Let’s talk about some modeling theory (shhhhh, don’t tell the CATI guys!). As frequent readers of my posts may know, I am an advocate of design automation and DriveWorks in particular. However, having good master modeling practices will benefit anybody, regardless of what automation method or software you may use. So, whether you use a fully vested option like DriveWorks or something completely out of the box like equations and custom properties, a good master model can go a long way. In this post, I’m going to be talking to you about what a master model is and why it can be a great asset for your designing. Later, I’m going to be giving you some common master modeling practices, the pros and cons, and some of my top master modeling tips.
What are master models?
Master models are a model or a set of models that capture your designs. This can be done in a variety of ways, but as a whole, that’s what I consider them to be. As an example, let’s say we design the classic cabinet. What things would my master model include to capture that design for me? Let’s go through it.
First, it’s going to have to include the outside structure. Doors, sides, top, and bottom will all be there. Additionally, I can have two kinds of doors – solid wood and an option with windows, both with an interchangeable set of doorknobs. Adding to that, I also have shelves as an option and the choice of how many we want.
That is what my master model will contain. I have multiple ways I can put this together and capture that design, but it needs to have those options available. The design will also need to have the dimensional options available to change. This means the height, width, and depth can change as well.
A master model will also be able to have the features be interrelated. For example, if we change the height, the spacing of the shelves should change accordingly. However they change is fine, but that relationship between dimensions and features should be clear. There is a term for top level changes updating individual parts – parametrically related models. It takes time to set this up, but the better we are, the more time we save in the long run.
Now that we’ve established what a master model is, let’s talk about why they are so useful for designers.
Why are master models useful?
It’s a convenient way to store information. Think about it, if we have all of our data stored in a single model or a single set of models, that’s going to be pretty easy to track down. Instead of having Dave, John, Tom, and Robert all using their own set of models, it standardizes the model and keeps everything contained in one location.
Master models are also easy to manipulate to get your desired results. As I mentioned earlier, these models tend to be parametrically related to each other. To make a high volume of changes, it requires fewer picks and clicks to get the same results that you would from a model that isn’t set up the same way. That’s time you get back in your day to use wherever you need.
My last point for why creating master models are so useful is that they are easy to understand and then reuse the models after making your changes. Having models that are created using parametric modeling have clear relationships already defined. By defining those relationships, it takes away some of the confusion about the purpose of some features or parts. These models change consistently too, so using the master model to make new instances over and over is quick to do. Plus, if you use an automation system, you can even reuse a model that you’ve already created and not have to go find it manually. The system can find a file with the relevant information already set and push that to you. Now you aren’t duplicating data and taking up valuable space on the server.
Wrap it up
Master models are a fantastic way to save you time and energy with your modeling. You can have a single design that contains the vast majority of your options. For the work you repeat over and over and want to be more efficient doing, there is no better tool. Having models be parametrically related not only speeds up the design process, but also makes the models easier to interpret and understand. Never underestimate the power of automation. It can make your job easier, while also making you more productive.
We’ve covered what master models are good for and why you should use them. In my next post, I’ll be going through some of the common techniques I see and some of the pros and cons of each.