
  2. Customize your Hardware: Similar to the first step, step 2 limits which hardware will be available (bolts, screws, nuts, etc.). Additionally, we can modify the standard properties for each component, such as custom properties, numbers, and descriptions.
General tab, Standard Properties, and Custom Properties

The types of Standard Properties shown depend on the type of Toolbox component you are configuring. In this case we are looking at a Heavy Hex Bolt which has the Size tab, under Standard Properties. The Size tab allows us to add, delete, or modify the bolt sizes. We can also enable or disable specific sizes from this tab. Other properties, like Length, Thread Data, Thread Display, and Color can also be modified in this way. New Custom Properties can be created as well, and the value defined here will show up in the list of configurations for that component.

Defining a new Custom Property
Applying the new Custom Property to a Toolbox Component

To modify Toolbox components easily and quickly, I suggest taking advantage of the Excel functionality. Simply export your data to Excel, make changes in the spreadsheet, and import the updated file into Toolbox.

Export and Import Toolbox component data using Excel
  1. Define User Settings: This is where we define various user settings and preferences for file creation, read-only documents, part numbers, and display options.
  2. Set Permissions: This section allows us to control who has access to making changes in the Toolbox. A password can be created and distributed to the Toolbox administrator(s) from this settings window.
  3. Configure Smart Fasteners: The last step is to set up your Smart Fastener preferences. Smart Fasteners can be automatically populated in assemblies using information from existing holes. Here you can specify preferences for washer sizes, automatic fastener change, and which fastener to use with non-Hole Wizard holes.

At this point, your SOLIDWORKS Toolbox is all set up and ready to go! The SOLIDWORKS Copy Settings Wizard can help ensure everyone on your team is using the same Toolbox Settings. When configured, customized, and issued correctly, the Toolbox can be a real game changer in terms of optimizing your organization’s standard practices. Tools like the Toolbox prove that More is Possible® in your design practices, and we are here to help you achieve More by implementing solutions like these.