The complete guide to fixing slow SOLIDWORKS models

When you open a complex imported file, SOLIDWORKS spends half of the loading time on appearances.

That means it’s critical that you clean up imported files first.

But they don’t tell you that in engineering school.

Don’t just build geometry, understand what SOLIDWORKS is doing

Every single month, over 1000 people read our article about fixing the performance of slow drawings.

That means those engineers are likely spending hours a week staring at a loading screen.

I wanted to help them, and you.

Secrets to SOLIDWORKS Performance

I decided to do a deep dive into SOLIDWORKS performance. So I spent 200 hours reading every blog post and official help article about performance and fixing slow models in SOLIDWORKS. I watched every video I could find.

Then, I wrote all of this knowledge down, grouped it into eight parts and, with the help of a designer and an editor, published this 127-page ebook:

solidworks performance - fixing slow models

My goal with this ebook is to teach engineers what goes on under the hood of SOLIDWORKS. Why one model loads a hundred times faster than another model with the same geometry.

I got a part to rebuild in 293 seconds, 92 seconds and 2.9 seconds. All three parts had identical geometry in the end.

We (my designer, my editor and I) also created three helpful cheat sheets that you can use as a quick reference.

What’s in the ebook?

Part 1: Introduction

I share my approach to understanding and researching performance. I talk about my background and what I do for a living.

Part 2: How to improve…

This part gives an overview of five topics that most engineers struggle with:

  • SOLIDWORKS startup time
  • File open time
  • Rebuild time
  • Graphics performance
  • Saving time

I talk about how you can make each item faster, without going into technical details yet. I’ll do that in part 4.

Part 3: Performance analysis

SOLIDWORKS knows that we, the engineers, often struggle with slow rebuilds, slow load times and laggy graphics, so they developed tools to identify issues in our models.

The Performance Evaluation tool is now finally available for all models types: parts, assemblies and drawings. Because every slow assembly consists of slow parts. And since drawings are secretly assemblies, every slow drawing consist of slow assemblies.

Drawings are secretly assemblies, so every tip to improve assembly performance will also make drawings faster.

Then there is the Performance Visualization tool, which shows you the assembly components that are the slowest to load or rebuild. Or the components that have the most graphics triangles (like those bolts you downloaded from McMaster-Carr) and that are the bottleneck in the graphics department.

I also share more information about the smaller available tools that can help you debug performance issues.

Part 4: Building blocks of performance

Part 4 is a beast. I talk about what makes up a SOLIDWORKS file and I share the ten-step algorithm that SOLIDWORKS uses to localize your files. I go into detail about what each open mode does under the hood and what its limitations are.

I mentioned imported models before. Part 4 goes into cleaning up imported files by deleting appearances, deleting threads and unused bodies. You can even defeature them to remove unnecessary detail and you can create configurations for moving parts like hydraulic cylinders.

Fixing geometry errors in your imported model will make its drawing significantly faster.

Then, we’ll go into chapters about configurations, display states (you should start using them) and rebuilds. It’s crucial that you understand assembly rebuilds if you want to make them faster.

Part 5: Parts, assemblies and drawings

Part 5 has one chapter for each model type. I’ll show you why the order of features is important, both in parts and in assemblies.

Mates are calculated before assembly features, so if you mate to assembly features, all mates are calculated twice.

We dive into getting the most out of SpeedPak configurations for assemblies, why I think drawings are assemblies and why draft-quality views have nothing to do with the quality.

Part 6: Software

Companies are hesitant to update SOLIDWORKS, and rightfully so. But if you’re still on SOLIDWORKS 2018, you are missing out. I have gone through all recent What’s new PDFs and I created a list of all performance-related improvements in the last few years. There’s a lot of them.

Then, we’ll go onto Windows settings like power settings and antivirus improvements. We’ll finish the chapter by going through all program settings and document settings within SOLIDWORKS that influence performance. As always, you have to find the perfect combination of settings that works for you, your model and your company,

Part 7: Hardware

Does your computer still need fast single-core performance? Yes! Do you need a processor with 16 cores for 3D modeling? No. I’ll go through all the major parts of a computer and how you can choose the right parts for you. Luckily, computer builders like Puget Systems specialize in CAD computers and they even share their incredible research on the web. Their resources are invaluable.

Part 8: API performance

I spend most of my time building SOLIDWORKS add-ins nowadays, so I want them to be fast. As it turns out, there are more than 10 ways to speed up a macro or add-in. You can also build a standalone, but those are really slow, like 10-100x slower.

Most of these speed boosters let you disable updating a part of the SOLIDWORKS window, like the feature tree or the graphics window. Each one makes your code 20% to 100% faster, and you can combine them! For each method, I detail the time reduction, how to use it, its advantages and disadvantages.

How to get the ebook

You can find the product page here. If you are not convinced yet, you can sign up for two free chapters.

solidworks fixing slow models quote

Get the complete package to fixing slow models

I didn’t just write an ebook. I tried to make it easier to understand the subject and tried to make it easier to come back to it, months later.

Here’s what I put together for you:

  • The 127-page ebook in PDF format
  • 3D-models referenced throughout the book so you can run your own tests
  • Sample macros with functions to debug and improve performance
  • Three helpful cheat sheets that you can use as a quick reference

If you’re on a budget, you can also get the ebook only.

Discounts for teams

If you want to share the ebook with your team so you’re not the only one fixing slow models, please purchase the Team License. I have worked hard to make this product a reality, so please get the version that is right for you.

The team discount starts at 10% for a team of 3 and goes up to 25% for a team of 25. If your team is larger than that, please get in touch.