SOLIDWORKS: Removing the Fluff with the Defeature Tool

SOLIDWORKS: Removing the Fluff with the Defeature Tool
Posted in: Mechanical Design

Welcome back to another Hawk Ridge Systems blog! In this article, I’m going to cover something that I get a lot of questions from both students and customers about. I’ll start by asking YOU the question, “Do you ever run into a model that is overly complex for what you need? Have you ever wanted to simplify it so that it doesn’t bog down your computer?” If your answer is yes, then the Defeature tool is your new best friend.

We’ve all been there. We get a model like this that has the detail that we just don’t need for what we’re doing.

solidworks-original-servo-model
Original Servo Model

In the case of this servo part, there are a lot of extraneous features, but a couple that really stands out are the hole in the middle and the text. They look pretty, but the only things I’m concerned about are the mounting holes and the outside dimensions. All of the extra features can cause slow rebuild times for the part, and cause slow down issues in the assembly that this is used in. Let’s use the Defeature tool to simplify this. Note that I’m working on a part, but Defeature will work on an assembly and change it into a part.

To access it, click under Tools, and it’s near the top of the menu.

solidworks-defeature-tool-location
Defeature Tool Location

This opens up a wizard in the property manager to step you through using the tool.

solidworks-to-keep-property-manager
To Keep Property Manager

The first step is to select all of the features to keep. The default behavior is to fill in all internal geometry, including holes, so select anything you don’t want the tool to fill in with the material. You can pick your own features in the Features to Keep box, select all holes or holes of a certain size by toggling the arrows, and use the Section View to see inside the part if there are any internal features to select. In this case, the hole in the center is going to be removed since I didn’t select anything. Hit the Next arrow to continue through the tool at the top right to continue.

The next step is To Remove. Also, notice that there are two windows, the original part on the left and a preview the defeatured part on the right.

solidworks-remove-property-manager
To Remove Property Manager

I can select anything that wasn’t removed in the first pass, like the text. I’ll select the features of both texts and hit the Next arrow.

solidworks-text-selected
Text Selected

The final option is what you want to do with the defeatured file. I can save it out as a separate file and have the option to link it to the original file. I would recommend doing this as long as space isn’t an issue since it’s safest to have the original somewhere. We can also publish it to 3D Content Central for others to use, or store the settings in the part until we’re ready to do the above options.

solidworks-final-file-selections
Final File Selections

I’ll save it out as a separate file and give it a DF at the end to distinguish it as the defeatured part.

solidworks-save-as-dialog
Save As Dialog

Now that we have two versions of this part, let’s use the Performance Evaluation Tool under the Evaluate command manager to see the difference between the files.

solidworks-original-v-defeatured-parts
Original vs. Defeatured Parts
solidworks-original-v-defeatured-parts2
Original vs. Defeatured Parts

The first part takes about a second to rebuild, but times add up depending on how large the assembly is. In contrast, the second part has a rebuild time of 0 and has one feature, so you can’t beat that. Secondly, let’s look at the size of the files. The original part is over 3 times larger than the defeatured part.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and will use the Defeature tool with your models. Check out our YouTube channel for more tutorials! If you have a comment, please enter it below, and thanks for reading!

March 6, 2017
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