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Article Title Applying ZW3D: Derive a Family of Parts

If you have parts that are dimensionally similar, ZW3D can derive a family of parts from a single part model. This eliminates the need to have many similar models on hand. If you need a part from the family, it can be derived on-the-fly at any time.

ZW3D accomplishes this with the use of driving parameters. The figures below illustrate the basic process. Guidelines, tips and suggestions are also provided along the way.
Figure 1 - The "Parent" Part
The process begins by loading any part that contains dimensions that can be modified to create another version of the part. In this application, the Eye Rod shown above contains four dimensions that are used as driving parameters.
Family of parts - clean practices
As each new part is derived, it is regenerated from driving parameters. Be sure that your parent part is historically clean. That is, it can regenerate without errors. Try modifying the dimensions manually and regenerating the part to test its parametric integrity. This can bring problems to light that you will need to address. Any derived part will inherit problems if they exist in the parent part.

The first step is to attach name tags to those dimensions that we want to drive the part (Attributes > Tags). In the Options Form shown to the right, we are attaching the name


Family of parts - using name tags
When dimensions are initially created, ZW3D assigns them arbitrary names. You do not have to attach name tags to your dimensions but it helps to recognize them when it comes time to derive a new part in the family.
Once all of the dimensions are tagged, you need to display the Part Attributes Form (Attributes > Part). On the Driving Parameters tab you need to assign each dimension as a driving parameter. This is done by selecting the first button and then selecting the dimension from the part. The dimension name will appear on the button and the value will appear in the input field. This is done for each dimension.
Setting up Driving Dimensions - don't worry if you make a mistake
If you make a mistake do not worry. You can delete a parameter by selecting the button and then middle-clicking the mouse. Likewise, you can reassign a parameter by selecting the button and then selecting a different dimension.

Once the part attributes are saved (pick OK), the part needs to be saved and then closed. In our example, the part name is Eye Rod 1042256. This will return you to the Object Level where the ZW3D Object Manager is displayed.

There are previewing options located at the bottom of the ZW3D Object Manager. You can preview graphics, attributes and assemblies. To derive a family of parts, check the box next to Attributes. When you select a part from the list, its part attributes are displayed.
When the part is selected from the ZW3D Object Manager, its part attributes are displayed.
The Driving Parameters tab previews the driving parameters that we assigned to key dimensions in the part. You can enter the desired values for each parameter and then pick the Derive new part button. You are asked for a name of the new part. The new part is calculated from the parameters of the previewed part. In this case we are deriving a family of parts from our parent part "Eye Rod 1042256."

Create new file

When you enter a name for the new part, you can choose to create a new ZW3D file at the same time. Otherwise the part will be added to the active file.
Figure 2 - The Family of Parts
When a new part is derived from the parent part, it is added to the active ZW3D file and shown in the ZW3D Object Manager. We derived the four parts shown in Figures 2b through 2e above from the parent part shown in 2a. This is referred to as a family of parts. They are listed in the ZW3D Object Manager.
Family of parts - if you lose or delete your parent part
  If later on, your parent part is accidentally lost or deleted, don't worry! You can also derive a new part from a derived part. Also, there is no need to derive all of your parts ahead of time as we have done here unless you need to insert them as components in current assemblies. As long as the parent part (or a derived part) is available, you can derive a new part in the family at any time.