Associative Hardware Tutorial

Associative Hardware Tutorial

This document demonstrates how to apply associative hardware to a product designed with Microvellum Toolbox. The tutorial will add the following hardware to the doors of a 2-door base cabinet: 
Hinges 
Double Touch Latch 
Lock 
Elbow Catch 
Inset Pulls


Adding the hardware to the door will cause the hardware to appear in the AutoCAD drawing and the manufacturing data. Machining instructions will also be applied to the door and other parts, making the assembly process more efficient. However, many cabinet manufacturers do not include such machining instructions in their programs for machining centers. Adding hardware at the assembly bench is time-consuming and inefficient. The ability to accurately and quickly add machining instructions for attaching hardware to a product is a significant benefit.

Adding a Piece of Associative Hardware 

When using Microvellum Toolbox, to add a piece of associative hardware to a product, you must:
  1. Have two “AutoCAD” drawings that represent the hardware. The first will be a drawing of the hardware on a 2D panel, and the second will be the hardware as it should look in 3D. The 2D drawing is used to place the hardware on the panel, and the 3D model will present the product with the added hardware. The files should go in the <Factory Data>\Graphics\Hardware folder.
  2. Add the hardware to your material file. The machining that will occur because of placing the hardware on a panel is described with one or more “Machining Tokens” in the material file.
  3. (Optional.) If you want to see a picture of the hardware when you select it from the list, you need to make a Windows metafile, or a JPG named the same as the 2D drawing (except the file extension should be wmf rather than dwg). To make a metafile, open the drawing in “AutoCAD” and use the “Export” command. Both the drawings and the metafile must be placed in the <Factory Data>\Graphics\Hardware folder.
To provide clarity, look at the first piece of hardware you need to add. First, a 2D drawing has been made called “2D_Hinge BLUM 120 deg Full Overlay.dwg”


Second, a 3D drawing has been made called “3D_ Hinge BLUM 120 deg Full Overlay.dwg” You can name the hardware anything that would qualify as a valid Windows file name. The rule is that the 2D drawing has the prefix “2D_” and the 3D drawing has the prefix “3D_”.


The third requirement has been met by making an entry in the material file called “Hinge BLUM 120 deg Full Overlay”.


Since the fourth point is optional, we will not make a metafile. Now have a look at a product to which you can apply the Associative Hardware. To get started, draw a Base 2 Door Cabinet. Select None for Handle Type in Hardware Options in the Product Prompts. To turn off the hinges, show the subassembly prompts for the right door and uncheck the bottom and top hinge in hinge adjustments. Then draw the right door in 2D using the “Draw2DPart” command under Modify Parts. 




Select the “2D Machining Tools” tab  and the “Hardware” fly out . Find the hinge in the list. Click the “Draw Hardware” button. Rotate the hinge 90 degrees and position the block on the drawing. Notice how some crosshairs have been added, making it easier to position the hinge at the correct distance from the door edge.



Next, copy the block to make the second hinge and update the 3D model with the “Update Current Part and Redraw Product” command. 




















If the drawing is zoomed in closer, it will be apparent that the machining was applied to the door. However, there may not be any machining for the mounting plate. Depending on your version of library data, mounting plates may be a separate piece of hardware.

Now go to the “Part Properties” screen so you can begin to understand how the machining was applied. Right-click the Door Right subassembly “Show Properties”. Select the “Hardware” tab and select one of the hinges. The X, Y, and Z coordinates will be displayed, along with the Associative Rotation Angle value. The hinge has no relationship with the door of this product, except that the origin point of the hardware will fall inside the door. 



X, Y, and Z Origin/Rotation 

This process will be easier to understand if you draw an uncomplicated product. Draw a misc. panel (from Parts under Draw Products) that has an X, Y, and Z origin and X, Y, and Z rotation. For the piece of hardware draw a Cable Hole 60mm and locate it in the middle of the panel.

After updating the 3D model, it is possible to access the “Part Properties” to see the coordinates of the Cable Hole.


Notice that the Z origin is 0.74. Since the thickness of the panel is 0.75, as a logical conclusion, the Cable Hole must have been placed 0.01 inches into the panel.

If the 3D drawing of the Cable Hole is opened, you will see that the block is inserted 0.01 inches inside the panel by moving the block upwards the identical amount.
Moving the drawing 0.01 inches above the (0,0,0) point of the drawing allows the block to be inserted in such a way that the grommet is flush with the face of the panel. So why do we have to embed the hardware inside the panel? Why not just place it right on the surface of the panel? If you look at the drawing below, the answer becomes clear.



