How Do Configurations Work in SolidWorks?

When working with SolidWorks, understanding how configurations work is essential for creating parametric models that can adapt to different design scenarios. Configurations allow you to create multiple variations of a model within a single file, making it easier to manage and update your designs. In this article, we will explore the concept of configurations in SolidWorks and learn how to use them effectively.

What are Configurations?

In SolidWorks, a configuration is a specific set of parameters that define the state of a model. These parameters can include dimensions, features, appearances, and other design elements. Each configuration within a file can have its own unique combination of these parameters, allowing you to create different versions of the same model.

Configurations are particularly useful when designing products with multiple variations or options. Instead of creating separate files for each variation, you can use configurations to manage them all within a single file.

Creating Configurations

To create configurations in SolidWorks, follow these steps:

  1. Select the model or component you want to configure.
  2. Go to the Configuration Manager tab in the FeatureManager Design Tree.
  3. Right-click on the default configuration and select “Add Configuration.”
  4. Give your new configuration a descriptive name and click “OK.”

You now have multiple configurations within your SolidWorks file. Each configuration appears as a separate branch in the Configuration Manager tree.

Modifying Configurations

To modify a specific configuration, follow these steps:

  1. Select the desired configuration from the Configuration Manager tree.
  2. Edit any parameters or features as needed.
  3. If required, suppress or unsuppress features specific to the selected configuration.

By modifying individual configurations, you can create different versions of your model with unique dimensions, features, or appearances.

Switching Between Configurations

Switching between configurations in SolidWorks is straightforward. Here’s how:

  1. Select the desired configuration from the Configuration Manager tree.
  2. The model will update automatically to reflect the selected configuration’s parameters and features.

This feature allows you to view and work with different variations of your design without creating multiple files. It also simplifies the process of comparing different configurations side by side.

Using Configurations for Design Exploration

Configurations in SolidWorks are not just useful for managing product variations; they also enable design exploration and iteration. By creating multiple configurations with slight variations, you can quickly explore different design options and evaluate their impact on performance, aesthetics, or manufacturability.

For example, you can create configurations with different dimensions or features and analyze their effects using simulation tools within SolidWorks. This iterative approach allows you to optimize your design based on specific criteria or constraints.

Tips for Working with Configurations

  • Organize Your Configurations: Use descriptive names and group related configurations together to improve clarity and ease of navigation within the Configuration Manager tree.
  • Create Design Tables: Design tables are powerful tools that enable you to create configurations based on predefined parameters in an Excel-like interface. They are especially useful when dealing with complex designs or large numbers of configurations.
  • Use Global Variables: Global variables allow you to define key parameters as variables that can be easily modified and propagated across multiple configurations.


Configurations are a fundamental aspect of SolidWorks that empowers designers to create parametric models with flexibility and efficiency. By leveraging configurations, you can manage multiple design variations within a single file, explore different options, and streamline your design process. With the tips provided in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to harness the power of configurations for your SolidWorks projects.