Keeping Sub-assembly Mates in SolidWorks

When trying to make a SolidWorks assembly with sub-assemblies, have you wondered why the mates in the sub-assemblies don’t seem to carry over into the main assembly?  How can you make your sub-assembly mates work in the main assembly?

Well I only learned this after spending hours and hours trying to get around this problem.  So hopefully after reading this you can save some time.

Of course, as with many things in SolidWorks, this is a simple easy fix once you know what to do and where to look.

Basically, you just need to set the sub-assembly as “Flexible”.  To do this, click on the subassembly in the FeatureManagerDesignTree in the left sidebar.  The familiar popup context menu will appear.  Click on the “Component Properties” button.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 2.58.09 PM


This will bring up the “Component Properties” window.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 3.01.29 PM

In the lower right corner, change the component from “Rigid” to “Flexible”.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 3.02.18 PM


Now you’re sub-assembly will maintain all its pre-existing mates into the main assembly.  They can also be edited from within the main assembly.

Let me know if this helped you!

Dimension the distance between arcs in SolidWorks

I was having trouble doing something very simple today, and learned an easy fix for it. In SolidWorks when making a drawing of your 3D CAD model, the default ‘Smart Dimension’ gives the dimension between the centers of two arcs, which is typically what you want.  But what if you want to dimension between the edges of the two arcs themselves?

In this drawing, if I choose ‘Smart Dimension’, it will grab the centers of the two arcs and give me the .75 dimension.


To get the actual edges, first create the dimension the same way as above, letting the ‘Smart Dimension’ get the centers for you.

Then click on the dimension again to bring up the “Dimension Property Manager” menu on the left.  Click on the “Leaders” tab, and scroll to the bottom. Under the “Arc Condition” header, choose “Max” and “Max”.


Now it will give you the distance between the edges of the two arcs.


Simple, but hard to find if you don’t know where to look.  Hope you found it useful!

Credit for this info comes from this article in the SolidWorks help documentation.