SOLIDWORKS Imported Model File Size Reduction

ARTICLE

This tech tip explains how to use three easy methods to minimize the file size of an imported electrical component in SOLIDWORKS.

Let’s face it: we live in a three-dimensional world. This reality also applies to electrical design, which is primarily done in 2D design programs like SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic. On paper, a symbol could be brief and little, but when it’s fastened to a frame, it becomes meaningful. When really strung out in an assembly, a wire that is only sketched a few inches on a print can be many meters long.

IMPORTED FILE EXAMPLE

Additional tools are needed to capture an electrical design, such as SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D. To get the most out of the software, precise 3D models of all electrical components are required. These models are usually straight out of the factory, but there’s a catch: the file format is almost certainly neutral, similar to IGES, STEP, or Parasolid.

There may be some issues with this, particularly in relation to file size. Your assemblies may get significantly heavier if you import model files directly. As an illustration, consider the time I just spent looking through a parts catalog for a CompactLogix PLC controller. I downloaded the model after finding what I required.

Here’s what I obtained:

This STEP file has to be smaller

SOLIDWORKS File Size Reduction

To minimize the file size of an imported model in SOLIDWORKS, follow these three steps:

Step 1: Save as. SLDPRT.

The neutral file that a manufacturer provides frequently includes an entire assembly instead of just a part file, depending on the manufacturer. However, we intend to buy this rather than assemble it. I always say, one part number, one file! Therefore, the first thing to do is to save our assembly as a part file in order to simplify it:

When the imported assembly is open, select File > Save As and enter “Part (*.prt, *. sldprt)” in the “Save as Type” field. Unless you adore surface bodies, make sure you choose “Exterior components” or “All components” for “Geometry to Save.”

File size as of right now: 364 KB

STEP 2: Combine All the Bodies

There are a lot of distinct bodies in this part file, which is an improvement. The functionality of our SOLIDWORKS assemblies can still be significantly impacted by these. We can use the Combine feature to combine all the solids into a single body, further simplifying the process!

File size as of right now: 276 KB

STEP 3: Export & Re-Import

To continue moving forward, this sounds a lot like taking two steps back, doesn’t it? However, there are instances in which it’s actually quite helpful to import a file again. A file loses its feature history when it is exported to a neutral file format. Because of this, the file becomes less complex and smaller in size.

File size as of right now: 273 KB

It is highly recommended to save a file as a Parasolid file type when exporting a file in this manner. The Parasolid modelling kernel, upon which SOLIDWORKS is based, virtually eliminates the possibility of anything breaking. Reimport the file after it has been exported by choosing File>Open in SOLIDWORKS and navigating to the file. The new low file size indicates that the new part file has only one straightforward body.

Final File

Final File Size: 133 KB

We were able to convert a 364KB file that would have caused performance issues in our electrical assemblies into a much smaller, more manageable 133 KB file in just three easy steps. What an alteration!

We could actually take it a step further if we so desired. The file size would be further reduced by decreasing the number of external faces and edges a model has (by removing text and filling the hollow interior with a solid). But the modelling process would be much more involved, and you would not get much return on your time investment.