An often-overlooked but powerful assembly function in SOLIDWORKS is Multiple-Mate mode. Multi-Mate Mode allows you to simultaneously mate multiple components to a single reference, such as a face or axis, depending on what type of mate you are conducting. The command can be used for any of the standard mate types, including Coincident, Parallel, Perpendicular, Tangent, Concentric, Distance and Angle.
The function can be accessed within the Mate command by clicking the paperclip/lightning icon to the left of the Mate Selections box.
Multi-Mate Mode can also be accessed with Quick Mates by selecting the shared reference first, holding in Ctrl, selecting the components to mate to the reference, then launching the Mate command from the pop-up toolbar. Depending on whether the initial pick was a flat face, cylindrical face, edge, axis, etc., SOLIDWORKS will pick the most reasonable mate-type based on the selections.
In some cases, you may encounter a situation where all the components group together in one spot when using Multiple Mate Mode. This is due to a setting that was added in recent releases of SOLIDWORKS that optimizes the placement of mated components. This is a useful setting when mating a single component at a time, but in Multiple Mate Mode, it may produce undesired results.
This setting can be disabled by unchecking it within the System Options. In SOLIDWORKS 2022, the option is called “Optimize component placement when adding mates”, and is the second option down in the Assemblies tab. With the option unchecked, the components will mate more predictably, and take the shortest path to the selected common reference.
Beneath the selection fields is a checkbox for “Create multi-mate folder”. If this option is unchecked, then every connection created in multi-mate mode will be converted to a standalone mate in the assembly tree, and any future changes will have to be made to each and every mate item.
If the “Create multi-mate folder” option is checked, then a new subfolder appears within the Mates folder for the multi-mate operation. This folder is an editable feature that allows you to treat all of the connections as a group again, if changes need to be made, or if selections need to be added to the group, etc.
If you often need to mate many components to a single reference where a component pattern isn’t a viable option, then I highly recommend giving Multiple Mate Mode a try. It’s easy-to-use, intelligent about predicting what you’re trying to accomplish, and can be a huge time saver for what could potentially be a very tedious job.
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