One of the many interesting things I’ve learned at Javelin is the effect that the SOLIDWORKS Image Quality setting has on file size. I had always assumed that it would have an impact on overall performance; but I never would have thought it would have such an impact on the file size. Of course, the effect it can have varies wildly across files, so I decided to look at 4 basic shapes: A cube, a cylinder, a sphere, and a torus.
To adjust the image quality I selected Tools > Options, then click the Document Properties tab, selected Image Quality from the list on the left. Then I saved all 4 files with the Image Quality slider in the nominal position taking note of the file sizes.
Then I adjusted the slider all the way to the left (the lowest setting), rebuilt and saved again and took note of the file sizes.
Then I adjusted the slider all the way into the red on the right (Highest) and rebuilt, saved, and recorded the file sizes.
These are the SOLIDWORKS file size results:
I noticed that on the cube, which has only flat surfaces, the file size was completely unaffected by the SOLIDWORKS Image Quality setting. I also noticed that more curved shapes, such as the torus or sphere, there was a significant impact to file size (13-20x). This is due to the number of triangles required to create the surfaces. The cube requires 12 triangles (2 per face), regardless of the image quality.
If you were making a sphere from triangles, the quality setting makes a big difference between low (where you might have 20 triangles and have an icosahedron), or a higher setting (with thousands of triangles forming a near perfect sphere). This Triangle Count is what is causing the file size to be so large, but there is a way to bypass this effect on file size:
If you clear the checkbox for “Save tessellation with part document” then the image quality slider will have no impact on file size. Here are the results:
Keep in mind that this is a Document Property, meaning it is file-specific. This also means that I can set it up correctly in a part template.
Also of note, this setting can be accessed by the SOLIDWORKS API. Which means that you could create a macro that would run through archived files; and adjust this slider to the lowest setting.