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Solid Edge: Family of Assemblies

Earlier this week, I dove into the wonderful world of Family of Parts within Solid Edge. This week, I want to touch on a similar subject, but yet the process is just a little different; we will see how Family of Assemblies work!

What is a family of assemblies you ask? A Family of Assemblies, or FoA for short a group of 3D assemblies in which vary the characteristics of the components that compose them but deriving from a single constructive model. In short, you can have ONE file that can have multiple variations. This is useful if your company offers options or variations for your product.

I usually use Family of Parts & Family of Assemblies hand in hand meaning, my Assembly Families are using parts that have Part Families. It can get quite a bit hectic for larger assemblies, but overall, it's not too bad.

Family of Assemblies

For this how-to, I am will use a simple base part and dowel system where the length of the dowels change by 1" increments; same base part however.


Disclaimer: This is my system for Family of Assemblies. if you have a better system, please let me know. Also, this is not a beginners how-to. You must have a firm grasp of how Solid Edge performs as I cannot put every detail into these instructions.

Just like in the Family of Assemblies blog post, all of my parts will be in their own individual folders instead of all of the parts in one mass folder. That does not change for this system. If you choose to just have one mass folder, that is all your choice; I am just to OCD to do so. So really the only setup is to open a new assembly file and get started.

There is one KEY factor that distinguishes Family of Assemblies from Family of Parts; it is the fact that family members do NOT get populated out. Once a Family of Parts member is selected to bring into another assembly, you get a dialogue box asking which member you want. In my opinion, this is the way FoP should work too, but we will take what we can get. I will cover this dialogue box a little later...

To do this, you should already have your parts that you need. As mentioned, my dowel is changing lengths, so as you can see below, I have a Family of Parts system in place for the dowel. I also have a base that is the same for all three models I am creating.

Go ahead and create your assembly of whatever the parts may be. Below, you will see that I have all of may parts in there---a base, a peg, and the other three were patterned from the front one.

Creating the Family Members

Now it's time to actually setup the Family of Assemblies. It is very similar to FoP, but you just use a different tab on your toolbar. use the Family of Assemblies button that is selected in the picture above.

To start creating family members, simply click on the "New Family Member" button circled in red above.

Once clicked, you will get this dialogue box:

For the "Current Member" I always use the word MASTER. For the New Member, name it whatever you want, usually the assembly number or part number. The MASTER member really becomes a catch all; it is there, but you rarely use it. I have come to use it as the member that has all the parts in it overlapping and then I use it for exploded views to show all of the options on a drawing. You can go ahead and create all of the members that you need as I have done:

Once the members are created, it is time to change what distinguishes each member. To do this, I use the design table like we done for FoP. Click on the design table button in the FoA menu:

Once clicked you get this dialogue box:

Now it is as simple as RIGHT clicking under the assembly you need to change on the box that corresponds to the part you need to change--in my case: Peg 1.par. Right Clicking gives you this menu:

Click on "Replace". Depending on if you are using a part that is part of a family or not will affect what to do next. IF you are using part that is NOT setup as a FoP, then once you hit select, an "Open" dialogue box will appear, and you just browse for the part. IF you are using a part that is setup as an FoP, then a small dialogue box will appear asking you to select members that are in that FoP as shown below:

Just click on the member that you need. Repeat this for all the other Assembly Members:

Once done, simply click on the Floppy Disc icon above and exit out of the dialogue box. To see your results, just drop down the menu shown below and click on the various members that you set up. You should see your assembly change before your eyes. You have successfully used Family of Assemblies to create an Alternate Assembly.

Remember back at the top of this article, I mentioned about one key difference. As you can see, we never "populated" out our members like we do with FoP. When you are in another assembly and you bring in an assembly that is set up as a Family of Assemblies, then you get a nifty dialogue box that looks like this as soon as you drag and drop it into your active assembly:

Just click on the needed member and it brings it in just as it should.


One thing to keep in mind are mates. As long as the parts that you are varying are similar, you should not have any problems, but if you are using certain geometry as a mate, and the other part(s) do not have that geometry, you will lose a mate. You will need to re-mate it. There is one little box that can help though:

The way this button works is, what ever mates and changes you make to one Family member affects ALL the members. Once you have your members setup, sometimes I uncheck this box. unchecking this box will give you the ability to re-mate JUST THAT active assembly without affecting the other mates. It really makes the system work as independent assemblies, but all in the same file. Also if bringing in new parts to the assemblies, if this box is unchecked, it only adds it to your active assembly and excludes it from the other ones automatically.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. You can also hit Skype Call at the bottom of the page, and I will be more than glad to screen share with you and personally show you how to do this.

#design #solidedge #drafting #cad #solidedge

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