In this two-part series for SOLIDWORKS Composer, we’ll dive into what tools the program provides us to easily sort through a large assembly and find exactly what we’re looking for! In the first part, we’ll take an in-depth look of how to sort through the imported Assembly tree, and then create selection sets to save us more time later on.
On the ‘Assembly Pane’, we’re able to sort all the actors alphabetically by clicking on ‘Sort Alphabetically’. This will not only sort the Top level alphabetically, but it will also do so for all the actors under sub-assemblies as well. This is helpful for those that know the name of the actor they’re looking for and know which sub-assembly it’s in.
‘Sort Alphabetical’ Off
‘Sort Alphabetical’ On
We’re also able to search for actors if you know the name, but unsure of exactly which assembly or sub-assembly it’s a part of. For instance, if we wanted to search for all the actors that have ‘Socket’ in the ‘Name’, we can search for type in ‘socket’ in the ‘Search’ bar and set ‘Name’ to be the ‘Property’ to search for.
If we were to click ‘Next’, Composer will then cycle through each actor that has the word ‘Socket’ in its name. If our intention is to instead grab all the actors that have ‘socket’ in the name, we’ll click on ‘Search All’; this will select all of those actors that it’s pulled from the search results. In addition, we can choose how we want the actors to be sorted. For those that match the search criteria (‘socket’, in this case), I have ‘Select, Show, and Zoom to Fit’ on, and for ‘Non-Matching Actors’ I have ‘Hide’ checked on. What does that mean? When I click ‘Search All’, all the ‘Socket’ actors will be visible (because ‘Show’ is checked on), and they’ll be highlighted (because ‘Select’ is checked on) and all the other actors will become hidden (because ‘Hide’ for ‘Non-Matching Actors’ is checked). The camera will then’ Zoom to Fit’ the viewport window to capture all of the components shown!
If our purpose is to hide all of our components we selected from the search (let’s call them ‘Ball Sockets’ and ‘Socket Head Cap Screws’), we can simply just click on the ‘Home tab > Visibility > Hide Selection’. Now, if we wanted to instead control the ‘Ball Sockets’ and ‘Socket Head Cap Screws’ as a group, I can create a ‘Selection set’, which essentially groups all our components together regardless if they’re in the same or different assemblies. We can find the ‘Create Selection Set’ button as the 3rd button from the left on the ‘Assembly Pane’.
The selection set will appear towards the bottom of the ‘Assembly Pane’, which you can rename by clicking ‘F2’. If we decided later on that we wanted to add some washers to this Selection Set, the process is simple; all we need to do is select the actors, right-click on the Selection Set (Toolbox Components, in this case) and click ‘Add Actors to Selection Set’.
The benefit of selection sets is being able to easily hide and show them with literally a check of a box, and they don’t even have to be in the same assembly! They’re especially useful when creating step by step assembly instructions where a certain group of components can be grouped as ‘Step 1’ Selection Set and the next set can be grouped as ‘Step 2’. That way, when you’re creating your views, you can easily select/de-select the components you wish to focus on, without having to search through the entire assembly tree! In the second half of this 2 part series, we’ll continue this further and see how ‘Assembly Selection Mode’ can help us create better views for assembly instruction manual!