How to sync SOLIDWORKS Composer sub-assemblies with SOLIDWORKS

Article by Ben Crisostomo, CSWE updated July 30, 2019


If you use SOLIDWORKS Composer in tandem with SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Design to generate the models, chances are that you have had difficulty updating the Composer file after an update in a sub-assembly. In this article,  we will explore a way to set up your Composer document so that you can update sub-assemblies within the Main assembly of your file. In this example, we will be working with the table design seen below. The table is made up of two sub-assemblies with a Linear pattern applied to the “Leg Assembly.”  We will import the top level assembly (“Desk Assembly”) into SOLIDWORKS Composer.

Getting Started

Figure 1: Desk Assembly

After importing the Desk Assembly into Composer, we will save the file as a Composer product (.smgXml).

Note: If you save as *.smg or you receive an *.smg from someone else, then save the *.smg as *.smgXml. This operation “shatters” the *.smg file into its child files: *.smgXml, *.smgGeom, *.smgSce, and *.smgView.

Saving & Adding Sub-assemblies

The next step would be to open all the associated sub-assemblies and save them as .smgXml files as well. From here we will reopen the top level assembly and add the sub-assembly files we just made to it. Adding the files can be done by right-clicking the sub-assembly and selecting Product > Add Products… to select the file. The image below illustrates the process.

Update composer files

Figure 2 Add Products to Sub-assembly

From here, we repeat the process with all the subassemblies involved. Once this completed, we will see a red assembly icon in the subassembly, as seen in the image below.

The product sub-assembly is embedded in the existing sub-assembly. This step is IMPORTANT because it retains the relative position of the sub-assembly in the top-level. If you add the sub-assembly product to the top-level or root node, then the position of the sub-assembly is wrong.

From here we can go ahead and delete the other part actors in the sub-assembly. In the example below, we will be deleting the original part files (highlighted in orange) that make up the Leg Assembly.

Adding Sub-Assemblies

Figure 3 Added Product & part removal

From here we will be able to make updates to the sub-assembly every time a change is made.

Updating Composer Files

In our example, we would like to change the configuration of one of our sub-assemblies. To do that, we would open the Composer Project file of the sub-assembly in question, and update the file by going to File > Update > Solidworks Composer Document.

We will notice that when we open the top level assembly file, the changes are already there. In our example below, we can see that the grid structure has changed after the update.

Figure 4 Top Level Assembly After Update

The first time you open the file, you may notice the actors disappearing when changing views. Don’t worry, once you turn them back on in the assembly tree and save, you will be fine moving forward.


The procedure above is a great way to minimize the effected sub-assembly changes to the Composer file. However, it takes a bit of planning at the beginning for teams working with each software to come up with an assembly structure that works for both parties. Being able to Set up your Composer document so that you can update sub-assemblies can save a lot of time when updating files. To ensure that you are able to update files successfully, please see the following article: SOLIDWORKS Composer Documentation Update Best Practices

Want to learn more about Composer?

Attend a SOLIDWORKS Composer training course either live online or in a Canadian city near you.

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Ben Crisostomo

Ben is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Application Expert based in the Javelin Oakville head office