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How to assign a material in SolidWorks?

If you are starting with a CAE project that requires simulation results, you’ll need to apply materials to your design. How to assign materials in Solidworks? Well, SolidWorks simplifies this task by allowing users to access a vast material’s library or create their own materials if needed.

Applying a material to a single part

In SolidWorks, you will find the material of the part listed in the FeatureManager tree. More specifically between the equations tab and the main planes.

As you can see, it lists “material not specified” for this T type fitting, so lets assign a material to it.

You will first need to right click the Material tab. There you’ll find three main options listed as well as the predetermined favorite materials. To apply a material to a single part, click on the Edit Material tab and the material window will pop up.

At your left side, you’ll find all the materials available in the library. The list goes from steel all the way down to different type of woods. For this example, we will assign Alloy Steel to our pipe.

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To apply Alloy Steel as material, first click on the Steel folder on your left side. As you can see, a variety of steel alloys shows up. Scroll down until you find Alloy Steel, then click on it. After selecting a material, the right side of the window will show you its properties as well as the displayed unit system.

Right after hitting the apply button, the material window closes and the appearance of the material changes. The name of the applied material will be displayed at the Material tab in the FeatureManager.

Applying a material inside an Assembly

Assemblies are more complex SolidWorks files made out of different parts that, in most cases, will need to have a different material applied. Thankfully, SolidWorks assemblies list all the parts in the FeatureManager, making it easier to apply material once inside the assembly.

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You can edit materials for each part inside the assembly following the same steps as if you were working on a single part, just be sure you are under the right part in the FeatureManager before editing.

Editing materials in Assembly mode reduces consumption of computational resources since you won’t need to open a SolidWorks window for each part.

Material Configurations

If you want to try out different materials on the same part to compare performance. First thing that comes in mind is to swap the material several times following the process explained before. This isn’t wrong at all, but SolidWorks has an easier solution for you.

When right-clicking the Material tab, you will now select the Configure Material option. The Modify Configurations window pops up. A table shows the material configurations for the part. To add a configuration, simply click the text box, add a name for the configuration, and select the material from favorites or browsing it from the library.

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Press Ok to accept the changes. You could also hit the apply button to automatically change the configuration. This option will instantly create a new configuration that can be accessed via the ConfigurationManager.

Managing favorite materials

Selecting your favorite materials before starting a project saves time when choosing the proper material for your parts. SolidWorks makes this a simple task for the user, allowing to select favorite materials from the library.

To access this option, right-click on the Material tab and select the Manage Favorites.  Select the material you want to add or remove.

Notice that the Manage Favorites option opens the Materials window with the Favorites tab selected. It is recommended to keep your favorite materials to a maximum of 12 for ease of access.