Totally Integrated: Model Based Definition Throughout SOLIDWORKS 2018

SOLIDWORKS Model Based Definition

Written by: Jared Spaniol, Elite Application Engineer

For those who attended one of our rollout events, update training sessions, or reviewed the What’s New document on your own, did you pick up on the Model Based Definition (MBD) themes in 2018? MBD has been around since SOLIDWORKS 2015 and in SOLIDWORKS 2018 the theme of MBD is overarching. MBD has been connected to many other modules of the SOLIDWORKS product line this year, such as Drawings, Inspection, eDrawings, CAM, and Assemblies. In the next few sections I’ll provide a brief overview of how MBD has been integrated into each of these modules.


MBD is an integrated drawingless manufacturing solution which helps define, organize, and publish 3D Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) in industry standard file formats such as eDrawings and 3D PDFs. Basically, MBD allows the user to show dimensions, tolerances, GD&T, and notes – among other items – in the 3D viewport of SOLIDWORKS and create custom 3D views for those specific items. This information can be used to eliminate the use of 2D drawings or it can be used in conjunction with 2D drawings to better convey manufacturing information.


SOIDWORKS CAM is a new product in 2018 and, with that, some MDB functionality was introduced. Within the Tolerance Based Machining (TBM) portion of CAM, DimExpert Dimensions and Model Based Definition are leveraged within the 3D model to automate CNC programming and reduce overall delivery times. The user can easily see the 3D dimension scheme of the model making it easier to interpret and change dimensions so the CAM module can quickly make any needed changes to the model.


It’s still a common practice for many users to utilize 2D drawings for documentation and a final deliverable of their designs. To further the transition from 2D to 3D with MBD comes the ability to carry forward PMI created in MBD which can now be easily re-used in the 2D format. This is done directly from the view palette within drawings where that 3D PMI is shown and can be easily dragged onto the drawing sheet just like any other view. The views with the 3D information attached are noted by a “3D” in parentheses as shown in the image below.

Model Based Definition in Drawings



The big addition to SOLIDWORKS Inspection in 2018 is the ability to balloon 3D models instead of just adding balloons to 2D drawings. Keeping in line with the 3D PMI and MBD theme, this 3D ballooning also includes all the dimensions and annotations that have been applied to the model with MBD and DimExpert. This makes it very easy to create those first article inspection reports with a much clearer picture of what is being inspected and where that location is on the part. By utilizing the 3D ballooning, the process of creating 2D inspection drawings can be eliminated. The quality group can also view this information in 3D making it much easier for them to discern what they are inspecting and the best method to measure that item. The below image shows an example of balloons that have been added to a model defined with MBD.

Model Based Definition in Inspection



eDrawings has added some great options that make this tool even more powerful. An eDrawings file can be directly published from MBD and STEP 242 files can be attached for each configuration of the part. These STEP files can be viewed, extracted to the local drive, or deleted. The STEP files can be easily viewed containing all the PMI needed to interpret the part. In addition, the dimensions now cross-highlight to the corresponding geometry for even easier interpretation of the model. Within eDrawings, the individual configurations of the part can be easily viewed and opened in the view window. The three figures below show the new options for configurations, 3D views, and the STEP 242 files attached for the multiple configurations.

MBD in eDrawings



Now all the PMI can be defined within the 3D model at the assembly level.  This is a huge timesaver since now the assembly PMI does not need to be recreated for use in other products. Within assemblies and MBD there is also a new Auto Pair Tolerance tool which creates the dimension scheme between two parts automatically. The figure below shows a group of dimensions displayed in an assembly level component.

MBD in Assemblies


MBD is a fast-growing product and, by the looks of it, SOLIDWORKS views it as an important one. I expect this product to keep growing and become more widely used in industry in the coming years. It’s always hard to change the mindset of how things have been done especially when talking about 2D drawings, but when there is a product like this available that really can make the manufacturing process easier to interpret and reduce production errors the benefits speak for themselves.

Want to learn more about how MBD could help your design process? Contact us for a demonstration.