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Purpose

To describe the Solidworks Import Options available In Visual Enterprise Author and Generator.

Overview

Solidworks part and assembly files can store pre-saved, triangulated meshes along with solid/NURBS information.

Solidworks users also refer to these these meshes as ‘Display State’ data. This is the triangulated mesh that is created to display in Solidworks.

Solidworks has exposed some options to control the quality of these meshes under “Image quality”, a regular Solidworks user should be familiar with these options.

The mesh saved with an assembly, part or drawing file is a snapshot at the time when the file was saved.

The user can choose not to save this ‘Display State’ to reduce the file size but by default this option is ‘on’ and most files will have this ‘Display State’ saved.

Apart from these pre-tessellated data (‘Display State’), part and assembly files also store other semantic information e.g. scene hierarchy, features and geometrical definitions of bodies, parts and construction history etc.

The “loading approach” of Solidworks Import Options -

Solidworks ‘quick view’

  • This approach always loads pre-saved mesh from Solidworks assembly and part files.  It is the quickest way to load your model and gives you a snapshot of your model as it was saved. 
  • If an assembly is opened with this approach no referenced parts or sub-assembly are required. The top level assembly is enough to load the last saved snapshot.

There are many drawbacks to this mode. Principally -

  1. if there are any changes to sub-assembly or part files after the top level assembly was saved those changes will not be reflected.
  2. If any features or parts were suppressed or hidden, they will not be viewable.

Solidworks ‘Load Solidworks solid’

  • This approach always loads semantic solid/NURBS/information from Solidworks assembly including scene hierarchy and referenced parts and assembly information. 
  • This approach ignores the ‘display list’ portion of the assembly file and resolves the complete tree structure by loading each of the sub-assembly and part files it is referencing. It is not as quick as the ‘quick view’ option. 
  • This approach gives the user more control over the loading process. For example hidden parts, configurations, metadata, tessellation can be controlled. 
  • It loads the model in its latest state. 

In the context of VEAuthor and VEGenerator:

VEAuthor -

Defaulted to load with “Quick view” option so that user can see the result of translation quickly.

 If import options for assembly and part are different, wont affect the result. The translation process looks at the assembly file import option and loads accordingly.

 As explained above, the results from the two approaches may vary from file to file and user to user.

VEGenerator -

Asset upload :

Defaulted to load with “Load Solidworks solid”. So it is like loading the file in VEAuthor but with “Load Solidworks solid” mode.

 Assembly upload:

This workflow extracts a BOM from an assembly (irrespective of the load option). It will always use “Load Solidworks solid” approach to generate an XML file to represent the BOM.

This XML file contains all the information from the assembly including the references to the part files.

The next process in this workflow is to import each of the referenced part files, which will be imported as specified in the Part import options.

 Recommendation:

If the user wants to preserve complex features like metadata import, configuration, virtual components within assemblies etc. the recommendation is to use “Load Solidworks solid” approach for both Assembly and Part files. The result should be similar (if not exactly the same) in both VEA and VEG.