In design software, the lag time (the time between executing a command and its completion) can be reduced by adjusting settings within SolidWorks and the operating system. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to setting up SolidWorks, so it's important to understand the effects of different settings before making a decision. It's worth noting that improved performance may come at the expense of model image quality.
SolidWorks options are divided into two groups: system options and document properties. System options apply to SolidWorks regardless of the open file, while document properties apply only to the current document and are set by the document's template. Some settings are just user preferences, but others affect the system's performance and should be chosen carefully. In this section, we'll explore the various system options that affect performance and recommend some settings. We won't discuss SolidWorks options that have no significant effect on performance and are purely user preference.
System options have an impact on everything you do in SolidWorks. Customizing these settings changes your work environment and affects any document opened on your system. These settings are not saved with a specific document.
SOLIDWORKS GENERAL OPTIONS
For optimal performance, it is recommended to clear the options to Show thumbnail graphics and Show the latest news feeds in Windows Explorer's task pane. These functions can use up valuable processing power and CPU time that could be better utilized for assembly performance. On the other hand, it is advisable to enable the Freeze bar function to prevent unnecessary rebuilding of component features.
SOLIDWORKS DRAWINGS OPTIONS
When working with drawings in SolidWorks, you have several options for optimizing your workflow. First, you can choose to show contents while dragging the drawing view, which updates the graphics in real time. However, clearing this option can help eliminate real-time calculations and speed up the process.
You can also allow auto-update when opening drawings, which can slow down the process if enabled. By clearing this option, drawings will open faster as the information in all the views will not update until you rebuild the drawing.
Another useful option is to automatically hide components on view creation, which hides components not visible in the view. This option takes valuable time for SolidWorks to calculate, but it is off by default in Large Assembly Mode.
Saving tessellated data for drawings with shaded and draft-quality views can also reduce file size and decrease the amount of data loaded when the drawing is opened. However, this option can lead to empty views in view-only mode and when viewed with eDrawings®.
To improve performance, you can select draft quality in Display Style when creating new views. And to avoid using movable backgrounds that have to be recalculated as the model viewpoint is changed, you can change the Background appearance to plain.
Finally, you can set the Assembly transparency for in-context edit to Maintain assembly transparency to keep the same level of transparency and avoid intensive calculations.
SOLIDWORKS DEFAULT TEMPLATES OPTIONS
When working with SolidWorks, certain actions can automatically create a new part, assembly, or drawing document. Examples include inserting a mirrored part, inserting a new part component, or forming a new subassembly. In these cases, you can choose to specify a template or use the default template provided by the system. While this is a matter of personal preference, using the default template can save time by eliminating the need for extra mouse clicks. Additionally, it ensures that the correct template is always used, especially if you have multiple templates for different customers. If you do have multiple templates, you can select the option to prompt the user to select a template each time a new file is created.
SOLIDWORKS DOCUMENT PROPERTIES OPTIONS
When creating SolidWorks files, templates are used to establish document properties. It's important to remember that these settings should be set in the templates to ensure they are applied to future files. The most crucial property for performance is Image Quality. This slider affects the shaded display of the assembly and part, controlling the smoothness of curved surfaces for shaded rendering. To maximize performance, set the slider as far left as you can tolerate, usually two or three tick marks from the left side. Moving the slider from Low to High can cause a significant slowdown, as it calculates over 2,500 times more triangles. Note that these triangles are not visible to the viewer and are only generated for illustration purposes. When working in an assembly, each component's image quality is controlled by its individual document properties. By selecting "Apply to all referenced part documents," you can change the resolution of individual parts to a common resolution.
SAVE TESSELLATION WITH PART DOCUMENT
Saving tessellation with part document is important for proper visualization of the file. Although clearing this option may seem to reduce file size, it will result in loss of visualization data. The tessellation data saved with the file is essential for display information in view-only mode, SolidWorks Viewer, and eDrawings.
Turn off all SolidWorks add-ins that you are not using. Each add-in consumes system resources.
SOLIDWORKS ASSEMBLIES OPTIONS
There is a feature called Large Assemblies Mode that automatically adjusts certain settings when you open an assembly with more components than a specified threshold. This is particularly useful for large-scale designs. You can choose the threshold value based on the size of your assemblies and the capabilities of your hardware.
The main purpose of Large Assembly Mode is to increase performance by disabling functions that require a lot of computing power. However, you may want to keep the auto-recover feature on, which periodically saves your work in progress in case of unexpected computer crashes.
