Save assembly construction time with SOLIDWORKS SmartMates!

Article by John Lee, CSWE updated July 5, 2019


Assembling components in SOLIDWORKS?  There are multiple ways to mate components together.  Some methods are faster, while other methods are slower but more intelligent (such as the Mate manager). SOLIDWORKS SmartMates are one of the faster methods, where you can avoid the repetitive mouse travel between the graphics view and the Mate Property Manager just to create a single mate.  Rather, SmartMates can be created while keeping your mouse pointer in the graphics view at all times!

To initiate a SmartMate: hold down the Alt key (usually located next to the Space bar) while dragging the vertex, edge, or face of one component onto the appropriate vertex, edge, or face of another.

SOLIDWORKS will then offer you some kind of alignment preview and, if you choose to accept it, mate will be automatically created!

If, rather than releasing the mouse button, you keep dragging onto different faces or edges, then the alignment preview may change.

And now for an example:

Holding down Alt while dragging this edge to the edge of the nearby hole

Holding down Alt while dragging this edge to the edge of the nearby hole

In this example, on both components an edge was selected.  That results in both faces adjoining each edge being factored into the mating scheme.  That is why you get TWO mates as a reward of this single action.  And yes, this works with fasteners too!  😀

TWO new mates

A pin-in-hole arrangement resulting in TWO new mates created automatically!

When setting up SOLIDWORKS SmartMates, it helps to orient both components-to-be-mated such that both of the necessary entities are visible (and selectable) at the same time.  In this case, we rotate the red knob so that the edge of interest is visible and selectable.  Then we simply Alt+select and drag to the edge of the hole.  How cool is that!

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John Lee, CSWE

John Lee is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. A CSWE with fifteen years of experience using SOLIDWORKS and a background in mechanical design, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.