How to Configure Part Numbers for Paints and Materials

Have a component that comes in all variety of colors and materials? Don't want to recreate the same part several dozen times? Here's how you can use Configurations to keep every color and material variant all in one place.

While meeting customers and prospects, I regularly hear that "we make products that can have different paint or material options, but I don't want to model them all." It is understandable to not want to model every combination of material and paint on a product and manage each file separately. This post will help you create and manage all the different configurations, but keep them within a single part file.

Paint Configuration

For the sake of example, let's say we make a line of bicycle accessories. The product line comes in various colors to match your current bicycle color. We also offer different materials for those enthusiasts who require lightweight accessories for racing. As is typical in most companies, we pull the next available part number "P2100" from Enterprise PDM. Product configuration shows this product comes in Red, Orange, Green, Blue and Yellow, with material options of Aluminum, Steel and Carbon Fiber. Based on these options, there are 15 variations that we need to manage. From our part numbering system, we can add a paint code and a material code to the end of the part number, which will identify these properties. For example, a Red Aluminum accessory would be named "P2100-A-R."

Using SOLIDWORKS tools, we can easily create and manage all the combinations necessary, with the 5 step process below. Now, each time a part number is used in an assembly, we have the ability to select the material and color code. As an added advantage, the associated part shows up properly on our BOM.

Step 1. Create part "P2100" and add three configurations. One represents all Aluminum, one for all Steel, and one for all Carbon Fiber.

SOLIDWORKS Bike Configurations

Step 2. Add Derived Configurations to each material configuration from Step 1. Derived Configurations are used in SOLIDWORKS to create families.

In our case, Aluminum, Steel and Carbon Fiber are the families. When you use derived configurations, all child configurations inherit their properties from their parent.

solidworks configurations

Step 3. Set the derived configuration properties. More specifically, the part number used in the BOM needs to be set to the configuration name. The configuration name should match the part number with color and material codes.

Use the configuration specific color (located in the Advanced Options) to match the SOLIDWORKS model color to the desired paint color.

Step 4. Auto Create Design Table. We can create a new design table with our 3 families of configurations by going to Insert -> Tables -> Design Table and selecting Auto-create as the Source.

solidworks design table

Step 5. Using Design Table Functionality, we can fill out the necessary fields to create all other variations. Notice how we can vary Configuration Name, Color and Material.

design table for bikes

Here is our result: 15 variations, with specific part numbers, and a sure-fire way to manage any further variations of this product line through this single file.

solidworks bike configuration 2

paint congifugrations

A quick look into Enterprise PDM shows the one file. Each design variation has its own tab on the data card with information specific to each.


Creating product configuration has never been so easy!