Configurations - Creating a manufacturing process for an engineered component

Tuesday September 1, 2015 at 10:52am
Configurations are normally used to create similar components with different sizes but can also be used to create a manufacturing lifecycle process. This blog is going to run through the process on how this could be achieved.
Configurations - Creating a manufacturing process

Manufacturing by material removal can often be a simple process as there are typically only 1 or 2 processes to machine. Take a mould or die for example. Typically it would initially be machined on a machining centre to rough and finish the component, on occasions it would be then have to be spark eroded any areas where small internal corners / sharp internal corners are necessary. However on large engineered components where it is important the component does not move in the machining process (especially finishing) it is important to add further processes into the jobs lifecycle, ie heat treatment, stress relieving processes, etc.  

Starting with a parasolid file, we could use Featureworks to turn it back into a feature based model, however if you only have SOLIDWORKS Standard then this function is not available. Also it is of no interest to change the finished component as this is what the customer requires, the major issue is that further information needs to be added to the 3d model, to give instructions on how the machinist should manufacture the part from start to finish.

Here are the following machining steps that maybe followed.

  1. Block up material
  2. Drill holes and mill scribe lines in aid for sawing
  3. Saw excess material
  4. Rough machine for heat treatment
  5. Rough machine to 5mm all over for stress relieving
  6. Finish machine (with and without holes)  

To build up these stages we are going to work back to front as we need to work on the finished component and work back to ensure we leave adequate material on during all the machining processes.                    

Here is the initial job, you can see it as just an imported model.    

After renaming the default configuration and creating a new configuration, we can then consider removing the holes the newly create configuration. A very quick way to remove all the holes is to use the delete face command, this can be done even though it’s an imported model.

To do this all the faces of the counter-bored hole needs to be selected (3 on each hole)    

This has quickly created 2 configurations, one with ands one without the holes.    

A 3rd configuration is then created ‘machine to 5mm for stress relieving’, the same process can be used to delete any unwanted fillets.                             


The next stage is to offset all surfaces by 5mm.

TIP:- If you need to offset every face, rather than going into the offset surface tool and selecting every face, is to click on one of the faces and then right click ‘invert selection’ then re select the face you initially clicked on. After doing this all the faces are now selected saving a lot of work clicking on each face. Now we can select the offset surface tool and you will notice that all surface are selected in the offset parameters box.  

Confirming this box will create a surface body that is offset by 5mm, we can then easily convert this back to a solid by using the thicken tool and selecting ‘create solid from enclosed volume’.  

3 different configurations of the component have now been created, the next stage is to create a model for rough machining for heat treatment and so will create a 4th configuration, naming appropriately.

Cracks can be generated during the heat treatment process so it is wise to remove any sharp / small internal corner radii. Also it may be necessary to ultra-sonic test after this process to ensure no cracks have developed, this means that the shape of the component needs to be very basic with generous rads.  

Because the model is built up in reverse, dimensions relating back to the stress relieving stage can be added ensuring there is adequate material left on in case of any movement in the material from any stresses during the machining process.

From there on further configurations can be built to take it all the way back to the beginning of the jobs life.  

Tip:- Once all the configurations are built, depending on what you call the configuration they are not going to be in any kind of order. If you put a prefix of Op 1, Op 2, etc prior to the configuration name they will be listed in the order from the Initial block right the way through the final component.        

By creating configurations for each operation of the job also gives good visualization of the job at each stage and also gives you the benefit that you can access the mass of the component after every operation, which maybe important for lifting and transportation costs if the job has to be sub contacted out during any stage.

Op1 – Block Up  


Op 2 – Drill Holes & Scribe Lines    

Op 3 – After Sawing  

Op 4 – Machine for Heat Treatment          

Op 5 – Machine to +5mm for Stress Relieving  

Op 6a – Model Without Holes  

Op 6b – Finished Component

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