Material Callouts & Mass
An important variable to keep track of when engineering a part is its multiple mass properties. With varying features and sizes the mass and other linked variables related to the mass can be changed greatly with a simple edit to the design of the given part. SolidWorks offers an easy way to assign mass properties to a part, it all depends on what material is desired. This blog will cover how to apply different types of materials to a given part and how to view the mass calculated by the part size and material.
The material of a part can be assigned/changed in both a single part file and inside of an assembly. In a single part file, the material option can be found in the feature tree near the top, as shown in Figure 1 below. To apply a material, right click on the “Material” option in the feature tree and click edit material. When in an assembly file the material option will not be in the feature tree. To locate the material option in an assembly, simply right click on the part of which the material will be changed and find the material option in the menu and click on the “edit material”.
Figure 1: Edit material location
Adding a Material
After selecting the edit material option, a pop-up window will appear with multiple drop-down menus to select what types of material to choose. The pop-up window and drop-down menus are shown in Figure 2. The most common drop-down menu to select material from will be the “SolidWorks Materials” file. Once the drop-down arrow has been clicked a wide arrangement of different materials can be selected from. All there is to do is click on a material and hit the apply button at the bottom of the pop-up window. That material and its mass properties are then assigned to your part model. All materials in this drop-down menu have preset mass properties.
Figure 2: Material pop-up window
Viewing Mass Properties
With each new material applied to the part there will be new mass properties as well. To view the mass properties there is a mass button located on the evaluate tab. The location of this mass properties button is shown below in Figure 3. This mass properties button is in the same location in an assembly file. However, it’s the weight of the entire assembly that is calculated when the mass properties are calculated in an assembly.
Figure 3: Mass properties button location
After clicking on the mass properties button another pop-up window will appear. This pop-up window shows all the mass properties for the part/assembly that is open at the moment. The most common properties used are placed near the top of the pop-up window, they are density, mass, surface area, volume, and center of mass. For this blog part example, a small pyramid was created and assigned malleable cast iron as the material. An example of this part’s mass properties is shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Mass property pop-up window example
Live Mass Updating
Even after features in the model have been changed and updated the mass properties of the parts can be updated simply by closing the pop-up window and then reopening it using the mass properties command button. For this example, the pyramid was given chamfers on all edges to change its appearance. By doing this the mass, volume, surface area, and center of mass were all slightly changed. These changes are shown in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5: Updated mass properties
Knowing the mass properties of a part before it has even been created in real life is a huge advantage to have when manufacturing and prototyping. This mass properties tool is crucial to have when making changes and adding updates to a part or assembly. This tool allows the creator to view how every change can affect the mass, volume, density, and even its center of mass. All these properties are extremely important when it comes to engineering the perfect part.