The best import options for SOLIDWORKS Composer

Choosing the best import options is key when loading a SOLIDWORKS document into SOLIDWORKS Composer. It will control the ease of which you can annotate components and create a bill of materials…

Choosing the best import options is key when loading a SOLIDWORKS document into SOLIDWORKS Composer. It will control the ease of which you can annotate components and create a bill of materials.

When you choose to open a SOLIDWORKS document in Composer, you are presented with these options:


SOLIDWORKS composer import options 1


Merge file into one actor per part

The first and maybe most important option is ‘Merge file into one actor part’. When selected, this will merge all of the geometry of a part into a single actor. Even if you have a multi-body part, you end up with only one actor when this is selected.

Let’s take a look at this screwdriver that has been created as a multi-body part:



The part has 2 bodies, named by default as the last feature used to create them (this can be changed if required).

If we place the screwdriver into an assembly and import the assembly into SOLIDWORKS Composer with ‘Merge file into one actor per part’, we see the following:


SOLIDWORKS composer import options 3


We have the exact same structure that we have in SOLIDWORKS. We can see the part and nested underneath, the bodies that make up that part. It is ok to work like this, but things do start to get a little awkward when creating BOM’s and annotation.

Take a look at the example below where we’ve added a label to the screwdriver. It displays the actor name by default – in this instance ‘Cut-Extrude2’.


SOLIDWORKS composer import options 4SOLIDWORKS composer import options 5


This is because (by default) it takes the information it displays in the label from the lowest level, which body level in this case.

If you select the label, it is possible to get it to look to another level (i.e part level) for the information it displays. Allowing you to to get the desired display:


SOLIDWORKS composer import options 6SOLIDWORKS composer import options 7


Imagine having to do that for every single part within your assembly. The whole process can become quite long winded, expecially as this issue is not related to just labels – Bills of materials will also have similar issues.

If we were to import the same assembly with ‘Merge file into one actor per part’ switched on, we would get the following result:


SOLIDWORKS composer import options 8


As you can see, we have the screwdriver as one item in our assembly list, and we do not see the bodies that make up the screw driver at all. This means that if we create any annotations or BOM ID’s, they will reference information directly from the screwdriver by default, rather than the bodies that make up the part.

In summary, unless you have a distinct need to treat multibody parts as individual actors, you should always select merge file into one actor part.

Import instance names

The next option within our import options is ‘Import instance names’.

With this option on, If you have several instances of a bracket in an assembly, when you import the file into composer, the actor names of the brackets would be Bracket-1. Bracket-2, etc. This could cause similar problems when creating annotations and bills of materials (because they could be seen as different items).

With this option off, the actor name of each bracket would be ‘Bracket’.

We would suggest having this option switched off.

Import Meta properties

Select to import the custom properties from the SOLIDWORKS files. We would always suggest having this switched on.

Import as bodies

Select to treat solid bodies as a whole actor. Clear to treat solid bodies as individual faces. Please note this option has no effect if ‘Merge file into one actor per part’ is switched on.

Import Free Faces

Select to import surface models from the SOLIDWORKS Assembly.

Import Hidden Components

Select to import the hidden Components in from the SOLIDWORKS Assembly. They will also be hidden by default in SOLIDWORKS Composer.

All other import options have no effect on a SOLIDWORKS assembly.

Rather than having to set your import options everytime you open a file, you can set them as defaults. To do this go to File->Properties->Default Document Properties-> input.


SOLIDWORKS composer import options 9

We hope you found that useful!

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