VariCAD enables you to define connections between part files, sub-assembly files and assembly files. Parts can be created and edited in their own files and then inserted into assemblies. If a part is edited, the change is transferred to all assemblies that contain the part. In addition, you can change a part within the assembly file and update the original part file, as well as other assemblies that contain the part. It is generally faster and more efficient to edit parts in their own files, since there is much less data in these files. But editing within the assembly can be handy if you need to edit only a small detail, especially a detail that affects other parts.
If the current file contains any parts inserted from another files, the file becomes an assembly file, and "Assembly" is displayed on the right side of the Status Bar. If the file contains a part used in an assembly, or an object identified as a part, "Part" appears on the Status Bar. If the current file is a sub-assembly, “Subassembly” is displayed. If the current file is assembly and contains also defined sub-assembly group, “Assembly+Sub.” is displayed.
Using links between parts and assemblies provides many advantages. However, you do not have to use links when working with multiple solids. Unlike other CAD systems, VariCAD provides freedom and flexibility when working with assemblies.
There are several ways to create assembly-part links:
While editing an assembly file, changes can be saved to part files as well as to the current assembly file. When opening an assembly file, the parts are loaded as they were last saved then the parts are updated from the part files. Therefore, if parts are changed after the assembly was saved, the changed parts will be used.
If part files cannot be located, a list of broken assembly links is displayed and you can use the following methods to resolve them:
If you choose not to resolve any links, the parts will remain as they were saved last in the assembly.
Instead of a single part inserted into assemblies, you can also define a group of solids as a sub-assembly. The sub-assembly objects are single separate objects in a sub-assembly file. When inserted into an assembly, they behave as one compact object.
The group of sub-assembly objects may contain also parts inserted from part files, or other sub-assemblies inserted from sub-assembly files. On the other side, in assembly file the sub-assembly may be also a member of sub-assembly group ready for insertion into higher level. This allows you to create a hierarchical structure of entire product.
The structure of assembly and sub-assemblies is displayed in BOM, see BOM Objects.
In many ways, sub-assemblies behave similarly as parts inserted into assemblies. But there are also significant differences:
By default, VariCAD uses absolute paths for all assembly to part or assembly to sub-assembly links. You can change the usage of absolute paths – in following command:
Complete System Settings - CFG
Paths are separated by “\” in Windows, and by “/” in UNIX. In assembly links used in VariCAD, separators are automatically handled according to current operating system. By other words – if assemblies and their parts are copied from Linux to Windows, path separators are changed automatically. If some computers in network use Windows and some use Linux, VariCAD assembly links are solved automatically, too.
VariCAD allows you to work with multiple open files. While working in the assembly file, you can open part files from the assembly. Transferring changes between parts is managed by the following function:
Complete System Settings - CFG
Open Part File from Assembly - EDE
Select the part, and its file is open. If the part in an assembly is changed, changes are transferred into a newly open file automatically only if the transfer is allowed (see above).
Do not close changed part files or sub-assembly files, if you want to transfer changes to the assembly. Files must be switched, not closed.
Create Part, Save It into New Part File - DIA
Defines a selected object as a part and exports it to its own file. The current file becomes the assembly, and the part-assembly link is established.
Define Part to be Inserted into Assembly - DEE
Command defines the selected object as a part. The current document becomes a part file.
Change Definition of Part to be Inserted into Assembly - ROI
If a file has a defined part, use this function to define a different part. Corresponding parts in all assemblies are changed according to this selection.
Create Sub-Assembly, Save It into New Sub-Assembly File -SBA
Defines selected objects as a sub-assembly and exports them into their own file. The current file becomes an assembly, and the sub-assembly - assembly link is established.
Define or Change Sub-Assembly to be Inserted into Assembly - SBE
Command defines the selected objects as a sub-assembly. The current document becomes a sub-assembly file.
Break Link from Part or Sub-assembly - CSI
In current assembly, breaks the assembly link for one group defined by the selected solid.
Break Definition of Part to be Inserted into Assembly - CDE
In current part file, breaks the part definition. The file is no longer a part file.
Break Definition of Sub-Assembly to be Inserted into Assembly - CSB
In current sub-assembly file, break the sub-assembly definition. The file is no longer a sub-assembly file.
Break All Links from Parts or Sub-assemblies - CAI
Break all links in the current assembly. The current file loses its assembly status.