In this drawing, you see two panels that are face to face. If you place the hardware on the face of a panel, you will not know which panel to apply the machining. You might or might not want to apply machining to both parts. Placing the insertion point of associative hardware inside the panel resolves this problem. The distance of 0.01 inches (or millimeters) is an arbitrary value the program uses because it works in both Imperial and metric units. ANY origin point that places a piece of associative hardware inside a panel will cause the association to happen. If the point is closer to the top face of the panel, the machining will be applied to that side. If it is closer to the bottom face of the panel, the machining will be applied to that side.


So how would the program have known to route a 3” diameter hole in the panel when you applied the Cable Hole? To answer that, look at the material file. When the material file is opened, a Cable Hole will be located. Right click the Cable Hole and select “Hardware Machine Tokens”. You will then see that you have a “ROUTEDHOLE” token that has been applied to this piece of hardware.



The X, Y, and Z origin of the token is zero, which means the machining will occur wherever you position the hardware. The other parameters of the token specify the diameter, depth, and tool number you will use to make the hole. Simple enough, right?

The great thing about being able to add “Machining Tokens” to a piece of hardware is that the machining needed for a given piece of hardware generally does not change. Once you have properly positioned your machining, you can apply hardware to any panel on any product on any job and the machining will always work the same. There is no need to ‘re-invent the wheel’ on every job. Simply set up a material file that contains the “Machining Tokens” you need, copy the material file to your template folder and you will be set. The machining for the Cable Hole was easy because it only requires machining of one part. We will discuss more complicated “Machining Tokens” later.

Now that we have discussed the basic logic of how associative hardware works, let’s place the additional hardware on the door. If the right door is drawn in 2D again, the hinges that you placed earlier will reappear, along with the machining they contain. Now, you can add a lock, a magnetic catch, and a Rectangle Vent pull to the door. Depending on door thickness and the user’s desire for the lock to be machined with Face 5 or Face 6, the lock’s Z value may need to be altered in the global variable Door Lock Z Value.


When adding the Rectangle Vent, select the “Insert on Face 6” checkbox. Notice on your screen the pull is red, indicating that it will be applied to the opposite face of the door (face 6). Try to avoid machining on both faces of a panel because it requires more work for the machine operator. In this case, however, you have no choice because the hinges and other machining must be drilled from the back of the door, while the Rectangle Vent must be routed from the front.

Now go back to the material file to see how to get this machining to be applied to other parts. Look at the “Machining Tokens” for the elbow catch.

The elbow catch machining tokens have two “Single Drilling Operation” or “BORE” tokens. The name “Single Drilling Operation” is misleading because you can drill a whole row of holes with one of these tokens. For the elbow catch, you need two holes to attach the elbow catch and one more hole for the strike. The first token has a Dim in Y of –0.3125” and an End Dim in Y of 0.3125”, with a distance between holes of 0.625”.


The second token has a “Dim in X” of 0.8487, a “Dim in Y” of 0 and a “Dim in Z” of 0.9304.


ID Point

If you open the “AutoCAD” drawing, you will discover where the above numbers came from.

To get the coordinates for the strike, you can use the AutoCAD “ID” command and get the point in the AutoCAD drawing. AutoCAD will report the coordinates at 0.8487,0, 0.9304. To that X coordinate, 0.01 inches will be added. This will get the point inside of the part to which the strike is attached.

As you can see, associative hardware is an extremely powerful and easy-to-use feature of “Microvellum Toolbox”. It is important to point out that the program supports both associative and non-associative hardware. If you add a piece of hardware to a product without providing X, Y, and Z origins and rotations and/ or corresponding “AutoCAD” drawings, the program will include the hardware, but nothing will be drawn to represent it. If you add a piece of hardware to a product and provide an “AutoCAD” drawing along with X, Y, and Z origins and rotations, the hardware will be drawn, but no machining will be applied to any of the panels. However, if you provide an “AutoCAD” drawing, X, Y, and Z origins AND an associative rotation angle, the program will attempt to find panels to machine. We hope you found this information helpful in enabling you to use “Associative Hardware” in the products you design and build using “Microvellum Toolbox”.

Next you will use Microvellum to add an associative elbow catch to a product so that it will “Live” parametrically within that product. First, it is important to understand the differences between placing hardware on a 2D Part, as discussed earlier, and placing hardware in 3D space. When working with a 2D panel, the X axis is left-to-right, the Y axis is back-to-front, and the Z axis is up and down. When working with a 3D product, you need to determine in what panel the hardware is to be placed, and where to look for a panel for it to associate with. Like a “Cut Part”, “Hardware Parts” are located within the product by referencing the products X, Y, & Z origin point. Finding an associated panel is a little more complicated. Two factors work together to determine the associated panel: rotation of the panel that the hardware penetrates and the associative rotation of the hardware.

