Excel vs SOLIDWORKS Configurations for Design Tables

By Patricia Bar on

Design Tables allow you to build configurations of parts or assemblies by setting parameters in an embedded Microsoft Excel worksheet. Configurations can represent different versions of a design within a single part file and manage those variations in your part geometry. In this article, we will show you some techniques for displaying your configured parts in a drawing. Two of my favorite ways to create configurations and access the table information is to either use Excel or to use SOLIDWORKS Configurations. In this article, we will take a closer look at both ways and the benefits of each.

Creating Design Tables with Excel

A main feature in Excel is that you can auto-generate, and if you know what you’re doing, you can create them manually. Generally, I like to let SOLIDWORKS decide what it wants to do. Next, I can choose to have it linked to the 3D model or not. You can also choose whether you want it to update when changes are made to the 3D model. The reason why I might use Excel is that it simply helps to clarify information. I can hide a row or add a column, and maybe add color to clarify things. In the annotation toolbar, you’ll find the Design Table.

Excel and SOLIDWORKS Configurations for Design Tables I already have a Design Table created for you. When I click Edit Feature, I can look closer at the options and create everything I need. Auto-create will go through the model and see what is different from configuration to configuration and add those in the table for me. If I have it already created, I can upload a file. The next options are whether I want to allow somebody to make changes in the 3D model and update the Excel format, or if you want to have it driven from the table 100% of the time.

Design Table - Hide and UnhideWhen we give names to things, we’re not always the clearest. To me, it made sense to name the columns; rectangle, dome, volume and rounded. If I right-click and unhide, I can see the proper names inside of SOLIDWORKS. Someone like myself who is familiar with SOLIDWORKS, I can figure out what’s going on, but if I’m trying to pass this information to someone who doesn’t deal with SOLIDWORKS on a regular basis, I might not want them to have to deal with the proper name of the part in SOLIDWORKS.

We can customize this table any way we like. For instance, in this table you see above, I can add gray shading for the ones that are suppressed. This makes it more obvious which ones are suppressed. Nest, when clicking out of the table, SOLIDWORKS accepts any sort of changes and updates accordingly. I can now bring in my design table into my drawing. You can find them under Tables > Design Table tab in the toolbar menu. The tables will show up exactly the way you have them in the 3D model. So that’s a nice way to clarify. Making it clean-looking and customizable are two of the benefits of using Excel.

SOLIDWORKS Configurations

Design Table option panelSOLIDWORKS Configurations are found by right-clicking on a feature, or a dimension, and locating Configure Feature or Configure Dimension. Once I click on one of these, I am presented with a table that I can add or remove. You’ll also notice that I can modify configurations. All of this allows me to dive deeper into my configurations. The benefit of using SOLIDWORKS Configurations is that in Excel, I can only have one table, and with SOLIDWORKS, I can have multiple tables so that I can very quickly double-click and make changes if I need to make changes and move forward. The negative – can’t bring this into a SOLIDWORKS Drawing file. So, if you need to have the table on a SOLIDWORKS Drawing information, using that one is not the correct one to use.

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