First introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2013, the Bounding Box greatly improved the weldment design process. This year, we’ve seen some really useful updates to the Bounding Box functionality that really improves how you work with a Cut List, but before we take a look at that, let’s take a look at how things were done before the Bounding Box existed.
Before the Bounding Box
Weldments are a much used and valued area of functionality in the SOLIDWORKS tool set. They were initially introduced to allow users to design frameworks and structures in a single multibody part, using a predefined list of structural steel members that conform to the various standards (BSI, ISO, ANSI Inch, etc).
Once complete, users could automatically generate all necessary documentation and Cut List information from their design.
The Cut List would take the description from the weldment profile and the length and angles the ends were cut to would be automatically calculated. However, for gussets, end caps and standard extrudes, etc, no information was generated. This meant you’d have to type that information in to the Cut List manually.
The old Bounding Box method
It essentially fits a virtual cuboid over the top of standard (non-structural member) geometry and returns length, width & thickness values based on the size of the virtual cuboid. They are shown in the Cut List properties dialogue as ‘3D-Bounding Box thickness’, ‘3D-Bounding Box Width’ and ‘3D Bounding Box Length’.
These values are then collated in to a description property which is prefixed with the word ‘PLATE’.
The Bounding Box values are parametric, so as the model geometry changes, the Bounding Box values will update too.
This functionality has been adopted by a variety of different industries such as carpentry and furniture design, due to the many benefits of using weldments in SOLIDWORKS. These industries may very rarely use the structural member tool – although it is great for standard wood profiles – instead, they will usually produce standard extrudes, which represent the panels that make up the design.
The Bounding Box tool was a great addition for the aforementioned industries, because it allowed them to automatically & parametrically generate a Cut List for their panels – specifically the sizes of the panels. There was a minor issue with this though, the description generated would always be prefixed with the word ‘PLATE’, as you can see below.
This meant that once the designer generated the Cut List with bounding box, they would have to go through each panelled item and replace the word ‘PLATE’ with ‘PANEL’, which was a somewhat irritating process, if we’re being completely honest!
The SOLIDWORKS 2018 Bounding Box method
The above issue has been addressed in SOLIDWORKS 2018. Users can now choose whatever default prefix they would like for bounding box items, as well as the order in which it collates length, width and thickness values. Result!
To do this simply go to Options > Document > Properties > Weldments. There is a new area for Bounding Box properties. Here you can uncheck the option to “Use default description”, and you can type in whatever value you want as your prefix. You can also select the order from the drop-down menus thickness, width & length as well as a suffix.
There is also an option to add default descriptions for sheet metal parts in the Cut List and whether to apply these changes to new bounding boxes or existing and new bounding boxes.
We hope you found that useful!
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