As assemblies get more complex, they can become more tedious to handle in SOLIDWORKS, which is why there are so many tools available to manage the performance of these large assemblies. One of the best for when you need to use a complex subassembly in a higher-level assembly is called a SpeedPak.
What is a SpeedPak?
A SpeedPak in SOLIDWORKS creates a subset of selections within an assembly (parts, faces, reference geometry, curves, edges, and sketches) that can be used to simplify it to the items most essential for mates and interactions with other components. The major benefit is that creating a SpeedPak gives you the performance boost as if you had suppressed components without actually having to do that, meaning you won’t lose references but memory usage is reduced. Not only does this function in the context of assembly modeling, but also in drawings.
How do I use it?
The first step to using SpeedPak assemblies is to obviously create them, and there’s two main ways to do that, either from the assembly file or within a parent assembly file.
From the assembly, go to the configuration manager, right click an existing configuration and select “Add SpeedPak”. The propertymanager will then prompt you to make the selections you’d like to carry into the top level assembly. Two options you may see underneath your selections are for quick include and remove ghost graphics. Quick include will automatically grab components on the exterior of the design or visible in specific views, the amount of which can be determined by the slider beneath the enable button. Removing ghost graphics will only display the faces, parts, and geometry included in the Speedpak. Having this cleared will show the assembly as normal, but when you move your cursor over the assembly, you’ll see the graphics disappear as you move, only showing those components that you have included.
Within a parent assembly file, select any subassemblies you’d want to include, then right click and select “Speedpak options”. You can then create either a mated or graphics SpeedPak, which will automate what is selected as the components within the SpeedPak in SOLIDWORKS. Mated SpeedPaks include mated faces, edges, and points if you will need those later as reference for other mates. Graphics Speedpaks don’t include any resolved geometry at all, which can greatly improve performance.
Can I make Edits?
Once you’re using Speedpaks in SOLIDWORKS, updates and changes can be easily handled. Just like you would add a new SpeedPak, simply go to the configuration manager, select an existing SpeedPak configuration, right click, and select “Edit SpeedPak”. You can then make changes to your selections and remove ghost graphics if you are still struggling with performance demands.
If edits have been made to the assembly, such as added components, you can update the SpeedPak assembly by performing the same actions as editing, but instead selecting “Update SpeedPak”. This can be done from the parent assembly by simply clicking “Update SpeedPak Subassemblies” on the assemblies toolbar. If you don’t want to worry about doing it manually, you can select to automatically update any out-of-date SpeedPak configurations under Assemblies in the system options.
What are other good things to know when using Speedpak Assemblies?
Changing back and forth between SpeedPaks and the resolved assemblies is the same as switching between other configurations and can be done on the fly if you ever find limitations in what you need to work on. The Speedpak configuration can also be opened by default in the open dialog box. If you don’t like the ghost circle around your mouse, you can toggle ghost graphics with alt+s.
There are some cool use cases other than just inserting complex subassemblies into other assemblies, and one example is for if you ever need to share protected information. Since the Speedpak’s information is included in the assembly, you don’t need to use a pack and go to include the component files. You can share the top level native assembly file without having to give the full feature history of the individual parts.
When using SpeedPaks in drawings, be aware that edges that haven’t been included are displayed in gray, and there are some other limitations, such as inability to export as a DXF/DWF and use the auto balloon command.