References are probably the source of 50% of all SOLIDWORKS problems.
Most medium-sized or large company even have a policy about them.
I bet it says something like “avoid at all costs!”
This one is pretty handy though.
Developers have added this functionality in 2013’s version, yet I haven’t seen anyone use it to this date. I’ll get you started today.
When you are designing a part, you’d like to make sure it fits with the rest of the assembly. Now how do you do that? Are you going into Edit Part mode within the overarching assembly, slowing everything down? Or are you temporarily copying parts into your subassembly, just to delete them after all of the holes line up? Engineers can use envelopes as a permanent reference within an assembly, without messing with the mass or having the part showing up in your drawings.
Say you are designing this assembly (from the CSWA certification test) and you want to fit it inside a pre-existing housing.
(By the way, you are entitled to a free exam voucher twice a year when your company is on a SOLIDWORKS subscription! SOLIDWORKS will send you a code via SMS when you visit Certification Offers for Subscription Service Customers so you can earn official certifications).
Every existing part or assembly can be used as an envelope. To add that property, right click the part/assembly in the feature tree and select Properties. In the bottom right corner, you can now set it as an envelope part.
Beside its paper-holding capabilities, it now does the following:
Of course you can still hide, show and suppress in all of the usual ways. If you like to hide all envelope models though, right click the assembly in the feature tree and click Hide All Envelopes. The name says it all.
You can model a certain volume to contain a machine or part of it. You can then use this envelope to do advanced selections. I like the sound of that. There are two methods:
When you right click a envelope and select Envelope, you get the options Select Using Envelop and Show/Hide Using Envelope. I’ve combined both forms in the second image below.
You are now able to select, hide or show all models that fall within or outside of the envelope. Pretty neat huh?
I must say I’ve never used the advanced selection tool before, but I might just start now. Have you ever really noticed this pointer in the main menu?
We’re going to open the last one first. This window basically gives you the same options as the one in the first method. You just have many more buttons to play with. I’m certain I will use this feature in the future to select parts based on their mass.
When you use the envelope feature, first of all you are creating a good reference for the rest of your assembly, without having parts within your assembly twice by accident. The selection methods make it a very useful feature for collaborating as well, because everyone can be given their own envelope to stay in. When I think back to my last project, defined bounding boxes could have saved us a lot of trouble.
This has been another episode in the series unofficially titled “Featured that I didn’t know and you hopefully didn’t either”. Do you think you will use envelopes in the future? Could you convince your colleagues to do so?