Configurations in Large Design Review Mode

By Ben Colley on

In SOLIDWORKS, we have the ability to create and work with large and complex assemblies. With capabilities like Enhanced Graphics Mode, which puts the workload of generating real-time graphics on the graphics card – the GPU – we can manipulate even fully-resolved assemblies very smoothly.

Sometimes though, when we’re working with very large assemblies, we can still run into long open times and sluggish response while working within the assembly. And this can be bothersome; especially when we just need to open the assembly for basic review and investigation.

This is where an alternative opening mode for assemblies called Large Design Review – LDR – is a real asset. LDR instantly yields enormous improvements in opening time and file performance.

When you open large assemblies fully resolved, you may notice that it opens in three stages. It has to do the following:

  1. Load all of the components from the referenced file locations
  2. Update the model data in the assembly against the component and subassembly files
  3. Recalculate the graphics data – the onscreen information that allows us to view and interact with the model.

The power of LDR is that it bypasses that process and goes straight to the graphics data that we created the last time we saved the assembly. Only the graphics data is loaded in LDR.

Configurations in large designs

>>Performance Analysis Tool for Large Assemblies

LDR is a powerful tool for basic assembly investigation – for doing things like measuring, sectioning, creating walkthroughs – or even inserting new components and mating them in place. But, because LDR is opening only the graphics data from the last active configuration that was open the previous time the assembly was fully resolved and saved, we run into some limitations… namely configurations and display states. Neither are available in LDR.

Display Data Mark – The Key to Configurations and Display States in LDR

If we open an assembly in Large Design Review mode and look at the Configurations tab in the FeatureManager, we get a message saying that “No configuration information is unavailable” while working in LDR. However, the message also informs us that we can make configurations visible by adding a “Display Data Mark” to the configurations we want to see.

As a case study, we’ll consider a large assembly that has multiple configurations and display states. It includes a series of different arrangements of the components, and various states of appearances.

Configurations in large designs

As we were instructed by the notification in LDR, we can make these configurations visible in Large Design Review by adding the Display Data Mark to each configuration. We can add them individually by right-clicking a configuration and selecting “Display Data Mark” from the menu. When we do this, a new icon appears next to the configuration name to indicate that it has associated display data.

Configurations in large designs

Alternatively, we can add display data to all configurations by right-clicking the top level of the configuration manager and adding Display Data from there, selecting the option for all configurations. Do be aware that adding display data marks increases the file size, as the display data for each configuration is saved internally to be accessible in LDR.

Now when we open the assembly in Large Design Review, the configurations that we marked for Display Data are now visible in the Configurations tab. But again, we don’t have access to display states or appearance libraries in LDR, so we’ll need to use a workaround to make any alternative color schemes and display states visible.

Here’s a quick and easy workaround to get display states to appear in Large Design Review:

  1. Create a derived configuration from the configuration that had the secondary display state. This can be done by right-clicking on the Configuration and selecting “Add Derived Configuration” from the menu. (Note: A regular, non-derived configuration will work as well.)
  2. Copy and paste the alternate display state from the original configuration into the derived configuration. The easiest way to do this is with CTRL+C to copy the display state, double-click the derived configuration, and CTRL-V to paste the display state into the Display States pane.

  1. Add a Display Data Mark to the derived configuration (as described above).

Now when we open the assembly in Large Design Review, we’ll have visibility of every configuration and display state that we marked for Display Data.

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