Another way to reduce computational load is to hide all planes, axes, sketches, curves, annotations, and other entities. This can be done by selecting "Hide All Types" in the View menu.
You can also choose not to display edges in shaded mode, as calculating all the edges in a large assembly can be time-consuming. This option simply shows the components as shaded without edges.
When dealing with large assemblies, it can be helpful to suspend automatic rebuilds. This will prevent the assembly and mates from being recalculated after every change, which can be very slow. Instead, you can make several changes and then do a single manual rebuild. However, if there is an error, it may be harder to troubleshoot.
Finally, if your assembly exceeds the threshold value, you can use Large Design Review mode to save time. This should be selected and a toggle value determined based on the size of your assemblies.
SOLIDWORKS EXTERNAL REFERENCES OPTIONS
Although it may seem unimportant, the External References settings can significantly affect the performance of opening and saving large assemblies. To avoid unintentional changes to component files, it is recommended to open referenced documents with read-only access. Additionally, selecting the option to not prompt to save read-only referenced documents can save time and prevent frustration. The Load referenced documents option can be set to Prompt, allowing for selective loading of references as necessary. However, it is best to only use the Search file locations for external references option when trying to locate improperly moved files, as leaving it selected can cause a significant increase in file opening time. By implementing these settings, you can optimize your workflow and improve productivity.
SOLIDWORKS IMAGE OPTIONS
There is a button available that allows quick switching between the Performance and Image Quality settings, as these two aspects are interconnected. An important function is the Verification on rebuild, which checks each face in a model against all the other faces. However, if this option is turned off, each face is only checked against its immediate surroundings. It is recommended to periodically turn Verification on rebuild on and conduct a forced rebuild (Ctrl+Q) to ensure error-free model building, and then turn the option off to work faster. It is always crucial to double-check your models to prevent any disastrous errors.
SOLIDWORKS TRANSPARENCY OPTIONS
To accurately display what's behind transparent surfaces, the model must be ordered and rendered precisely. Both front and back faces, as well as colors, need to be considered. Opting for lower-quality transparent display when the model is stationary or in motion can improve speed when panning or rotating. For higher quality, select "High quality" for normal or dynamic view mode.
Choosing to automatically load lightweight components is dependent on the complexity and size of the assemblies you work on. If you often work on assemblies below the large assembly threshold but only a few components, select this option. To increase performance, move the "Level of detail" slider to the far right. This will change smaller components to blocks when moving, panning, zooming, or rotating the assembly, and then return them to normal once movement stops.
When working with sub-assemblies, it's best to keep "Always resolve sub-assemblies" unchecked. If you select this option, sub-assemblies are automatically resolved when the top-level assembly is opened, which can remove some of the benefits of opening the assembly lightweight.
To ensure your components are up-to-date, choose "Check out-of-date lightweight components" and select "Indicate" to flag all out-of-date components in the FeatureManager® design tree. This allows you to update only necessary components and increase performance.
If you need to perform a task that requires resolved components, select "Resolve lightweight components" and set it to "Always" to automatically resolve the component and save time.
To avoid working on out-of-date geometry, select "Rebuild assembly on load" and set it to "Always" so the assembly is rebuilt when opened.
Mate animation speed should be turned off to avoid having SolidWorks calculate intermediate positions for components between their starting and mated positions.
When launching SolidWorks, check "Use software OpenGL" if your video card does not meet the requirements. However, using software instead of hardware OpenGL can slow down your system as the assembly size grows.
To dedicate more memory to loading files into memory, select "No Preview During Open" to skip the preview when opening a file.
SOLIDWORKS VIEW OPTIONS
Using view transitions in presentations can be visually appealing, but it may affect performance. When any transitions other than Off are selected in SolidWorks, it requires processing power to calculate intermediate positions or transparencies. This processing power could be better utilized for designing.
From a performance standpoint, turning off Auto-recover is recommended as it can take a significant amount of time to save files. This may interrupt your workflow when you are in the middle of implementing a new idea. However, if you have a habit of not saving your work, turning on Auto-recover may benefit you. Saving your work frequently allows you to turn off Auto-recover and save when you want without interfering with your workflow.
When using File Explorer, only select the locations that you frequently use. Selecting unnecessary locations will cause File Explorer to read and populate those locations each time you open the tab, which is a waste of effort.
When working on large assemblies and projects, you want your computer resources to focus on design work instead of background tasks, such as indexing. Therefore, it is recommended to perform indexing during idle time to avoid taking computational resources away from your design time. If dissection is scheduled, make sure it is set to run during non-working hours.
