SOLIDWORKS External References: Creating New Parts

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated January 30, 2023

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Have you ever created an assembly file and thought “wow, this could really use a baseplate?” Maybe it’s a lid or a handle, but either way, your assembly feels incomplete. A part is missing and now you must do calculations on how it fits with the other parts and other tedious measurements to make sure it aligns accordingly. Instead of all that, did you know that you are able to create new parts directly within an Assembly file? Using Top-Down Assembly Modeling techniques, you can add a part directly to your assembly file while also adding external relations and references directly to that part. With a few quick steps, you’ll be using these new assembly modeling techniques to make more efficient and robust assemblies.

Step 1: Open your Assembly File

Before you go and create your new part make sure your assembly is ready and open to receive it. If the assembly isn’t aligned and ready, might as well just make an independent part file! Once you have your assembly open in SOLIDWORKS, use the Insert Component drop down menu within the Assembly Command Manager to select New Part.

Insert components tab

Insert Components

Step 2: Create your Part

Using the same sketch tools and features that you would use normally, create your part within the assembly! Note that other assembly parts become transparent, which you can also adjust using the Assembly Transparency tool within the Assembly Command Manager. Also note that when working within a part file inside an assembly file, that part is shown in blue within the Feature Design Tree.

part file inside an assembly file shown in blue

Step 3: Save your Part Externally

Excellent! You’ve created a part within your assembly file! But what now? Well as you might’ve noticed, your new part is notated within brackets in your Feature Design Tree. This signifies that the part that you’ve just made is considered a Virtual Component. Virtual Components can be edited like true parts; however, they only exist within the assembly file that you used to create them. There is no file location that they exist in, so they can only be accessed through that same assembly file. If you wish to access this new part as an independent part file, all you have to do is right click on the part within the Feature Design Tree and select Save Part (In External File). The software will automatically create a pathing to the new part in the same file location as your assembly!

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TriMech Solutions, LLC

TriMech provides thousands of engineering teams with 3D design and rapid prototyping solutions that work hand-in-hand, from sketch to manufacturing. Javelin became a subsidiary of TriMech Solutions LLC in 2021.