To demonstrate, we will add an elbow catch to the “Hardware Parts” tab in the spreadsheet of a “2 Door Base Cabinet”. Add a “2 Door Base” from your library and open up the spreadsheet by using “Edit Design Data”. Select the Hardware tab worksheet at the bottom of the screen. Delete any other hardware rows that may be present.


Now right-click in the first empty cell in the “Part Name” column and select “Show Hardware List”.




Select the “Pointers” radio button and Scroll until you see “Elbow_Catches” in the list and click “OK”. This will add the material pointer for elbow catches to the “Hardware Parts” list. Enter a value of 1 in the “Qty” column. Normally you would use a formula to determine the quantity needed. However, for demonstration purposes we will give this cell a hard value of 1. (You do not need to worry about the Width, Height, Depth, and Comment fields.) 

If you look at the elbow catch diagrams below, you can see that the origin point of the elbow catch is centered between the two screw holes that attach the catch to the door. Because of this, you should know that you need to place the elbow catch somewhere in space so that the origin point will penetrate the back side of the door and the strike plate will contact the bottom of the front stretcher.



First, set the X origin of the elbow catch to reside 3 inches to the left of the center line of the cabinet. In the X origin cell, you would use a formula such as “=Width/2-3”.


In the Y Origin cell, you need a formula to force the origin point of the elbow catch to penetrate the back side of the door. Since the product’s Y origin is “0”, you need a negative “Y Origin” value for the hardware to penetrate the back side of the door. To do this, use the following formula:

=(Depth+G!Door_To_Cabinet_Gap+.01)*-1

Notice an additional 0.01 was added. “Depth” plus “Door_to_Cabinet_Gap” placed you at the back side of the door; the additional 0.01 allows you to penetrate the back face of the door. This became a negative value when the resulting value was multiplied by a negative one.


Next, you need to set a Z origin. To accomplish this, you need to determine the distance between the hardware origin point and the surface of the strike plate that will touch the bottom side of the stretcher. As the elbow catch diagram above show; the strike plate, in relation to the origin point, is 0.8387 inches in the X-axis. This means that the elbow catch needs to be placed 0.8387 inches below the front stretcher. A suitable formula for the Z Origin Cell would be: “=Height-Top_Thickness-0.8387”. The 0.01” penetration into the stretcher is not needed here because you take that into account in the Single Drilling token’s “Dim in X” parameter by adding 0.01 to 0.8387. (You saw this demonstrated in the previous exercise.)


Since you are dealing with associative hardware, you do not need to worry about the X, Y, & Z rotations. However, you MUST have an Associative Rotation. The associative rotation tells Microvellum where to look for a second panel to associate it with. In this case, the “Associative Rotation” would be 0.



You have now added an associative elbow catch to the “2 Door Base cabinet”. Save and close the parts list and redraw the product. You should now see an elbow catch and the machining needed to attach the elbow catch.

This same hardware can be used for Tall Cabinets and even Upper Cabinets where you need the strike to be at the bottom of the cabinet. You would simply place this elbow catch in an upper cabinet with an associative rotation of 180 so that it would place a hole in the bottom of the cabinet. The following tables show the relationships between the associative rotation and panel rotation to determine the direction to “Look”. It is important to understand that “Left” and “Right” are referring to the product’s X axis, “Front” and “Back” refer to the product’s Y axis, and “Up” and “Down” refer to the product’s Z axis. Pos(x) means that the “Dim in X” and “[End Dim in X]” need to be a positive value. Neg(x) means that the “Dim in X” and “[End Dim in X]” need to be a negative value. The same applies to the Y values.

The elbow catch was drawn in such a way that its associative contact point (the point that will contact the stretcher) has a positive value of 0.8387 inches in the X axis, which is why you placed the value + .01 (0.8487) in the “Dim in X” parameter of the “Single Drilling Operation” of the elbow catch. Since the elbow catch is penetrating a door that is a vertical panel and its face five is parallel to the product’s X axis, look at that section of the table to determine what direction a positive “Dim in X” will force Microvellum to look for an associative panel. For a base cabinet where the stretcher is above the origin point of the elbow catch, use an associative rotation of 0. For an Upper, use 180.

