SolidWorks Costing

I recently explored the SolidWorks Costing module, which is designed to estimate the cost of manufacturing your models. It is so simple to use, the tag line should be “do the modeling, and the costing comes for free!

SolidWorks Costing does not rely on the existing modeling features. It uses its own costing feature recognition, as the help puts it, to “interpret geometry as to how it will be manufactured, not how it is designed”. This is key as it does not matter how you model the part, what’s important is how it would be manufactured. This also means the costing algorithm can be applied against any component, even imported geometry with no parametric features.

With the costing algorithm, one feature might be recognized as a manufacturing feature. Think of a hole, that only requires a drilling operation.  In other situations, a collection of features are recognized as a single manufacturing feature. Take for example, all the outside edges of the part, which are recognized as a single cutting path,

When you estimate costs, Costing features are created as a result of the Costing feature recognition. The CostingManager groups each recognized feature based on its type. It provides a breakdown of the cost for each feature, each group (category), and the total for the component. [Note: the two buttons in the upper right-corner of the CostingManager toggle between showing cost and time]

SolidWorks CostingManager

Think of this as a running spreadsheet, with each feature listed in one column and the cost in another. As you update the model this information updates real-time.

To add additional operations right-click on the Custom Operations folder and select the Add option. Define the operation, including its setup and operation cost, and click the green checkmark to apply it.

SolidWorks Costing - Add Custom Operation

SolidWorks Costing Templates

SolidWorks Costing is template based, meaning the costing information is stored in an external file and you configure it to suit your situation. When your templates are established you can quickly apply them to get almost instant information. These templates associate the recognized manufacturing features with costs. This includes the cost of material, machining, and other labour costs. After applying the template and running the estimate, the actual costing information is stored in the part file. You decide if you want others to have access.

If the exact costing information is not contained within the template, SolidWorks Costing approximates the nearest machine, tool, or material.

The Costing Template Editor is actually a standalone application, which can be started from the Windows Start Menu. It is also launched by selecting Launch Template Editor from the Costing Task Pane.

SolidWorks Costing Launch Template Editor

The first thing I do is Save As the default template, creating my own template. This leaves the original intact, providing a version you can refer back (especially if you ever really mess up). I also find it easier to work with a copy of the default opposed to creating a new template from scratch. The template is saved with a .sldctm extension and does not need to be stored in the default location, especially if you intend to share it with others.

SolidWorks Costing Template Save As
Next I work tab-by-tab, top-to-bottom, setting the costing information as I desire and what works for my organization. For example, I adjust the general settings for Canadian dollars and apply an invisible markup so that the costs calculated automatically have a 15% markup.

SolidWorks Costing Template General Tab

Within the Material section, add new materials, their stock type, thickness, and cost.

SolidWorks Costing Template New Material

The Machine section defines the machines available as well as the associated costs for each operation performed by the machine

SolidWorks Costing Template Machine


Use the Operation section to define costs for each operation type

SolidWorks Costing Template Operations

With the template defined you can not apply it to you part and update the information

See it in action!

So going back to the original question… “How does SolidWorks know how much my parts cost to manufacture?”

  • The Costing Module performs feature recognition to determine the manufacturing operations required to make the part
  • The applied template defines the costs for the material used, the machines used, and the operations performed

Feature image courteous of GRATISOGRAPHYMADE