How to replace SOLIDWORKS Sub-assemblies with Multi-Body Parts while maintaining Drawing References!

Article by Chris Briand, CSWE updated December 20, 2016


As design evolves within SOLIDWORKS we find many customers have a desire to swap sub-assemblies for multi-body components.  We  could spend some time in this article to discuss why I think this may not be the best idea in regard to overall SOLIDWORKS performance, however my goal here is to highlight a little enhancement that can make a big difference to some users.

The Common scenario:

Let’s illustrate a scenario where we have a plan to exchange the sub-assemblies place for a multi-body component. If we happen to have created some annotated drawing content from a sub-assembly, before we used to use the “Replace Components” tool, we know what will happen…BOOM! All of the drawing dimensions will dangle and become useless.

Assembly Tree

Assembly Tree

Preserve Geometry References

In order to avoid this, we can invoke some functionality when Saving out the assembly as a multi-body component in the first place.

When we save the sub-assembly as the eventual part file, simply choose the “Preserve Geometry References” option. This checkbox will provide you with the opportunity to substitute this part file into the parent assembly at a later time – without the penalty of a host of dangling annotations.

Preserve Geometry References

Preserve Geometry References

Switching back and forth between multi-body and assembly

Here’s the cool part – once you have the multi-body part swapped out for the original sub-assembly, you can then SWITCH IT BACK!

Multi-body part

Multi-body part

You can use the Replace components tool to once again swap the multi-body part for the original assembly, and the drawing references will be maintained!

Needless to say, having this functionality available bi-directionally is fantastic for users who would like to swap sub-assemblies for their saved-as part files.

We advise that you try this on a test assembly before you attempt it on live data.

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Chris Briand, CSWE

Chris has been educating and supporting Engineers, Designers and IT Personnel within the 3D CAD industry since 2002, and was adopted into the fantastic team of applications experts here at Javelin Technologies in early 2006.  Chris enjoys the continuous learning driven by the ingenuity and challenges Designers bring forward. Innovation using 3D Printing, 3D CAD and other technologies, combined with a diverse background as a technologist, allows Chris to find solutions that accelerate Designers, and take Design Teams to new heights. Chris is currently being held at an undisclosed location, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.