Materials are an essential way of gaining an extra insight into your designs. This can be achieved by acting as a part of a simulation, or analysing the center of gravity and the weight of the design itself. You will not be able to do any of these without assigning material properties to your parts.
This is done by accessing the SOLIDWORKS material library that contains the material properties that come with the program. These materials are read-only, which means if the material that you need is not already there, you will have to create a new custom material that has the necessary properties.
Assigning a material to a part in SOLIDWORKS material library
To assign a material to a part/assembly it is very simple. Click on the part you want to assign the material to in the Feature Manager Design Tree to open it up. In the drop down menu, you should see “Material <not specified>”. Right click this option to open up the expansive material database.
This is where all of the pre-installed materials are kept and you can edit these for the different effects that you would like, such as appearance, crosshatch etc. There are plenty of options here that will be suitable for the vast majority of projects.
In a case that there isn’t anything appropriate for what you need, as mentioned above you will need to create custom materials.
Creating a custom material library in SOLIDWORKS
To create a custom library, you need to add one of the blue folders on the left hand side of the window. Right click in the blue area and click on “New Library”.
Once this is made, name the new library, and this will act as an organization tool for the various categories of new materials that you will be creating. This is saved as an external reference file which means it can be shared with other users.
Creating a custom category or a new material in SOLIDWORKS database
To create a custom category, right-click on your new custom library and click “New Category”. This will again act as another organizational folder within the material library.
Follow the same process again for creating a new material, right-click on the custom category that you just made, and click “New Material”. This will be your new custom material, and the appearance, properties and any other information pertaining to the material can be changed as desired.
Even though all of the material that came pre-installed in SOLIDWORKS are read-only, any of these materials can be copied and pasted into a custom library and then be edited as needed. This saves a lot of time as most of the time a metal or other material just needs to be tweaked (i.e. only a few properties need to be changed) and a totally new material does not need to be created.
Custom libraries have to be saved in a location that is determined in your system options by File Locations – Materials Databases (it should automatically prompt you to save any custom library in the Custom Materials library).
Importing Custom Materials into SOLIDWORKS material library
The file you need to be looking for when attempting to import some new custom materials into SOLIDWORKS is the “Custom Materials.sldmat” file. This file is found through the SOLIDWORKS software itself.
Find the “Tools” dropdown menu that is on the toolbar and click “Options”.
Select “System Options” from the dropdown list and then click “File Locations”. Now go down through the dropdown list under “Show Folder For” again and find “Material Databases”.
Click “Add”, and then “Select Folder” after you have found the folder that contains your new custom material in the .sldmat format that we mentioned earlier. Once this is completed, exit by clicking the “OK” button.
Your new imported custom materials should now be available for use. An easy way to make sure that multiple users would have access to the same custom materials would be to select a file location for the SOLIDWORKS Custom Material library that is on a network. That way it is easy for everyone within a company to access all of the custom materials they may need.
So now you are ready to create some of your own custom materials! This is a fairly simple process so even the novice users should be able to complete this is no time, we have faith in you! SOLIDWORKS has a Help section on Materials and Material Database.
If you have any questions or have anything to add to the article, we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Thank you for reading our content and we hope to see you soon!
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