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5 Practical SolidWorks Tips to Boost Your Design Efficiency

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1. Easily Move a Sketch

This technique is one of the most concealed but easiest tools to use when you are dissatisfied with the position of your sketch relative to the origin or for other reasons.

It is always a difficult task to move a sketch within an editable sketch environment, especially when the sketch being defined has been copied and pasted from DraftSight or other 2D software.

Most users encounter this problem and often feel that they can select all sketch entities within the sketch window, grab a point, and drag the entire sketch to a new location.

Although this idea seems logical, it simply doesn’t occur in reality. You can also try using the move entity command, but it may not always capture the final position you expect.

The following method is completely effective and also very easy to do, and all you need to know is the order in which to click.

  • 1. Select the sketch entities you want to move.
  • 2. While holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard, drag a point within the sketch to move the selected entity.

The trick here is that Ctrl + drag select is used to copy in Windows. The essence is to take note of the small (+) symbol beneath your cursor. When you release the left mouse button at this point, the system will copy the sketch.

Conversely, if you release the Ctrl key during the “copy sketch” operation and continue moving your mouse, the small (+) symbol disappears, and the entire operation turns into a move command. When you have selected the correct position or captured the origin, you can release your cursor.

In short, there are thousands of functions in SolidWorks’ millions of lines of code, and these are some very useful but deeply hidden features.

I hope you can find some features you didn’t know about to help improve your design quality, and most importantly, help save you time and energy in your design work.

2. Copying Surfaces

Copying surface curves from one part to another is a very useful tool when you want to establish a relationship between the middle parts in the following context, especially when you get an input file with thousands of irregular-shaped surface curves and you only need to extract a part of the surface.

Following past operating methods, you may need to use an application for virtual surface or surface creation. Simply thickening the surface as a new feature. You may ask yourself that it sounds good, but there is no “copy surface” command? Your idea is absolutely correct!

Many users try to use the stitch surfaces command, but this is not the best choice. Unless the faces you select are adjacent to each other and can form a single seamable surface.

However, there is a simple trick to solve this problem, which is the “offset surface” command. Select a face or hole, whether adjacent or disconnected, and select Offset Surface.

When the Feature Manager tree is displayed in the “Offset Surface” state, the Feature Manager tree dialog box will automatically display as “Copy Surface” when you set the equidistant distance to zero.

You can use this function in the assembly, but it is limited to editing the part state only. You can also select a face or a surface from another part and copy the surface. This will create a related surface. This tool has been applied to dozens of cases.

3. Control of Explode Direction

Like several other features in the SolidWorks software, the control of the triad’s direction can be controlled by using the ALT key and dragging the triad.

Simply activate the Explode command or edit an existing exploded view and start a new explode step. The triad always follows the triad direction of the part or assembly.

To move and adjust the triad, just hold down the ALT key, use the blue sphere to select and drag the triad in the X, Y, and Z axes to meet your requirements, and then drag it onto other geometric objects.

This feature can quickly select linear edges, hidden planes, hole features, or axis features of cylinders. This can adjust the new direction and position of the triad.

Consider this technique when performing any triad operation in SolidWorks, such as moving or copying entities, movement with the triad, and so on.

4. Selection of Closed Contours

You may often use the Convert Entities function, but have you ever wondered why only the outermost edges are converted when selecting a plane to convert entities? Are you tired of manually selecting every inner contour edge?

You can easily solve this problem with just two clicks! When creating a new sketch, just hold down the CTRL key while selecting the same plane as when you convert entities, and you can add a selection element, which is an inner contour edge! This is the closed contour selection to be introduced next.

Through this operation, the contour of the inner closed contour edge will be converted, in addition to the outer ring line (default) of the selected plane being converted.

Usually, when selecting a plane and then converting entities, you get the outer ring line (default).

After selecting the plane and an inner edge with the CTRL key, converting entities will give you an inner ring line.

Selection of closed contour edges:

This technique is also applicable to selecting the inner closed contour edges. If you want to add a fillet or chamfer to the inner closed contour without applying it to the outer loop edge. This has an additional benefit that if you want to change the inner tangent sketch that affects what is displayed above when adding or deleting cutting contour edges, your fillet or chamfer will not be incorrect.

If you select all the inner edges (to make a fillet or chamfer), or if you change the number of inner edges, you will get an incorrect fillet or chamfer. This will require editing the applied features to resolve the missing or added edges.

5. Selecting an Edge to Create a Sketch

This special feature allows you to do a few things in the fewest steps to create SolidWorks features.

Simply select any edge of any entity, then click “Insert”-“Sketch”, and the sketch reference plane will be automatically created. After a normal edge is selected, the endpoint of the established sketch plane will automatically be placed at the nearest endpoint of the selected edge.

This operation supports almost all types of edges, including edges and edges generated by prismatic edges or developed edges.

You can also use the “Insert”-“Reference Geometry” function to add a plane perpendicular to the curve. This will skip all the normal steps required and start a new sketch directly.

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