How Do You Define a Material in SolidWorks?

In SolidWorks, a material is defined as the physical substance that is used to create a part or assembly. It determines the properties and appearance of the object in the virtual environment. By assigning different materials to different components, you can simulate their behavior and optimize their performance.

Defining a Material

To define a material in SolidWorks, follow these steps:

  1. Open the part or assembly document in SolidWorks.
  2. Click on the “Edit Material” icon in the toolbar or navigate to “Edit” > “Materials” > “Edit Material”.
  3. A dialog box will appear with a list of available materials. You can choose from pre-defined materials or create a custom material by clicking on the “New” button.
  4. If you choose to create a custom material, specify its name, type, and properties such as density, thermal conductivity, and more.
  5. Once you have selected or created the desired material, click on the “Apply” button to assign it to the component.

Material Properties

A material’s properties define how it will behave under different conditions. Some commonly used material properties in SolidWorks include:

  • Density: The mass per unit volume of a material.
  • Elastic Modulus: The measure of stiffness or rigidity of a material.
  • Thermal Conductivity: The ability of a material to conduct heat.
  • Poisson’s Ratio: The ratio of lateral strain to longitudinal strain when an object is stretched.
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: The change in dimensions of a material with temperature.

The properties of a material can be modified or customized to match the real-world characteristics of the physical material you are trying to simulate.

Applying Materials

Once you have defined the materials, you can apply them to specific components in your part or assembly. To apply a material, follow these steps:

  1. Select the component or components to which you want to apply the material.
  2. Right-click on the selected component(s) and choose “Apply Material” from the context menu.
  3. In the Material dialog box that appears, select the desired material from the list.
  4. Click on “Apply” to assign the material to the selected component(s).

You can also drag and drop materials directly onto components from the SolidWorks Material dialog box.


In SolidWorks, defining materials is an essential step in creating realistic virtual models. By accurately assigning materials and their properties, you can simulate how your designs will behave in real-world scenarios. Understanding how to define and apply materials will help you optimize your designs for performance and functionality.