SOLIDWORKS Virtual Components in an assembly stores the information internally within the assembly file. There is no external file (.sldprt or .sldasm) that is referenced. These components are typically used when generating models using the top-down modeling method. For more information on this modeling practice (and when you should and shouldn’t use it), I’d definitely recommend the SOLIDWORKS Assembly Modeling training course.
Virtual components are also useful to add entries to a BOM without changing the model geometry. Check out our blog article ‘Adding Non-visible items to your BOM‘ for more detail.
These components can be saved out to external files at any time as shown in the SOLIDWORKS Help. However if you’ve been using a mix of virtual components throughout your design, you may need to search for all virtual components to determine if they should be saved out as a separate file.
Search for Virtual Components
An easy way to locate all virtual components in an assembly is using the Filter tool at the top of the assembly Design Tree. All virtual components will use the naming convention:
Therefore since all virtual components will have the character ‘^’ which is not a common value in a component name, enter this character into the Filter. This will show all components, including those within subassemblies, that are virtual.