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SolidWorks Best Practices for Hardware Models

We all know there are multiple ways to construct models in SolidWorks. No single method is better or worse than another, but some methods will allow for:

1. Easier modifications to models. 3. Models that are smart.

2. More robust or stable models.

4. Models that are more useful for everyone.

Developing Best Practices is our way to identify which methods work best for the types of designs we create everyday.

Hardware Models
Below are 4 examples of a 5/16 shoulder bolt model. We will explore how each was made, and identify the Pros and Cons for each modeling method.

When creating models of hardware (outside of Toolbox) it is important to accurately construct a model that represents the real life part. Accurate models help us to identify interferences and clearances in our top level assemblies. However, many times users will create too much detail in a model that does not add to the functional accuracy of the model.

Method 1- The stacked build.

In this method the model was constructed of several circular extrusions to construct the main body of the bolt. After this, the hex-socket was added, along with chamfers to give a lead-in on the threads and add detail to the bolt head. Cosmetic Threads are used to indicate the threads. Model Pros: Easy to modify the length or diameter of the model. Quick rebuild time. Model Cons: No accurate threads available for section views if required. 7 features in the Feature Manager.

Method 2- The revolved body.

In this method, the entire profile of the bolt was created in the base sketch, and the sketch was Revolved around a center axis. After this the hex-socket was added along with Cosmetic Threads. Model Pros: Very fast Rebuild time. Minimum amount of features in the Feature Manager. Model Cons: Very time consuming to modify the model if required. No accurate threads available for section views if required.

Method 3- The faked threads.

In this model, several circular extrudes were used to create the body of the bolt. A solid extruded feature representing the threads had a Cut-Revolve feature that was LinearPatterned to simulate the threads. Details of the bolt head include the hex-socket and chamfer detail. Model Pros: Realistic looking threads, but not 100% accurate. Visually appealing model. Decent Rebuild time. Model Cons: Performance degrading Rebuild time. Inaccurate threads for section view use.

Method 4- The real deal.

In this model, the bolt was created with several circular extruded features, with the addition of accurately modeled helix-based threads. Details in the bolt head include the hex-socket and chamfer. Model Pros: Realistic Threads, suitable for section view use. Highly accurate model. Model Cons: Performance degrading Rebuild time (9.5 times longer than other models). 7 features in the Feature Manager.


Looking again at the different models, there doesnt seem to be a great difference in the look of each bolt. All versions of the model would serve its purpose in the top level assembly, however some are more resource intensive than others. The more resources (i.e. longer Rebuild times) a model needs to resolve, the longer it takes for your computer to rebuild modifications in the top level assemblies. A suitable compromise would be to use Methods 1 or 2 when creating hardware models. Method 1 allows for fairly easy modifications to the model, while Method 2 provides the shortest Rebuild time. In certain situations or special cases, it might be desirable to show simplified threads as in Method 3, or full blown helix-based threads as in Method 4. Just keep in mind that these methods use more memory and more processing power of your computer, and the more hardware models you have based on these methods will increase your down time with SolidWorks.