Des compagnons intelligents, des approches intelligentes !

Article by Robert Gemmell updated July 6, 2023


When people are using smart mates in SOLIDWORKS for the first time, they often don’t see an immediate improvement in their mating speed and may revert back to their comfort zone. I wanted to touch on some considerations that will hopefully change your mind about smart mates.

  1. Smart mates weren’t designed to be your only mating technique.
  2. Preparing your model so Smart Mates are more intuitive.

Smart mates weren’t designed to be your only mating technique.

Coincident and concentric mates are the most used mates in assemblies. Smart mates were designed as an additional option to quickly add coincident and concentric or even both mates.

I see it all the time where people want this to become our default mating method, but we do not need to force ourselves to use it, just like we don’t force ourselves to use keyboard shortcuts or mouse gestures. When I’m adding mates, I’m staying flexible, using the in-context pop-ups, the command manager and using smart mates for low-hanging fruit (those easy coincident or concentric, or even better, coincident AND concentric mates). Once you’re comfortable with mates you’ll notice these become a valuable tool to speed up mating when used in conjunction with the other mating options.

Preparing your model so Smart Mates are more intuitive.

When you do decide to use a smart mate in SOLIDWORKS there are a couple of things that will improve your approach, either by reducing frustration and confusion and/or improving efficiency.

  1. Activating Smart Mates, you may have been told or read that holding “Alt” while dragging the selected entity is how it’s activated, and of course that does work! I’d like to break this down a little further, there are actually two things that need to happen to activate smart mates.
  2. The selected entity must be dragged, if you don’t drag then you won’t get the smart mate activation.
  3. “Alt” must be selected either after or during the drag, that’s why if you make a selection and hit “Alt” before you’ve started dragging it won’t pick up smart mates.

Now we know how this can be done efficiently, we simply start dragging the entity we want to mate, and while dragging tap that “Alt” key to activate smart mates.

  1. Secondly sometimes we don’t have our components set up to be easily selected and dragged, for example, you may select your entity but now you can’t see the entity you want to mate it to. When it’s a single mate I will often not use smart mates and just make the selections and use the in-context popup. However, it might still be useful to use smart mates if we are going to get both a coincident and concentric mate together. We must orient our components to make Smart Mates more intuitive. I’m going to go through four methods so you have some versatility, but I’m confident we will all prefer the last option.
  2. Insert Component. As we add the component we can use “insert components” which will allow us to reorient the component to our desired position before we place it in the assembly using the in-context pop-up.
  3. Move Triad. By right-clicking the component, we want to reposition and then choose “Move Triad” from the drop-down and use the handles to translate and rotate the component to our desired location.
  4. Multiple mouse buttons. While continuing to hold down the left mouse button after component selection, you can use your middle finger to press the middle mouse button to rotate your assembly without losing the selection. Once you can see the entity you are looking for you can release the middle mouse button and make your selection.
  5. Right mouse button. We simply use the right mouse button to select and drag the component we need to reorient into your desired position, this only moves the selected component.

These are all great methods to get you started mating your assemblies. However, there are many additional mates and approaches covered in the Assembly course you might find interesting.

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Robert Gemmell

Robert est consultant en formation et en processus SOLIDWORKS.