SOLIDWORKS WINDOWS OPTIONS
It's important to be aware that certain settings in Windows can have a negative impact on your computer's speed and performance. This is because these settings can affect all of the tasks you perform on your device. In Windows Vista® and Windows 7, there are several features that can enhance the appearance of your screen, but they require additional graphics calculations that can slow down programs like SolidWorks. One example of this is Aero, which is often disabled when running on battery power to conserve resources. Another feature, called ClearType, improves the readability of text on LCD screens. However, if you don't frequently use the Windows Search function, it may be beneficial to disable it, as it can also use up resources. Additionally, certain menu and cursor effects, such as pointer shadows and cascading menus, only improve the appearance of your screen and don't actually enhance performance, so disabling them may also be helpful.
Choose the option Adjust for best performance rather than Adjust for best appearance or Let Windows choose.... While there are exceptions, the general rule is that if it makes the display look better, it is taking resources that could be better used on performance.
In order to optimize the performance of your hardware, it is crucial to ensure that your system is well-maintained. A key aspect of achieving this is by regularly defragmenting your hard drive(s), which allows your computer to load files more efficiently by storing data in contiguous sectors. Additionally, clearing out temporary and backup files is highly recommended, as these files can take up valuable storage space and cause issues for programs attempting to save their temporary data. It is also advisable to uninstall any unused applications, particularly those that load on startup and utilize unnecessary resources. Another essential maintenance task is to periodically clean the Windows Registry, as some programs may leave registry entries even after being uninstalled. Finally, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest service packs, which provide updates to fix reported issues and improve overall performance. Before installing a service pack, it is recommended to review the release notes to ensure that it addresses any specific problems that may be impacting your day-to-day use, rather than maintaining an outdated service pack that could potentially slow down your system.
RUNNING OTHER PROGRAMS
When using CAD, it's important to ensure that your computer is solely dedicated to the task at hand. This means that you should avoid running any other applications or processes that could interfere with the performance of CAD, such as playing music or editing pictures. Shut down any unnecessary programs to free up resources like RAM, IO, and processing speed, and improve the overall speed and efficiency of your CAD work.
In today's technological age, it is essential to protect our valuable investments from viruses. One option is to avoid connecting to the internet altogether, but this can hinder file transfers and collaborations. If infected files are received from vendors, it can lead to costly consequences such as data loss and the need for computer reformatting. Therefore, virus protection is a cost-effective solution. When working with large assemblies, it is important to set the virus protection to avoid significant system slowdowns. Virus protection programs use three methods to scan computers: scheduled scans, on-demand scans, and real-time scans. Scheduled scans are set to specific times and dates, on-demand scans are manually initiated, and real-time scans can check files as the computer uses them. However, real-time scans can slow down work when many files are in use. It's crucial to regularly scan the system to avoid the risk of computer viruses as they can cause data loss and negatively impact future business. In conclusion, virus protection is necessary for our investments, and it's essential to configure it to fit our working environment to maximize computer performance.
SOLIDWORKS RX OPTIONS
SolidWorks Rx is a tool inside SolidWorks that can be used for several tasks that can help SolidWorks run faster. To improve performance, the Diagnostics and System Maintenance tabs are the most important.
Selecting the Diagnostics tab will cause SolidWorks Rx to examine the system and SolidWorks settings. The results will highlight things that should be ﬁxed.
The System Maintenance tab provides one place to run several maintenance tasks Simultaneously. This can be used to clean out temporary files from several locations as well as run Windows checkdisk and Defragmenter on multiple hard drives.
Once tasks are selected, you can run the maintenance immediately, at a selected time, or on a regular schedule. Further refinements can be made through the Windows Task Scheduler.
SOLIDWORKS SAVING SETTINGS OPTIONS
We have analyzed different SolidWorks settings to enhance performance. These settings do not require maintenance once they are set up. However, it is recommended to save them in a backup in case any intentional or unintentional changes occur.
System Options are saved as registry files using the Copy Settings Wizard. This wizard serves the purpose of both saving and restoring settings. You can use it to save system options, keyboard shortcuts, menu customization, and toolbar layout.
To access the Copy Settings Wizard, go to Start, then All Programs, and select SolidWorks Tools.
Document properties are stored with template files. As mentioned earlier, one should create a good set of templates with all the settings required for your different tasks or customers. Templates can also contain geometry (a start part), reference geometry, custom properties, and much more. A little time creating templates can save a lot of time by eliminating repetitive actions later.
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