Solidworks External References

Solidworks External References original 1

In-context parts and features create many external references which are used to create and maintain relations between parts at the assembly level. To break these references and keep the part intact, you must manually go through the in-context features and change the in-context references to local references.

When they are working properly, external references are considered in-context. When they cannot work properly, they are considered out of context and cannot update properly.

Out of Context
In—context relationships are maintained through the assembly in the Update Holders 3. For the in-context feature to work correctly, the assembly must be open for the in-context feature to update. It is able to work properly and change through the propagation of changes only while the assembly is open.

Putting a Part Back into Context
To put an out-of-context part back into context, open the externally referenced document. There is an easy way to do this: right-click the out-of-context feature and click Edit In Context.

Breaking and Locking External References
The flow of changes can be stopped temporarily or permanently using the Lock/Unlock and Break options. These options essentially suppress the Update Holder so that it is not solved. This helps to speed up the assembly rebuild. If you want to reuse the in-context part in another assembly, or use it as the starting point for a similar design or apply motion, you should remove the external references. By copying and editing the in-context part, you can create a duplicate part that is not tied to the assembly. Once the in-context features are created, it is a good idea to lock the external references. If changes are made that affect the in-context features, the external references can be unlocked, the assembly rebuilt, and then the external references locked again.

When the List External References dialog is active, there are options available to Lock All or Break All references. These options allow you to change the relationship between the in-context part and referenced files.

Lock All
Lock All is used to lock or freeze the references until they are unlocked at a later date using Unlock All These changes are reversible after the UK is clicked. Until the references are unlocked, changes will not propagate to the part. When Lock All is selected, SolidWorks displays a message:

All external references of the model “Part Name” will be locked. You will not be able to add any new external references until you unlock the existing references.

The Feature
Manager design tree lists the locked references with “->*” symbols. Using Unlock All later will restore the “->” symbols.

No additional external references can be created while the part is in the locked state.

Break All
Break All is used to break all references with the controlling files. Clicking the button launches a message that indicates the change is not reversible after OK is clicked.

When Break All is selected, SolidWorks displays a message: All external references of the model “Part Name” will be broken. You will not be able to activate these references again.

The FeatureManager design tree lists the broken references with “->x” symbols. Changes will no longer propagate to the part.

Once the references are broken, they can be listed only by using the List Broken References check box in the List External References dialog.

Break All does not remove the external references. It simply breaks them, and once broken, they can never be fixed. Because Break All is irreversible, you should use Lock All in almost all situations.

Do not confuse the command List External References with File, Find References. In a part document, the command File, Find References only lists the name of externally referenced documents, if they exist. It does not provide feature, data, status, entity, or component information.

Removing External

References Options like Lock All are useful to interrupt the flow of changes to an in-context part, but the best way to stop the changes permanently is to use File, Save As with the Save As Copy option to copy the part and remove the references. Why Remove External References? When parts are built in-context they contain references. If mates are removed or in-context parts are used in other assemblies (out of context), unexpected changes could occur. Here are some reasons why you might remove external references.

  • Component Movement – The In-Place mate prevents movement and although it can be removed, the features remain in-context.
  • Re-use of Data – Component parts can generally be used in multiple assemblies. If a part contains in-context references, they must be removed prior to out-of-context use.
  • Assembly Performance – Because the Update Holders are at the top level of the assembly, they must be resolved when the assembly is rebuilt. If they are not removed, they should be locked until they need to be updated.