What was the last time that you worked on a SOLIDWORKS file that was slooooow? Probably right now.
But you can make them faster. Sometimes you can make the load time go from tens of minutes to a few seconds!
Here’s how to do that.
In 2016, SOLIDWORKS finally released the Performance Evaluation tool for drawings.
Javelin wrote a nice blog post about it. The next few images are taken from that post.
I have also learned a lot from their Elite Problem Hunter Alin Vargatu, who is the Canadian VAR’s large assembly specialist.
The tool generates a report like this. A different kind of report gets generated for parts and assemblies.
This should give you a few pointers to find which sheet, feature or view is the main reason for your PC’s headache.
You have probably seen the open window a gazillion times. But do you use the extra options to the fullest?
You don’t need to load all sheets! Just hit the Select Sheets button.
You can choose to load a single sheet or only a few of the 50 sheets that your monstrosity of a drawing has somehow turned into.
Detailing Mode does not load the underlying part or assembly, just like a detached drawing does. Detailing Mode is built to replace detached drawings.
What you can do: You can add all kinds of annotations: dimensions, notes, balloons etc. You can also move views and add revision tables.
What you cannot do: You cannot create drawing views, create other kinds of tables, add center lines or center marks, or select model faces. These actions require the model, which isn’t loaded. The undo function also doesn’t work (yet).
Read all the details about this welcome improvement in this article by Canadian reseller Javelin.
SOLIDWORKS always shows you a crude preview while the file loads. It sure looks nice, but it makes the loading take longer.
You can disable the preview in the SOLIDWORKS System Options > Performance > No preview during open (faster).
When a model is overly complex, its drawing will be as well. Try suppressing parts (for assemblies) or features (for parts) and see if you notice a 2x or even 10x speed improvement. Helix features can cause major slowdowns for example.
SOLIDWORKS documents come to a grinding halt when a single imported part has troubles. I’ve heard stories where a massive assembly opened ten times faster after a single faulty imported part was suppressed.
Do you have views in a slow drawing that show up with a very low quality or parts that completely go missing in a drawing? Imported parts can cause this as well.
Then you need to fix the gaps or broken faces. Find out more in this blog post by TriMech.
I have no idea how to determine if a corrupt template causes your poor drawing performance. But by now I have heard of a few occurrences where this was the case.
When upgrading SOLIDWORKS versions, most companies tend to import their old templates and save them in the new version. This however also saves all kinds of legacy crap and hidden errors into your brand new template.
The official advice is therefore to always create fresh templates from the default templates when you switch to a new SOLIDWORKS version. It takes a little more work to copy all your settings but it will save you many headaches in the coming year.
You can create new templates in a few seconds.
You can show drawing views in draft (low) quality or high quality.
Draft quality only loads the information that is absolutely necessary. It’s very similar to Lightweight mode. High-quality views require all model data.
SOLIDWORKS creates drawing views in high quality by default. More info here.
SOLIDWORKS somehow has difficulty showing edges. Shaded is way faster than Shaded With Edges.
Since writing this, I have learned why this works. A model consists of a graphical representation plus a parametric model. When you turn off edges, SOLIDWORKS only uses the graphical data. Turn on edges and the parametric model has to be loaded as well.
This was a surprising one for me. SOLIDWORKS forum user Peter Medina did a test and found out that the Windows power settings have a big influence on the speed of your model.
He was able to obtain a factor two increase in speed by changing the power setting to High performance. When you’re not working on a laptop, this is a no-brainer.
You can find these settings by going to Start > Control Panel >Power Options.
When you open an assembly (and we know that drawings are secretly assemblies), the program goes through five distinct phases:
Most of these tasks can only be executed on a single core of your processor. This means SOLIDWORKS really benefits from processors with a high clock frequency.
You shouldn’t work with files from a network when you want great performance. It’s that simple.
Working with a local copy (preferably using a PDM system) is dramatically faster compared to network storage. Even a gigabit network (max 1 Gbps) doesn’t come close to the speed of local M.2 SSDs that reach over 50 Gbps.
When you work with a PDM system, check out files that you are working on so others can work on their parts. You’ll really appreciate version control after a colleague accidentally throws away your work.
Rogue drivers can cause all kinds of weird behaviors. A faulty or corrupt driver can show parts that were deleted weeks ago, I have seen it happen. That’s not something that really points directly to the driver.
Unfortunately, this still is an issue that pops up semi-randomly once in a while.
SOLIDWORKS maintains a list of verified graphics card drivers and you can run SOLIDWORKS Rx to see if you are currently using a verified driver. Your VAR should also be able to help you with this.
I surely hope you identified at least one culprit. Did you increase the performance by a factor of two, or ten?
This post has been read over 100,000 times over the past four years, so performance is still a big issue.
That is why I have written down everything I know about SOLIDWORKS performance in a 100+ page ebook.
You can join the waiting list here.