SOLIDWORKS Running Slow? Learn how to diagnose Large Assembly Performance Issues

Article by Adam Ferrer updated May 31, 2023


Is SOLIDWORKS running slow when you open an assembly? If you’re working remotely, do you have enough time to walk the dog around the block before your assembly finishes opening? Not only are opening times slow but every click, rotation, zoom produces lag.

The good news is your assembly loading performance can be improved, the hard part is knowing where to look. Often, SOLIDWORKS large assembly performance can be a death by a thousand cuts and in this article we will look at how to diagnose SOLIDWORKS Large Assembly Performance issues.

What might be the most important part of troubleshooting your assembly performance is understanding where your assembly is most vulnerable and that will be what we focus on in this post.

Critical knowledge for managing large assemblies:

  1. Learn how the software works when an assembly is opened.
  2. Be aware of the five (5) distinct phases of opening an assembly for editing.
  3. Know the factors that contribute to slowdowns in each of the five phases.
  4. Master troubleshooting techniques for quickly identifying which factors affect your current assembly.
  5. Master the tools, techniques, and workarounds for increasing your productivity when working with large assemblies.
  6. Formulate and apply best practices for building new efficient assemblies.

5 Phases for Diagnosing SOLIDWORKS running slow

SolidWorks Large Assembly Performance - is solidworks running slow

5 Phases IKEA Example

 Opening an assemblyBuying a desk from IKEA
1Locate and load component files in RAM.Each part is taken from a shelf and placed in a box.
2Update out-of-date components.Something changed! Read the instructions!
3Locate each component in space (solving mates)Assemble each component.
4Resolve assembly Features and in-context operations.Trim components, drill holes, hammer nails…
5Generate graphics data (Calculate and display tessellation triangles)Job done, you can touch the desk, move it in its location and start using it.

Phase 1: Locate and load component files in RAM (single thread) – Any changes since the last save?

If no, then SOLIDWORKS will go straight to completing the tessellation of the graphics triangles in phase 5.

If yes. SOLIDWORKS will update the out-of-date components in phase 2.

Phase 2: Update out-of-date components. (Single thread)

SOLIDWORKS will look for a component that is out of date and updated throughout all these sub-assemblies all the way to the top-level assembly. For example, this could be a bolt or a small piece of hardware that is used in multiple assemblies that has changed since the last save.

Phase 3: Locate each component in space (multi-thread)

SOLIDWORKS will resolve the mates there are mates, otherwise it will use the last known position.

If this is the first time we have solved this mate in the session; First Mate Pass, then it will update in-context and assembly features in phase four.

Phase 4: Update in context and assembly features (single thread)

This phase is going to calculate in context features such as patterns, cut-outs, any edge to edge relations in the assembly etc.

After that, it will do another check – Has anything moved?

If no – SW will proceed to Phase 5

If yes – SW will revert to Phase 3 to solve mates again.

NOTE: If it reverts to Phase 3, it will continue straight to Phase 5 since the First Mate Pass has already been completed. At this point, your assembly may be unstable and may contain circular references. At this point, anything that is using that assembly will require updates.

What’s Next for your SOLIDWORKS Large Assembly Performance?

Now that we have laid out the structure and processes your large assembly goes through each time you open it, it is up to us to figure out where the big slowdowns are occurring. They can be happening in more than one phase in some cases.

If you think this task of fixing your assemblies is daunting, will take a lot of time, or possibly leave room for making things worse – there’s a few solutions for that. Our team not only has developed this system for analyzing and fixing these challenges, but also developed ways of teaching our clients how to do this themselves.

We have Large Assembly Servicesworkshops and assessments that we offer to eliminate time and money wasted waiting around on broken assemblies. We train clients to implement the troubleshooting (i.e. breaking down techniques for each of the 5 phases), and best practices to prevent this from happening to their future assemblies.

This is the best and most efficient way we can improve and streamline your resources spent on SOLIDWORKS large assembly performance – giving you the right knowledge for solving issues now and preventing these issues from resurfacing down the road.

Related Links

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Adam Ferrer

Adam Ferrer is a graduate from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Technology in Automotive and Vehicle Engineering Technology degree. He is a Technical Marketing Specialist at Javelin.