Alibre Design Options: Creating Custom Bill of Materials Templates

15 Apr, 2005 By: Michael Todd

Change your part drawing and the BOM will update automatically

Alibre Design comes with associative BOM capabilities, which means that for any drawing you create in Alibre Design, you can create a bill of materials that will change as the design changes. You can work with an existing BOM template, customize one or create an entirely new one. Elements including the shape, columns, text font and line spacing and so on can be tailored to your specifications -- and to meet company requirements.

The biggest advantage to customizing your BOM template is that you can show only the columns and information that you need. For example, you can set one column to display the cost and another to display the material. Because this design information derives from the part model designed in the part workspace, you can input the information there, and it will automatically populate the BOM. Changes in the 3D model update the drawing, so if the material changes from aluminum to steel, the information in the BOM will also be updated.

From the Alibre Design Home Window, select File / New / Bill of Materials (figure 1).

Figure 1. Open a new BOM template from the Home window.

In the Bill of Materials dialog box, select the radio button New Bill of Materials template. Click OK. A new standard BOM template opens (figure 2).

Figure 2. The default template shows one line of sample data.

To choose the columns that you want to display, from the menu bar select Edit / Insert Column. The Insert Column dialog box appears.

Figure 3. The simple Insert Column dialog box allows full customization of the columns.

In the Insert Column dialog box, you may add and/or remove columns as needed. To add a column, select it from the Standard Properties list; then click Add. The columns that appear in the BOM template are listed on the right (figure 4).

Figure 4. Columns can be reordered in the Insert Column dialog box as well.

Note: To add a column that is not in the Standard Properties list, click the Custom button. Custom column information is not populated from the 3D model, because the custom information is only known to the BOM workspace.

To edit the column headings, select the text in the Display As column and enter the new column heading label (figure 5). Click OK to close the dialog box.

Note: To edit the "Display As" text, you may need to click the cell twice -- once to select the row, and once to select the cell.

Figure 5. The BOM template is updated with the new data columns and can be further customized.

Tip: To expand the window so all the columns display, click one edge of the window once and drag the mouse to resize it.

You may format the text used in the BOM table.

  • To modify the Header text, select Format / Header Font. In figure 5, blue has been selected for the color and bold for the font style.
  • To modify the data text, select Format / Data Font. In figure 5, green has been selected for the color.
  • To apply an alignment to both the Header and Data text in a column, select the column header button; then click the alignment button. In figure 5, a Center alignment has been applied to the Item #, Quantity, Cost Center and Estimated Cost columns.
Tip: To change the alignment of just the header or just the data text in a column, select either the header or data cell; then right-click. Select Header or Data Alignment from the right-click menu; then the appropriate alignment.

To omit lines between data rows, select Format / Table Style / Column Lines. This change will only be visible when the template is used to create a BOM in a drawing workspace.

Delete any data rows before saving the template. To delete a data row, click the row number button; then select Edit / Delete.

Tip: It is often useful to append a data row to a BOM template while you edit it so you can get a feel for what it will look like in actual use. However, this sample data row should be removed before you save the BOM template.

Save the new bill of material template in either the Repository or the File System. After saving the template, close the workspace.

You can now apply the new custom BOM template to a design. For this example, we have created a new drawing of an assembly design (figure 6). From Alibre Design Home Window, select File / New / Drawing.

Figure 6. Simple assembly drawing with standard three views.

Select Insert / Bill of Materials View.

Tip: You can also insert a BOM by selecting Ctrl+B from the keyboard.

Select Custom Template; then click the Browse button to the right and double-click the BOM template you created. Click OK to close the Bill of Materials dialog box.

Note: If the drawing contains more than one design, use the pull-down list to specify the design from which the BOM is to be created.

A preview of the BOM view appears in blue. Appropriate information about each part populates the preview. Click the drawing sheet to place the BOM view (figure 7).

Figure 7. The BOM view may be placed anywhere on the drawing sheet.

In this example (figure 8), the Material column is empty. Because the information is pulled from the 3D design, this shows that the material was not specified in the part design. When the information is added to the 3D part design, the BOM view will update with the new information the next time the drawing is opened.

Figure 8. The BOM view is automatically populated with information from the part files.

In figure 9, the parts that are used in this drawing have been modified to include the material information, so the Material column is no longer empty.

Figure 9. When the drawing is reopened, the new material information is automatically added to the BOM view.

You can also change the appearance of the BOM from the drawing. Double-click the BOM view, and the template will launch in the BOM editor. In figure 9, the columns have been resized.

Figure 10. The BOM view is listed under the sheet as BOM 4. The link to the BOM file is listed just under the drawing icon as Full Assembly.
Note: The BOM appears in the Drawing Explorer twice (figure 10). The BOM listed near the top represents the link to the 3D model. The BOM view is listed below the sheet it is on; you can relocate the BOM view to any sheet within the drawing.

Note: Once a BOM has been created from a BOM template, it will not be updated by changes to the original template. If you need to make a change to a BOM, edit the BOM file from within the drawing or open the BOM file and edit it directly.

Customizable BOM views let you show just what is important for manufacturing and follow company-mandated formats. Next month we'll look at customizing three types of auxiliary views. Until then, look for me as the Alibre Assistant online in Alibre Design.

About the Author: Michael Todd

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