Cutaway with Composer

Friday June 16, 2017 at 9:22am
Blog Overview
How to make an assembly cutaway in SOLIDWORKS then present and interact with it using SOLIDWORKS Composer.
Cutaway with Composer

Cutaway with Composer

When annotating components in your technical documentation, you may not necessarily want to show them in an exploded state. A cutaway to present the internals may at times be preferred.

If you have created an assembly feature in SOLIDWORKS, the resulting geometry from that feature will be kept when you convert it into Composer’s .smg file format.

For example you can make a simple extruded cut as an Assembly feature and use the feature scope to select the components you wish to cut through, leaving out any you wish to remain exposed.



This will result in an extruded cut that informs us well about the assembly arrangement.



Now it’s time to put this into Composer for an enhanced, presentable appearance better suited to a maintenance manual.

There are simple to use render modes unique to composer that help to give more clarity in your documentation.

For the below example, the “Technical” render mode was used along with the “Metal (3Lights)” lighting mode.

You may however want to take advantage of the Technical Illustrations workshop that gives you the option to create vector graphics.

The resulting image can be scaled up without any distortion. The style obtained is very clean and simple and notice there are no gradient shadows.


By using a Bill Of Material Workshop, a BOM ID for each component and corresponding callouts (balloons) are easy to produce.

There is flexibility to group types of components together using the same BOM ID for situations where they don’t have the same geometry or part name. For example you might want to group various sized o-rings as a single BOM ID for simplicity.

Any components that are missing due to the Assembly Cut Feature cut can be accounted for in the BOM by using the “Dummy Actor” command.

Let’s look at the M10 studs for example. One of these was cut out by the SOLIDWORKS assembly feature. Therefore to include it in the BOM it must to be turned into a dummy actor in Composer. To do this, observe the excluded part in the assembly tree, you will see that it has a different symbol to the parts(actors) that are present. Right click and choose “Create Dummy Actor”



Next, ensure that the dummy actor has the same BOM ID as the group of parts it belongs to by entering the ID in the properties pane.

Do this for any component that was cut out with the assembly feature, should you wish to include it in the BOM.



Now the cutaway components are accounted for in the BOM even though they have no solid geometry within the Composer file.

Having only completed these few steps, the Technical Illustration Workshop can also be used as a very powerful tool at this stage to output an interactive document, making use of the BOM and Callouts.

This is done with a simple “Save As” and the default file format is .svg (Scalable Vector Graphic) which can be read by your internet browser.

Please see the interactive .svg file below. Observe the visual feedback as you move the cursor over the BOM, components or callouts.


If you would like more details on how SOLIDWORKS Composer can make your printed or online documentation even better, take a look at our product page.

By Kyle Craig
Applications Engineer

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