What Are Virtual Components in SolidWorks?

Virtual Components in SolidWorks are a powerful feature that allows users to create multiple instances of a part within an assembly without duplicating the physical file. This can be extremely useful when designing complex assemblies that require repetitive components or when working with large assemblies that need to be simplified for better performance.

What are Virtual Components?

Virtual components are non-physical representations of parts within an assembly. Instead of creating multiple copies of the same part file, SolidWorks creates virtual components that reference the original part file. These virtual components can be modified and displayed just like any other part in the assembly, but any changes made to the original part file will automatically update all instances of the virtual component.

Advantages of using Virtual Components:

  • Reduced File Size: Since virtual components reference the same part file, it eliminates the need for duplicate files, resulting in smaller assembly files.
  • Easier Management: Virtual components simplify the management of complex assemblies by reducing clutter and streamlining design revisions.
  • Improved Performance: Large assemblies can become sluggish due to numerous individual parts. By using virtual components, SolidWorks reduces computational overhead and improves performance.
  • Simplified Collaboration: Virtual components make collaboration easier by ensuring all team members work with consistent data, reducing errors and confusion.

Creating Virtual Components in SolidWorks:

To create a virtual component in SolidWorks, follow these steps:

  1. Select the desired part from your design library or create a new part using SolidWorks’ powerful modeling tools.
  2. Open an assembly where you want to use this part.
  3. In the assembly environment, go to Insert > Component > Existing Part/Assembly.
  4. Browse and select the part file you want to use as a virtual component.
  5. Click ‘Open’ to place the virtual component in the assembly.

Once the virtual component is inserted into the assembly, it can be manipulated and modified just like any other part. Any changes made to the original part file will automatically update all instances of the virtual component within the assembly.

Managing Virtual Components:

SolidWorks provides several tools to manage virtual components within an assembly:

Display States:

Display states allow you to control the visibility and appearance of individual components or groups of components within an assembly. By creating different display states, you can show or hide specific virtual components based on your design requirements.


Configurations are useful when you need different versions of an assembly with varying combinations of virtual components. By creating configurations, you can easily switch between different arrangements without creating separate assemblies for each variation.


Envelopes are simplified representations of virtual components that help improve performance in large assemblies. They provide a visual reference without loading all the intricate details of each part, resulting in faster rendering and manipulation.

In conclusion, virtual components in SolidWorks are a valuable feature that allows users to efficiently manage complex assemblies while minimizing file size and improving performance. By leveraging this feature, designers can streamline their workflow, collaborate effectively, and create robust designs with ease.

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