Have you ever went to send somebody a SOLIDWORKS file and Outlook returned this message to you?
SOLIDWORKS files can get very large sometimes depending on the complexity of the part or assembly. This makes emailing them difficult and often times need to be sent using a ftp site or another method of transfer. This month I thought I would share a small tip with you that may in some cases allow you to avoid the cumbersome ftp and still email that large file!
This trick will give you a little sneak peak at our File Management class and comes as a result of understanding what makes up the actual SOLIDWORKS file itself. A SOLIDWORKS file is made up of three different parts, the Header, Instruction Set, and Database. All windows files have a header, and things like it's format, file name, and size make up this portion. Preview images and file references are also stored in the header of SOLIDWORKS Files. The Instruction Set is the next part of a SOLIDWORKS file. You can think of this portion of the file as your feature manager tree in code form. This is where the software gets all the instructions in order to build your model. The Database is the last part of the file and is essentially the solid body that we see in the graphics area. This is what gets exported when you save out your file as a parasolid or step file. The way to email large SOLIDWORKS parts is to leverage our knowledge about these three sections to reduce the size of the SOLIDWORKS file. Let's look at an example...
I have this metal grate shown below that is very complex even though it does not have a lot of features associated with it.
When we look at the windows properties of this file we see that the size of the file is almost 25mb! For a lot of email applications, this is too large to email to somebody, and even if it does let us email it, it would take a significant amount of time.
Now is where you will see the magic happen!...we're going to take this same file, open it up, suppress all the features, and save it and look again at the size of our file...
I want you to look really closely at the highlighted portion of the above screenshot...that really does say 934 KB. KB as in kilobytes, like less than a megabyte!! That's almost a 100% decrease! Now let's think about this for a minute, how in the world can we take something that complex and reduce it's size that dramatically?? Let's think back through the different parts of the SOLIDWORKS file...The header includes very simple things like format, file size, and reference locations. The most complex thing in the header is the 2D and 3D previews. When we saved this file with everything suppressed however, there is no model and subsequently no previews!
Now let's take a look again at the next section of the file, the instruction set. Even though the features are suppressed and there is no model in the file, there is still the instructions to build the model because we can suppress and unsuppress the features at will and the model is rebuilt. So this section we really aren't saving any size by supppressing anything.
The last section, the database, again is the final solid geometry of the model after all the features have been built. since there are no features to be rebuilt, there is no geometry in the part and thus no database! This fact can be proven by trying to save out a parasolid or step file of a file with all the features suppressed. It will not let you because there is nothing to save. This is the area where you really see the size savings!
If we look back over contents of the file when it's in this suppressed state, there really is not much there. We have some basic windows properties in the header and the instruction set and for all intensive purposes that's all there is and those things are very small in size. Now we can take this file and email it quickly and just tell our recipient to open it and unsuppress everything and they will have the full model!
By: Chris Olson, Simulation Applications Engineer