Introduction: ME 470 Project - SolidWorks Weldments: Using Custom Profiles
This tutorial has been created in order to inform Windows SolidWorks users how to use custom profiles in the Weldments Add-In. The Weldments add-in is a robust extension to SolidWorks that can be used to create complex structures, frames, and trusses by combining two elements: (1) the 2D profile and (2) a 2D or 3D sketch path. This Add-In also can be used to streamline the process modeling and detailing parts that are intended be welded together. However, this tutorial will only focus on giving enough information on how to import custom profiles and simply locate them on sketch paths.
**Full Disclosure: I have not received compensation for promoting any company that is featured in this tutorial**
Step 1: Creating or Downloading Available Sketches
You can either create a 2D sketch yourself in a Solidworks part file, or you can download a part from a online repository (ex: GrabCAD, Thingiverse). Another option is to browse industrial extrusion/piping suppliers website and download CAD data from their products. Regardless of how the files are created, the part file needs to be reduced to a single sketch (see image for example) and then saved as a Library Feature Part file (.sldlfp).
Step 2: File Structure
In order for SolidWorks to recognize the profile you just made, you must follow the specific file structure. Create a folder named "Custom Extrusions." Inside that folder, create a folder named "Industrial Supplier." Inside that folder create a folder named "English" or "Metric" depending upon what you units you have the sketch in. Now, move or save the Library Feature Part into English or Metric folder.
Note: In this example, I have chosen to download the 40mm x 80mm T-Slotted Profile from 80/20's website.
Step 3: Creating Pathway for Weldment Add-In
Select System Options in SolidWorks (denoted by the round gear icon at the top). Go to System Options > File Locations. In the drop down menu select Weldment Profiles. Then select add, and browse to the "Custom Extrusions" folder created earlier and select that folder. You have added this pathway to be recognized by the Weldment Add-In. Hit OK, and give SolidWorks permission to create the path if prompted.
Note: It is important to know that the names of the files are arbitrary, but the naming convention discussed in the previous step allows you to understand better. For example the first folder corresponds to "Standard," and second folder corresponds to "Type," and the third folder corresponds to "Size."
Step 4: Applying Weldment to Path
Now, create a 2D or 3D sketch in a completely new part file, and enable the Weldment Add-In ribbon. IMPORTANT:MAKE SURE TO CLICK THE WELDMENT BUTTON BEFORE DOING ANY WELDMENT FEATURES. Added the Weldment Feature from the Weldment ribbon will load allow the members to be calculated. Along the sketch lines.
Next, select "Structural Members" from the top and select the line or lines you wish to apply the custom profile to. Then select Industrial Supplier for Standard, Metric for Type, and 40mm x 80mm T-Slotted for Size.
Step 5: Tips on Locating the Profile
Lastly, you can change way the structural member is calculated along the line using the Locate Profile button on the left of the structural member menu prompt. Remember that when you locate the profile, it is changing the point at with the profile is centered on the line. This can change the way parts mesh and change interior/exterior dimensions of parts. The image for this slide shows the button as it can be hard to find.
The Weldments Add-In is really robust and powerful, but not completely intuitive. If you wish to learn more, other tutorials and videos have been made dealing with the features of Weldments. This tutorial is only focused on loading custom profiles.
Step 6: Video Upload
I hope this tutorial was helpful. If some of it is unclear in written form, I have uploaded a video to YouTube and embedded it here.