Understanding the Envelope Tool and Publisher in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD

By TriMech on

Many would agree that working on multiple complex assemblies can be a difficult task, especially when components need to reference one another in context. The way that we can circumnavigate some of these issues is to use the Envelope Tool, and there are several ways that we can implement it. Let’s take a closer look at this intuitive tool.

In this first example, let’s say I need to complete the design of internal components to the constraints of the housing that I’ve been given. The way that we can insert these components as envelopes is to take the left and right side of the grip handle and go to Properties where we can click the checkbox for Envelope. This will automatically exclude these components from the Bill-of-Materials, and we’ll notice that they become transparent blue.

Exclude components from BOMs
Exclude components from BOMs

They are no longer considered when handling calculations such as the Center of Mass, which you can see would be in a different location if we were to remove the Envelope Tool. We can remove the Envelope Tool from these components by going back to Properties and clicking the Envelope checkbox before clicking Okay. When we check mass properties again, we will notice that the Center of Gravity is back to where it would be if we had included the housing in those calculations.

Another scenario that we utilize in the Envelope Tool is the Envelope Publisher. In this scenario, we need to reference a component from our top-level assembly in a sub-assembly in order to complete the plumbing design.

Rather than working in this top-level assembly and instead of manually writing duplicate components into our sub-assembly and suffering the time and performance issues, we can use the Envelope Publisher that is found in the Tools Menu toolbar. We can pick our part file from another sub-assembly and SOLIDWORKS will publish that component as an envelope in the target sub-assembly. To do that, go to the Tools > Envelope Publisher > Select a component where the plumbing will be pulling tools from. Next, select this as the destination sub-assembly. I’ll go ahead and add a Group and click the check to finish the command. Now when we open the sub-assembly, we can see I now have the component here as an envelope.

sub-assembly component as envelope
Sub-assembly component as envelope

We can now complete the design in a less complex file while utilizing this part from the top-level assembly to apply mates and utilize it as reference geometry.