If you have been using SOLIDWORKS Professional or Premium you may be wondering what that add-in “TOLAnalyst” is all about? Now you probably have already guessed that it’s to analyze tolerances as the name implies, but what is tolerance analysis and who should be using it? In this blog we’re going to answer both of these questions.
What is Tolerance Analysis?
Simply put, tolerance analysis is used to evaluate the tolerances of parts as they relate to an assembly. The more parts in an assembly you have the more tolerances can influence the design and building of the assembly. The goal is to make sure the tolerances of different parts at their extremes will not result in a failure of performance or ability to assemble the final product.
Let’s look at a simple example. This diagram shows a box containing three parts, all modeled to their nominal sizes with symmetric tolerances. At first glance it appears that all is well and the three colorful blocks will fit in the box. However, if we factor in the tolerances, we can see that we will quickly run into trouble.
Let’s assume the box is manufactured exactly to 10 inches on the interior but that the blocks are all at their maximum tolerance. We simply just need to add these values together to see if they will still fit within our given dimension. 3.75 + 2.75 + 3.75 = 10.25! That will not work.Now scale this up to a more complex assembly and start factoring in the order in which the parts are assembled. As you can imagine, these tolerances start to stack up. Tolerance analysis helps us to avoid these issues before parts are manufactured. We may need to simply adjust the tolerances of individual parts or redesign them.
Who Should Be Using TOLAnalyst?
Anyone designing an assembly! Whether you manufacture in house, outsource, or a combination of the two; it is important to know when it comes time to put things together that they not only fit, but that the performance of the assembly is not impacted. Gears that end up either too far apart or too close together, moving components, components that require specific clearances with the parts around them for airflow, the list goes on.
Typically these types of analysis are done on spreadsheets and are very time consuming. It’s also quite difficult with this method to determine which components are contributing the most to the tolerance stack up without some extra calculation. TOLAnalyst makes stack up analysis easy while providing a lot of information about where changes can be made.
It can show which components contribute the most to the stack-up so that you can focus your attention on precise areas. It eliminates the need for hand calculations, does the stack up calculations quickly, and provides a detailed report of the analysis.
Since TOLAnalysts is embedded within SOLIDWORKS, it also allows you to graphically see the tolerance analysis results on your design. This makes it easier to diagnose problem areas. With TOLAnalyst you can reduce time needed to identify tolerance stack up issues and avoid costly manufacturing problems.