Why you should avoid SOLIDWORKS In-Context Relations when not needed

Article by Scott Durksen, CSWE updated July 26, 2017


SOLIDWORKS In-context relations and editing is a powerful tool. Driving features from one component allows features in other components to update automatically.

Yet with great power comes great responsibility (apologies for the movie reference).  In some cases you may accidentally add an external reference that was not intended.  This is most prevalent when the same component will be used elsewhere.  You don’t want the copied component to randomly change size when the original component is updated.

For example I have a component I’m editing in the assembly just so I can quickly change the size of the original Boss-Extrude.  I have the option ‘Use specified colors when editing parts in assemblies’ enabled under System Options > Colors as it’s easier to visualize.

SOLIDWORKS Editing Component

FIGURE 1: SOLIDWORKS Editing Component

After I modified the original sketch for Boss-Extrude1, I noticed it now has the ‘->’ SOLIDWORKS In-context relations symbol beside the features.

SOLIDWORKS In-context relations

FIGURE 2: SOLIDWORKS External References

Using Display/Delete Relations within the sketch, we can see that there is an in-context relation to the arc of the lower component that should not have been added.

SOLIDWORKS In-context relations

FIGURE 3: SOLIDWORKS In-Context Relation

When you are making quick edits to components in the assembly environment and you don’t want to accidentally add in-context relations, simply enable the option ‘No External References’ in the CommandManager Sketch tab.  Notice when I select the sketch circle and a reference from another component, there are no available relations to add.  Same goes for attempts to add a dimension to another assembly component.

SOLIDWORKS No External References

FIGURE 4: SOLIDWORKS No External References

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Scott Durksen, CSWE

Scott is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and is based in our Dartmouth, Nova Scotia office.