An assembly is a type of file which contains multiple sldprt files joined through connections called Mates. These mates connect in multiple ways such as if there are circles, then we use the Concentric mate. If two parts are in a parallel way, we use the Parallel mate to align them and then maybe introduce some Distance mate by defining a certain distance. The two parts are fixed that way and cannot move away or close to each other.
For this particular tutorial, we will take a bicycle main frame with the saddle and seat post. The three parts will join as such that the seat post has a circular cylinder pipe fitting place. This is where the saddle will sit. Then the only mate we have left is the pipe of the seat post that goes into main frame pipe. Let’s begin!
Image 1: Bicycle Parts for Assembly
The way we approach this is simple. One at a time. Keep the whole picture in view about which components need to be done first. Pre-planning the assembly, rather than haphazardly doing it, is better.
The first thing to notice is that first, you have to insert the components into the assembly file you create. So first, go to the newly created assembly file and click insert components. Select the sldprts you require to assemble your product. Once you have selected them, they will appear one by one as you drag your cursor onto the SolidWorks editing area. Just left-click and they will drop on the screen in front of you. Another important thing to be aware of is the fact that the first part you insert, will fix itself permanently. It cannot move as it is the reference part onto which all the other parts will attach. So make sure you have the correct first component otherwise you can also change which part to fix and which to Float. You can do this by right-clicking the parts in the model tree and selecting Float or Fix.
Images 2,3 and 4(Top to Bottom): Inserting Components
Tangent mate and Lock:
Now we come to the main working part where we mate or join the parts to form an assembly. This one is rather simple for the understanding of beginners. Advanced assembly includes a lot of advanced features such as Path mates, Linear Coupler mates and so much more. Those will be covered in a separate blog. Now, we begin with the mates. First, we have to fix the saddle and the seat post. We click the Mate feature and a window pops out with several mating options on the left. We choose the saddle pipe and the face on the seat post where it will sit. You have to envision the easiest places to mate to make the workflow smooth. Always keep it simple. We apply the tangent mate here since these two circular surfaces are tangent to each other and will sit perfectly.
Image 5 & 6: Tangent Mate
Once you click the green tick mark, the tangent will apply. Since this is a tricky mate and the part is not yet fixed with the saddle, we can lock this part with the tangent applied. Just right-click to edit and lock the part. The lock mate works well after you have aligned a tricky part which cannot mate easily. You align using another mate and then edit the feature to lock the two components so that both parts do not move.
Image 7: Lock Mate
Moving on to the next mate which you will use a lot, is the concentric mate. This is for hole alignment and pushing rods or pipes into each other and assembling them. This can also align parts with similar holes like a plate onto another plate with the holes aligned. So on and so forth. It is a very useful tool.
We select the rod and inner side of the main frame rod and the holes automatically align with each other as you can see in the image below. Once we align them, we have to apply the lock rotation option below the Concentric mate as well. This locks the rotation of the main frame so it cannot rotate. It becomes fixed and aligned with the shaft of the seat post.
Image 8: Concentric Mate
We can just apply the Distance mate now and finish the assembly. Similarly, click mates and select the two faces which are the seat post and main frame faces. Once selected, click on the dimension of the distance and you can easily give the required distance. This distance maintains the two parts and locks them in place.
Image 9: Distance mate
Congratulations! We have done it successfully. The resulting assembly is in the following picture. Remember to always use the mates which help you do things smoothly. It is always best to have some wiggle room than to blunder perfection and regret doing it all over again. Keep it simple. Keep it concise and don’t oversimplify as well. Hope you learned a lot in this one. Catch you in the next tutorial!