The Feature Tree in SOLIDWORKS is where we organize our model. It helps us extract information, show dependencies, filter what is shown on screen and more. Let’s look at how we can best leverage our Feature Tree in both parts and assemblies to make ourselves more productive. In this blog, I will break it down into three core functions and see how they are effective in Parts and Assemblies.
Certain features may be dependent on others. We call these parent/child relationships. An example of this would be a hole placed in an extruded block. The hole can’t exist without the block; therefore, the hole is a child of the extruded block and the block is a parent of the hole. We can easily visualize these relationships by right clicking on the part at the top of the feature tree and toggling on the Dynamic Reference arrows.
Feature Tree Display
We can drastically change the way our Feature Tree looks in both parts and assemblies.
- Right-click on the top-level part or assembly in the Feature Tree.
- Select the option “Tree Display” from the menu.
- Select the options that best suit how you want the tree to look.
Most of the tree display options are available in both parts and assemblies. In part mode, you get the unique option of a Flat Tree Display. This will take things, like sketches that are typically absorbed by features, and display them in the Feature Tree so there is no need to expand features to see them. In Assembly Mode, you have the unique option of grouping like instances of components which will show in the assembly tree as a double-part icon with the number of instances in parenthesis at the end of the name.
There is a very useful tool that has continued to see improvements over the last few years and that is the filter bar located above your Feature Tree. In the part mode, you can filter for types of features, feature names, sketches, folders, mates and user-defined tags. At the assembly level, we also have option to display only the filtered items as well as search properties such as material. To see these options, select the dropdown arrow next to the filter icon.
Can I display parts only in my assembly tree?
This is a frequently asked question and the short answer is “no”. This is due to the way in which assemblies are resolved. All is not lost, however, as you can access this information by utilizing a Bill of Material that displays parts only either on a drawing, or by inserting the table into the 3D model itself.
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