Design Engineering

SolidWorks: Exploded Views with Multi-Body Parts in 6 Steps

Mike McLeod   

CAD/CAM/CAE CAD design Hawk Ridge Systems SolidWorks

Elliot Weber, Hawk Ridge Systems

When designing in SolidWorks, at times it may be beneficial to create parts that have more than one solid body, in applications like weldments, sheet metal or mold tools. It may also be necessary to show how those parts go together using an exploded view.

While it is possible to save the individual bodies as separate part files in an assembly and perform an exploded view there, it may be easier and quicker to perform the exploded view in the multi-body part. This functionality was introduced in SolidWorks 2012.

This process, outlined in the steps below, is similar to creating exploded views with assemblies.

1. Create a New Configuration
Manage exploded views by putting them in their own configuration. Click on the Configuration tab > Right click below > Click “Add Configuration” > Add Name “Exploded View”


2. Create Exploded View
Go to the Insert menu and click on “Exploded View”. You may also locate the exploded view using the command search in the top right corner of the SolidWorks window.

3. Explode Steps
This will bring up the Exploded View Property Manager. Select the bodies to explode then drag the manipulation handle in the desired direction. You may select single or multiple bodies to explode in a given step. These steps are added on the left side titled “Explode steps”. Under “Settings” it lists the bodies selected, the direction, and the distance. To add additional steps, just select different bodies and drag.

4. Auto-Space Components
Clicking the “Auto-space solid bodies after drag” option will take all of the components selected and space them equally apart from each other.

5. Edit Explode Steps
Right-clicking on the intended step and selecting Edit Step allows you make adjustments to the selected components, their direction, and distance. Components may be added or deleted. The direction can be edited by selecting an arrow and toggling the reverse button. You can align the drag handle to a specific entity by right-clicking the drag handle and selecting: Align to, Align to Component Origin, or Move to Selection. After aligning the drag handles, select an arrow for the direction. You may specify a different distance next to the “D1” field. When finished, click “apply” and then “Done”. You may continue to edit existing steps or add new ones. Click the green check-mark when finished.

6. Finished Exploded View
To go back and forth between the collapsed and exploded state, go to the Configuration Manager tab and expand the “Exploded View” configuration; inside is a derived configuration that holds the exploded view with its explode steps. Right click on the derived configuration to collapse or explode the part. Edit Feature takes you to the Explode Property Manager. The “Collapse Items” option just collapses the configuration tree.

There are a few limits to this command. You may not re-use a multi-body explode in an assembly exploded view, like you can re-use a sub-assembly exploded view. Also, you cannot animate explode or collapse or save it as an .avi file. Lastly, cannot hold down alt to move and align the drag arrows like assembly explodes.

Elliot Weber is a Certified SolidWorks Applications Engineer and SolidWorks Instructor with a specialty in SolidWorks Composer and SolidWorks Electrical. Check out more of Elliot and other Hawk Ridge application specialist’s tips on the The HRS Blog – SolidWorks and CAMWorks


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