Excel Based Bill of Materials in SOLIDWORKS

Posted in: Mechanical Design
December 22, 2015

Setting up and using an Excel Based Bill of Materials can be frustrating if the rules are not known between Excel and Solidworks. You may have run into a couple of error messages in the process, or even ran out of memory with enough failed attempts. Following are the rules for successfully utilizing an Excel Based Bill of Materials in SOLIDWORKS.

Excel has a set of rules for setting up an Excel Based Bill of Materials to be used in SOLIDWORKS. While trying to create one, you may have run into a couple different error messages. The most common message is, “Error creating Bill of Materials” as seen in the image below.

1aFigure 1: Failed creation message

If there are enough failed attempts at creating the Excel Based Bill of Materials, you may have gotten an error message indicating that there is insufficient memory, followed by another message saying, “Excel cannot complete this task with available resources. Choose less data or close other applications”. If this occurs, you may have to restart the computer.

The first error message is due to the 1st rule not completed. Here we will go through the steps and rules to successfully set up and implement an Excel Based Bill of Materials.

Rule #1.

The minimum requirement to create the Bill of Materials in SOLIDWORKS is the Part Number, and it must be put in a specific way, and defined in Excel. The column name can be labeled anything but it must be defined in Excel exactly as, “Partno”.

Here are the instructions for defining a name in Excel:

  • Select the cell that you would like to define. Go to the Formulas tab, then in Defined Names section, click on Define Name as seen in the figure below.

1Figure 2: Define Names location in Excel

The Name Manager allows editing of the names that have been defined. The “Value” is the column header name, and the “Name” is the name in Excel

Rule #2.

If you want the Quantity or Item Number in your BOM and for it to reflect the quantity/item number of your SOLIDWORKS parts, you will need to define the name “quantity”/ “Itemno” (respectively) in Excel exactly as seen in the figure below, -OR- label the column header as “quantity” / “Itemno” exactly. You will not need to define a custom property in SOLIDWORKS for the quantity or the item number, since it is being read in.

2Figure 3: Property name defined in Excel

Rule #3.

The Bill of Materials can bring in all other custom properties established in SOLIDWORKS by either defining the name in Excel or by matching the column header. The names must be identical. For SOLIDWORKS, if there are spaces in the names of your properties, they must be filled in (e.g. an underscore), where in Excel spaces are fine. An example of this is shown below.

3Figure 4: Material Property format in SOLIDWORKS

Figure 5: Material Property format in Excel

When ready to insert, the drawing view must be pre-selected for the Excel Based Bill of Materials option to be available. After clicking ok on the options prompt, SOLIDWORKS will take a moment or two to bring the table in the drawing. This Bill of Materials is editable inside of SOLIDWORKS with a double click, but will not save back to the BOM template. Editing the table inside SOLIDWORKS you will see $$END as the last column header. This is automatically brought in for SOLIDWORKS to know where the stopping point is and will not show up in the table.

December 22, 2015
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