Envelopes are a special kind of part or assembly.
It’s a reference model that does not affect your assembly mass.
You can also select all components within an envelope.
In this post I’ll show you how to use them.
When you are designing a part, you have to make sure it fits into the rest of the assembly. How do you do that right now?
Do you edit the part in the context of the assembly? That slows down your whole PC.
Do you temporarily add the housing to your subassembly? Doing so will add the housing twice.
You can use envelopes as a permanent reference within an assembly, without messing with the mass or having the part showing up in your drawings.
Every existing part or assembly can be used as an envelope.
You can even use virtual components.
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 two free exam vouchers 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.
To turn a model into an envelope:
Beside its paper-holding capabilities, an envelop model has the following properties:
You can change the default color in the settings by going to Colors > Color scheme settings > Envelope Components.
Envelopes are hidden in drawing views by default.
To show them, right click a view and select Show Envelope.
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 top assembly in the feature tree and click Hide All Envelopes. The name says it all.
You can create a model with a certain shape and volume that should contain a machine or parts 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 can now select, hide or show all models that fall within or outside of the envelope. Pretty neat, right?
I must say I have never used the advanced selection tool before, so I might just start now.
Have you ever really noticed this pointer in the main menu?
We’re going to open the last one. This window gives you very advanced ways of creating selections.
I’m certain I will use this feature in the future to select parts based on their mass.
When you use the envelope feature, you are creating a good reference for the rest of your assembly.
Without accidentally having a part within your assembly twice. The component does also add no mass and never shows up in the BOM.
The selection methods make it a very useful feature for collaborating as well, because everyone can be given their own envelope to stay in.
In my last project, defined bounding boxes could have saved us a lot of trouble because we were constantly interfering with each other’s space.
So do you think you will use envelopes in the future? If you are a lead engineer, you can set the path for your colleagues to do so.