Associative Rotation 


With this information you can easily add other machining tokens to place machining virtually anywhere in the product. For example, to cause the elbow catch to drill a hole in the bottom of the base cabinet, simply add another token. The only difference would be that you would now need a negative value in the “Dim in X” parameter.

Looking at the above table for Vertical Panels Parallel to the X axis and knowing that the elbow catch has a zero associative rotation, you need a negative value in “Dim in X” to “look down” for a panel.

 If, for example, you want two holes 2 inches apart from each other and this time you want them 5 inches from the front edge of the cabinet, simply make the “Dim in Y” = -1 and the “[End Dim in Y]”= 1. Then, set “[Distance Between Holes]” = 2. Since you are now using the optional “[End Dim in Y]”, you need to provide an “[End Dim in X]” parameter which will be the same formula as the “Dim in X” formula. To move the holes 5 inches from the edge of the cabinet, set the “Dim in Z” =5+G!Door_To_Cabinet_Gap+0.01. Remember that the elbow catch is penetrating the door 0.01”, so you need to add that to get 5 inches from the edge of the cabinet.



Performing Routing Operations Using Associative Hardware


You can also perform routing operations using associative hardware as shown in the example below.

Place a “Polyline” machine token in the Material File for the elbow catch to route a capital “M” in the back of the cabinet.

Notice the value of 1 in the third option of the [Options] parameter. This can be used if you want the first vector to be treated as a lead-in, meaning that it will be ignored for drawing purposes. In this case, there is a lead in that begins part way up the left leg of the “M”. Each vector of the polyline in the AutoCAD drawing below is what makes up the vector locations in the polyline token. The Z value is a formula that determines how far the back is located away from the origin point of the elbow catch, then adding 0.01 to the formula for panel penetration at the door and back.


Complete formula for Polyline Token vector locations:

="-6;8;"&(G!Door_to_Cabinet_Gap+0.01)+L!Inside_Depth+0.01&"|-8;8;"&(G!Door_to_Cabinet_Gap+0.01)+L!Inside_Depth+0.01&"|1.46952762458685E-15;8;"&(G!Door_to_Cabinet_Gap+0.01)+L!Inside_Depth+0.01&"|-8;4;"&(G!Door_to_Cabinet_Gap+0.01)+L!Inside_Depth+0.01&"|0;0;"&(G!Door_to_Cabinet_Gap+0.01)+L!Inside_Depth+0.01&"|-8;1.46952762458685E-15;"&(G!Door_to_Cabinet_Gap+0.01)+L!Inside_Depth+0.01

Remember that with an Associative Rotation of zero, a positive value in the Y looks to the left and a negative value in X looks down. So, if you rotate the “M” around 90 degrees, it will give us the correct vector locations for a zero Associative Rotation. In this case, our first vector point is -6 in the X axis, 8 in the Y axis and our Z is determined by the distance to the back. Our second vector point is the bottom of the left leg. X = -8, Y = 8, and again Z = the distance to the cabinet back. The third vector is the top of the left leg, and so on, until you get to the end point.



You now have a piece of hardware that will place two holes in the door, one hole in the stretcher, two holes in the cabinet bottom, and will perform a routing operation in the cabinet back.



Points to Remember

  1. The hardware origin point MUST penetrate a panel. Try changing the Y origin of the elbow catch to: “=(Depth+G!Door_To_Cabinet_Gap-.01)*-1”. Notice that the 0.01 is now subtracted. The elbow catch is now floating in space and not associated with any part, so no machining is applied.
  2. The hardware MUST have an Associative Rotation to produce machining. If you delete the associative rotation and place a -90 in the “X Rotation” and “Y Rotation” the elbow catch will be drawn without machining. (You may also need to select a drawing for the “Non-Associative Hardware” in the Material File.)

       Associative hardware is a powerful and easy-to-use feature of “Microvellum Toolbox”. It is important to note that the program supports both associative and non-associative hardware. If you add a piece of hardware to a product without providing X, Y, and Z origins and rotations and/or corresponding “AutoCAD” drawings, the program will include the hardware, but nothing will be drawn to represent it. If you add a piece of hardware to a product and provide an “AutoCAD” drawing along with X, Y, and Z origins and rotations, the hardware will be drawn, but no machining will be applied to any of the panels. However, if you provide an “AutoCAD” drawing, X, Y, and Z origins AND an associative rotation angle, the program will attempt to find the panels to machine. We hope you found this information helpful in enabling you to use “Associative Hardware” in the products you design and build using Microvellum Toolbox.


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